Living the High Life - Part 3 @ 08:51 pm
Title: Living the High Life - Part 3/5
Rating: PG -PG13
Genre: Drama, Comedy (or trying for anyway), and some Angst
Characters: Ten, Donna, implied Ten/Rose
Word Count: 5,384
While traveling with Donna, Ten accidentally ingests an alien hallucinogenic that makes him believe Donna is actually Rose. Forced into an awkward situation with a suddenly happy and bestotted Time Lord, she will have to make a decision that could involve breaking his heart all over again.
Notes: Delayed as I had some troube pinning down Jack's voice in my head, and also had a discussion with my med student sister about drug effects that I wanted to incorperate. I don't have a beta and my grammar needs work so sorry for any mistakes. Enjoy!
Part 3: The Art of Companionship
If there was ever an upside to this whole mess the Doctor had gotten her into this time, Donna Noble had decided that Jack Harkness was it. He was charming with just the right amount of flirt to make a girl feel wanted, all wrapped in an other worldliness appeal that the Doctor just didn't hold for her for whatever reason – a reason Donna was not about to question anytime soon either, thank you very much. This was a bloke she would've happily pretended to be involved with for a few days, and from the openly flirtatious remarks he made, she doubted some crazy alien berry would be required anyway. After a few minutes of introductions and polite chit chat though, he jumped right into the heart of her problem.
"So the Doctor thinks you're Rose," he stated more than questioned before taking a sip of his beer, "I have to admit, I both envy and pity you at the same time." It was accompanied by a wink that left Donna confused about her assessment on him. Surely with all he was putting out he wasn't a poof? No gay man could exude that much sexual charisma and not hit off on her detector.
Martha scoffed at his remark and gave him a playful shove, "Really now Jack, there is a time and a place yeah?"
"You can't tell me you weren't thinking the same thing," Jack smirked back at her.
Her friend didn't return the teasing manner however and just gave the captain a thin smile, "If you'd asked me over a year ago maybe, but
now?" She shook her head and Jack held up his hands in surrender.
"Alright, fair point," he offered before leaning towards the doctor with a sly smile, "The offer is still on the table about you and Tom though sweetheart. You're a cute couple and I'm a fantastic host. A fun time would be had by all." Donna could feel her brow furrow in confusion and her mouth drop open slightly. Did Jack just proposition what she thought he did? Maybe she was reading too much into that statement…
Martha's laugh didn't help her confusion any and, catching Donna's confused look across from the table finally, only led to a few more chuckles before the woman offered up an apology. "Sorry Donna. I forgot how Jack can seem upon first meeting him. He talks a good game, but he's harmless really."
"I think I feel insulted Ms. Jones. Talking implies that I have no follow through, and I can give you several references who will assure you that is not the case," Jack disputed, sending that smile Donna's way again at the end.
"Oh, I don't doubt the length of your references Harkness," Martha smirked at the man before smiling at Donna again, "He's a bit of an
intergalactic playboy this one, Donna. If you believe even half his stories then there's not a species, let alone person, he hasn't taken a shot at shagging."
Jack shrugged in an enigmatic way, "I'm just not limited by your twenty-first century sexual morals is all; universe is too big of a place not to have an open mind."
Indignation at Martha fluttered in Donna's stomach as she made the only logical conclusion from the conversation so far. "So your master plan was to have me get advice from some," she gestured at Jack with a hand wave, "Intergalactic gigolo? I'll take my chances slipping spaceman some sleeping pills thanks all the same."
Martha looked equally flustered and embarrassed at Donna's accusation; something that was not helped by Jack's loud guffaws that issued at the same time. The captain beamed even brighter at her now, "Oh please tell you call him that."
"Donna it's not like that at all," Martha insisted, shooting a glare at Jack for a split second before looking at her again.
Donna felt some of her anger fall away at Martha's pleading, but crossed her arms stubbornly across her chest anyway. She already felt out of sorts with this situation and she wasn't about to be turned into a joke over it as well. "Well that's what it looks like from where I'm sitting, and yes," Donna looked over at Jack then, nose slightly turned up as she did, "I call him that and worse if he deserves it."
The man's smile and low appreciative whistle did much to diffuse the last embers of Donna's anger, "What a needed blow to his Time Lord pride you must be. Donna Noble, I salute you." After a compliment like that, Donna couldn't help but lift her own drink to clink with his. It was about time someone recognized what she had to go through with that man some days. Like taking care of a nosy five year old he was, and when she told Jack as much, it only made him laugh harder.
