|Anyone here still willing/able to help out?
||[Jul. 27th, 2007|09:27 am]
Doctor Who Concrit
I realize this comm is kinda abandoned these days, which is an absolute shame, but I’m hoping there are enough people who still have it friended to evaluate this piece for me and tell me where I’m going wrong.
This is part of a long WIP (the next to the last chapter in the first story arc) that’s basically a what-if alternative to Doomsday. The setup is that the breach closes just before Rose would have gone in, and just before Pete would have appeared to save her. Only they discover part of the Tardis is damaged and they’re going to be stuck on Earth for the next several years. The story is supposed to be about how this situation would realistically affect the Doctor/Rose relationship, since he’s inevitably going to view being trapped in one time and place as a prison sentence, yet he manages to convince himself that returning to her “proper life” is the best thing that could happen to Rose, even without her mother there. The Doctor has gone back to his old job at UNIT, which is much different than it was in the 70s, and Rose is trying unsuccessfully to find a job to support herself while she tries for her A-Levels.
Thing is, this chapter keeps not going where I intended it to go. I’ve had a couple of people look it over for me, and the suggestions helped but I think I need a bit more input. This chapter was supposed to be a big, grand-slam fight between the characters that sort of leads them to a kind of revelation about the direction they’re headed in, only it just won’t go there. So can anybody tell me if I should just give up and go with the bitterness of temporarily crushed optimism or alternatively, if that doesn’t work, how to turn it back into the kind of blazing but cathartic row I had envisioned??
“Hello, Rose. Nice to see you again,” smiled Duane.
The Doctor didn’t look up from what he was doing. He felt her come up behind him and lean over him, resting her hands on the table on either side of him, her breath warm against his cheek. “What’ya doing?” she asked him after she’d returned his assistant’s greeting.
“I just need to get this one panel out of here without the whole thing tumbling down like the walls of Jericho,” he answered, tugging carefully at a little glass slide tucked away in the middle of scores of other little glass slides.
“Never gonna work, you know,” Duane told him.
But just as he said it the Doctor’s steady efforts paid off and the slide came free. “Haha! Toldya!” he exulted. “You’ll never beat that, you know. Rose!” he said happily, spinning around on his stool to face her.
“Hi,” she said, taking the hand he offered. She nodded at the picture ID hanging from a lanyard around her neck. “No guards this time.”
He grinned. “Good. You should be able to pop in and see me whenever you like, without having to have a military escort. Why I got you the pass.”
Strictly speaking, he should have gotten her the pass a lot sooner than he had. And he would have, if he’d actually thought of it. But the need simply hadn’t occurred to him until he’d actually seen her arrive under guard on her second trip. UNIT simply wasn’t quite the same as it had been in the old days.
“Yeah. Works good. Got me right in Thursday, too,” she said sardonically.
The Doctor looked at her, puzzled. “But I wasn’t here Thursday,” he protested. “I was in Bournemouth.”
“Found that out.”
“We had this sort of…emergency thing down there. In Bournemouth. Escape pod from an Arcturan ship washed up there. No life signs anywhere, but we did find a few…I left you a voicemail,” he added weakly, seeing her mouth tighten.
“Yeah. I know,” Rose said. “Friday.”
“Was it?” He reached up and scratched his head, mussing his hair in the process. “Well, you know how easy it is to lose track of time in the middle of an adventure. Not much of an adventure, mind, but it had potential.”
He glanced over at his new friend helplessly, but Duane’s attention was very pointedly elsewhere. No help was going to be forthcoming there.
He sighed and got to his feet. “Come on,” he told her, nodding towards the spiral staircase in the corner of the room. “Let’s go upstairs and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Rose stopped abruptly at the top of the stairs, gazing around at his little bedsit. “Wow. You’ve really made some changes,” she said, her voice sounding a touch hollow.
The Doctor surveyed the room himself. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “So I have. I forgot you haven’t been up here since, well, since the first time you came up here.”
