Kali (_thirty2flavors) wrote,

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fic: to keep on breathing for

Title: to keep on breathing for
Rating: PG, I am so boring
Spoilers: Journey's End
Characters & Pairings: Rose/Ten, Donna, Martha, Sarah Jane
Summary: Popping into existence only to be stranded in a parallel world on an alien planet is, well, odd.
Excerpt: For a long while he feels just slightly out of synch, like there’s a beat missing from the time signature or like there’s a scratch in the CD that still makes you jump, even after you’ve heard it a hundred times.

He goes by John Noble when he has to, because Rose scoffs and says nine hundred years and you can’t come up with anything more creative than Smith, because ‘Tyler’ raises awkward questions and because there’s a voice in his head that says don’t you dare forget about me, Spaceman, just because you’re in a big new parallel world with fancy zeppelins and pretty blondes.

Besides, the name John Smith reminds him too much of scarecrows and school nurses.

It feels right – or at least, less wrong – so it’s the name that gets printed on all those pieces of paper that void when laminated, all the cards and things that a piece of psychic paper negates the need for.


For a long while he feels just slightly out of synch, like there’s a beat missing from the time signature or like there’s a scratch in the CD that still makes you jump, even after you’ve heard it a hundred times. He’s just human enough to need only one heart and just Time Lord enough to want two. It’s complicated, having nine hundred years’ worth of memories living under one set of biological rules, only to find yourself a different species one day.

He also finds himself much more attuned to the passing of each second, each tick on the clock. He’s got, what, sixty years, maybe -- hardly any time at all. For the first time it’s like he’s living with a deadline; for the first time he’s really, truly mortal.

It’s funny, in a way – he pays more attention to time as a part-human than he ever did as a true Time Lord.


All things considered, if he’s going to be stuck on Earth for the duration of this lifetime, at least it’s an Earth he’s not so familiar with. There are zeppelins in the sky, presidents in England and differences to learn. It’s not like picking any spot in cosmos or soaring through time, but it’ll do.

And anyway, there’s Rose. On the great big pros and cons list for each universe, that’s one gigantic plus for Pete’s world.

Then of course there’re the others, too. He subscribes to a London newspaper just to follow the work of investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith. He can hear her voice in each syllable, can imagine where she’d pause and where she’d emphasize, can even imagine the bits her editor removed.

There’s a Dr. Martha Jones, saving the world one patient at a time. She never glances up at night, never considers leaving the big blue sky that hangs overhead, but then she’s never walked across the world alone, either. Not once has the fate of the human race leaned heavily on her shoulders, and maybe, he thinks with a tinge of regret, she’s happier this way.

The best personal assistant in Chiswick is rude, ginger and types one hundred words per minute. Her name is Donna McAvoy and her father walked her down the aisle. She’s never been to Pompeii, never heard the Ood sing and never saved all of creation. He misses her the most, the woman who’d been his other half in the most literal of ways, so he doesn’t let himself think about the fate that awaits a human brain chock full of Time Lord knowledge. Instead he convinces himself (against all evidence and his own better judgement) that maybe the universe is fair, and maybe Lee has done precisely what he himself always wanted to do -- shown Donna her own brilliance.

It’s strange to know that they’re all here, more or less the same, and stranger still to think he could walk past them on the street and they’d not look twice. In moments of weakness (ones he blames entirely on Donna’s infernal human genetics, thank-you kindly) he considers meeting them, staging a chance encounter, but ultimately his Time Lord sensibilities kick in and tie him to reality. It’s for the best, he figures; he can give them nothing if he can’t give them the sky.

Parallel world, gingerbread house.

Still, he spots Donna in town once. She’s talking to a friend, all grand gestures and facial expressions, and though she’s too far away to be heard he’s sure he can hear her, just by looking at her. It’s transfixing, and he watches her until she disappears into a shop down the street.

It’s odd. She feels like a cheap imitation of his Donna, like those watches and Fendi purses sold on the side streets of New York City. When Rose takes his hand to tug him out of his reverie, he can’t help but wonder if that’s what she thought of him, back on Bad Wolf Bay.


It’s some obscure time of night when they get back to the Tyler mansion that first night. It’s hard not to think about Cybermen bursting in through every window and every door, and he wonders how long it took Rose – and Pete, for that matter – to get over that very feeling.

At the moment, it does not seem Rose is particularly caught up in memories of Cybermen, or, well, anything at all. She shoves some clothes into his arms, rubs at her face as though doing so will suddenly endow her with extra energy, then looks up at him blearily.

“I’m afraid the tour’s gonna have to wait ‘til morning,” she says, hands on hips. “I’m two minutes from falling asleep standing up and something tells me you’re not faring any better.”

“I don’t –” he starts, but then Rose is yawning loudly and, to his surprise, so is he.

She says nothing; instead she raises her eyebrows in a manner that can only be translated to told you so.

“You’re devious,” he remarks. “Completely conniving. Absolutely --”

She rolls her eyes, says, “goodnight, Doctor,” and grins for the first time since they were on the TARDIS. Just before she heads to her own room next door, she rolls to the tip of her toes to kiss him on the cheek.


He goes by John Noble when he has to, there’s only one heart in his chest where there should be two, he could pass his best friend on the street and she’d never even notice – but there’s Rose. He can’t run from planet to planet, from century to century, but there’s Rose. He’ll sleep half of his sixty-something years away, and all that time he’ll be stuck on the same blue and green ball, but there’s Rose --

And stuck with her? That’s not so bad.

Tags: doctor who, donna noble, fic, martha jones, one-shot, rose tyler, ten/rose, the doctor

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