"Oh man," he wiped a tear away from his eye, "I have to admit. You sort of remind me of her."
"Who?" Donna questioned with some confusion. Had she missed a reference in there somewhere?
Jack gave her a melancholy smile as he answered her, "Rose, of course."
In the shock caused by his statement, Martha finally took the opportunity to explain things to Donna. "Jack used to travel with them you see," her friend clarified, "The Doctor and Rose. He's the source I was telling you about on the way over. I rang him after your call to see if he might be able to give you some tips on acting like Rose if it was as bad as it thought it might be until this works out of his system; which, now that I have seen him, I can definitely say you'll need."
Right. She'd forgotten all about that bit thanks to Mr. Charming here actually. Not wanting to give away that he'd affected her as such, she sat a little straighter and gave the captain a skeptical glance, "And you say I already act like her then?"
Jack shook his head as he set his drink down, "No. I said you remind me of her. Big difference." Donna opened her mouth to ask if he was insulting her, but his raised hand cut her off. "I don't mean that in a bad way either. It's that casual ability to stand up to him that you share as far as I can tell," he smirked at her, adding in one last comment, "Of course Rose was more about teasing him any time he tried to act impressive, but when she felt he was in the wrong she let him know it, and that she wasn't okay with it."
Donna had already figured it would be a bit like that between the pair and, while she never though bad of the woman before, it did raise her opinions of Rose a bit to know this girl hadn't been afraid to give the Doctor a push when he needed it even then. Her mind immediately jumped to her first adventure with the Doctor. The screams of the giant spider queen and her babies while the Doctor just stood there, watching as the room flooded with the water and sounds of the river.
"Sometimes he needs someone to tell him when to stop," Donna solemnly stated, looking back over at her two companions as she did, having just realized she'd looked away during her musings. Martha's face held a dark contemplative look, likely lost in memory as well, but Jack was giving her an assessing stare. Donna felt a bit miffed that even when he wasn't trying to charm the pants off her she still found his eyes smoldering and managed to only fidget slightly under the weight of his gaze.
The silence between the three stretched on for what felt like a lifetime, but was likely just a few minutes, when Jack broke it. "You already know how this is going to end," he stated.
Donna let out a sigh as she closed her eyes, "Not really no, but I know what he was like the first time."
"The first time?" Martha prompted.
Opening her eyes, Donna looked first at Jack, and then at Martha as she debated sharing her knowledge with them. Seeing what she needed in their expressions however, Donna nodded once. "First time I met him- bit over a year ago now I think, hard to tell with all this traveling – I didn't know it at the time, but I think he'd only just lost her. Rose I mean," Donna clarified. Martha's face had widened in surprise at her confession, but Jack was unfazed. He gave her a small nod to continue.
"You have to understand," Donna started, feeling the need to defend herself, "I was mid stride down the aisle, about to be married to a man I thought- but that doesn't matter. So yeah, walking down the aisle and suddenly I'm glowing before just as suddenly I'm in this strange looking place. Weird grating beneath my feet, odd greenish bronze coloring everywhere, and I whirl around to see him standing there – just as shocked of course – and I immediately start accusing him of kidnapping of all things, demanding he take me back. Even worse was when I found this woman's jacket not a minute later and, thinking I'd not been the first to be snatched up in some horrible prank, I called him out on it." She paused more a moment, "I'll never forget that look on his face as he stared at that purple bit of fabric before he took it from me. He was so broken and hurt and…looking back on it now I think he'd been crying a bit as he'd wiped his face off right at the start." Martha held up a hand to cover her mouth as let out what sounded like an 'Oh god' at this revelation, while Jack's look had turned dark as he clearly contemplated something.
"He must have just said goodbye," Jack finally spoke a moment later. He looked up from his staring at the table and glanced between Martha and herself for a moment before leaning forward on the table, head bent low and his voice tight and serious. "I've got some things to show the two of you but I want to tell you a bit about Rose first. Before I do that though, I need your word that you will never speak to the Doctor about any of this unless he tells you about it first. If you've traveled with him for any amount of time you can tell he's a private man, almost to the point of being frigid on some topics really, and I know for a fact that something this personal wouldn't be brought up often or voluntarily. Still, it's something Donna will need to know at the very least once this drug is out of his system, and I wasn't kidding when I said I pity you about going through this. You seem like you've seen him at his lowest though if what you're saying is true, so I think you'll be able to handle it. Do I have your word ladies?"