The bed in the far corner was now hidden behind a woven screen from 17th century China, there were carpets that Susan had found in some bazaar on a planet he’d long since forgotten the name of, his old Ormolu clock and a large Victorian hardwood dinner table littered with scraps of electronics. He even had a television now, mounted on the wall across from the bed.
“Looks a bit homey.”
“Y’think?” he asked uncertainly. “I was thinking more along the lines of ‘temporary abode-y’ rather than ‘homey’.”
Rose chuckled. “Yeah, I can see that. Still don’t have a place to sit for one thing.”
“Well, there’s the work chair. And the bed. I should find a chair. Or a couch. Would you like a couch? I think there’s an Italian chaise in the Tardis. The stairs might be a bit problematic though.”
They sat together on the bed, leaning against the pillows, while he told her all about Bournemouth and the oddity of unmanned Arcturan escape pod. Rose lay back and scrunched her pillow under her head, watching his mouth while he talked. She seemed to be enjoying the sound of his voice but she wasn’t really listening.
“What’s the matter, Rose?” he asked abruptly, interrupting himself in mid-sentence.
It took her a minute to realize he’d changed the subject. She shrugged slightly and said, “Just…things. Hoped if I came to see you you’d take my mind off ’em for awhile.”
“Hasn’t worked though, has it?” he said. He stretched out on his side and lay facing her. “Want to tell me then?”
“I didn’t come to moan at you, Doctor,” she protested. “Just wanted to see you.”
He grinned and said, “Oh, but that’s the best reason of all! Haven’t seen you for days. What’ve you been doing with yourself lately, anyway?”
She made an ‘ew’ sort of face. “Jus’ more job hunting – don’t even ask. And I’ve been to see my gran again. My aunt was there, and she read me the riot act for tryin’ to borrow money off Gran.”
“What’d you need to borrow money for?” asked the Doctor, confused.
Rose looked at him impatiently. “Told you already, didn’t I? Mum’s mortgage is due … past due, really. She was behind on it, and now I’ve got to come up with a way to pay it, and I don’t have any money of my own. Won’t have, if I can’t come up with a job soon. Oh, yeah, and if I can find the bloody slip. ’S gone and disappeared, I’ve looked all over. And thanks for lettin’ me get my mind off my troubles, Doctor,” she added ruefully.
He handwaved it all, as if none of it was of the slightest importance. Pleased with himself, he announced. “Nah. Don’t have to worry about any of that, Rose. I’ve already paid it.”
Rose gaped at him, mouth open in shock, literally unable to speak for a second. The Doctor grinned at her happily, pleased with himself.
“I’ve never done anything like that before. Rather … I dunno, exhilarating. All sort of earthy and mundane,” he babbled, delighted in the novelty. “And I wrote a check! I’ve got my own checkbook now, never had one before in my life. Wanna see?” He shifted position and began to rummage through the inside pockets of his jacket.
“You paid the mortgage,” she said unbelievingly.
“Yeah.” He kept on smiling at her. “What d’you think?”
“You paid the mortgage? My mortgage. My mum’s mortgage.”
“Yeah,” he repeated, at a loss to understand why she wasn’t overjoyed at his surprise.
Rose shook her head. “Why?” she demanded.
The smile faded off his face. It seemed perfectly straightforward. He’d done her a favor, and here she was demanding to know why. He started to say something about gift horses, and possibly Greeks, but couldn’t remember the exact saying.
“Well…you know. What you said. You didn’t have any money, and you’d been worryin’ about it – and just don’t you say I never listen to you, Rose Tyler! – and I’ve got plenty of money that I don’t even need. Thought it’d help.” The last bit came out sounding a bit defensive, but he couldn’t help that. Not with the looks she kept giving him.
“You didn’t even ask.”
“Oh. Should I have done?”
Rose sat upright. She was overcoming her shock, and was apparently well on her way to anger. “You didn’t even tell me, Doctor!” she repeated, her voice going just a touch shrill.
