Rating: PG / Teen (to be safe, but on the mild side)
Word count this chapter: 1297
Spoilers/warnings: Post-"Journey's End," if that's still a spoiler, otherwise none.
Disclaimer: None of it's mine but the alt!ness.
Summary: Part one of my 2008 OT3 Ficathon entry (prompt under the cut in the A/N for minute possibility of JE spoilers). Crossposted to my personal journal. .
A/N - Written for the following prompt (#7): "Rose and the Duplicate Doctor, now travelling in their very own TARDIS, stumble over a 51st century Time Agent bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jack Harkness ;) Do not want: unhappy ending."
This is a brand-new alt!verse, but I've shamelessly carried over a few concepts from similar stories I've written (e.g. "gingerbread" used as a code-word for cross-Universe differences, etc.); consider the repetition to represent my own, personal bedrock canon on how these things work. ;)
Hopefully, I'll have all of this up before the deadline (1/31), but the last part may trail a little. Still, I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy-good about getting the first part up *before* the deadline for once . . .
Rose clenched her teeth so they wouldn't rattle and clung to a coral strut for dear life. If she'd thought the TARDIS had given them a rough ride through the Vortex, it was because she'd had no idea how massive and stable the stately old timeship really was. Now she knew the difference.
"Come on, you lovely thing!" the Doctor was crooning at the top of his voice, wielding two rubber mallets across the controls like some mad xylophone player, riding the bucking deck as easily as a surfer at the top of his form. Everything not nailed down was flying around the cramped, jury-rigged control room, which looked like the inside of a corrugated steel gardening shed with coral branches and bundles of cables running almost at random through the interior – not too far off the reality, actually. The Mark Two was bigger on the inside than the outside, true enough -- there were even cramped living quarters for two jammed down under the main deck, accessed through a trapdoor – but she still had a long way to grow before she was anything like full-sized. She rattled and bounced through the Vortex like a tin can full of loose gears going over Niagara Falls.
And I thought this was a good idea, Rose thought, swallowing and closing her eyes, trying not to visualize what would happen if the Doctor's DIY extrapolator shielding should fail. I encouraged him, said we were ready for a full-out Time And Space trip -- we should have taken it easy, just bopped around the Solar System in real-time for a little longer . . .
The Doctor whooped like a madman, trailing off into delighted, pealing laughter. Rose's eyes popped open again. "We're doing it, Rose! We're flying again!" he called to her over the din. His grin was nearly too big for his face, teeth flashing in the violet incandescence of the new Time Rotor. He was alight and alive as she hadn't seen him since they'd walked away from the beach at Bad Wolf Bay.
No. This is a brilliant idea, she decided, changing her mind once and for all. This is a fantastic idea. We shouldn't have waited another minute . . .
Then the Mark Two dropped like a stone, Rose's feet left the deck completely, and every coherent thought was blown clean out of her mind.
Rose was aware, though she couldn't say how, that the ship was fighting the drop bravely, with all the power of her little Heart. Slowly, their plunge into nothing slowed, followed by a series of jolting stair-step decelerations. With each jolt, Rose added to her collection of bruises, but she held on with grim determination. Each jolt was less extreme than the one before and at last the ship stabilized (upright this time, to Rose’s relief), her Rotor pulsing unevenly as if in gasping breaths. Rose clung to the support strut a moment longer, while the Doctor braced himself against the edge of the console, but the calm held and the Rotor's cycling became slower and more even.
Passenger and pilot slowly relaxed, then flinched in unison as a final musical tinkle of breaking crockery reached them from the living quarters.
"That was the last teacup," Rose sighed, "I bet you anything." She unwrapped her arms from the strut and gave it an affectionate pat.
The Doctor released his death grip on the console and blew out a long breath. Then he grinned again. "We'll get more. Teacups are easy. What matters is, we're travelling! That's the hard part." He slipped around the console, navigating the cramped space with a dancer's ease, until he was standing in front of Rose. "Travelling through Time . . ."
Rose grinned back. " . . . and Space!" they finished together, exchanging high-fives, followed by a long, heartfelt kiss and hug.
Rose pressed her ear and cheek to the Doctor's chest, listening to his steady, single heartbeat through the thin fabric of his t-shirt, soaking in his familiar warmth. It had been his idea to name this new ship the Mark Two instead of calling her the TARDIS or some variation thereof.
"We're the new and improved models," he'd told Rose with a cheeky wink as he stroked his hand along a white coral branch at the ship's christening. "Both of us." Back then the ship had been the size of a ficus tree, living in an outbuilding at Pete and Jackie Tyler's mansion. They'd all come a long way since then, even if it had only been a year and a half.
The Rotor cycled one last time and stopped.
They pulled apart enough to look at each other. "Shall we go and see where we are?" the Doctor asked, a look of almost demented glee and anticipation playing across his features, though he was attempting to suppress it and play cool to tease her.
Rose grinned, catching her tongue between her teeth, happy to hear that question again, and even happier to see the Doctor’s pleasure in saying it. "Thought you'd never ask," she replied, and he spun away to check the control panel's readouts.
The TARDIS would have alerted the Doctor telepathically about the exterior conditions wherever they landed, but the Mark Two wasn't quite up to that yet, making an instrument check necessary. Given the parameters the Doctor had entered they should be somewhere Earth-like, but it was definitely worth checking, especially since the Mark Two's external force field was still dodgy at times.
"Atmospheric content, gravity, pressure, temperature . . . it all looks good! Quite a lovely day, in fact," the Doctor announced.
"So what are we waiting for?" Rose asked, ducking under a loop of cable and standing by the exit, her hand extended invitingly. His hand was in hers a second later, and together they opened the door and stepped outside.
The sky was a clear, pale green, streaked with golden-white cirrus clouds, the air springtime-warm and deliciously fresh. The Mark Two stood in a landscape of low, rolling hills, covered by what could have been golden grass and dotted with trees that wouldn't have looked too out of place on Earth, aside from the bluish tint to their dark, glossy leaves. Rose had been to many worlds more exotic than this one, most of which had been at least as aesthetically pleasing, but she still thought she'd never seen a more beautiful landscape.
The Doctor inhaled deeply. "New air," he said, with a trace of approving growl to his tone. "Oooooooooh, I've missed that!"
"Me too," Rose said, smiling up at him, brushing back wayward strands of hair. She squeezed his hand affectionately, and he squeezed back.
"Let's run," he suggested out of nowhere, his eyes sparkling with mischief.
"Where to?" she laughed. "Why?"
"Anywhere!" he replied, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. "Because we can."
Rose glanced over her shoulder at the Mark Two, which was doing an excellent impression of one of the blue trees; the Doctor had decided to install a functioning chameleon circuit this time out. All the same, Rose would have recognized the ship instantly. A disguised timeship was always obvious to her crew, the Doctor had said, since it would hardly do to park it and lose it. It was an effect related to the telepathic connection that allowed instantaneous translation of nearly every language.
Reassured, Rose looked back up at the expectant Doctor, and he read her answer before she could speak.
"Run," he whispered, and they did.