Donna immediately nodded, "Of course." Martha replied in a similar fashion.
Jack weighed their conviction before giving a brief nod and began to remove things from his blue jacket pockets, "Alright then." He laid a small, well used, leather book and one of those iPad looking computers on the table before him as he began, "The Doctor was a different man when I met him, literally. I know Martha already knows about this but the Doctor has this ability to completely change his body if he's about to die. I always thought it was another Time Lord rumor until recently."
"Hang on," Donna interrupted, "What do you mean a rumor? You'd known about aliens before you met the Doctor?"
The captain shot a cheeky grin her way as he undid the leather bindings on his book, "Sweetheart, I'm from the fifty-first century originally. Even though I'm human, I'm almost an alien to you myself."
Donna's jaw dropped. That certainly explained the strangeness about him. "You're joking," she replied and his smile assured her he was not.
"I was a Time Agent once upon a time, and we learned about this mythical race called the Time Lords in our history class," then man continued, "Nothing but speculation and rumors of course so you can imagine my shock and skepticism when the Doctor claimed he was one. Stepping foot in the Tardis was a quick way to change my mind as I'm sure you know." He waved the subject off, "Anyway, the Doctor looked different then and acted a bit different too. He was very gruff, very hard, and the only thing that ever made him light up was her." Jack removed a slim piece of paper from his book and passed it over for Donna's inspection. She recognized Jack immediately, only a few years younger by her guess, the other two were complete unknowns to her but from everything he'd just said she could hazard a guess who they might be. It was a posed picture, the three of them mugging it up in some bar by the looks of it, but the Doctor – or the man she assumed must be him – had a dopey sort of smile on his face with his arm wrapped around the young blonde in braids on his right.
It was a smile she'd seen several times sent her way quite a bit recently.
Donna wanted to comment on how comfortable the three of them looked there, like they were the best of mates, but the first thing that came out of her mouth was, "She's so young."
Jack smirked, "And she already had a 900 year old alien wrapped around her finger; even if she didn't know it then."
Now that Donna could not believe. "You're full of it," she proclaimed, "You'd have to be blind not to see how they feel about each other, it's all over their faces!"
She passed the photo to Martha then, trying to get her fellow woman to agree with her, but the former companion just looked at it fondly for a few seconds before giving it back to Jack. Right. Martha had said she'd talked to Jack about Rose before after all. This was likely all old news to her then.
"You'd think so wouldn't you?" Jack smiled as he shook his head, "I think Rose would have jumped at the chance if the Doc would have just given her a clear sign that he felt the same, but he had some strange moral code in his head that wouldn't let him."
Donna sorted, "Well I can tell you that must have changed at some point with the way he's treating me now unless they were all handsy and kissing back then too."
Jack's eyebrows shot up, "Really now? Well that certainly explains some things. They were always drawn to each other like magnets, but the kissing thing, that's a new one." A shadow passed over the time agent's face then as he lost himself in some thought and surprisingly it was Martha who broke the silence this time.
"From what Jack tells me," she began slowly, "Rose met him right after he'd just lost everything. Survivor's guilt on top of depression best as I can tell from what he's mentioned about the Time War, but somehow she managed to bring him out of it and remind him the universe had some good left in it still."
"Like I said," Jack spoke up again, "Wrapped around her finger; especially with that smile of hers." There was a wistfulness to the man's voice now that made Donna wonder just what had gone on between the three of them. It also made her wonder how she was going to pretend to be this girl who could do no wrong it seemed, and she said as much to the pair of them.
"Oh, don't get me wrong. Rose was a wonderful girl, definitely one of the bright lights in this universe, but she was also just a human – and a young one at that," Jack insisted quickly, "I spent years learning how time needed to be handled very carefully at the academy, so I knew just how serious gallivanting through time could be, but Rose? A twenty-first century young woman? She often thought with her heart first and her head second and while that was something I loved about her, that selfishness also caused a fair share of problems. Well, that and her ability to wander off into trouble. First time I met her she was dangling above London from a barrage balloon."
Jack half smiled at the memory and let out a small chuckle, "The Doctor liked to refer to it as her being 'jeopardy friendly' when he was in a good mood, and a 'right pain in his arse' when he wasn't."