“Well, no, ’course not. S’posed to be a surprise. You are surprised, aren’t you, Rose?”
“That’s one way to put it! What the hell did you think you were playing at, Doctor? Y’don’t just…grab people’s bills outta their houses and pay ’em without even saying a word about it. ’Specially after the way you’ve been ever since we’ve been here.”
He stared at her, unable to make sense out of her anger and starting to get a little irritated himself. He sat up and faced her. “Fine. Next time, I’ll ask first. Just seemed an obvious solution. Why didn’t you just ask me for the money?”
Rose opened her mouth to retaliate, then closed it and repeated the gesture a few times, fish-like. Then she shook her head briskly as if to clear it. “Do you realize what a bizarre concept that sounds?” she said. “Asking you for money? I mean, that’s just…that’s jus’ a bit weird. You’re the one couldn’t even pay for chips half the time, and sonics cashpoints if we need to buy something. And now you’re saying you want me to borrow money to pay the mortgage with…”
“Not borrow,” he corrected. “I don’t want it back.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want it at all, thanks,” she snapped.
He shrugged. “Can’t think why not. UNIT insist on giving me this pay packet so I won’t mess up their precious bookkeeping, but what am I supposed to do with the money? Haven’t got rent to pay, don’t need to buy clothes, food’s a bit…” He flipped his hand vaguely. “But you need the money and you haven’t got it. Best solution, I’d have thought.”
Rose shook her head stubbornly. “No, Doctor. I’m not takin’ money from you. God, even saying that does my head in. And especially not for something like a mortgage, considering what happened last time that subject came up. Couldn’t look away fast enough, you couldn’t. Or maybe it’s just the sharing you didn’t want.”
The Doctor didn’t entirely trust himself to answer that one. He wanted…oh, he wanted too many things to even think about. Some he even stood a fair chance of getting, which just opened up so many layers of problems.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” he muttered.
“Good deed, my…” She left the sentence unfinished, shaking her head. “No. I s’pose you meant well enough,” she admitted, touching his hand. “Always do. Just…I don’t want your money. I don’t. Next month I’ll figure out something on my own. Hopefully I’ll have some income by then.”
“Yeah,” he said encouragingly. “Of course you will! But I’ll help out anytime you—”
“No!” interrupted Rose angrily. She got up off the bed and stood over him, glaring down at him. “I don’t want your help. I’ve already said that, over and over again. Got to stand on my own two feet now, don’t I?”
The Doctor felt an intense sensation of pride wash over him. Oh, now this was his Rose living up to all the potential he’d ever seen in her. This was Rose Tyler standing up for herself and vowing to muddle through and succeed on her own terms, without any need of interference from him. “Oh, good for you, Rose!” he said, beaming at her. He was on his feet and swinging her around in an instant. “You can more than stand up for yourself. Don’t need me at all, and that’s brilliant. That’s brillianter than brilliant.”
He smiled down at her, his exuberance fading slowly as he got a look at the expression on her face. He was getting the feeling he’d missed the point somewhere and didn’t quite know where.
She pulled away from him and wrapped her arms around herself angrily. Her mouth compressed into a tight line, and she barely looked at him.
“What?” asked the Doctor uncertainly.
Rose let out a sigh of aggravation. “Of course I need you,” she spat. “Don’t you get it? I don’t even know how to not need you anymore, Doctor. In a lot of ways, I’m a lot stronger than I ever was before I met you, I can do more, I’m better at…but in some ways I’m not half as strong as I used to be. And I know that’s the last thing you want.”
He shifted his weight from foot to foot, desperately uncomfortable with the direction this was going. He wanted to avoid the row she seemed to be trying to provoke, but he knew her well enough to sense that she wasn’t going to just allow herself to be distracted, even if he’d still had a way to do it. The silence between them grew, making the space of seconds feel like hours. The Doctor ruffled his hair and watched Rose warily.
“I miss Mum,” she said finally, her voice a bit choky with grief.
“’Course you do,” the Doctor said gently. “She—”
Rose interrupted him, holding up one hand to stop him talking. The Doctor fell silent and waited for her to say her piece. She closed her eyes tight shut for a moment, then swallowed hard.
“Hate coming home now,” she said. “Partly cos she’s not there waiting for me, of course, but partly it’s just knowing I don’t have anyplace else to go. I miss travelling, miss seeing the universe and finding out what’s out there. I miss the Tardis. I miss you.”
“I’m still here, Rose,” he pointed out, not quite as gently as he should have. It was all he trusted himself to say just now.
Didn’t she realize that he missed all that as well, even more than she did? At least she’d been returned to her normal life. If she was finding it dull, what about him? He had the almost unconquerable urge to remind her of all that and more, pour out his own mounting frustrations to her just to see how she would cope.
“Yeah,” she agreed bitterly, seemingly oblivious to his reactions. “Still got you when you can fit me in. See, Doctor, that’s what the problem is. You have to fit me in now, instead of me just sorta…being there already. That’s what I miss most. I miss us.”
Surprised, the Doctor asked, “Aren’t we still us, though? I mean, I haven’t regenerated again, or grown two heads or anything, and you’re still you.”
“Yeah, exactly,” Rose persisted. “You’re still you and I’m still me. But that’s all there is anymore. Just you and me. I don’t even think there is an us anymore, cos you don’t want there to be.”
“What d’you mean by that?” he asked, frowning. There was a him and a her, but there wasn’t a them? Sounded like one of those elementary logic puzzles, but he was damned if he could see any logic behind it.
Rose gave a frustrated sort of sigh. “I mean you just…you’re just one big bunch of mixed signals anymore, Doctor, and you weren’t that clear to begin with.”
“Don’t know about that. Must’ve been clearer than this is, for a start. What do you mean, mixed signals?”
She sat back down on the bed, resting her heels on the floor and looking down at the hands she rested in her lap. They were clasped so hard her knuckles were going red, the rest of the fingers becoming stark white. “Mixed signals like wanting me to be completely independent and not need you at all, then jumping in to take care of me when the slightest thing goes wrong. Or paying the mortgage of all things when the word itself made you go green.”
“Oh, I don’t have anything against mortgages in general,” he assured her. “Long as I don’t have to have one myself.”
“Yeah, well see, Doctor, that’s what we’re up against, innit? I don’t want you paying it if you’re not sharing it, and you don’t wanna do that, do you?”
He made a face. “Oh, I do not, no!” he answered, sucking in his breath.
Rose flinched visibly at his words, but he noted she didn’t seem in the least surprised. Just nodded her head slightly and got slowly to her feet.
“Thought so.” Her voice was low and sad. “Well, guess I’ll see you sometime, then. If you still want to tutor me, or—”
“Hang on, Rose,” the Doctor interrupted briskly. “Don’t go all melodramatic. Just because I don’t want to live with you doesn’t mean I don’t want to see you. I do want to see you. Even in the Tardis we had separate bedrooms, didn’t keep us from—”
Rose growled in irritation. “We had separate bedrooms,” she pointed out. “We never, ever had separate lives before.”
The Doctor had a nagging suspicion that any answer he came up with just now would be the wrong one. Occasionally, even with all his words and all his languages and all his knowledge, there were moments when he couldn’t manage to find some magic words that would make everything better. So he tried to comfort her the same way he always did in the situations when words wouldn’t work. He reached out to pull her into an embrace, intending to hold her until she was calm enough to find the strength to face her problems, but to his astonishment she held him at arms’ length.
(And here at the end I’m also a bit stuck. Should she run out melodramatically, which wouldn’t work unless she’d been shouting at him, or just kind of tell him she thinks it might be best for her to just go and she’ll see him around sometime when their “separate lives” permit?)