The captain went on to describe what his time with them was like, how the two played off one another, Rose's generally upbeat look at life, and - as it was usually the case when any two people knew enough about each other – their ability to hurt each other and press the other's buttons when they got angry. Martha occasionally chimed in with the tiny bits of her own knowledge about Rose, like the Doctor's claim at her perceptive abilities. Something Jack felt she'd developed from growing up on one of the council estates combined with a good deductive reasoning ability. The more Donna learned about this young woman over the better part of an hour, the more she began to understand how the Doctor could feel the loss of such a person in his life so deeply. And that wasn't even factoring in the romantic aspect of it all. Still, it was clear the former time agent was the expert on Rose that Martha claimed she was as he dominated the conversation.
Jack neatly sidestepped talking about why he wasn't traveling with the Doctor anymore, but it was certainly before this regeneration business since he'd clearly mentioned not seeing the Doctor's new face – and this was an alien concept that she was still trying to wrap her brain around really – until recently. The other tip off being that when Jack pulled out a handful of other photographs from his little journal as he spoke, none of them showed the Doctor she was familiar with. The older version of the Doctor wasn't half bad looking though so she couldn't say she minded. One fact was bothering her about the whole situation with this Romeo and Juliet romance playing out before her and, seeing as she wasn't one to back down from anything, Donna asked the question that was bothering her.
"How exactly did he lose her?"
Jack and Martha exchanged a look, no doubt wondering if they should answer, but Donna was not to be deterred; revealing what she already had figured out on her own. "Clearly she's not dead or when I asked the Doctor about her, when he met up again, he would've said so yeah? And it doesn't sound like she would've left him if what you're saying is true. So, what? She just happened to get stuck someplace his magic time box can't pop over to?" she asked with some speculation but in all seriousness.
Her reasoning clearly caught the pair off guard as Martha's eyes widened in surprise. "Erm, yeah actually," her friend responded, "When he and Jack met up again, he said she was stuck in an alternate universe. He can't go after her without destroying everything apparently."
Donna pursed her lips in clear disbelief, "Alternate universes. Seriously? You're joking."
"Oh they're real alright and, actually, humankind is on the verge of discovering proof of their existence this century," Jack with a casual shrug before looking down at the table again. He turned on the forgotten about computer tablet as he continued, "After the Doc told me about what happened I went to see if I could dig up anything useful. Thought I would see if maybe there was something I could do about it. Some moment they'd lost sight of each other that could be manipulated so I could change the outcome. I work for the company where the breech ripped open so it didn't take much to hack into their back up security footage from that day."
A few more flicks and swivels of his fingers across the flat screen and Jack had found what he wanted before flipping the screen around so the two women could see, "The audio cuts to static along with the picture due to void interference occasionally but this is the moment it all happened." Donna stared at the frozen image and felt her stomach drop out. She suddenly had no desire to see this video. She'd take their word on the alternate universe thing, cause if what Jack was saying was true…
Before she could find voice to these feeling though, Jack had hit the play marker and, like watching a car wreck, she couldn't make herself look away.
The small grouping of people came to life at that moment and a voice picked up half way through a speech of some sort it appeared. "-for all of us. For the whole... stupid planet and every planet out there. He does it alone, mum." Donna could only see the backs of the Doctor and the young women - Rose no doubt - who was speaking passionately to her mother and the rest of the group. "But not anymore. 'Cos now he's got me." Rose insisted as she backed up towards the Doctor. But while she had the Doctor had pulled something out of his pocket, slipping it around Rose' neck when she was close enough.
Donna glared at the screen then. That daft alien better not be trying to do what she thought he was or he was in for a smack.
The weight around her neck clearly caught Rose off guard as she spun around to face him. "What're you-" The screen flickered to static then and everyone but the Doctor had vanished when it came back into focus.
Right. A smack it was then. No more of this 'lost' mopping if it was the bastard's own fault.
The Doctor had just started to working on a computer station on the right when the screen went static once more, and Rose was suddenly back; looking right at the Doctor. "-this is the on switch." Donna nodded approvingly at the girl's actions. After everything she'd been told today she would've expected no less of her.
The Doctor however didn't seem to be as pleased about Rose's actions as he rushed over and gripped the young woman by her shoulders. "Once the breech collapses that's IT! You will never be able to see her again. Your own mother!"
Rose wouldn't give in though and met him head on, though her voice trembled in her reply. "I made my choice a long time ago, and I am never gonna leave you."
The two were at a stalemate, with the Doctor clearly in disbelief over Rose's decision. She moved on though, asking how to help and the Doctor instructed her on what to do; imputing information on the other computer station like he asked. The Doctor seemed terse with Rose at times but the static was picking up again, making it difficult to hear anything, though the video seemed to be steady for the moment. Donna followed their movements as they worked. Rose made a comment at some point that had the pair of them grinning and sending back banter between the pair most likely.
The Doctor set Rose up on the side with the camera so Donna was able to finally hear some dialog. "When it starts, just hold on tight. Shouldn't be too bad for us but the Daleks and the Cybermen are steeped in Void Stuff. Are you ready?" Rose's response was too soft to hear but Donna could see her nod as she pointed to something off screen. The Doctor looked at whatever it was as he rushed to the opposite side. "Let's do it!" The pair worked simultaneously as they pulled the levers up before quickly grabbing hold of the handles they'd stuck upon the wall.
Static took over the screen in fits and bursts now and Donna watched with tense anticipation as the pair of them held on for dear life, fighting what ever sort of suction the blinding white light at the end of the room was creating that caused all sorts of metal creatures to fly past them at a startling rate. The Doctor shouted something that sounded happy right before one of the pepper pot looking robots hit the lever on Rose's side. There was more shouting between the pair as the suction decreased and Rose let go of her handle to lift the lever back up. Donna could see it all coming before it happened. Knew how things must end for the pair now, even with the distorted sound and video. Rose struggled to hold on, but it was too much in the end. Her hands slipped from the lever.
The Doctor's scream resounded loudly and static free as Rose fell towards the light.
Donna was able to make out the image of someone appearing in Rose's path and catching her before there was one last spike of complete static followed by a startling silence. Only the faint sound of rubber soles could be heard after the Doctor released his now needless grip on the clamp and slowly walked over to the ordinary looking white wall; pressing a hand against it for just a second before pressing his entire body flush up upon the surface.
It was with a heavy heart and mind that Donna Noble walked back to the Tardis that afternoon. The clock claimed it was just over an hour since she'd last spoken to the Doctor in the chippy, but it felt like a lifetime after everything she's heard and seen in that span. God her heart hurt for him. What was she to do now? Could she really pretend that everything was brilliant when she'd likely have to deal with a grief stricken Time Lord all over again? Well that was a stupid question, of course she would have to. There wasn't much of a choice in the matter really.
She just wasn't sure her heart could take it. The sound of the Doctor screaming Rose's name still rung in her ears even now.
Standing before the now familiar wooden blue doors, Donna took a few steadying breaths as she attempted to get her emotions under control. Focus girl. You can do this and better still, you have some information to work with.
Her key turned easily in the lock and she pushed the door open as she stepped in. An unmistakable tuft of brown hair popped up from below the grating. The rest of him followed suit as she walked up the ramp, his disheveled appearance making her smile fondly. The Doctor's grin upon seeing her had lit up his face and Donna drank it in after the pain she'd seen on it only minutes ago. Even though he wouldn't understand the true meaning behind it at the moment, Donna didn't fight the urge she had to give him a tight hug. They were something Jack had encouraged to do as the pair had always been tactile before giving into their mutual attraction after all, and he very much doubted they would've stopped.
The Doctor hummed pleasantly as he returned the embrace; placing a little kiss on the crown of her head before releasing her by just a few inches. "Have a pleasant visit with Martha then?" he inquired, "I didn't expect you back for hours yet. I'm told weddings are a very important affair and figured there would be much discussion over things like…oh I don't know tulle, or ribbons. Oh! Or cake! Now that Rose, that is a discussion I could understand taking hours to come to a decision on."
Donna laughed abruptly at the Doctor's rambling, stepping a bit back from the closeness, but not so much as to worry him hopefully. She smiled up at him, "Yeah, we had a good chat. Tom sounds like a decent bloke. Think we can visit for the wedding?"
The Doctor wrinkled his nose and rocked on his heels, "Surely not right away? I mean, you'll have to find a gift and something to wear - although, the Tardis could help you out easy with that one – and there's this brilliant planet I was planning to take us next. Helitrophe 4. Has clouds you can actually walk upon in the winter and-"
A quick finger over his mouth shut up that gob of his a bit more delicately than her normal glare would have done, but just the joy of seeing him so happy right now was enough to keep her typical ire at his ramblings down. "Sounds lovely," she agreed, taking her finger away, "We leaving now then?"
"Err," the Doctor quickly looked back down inside the cubby hole under the floor he'd emerged from, "Well…maybe not just now. Should only take a few minutes, well when I say minutes it could take – how about we make it an early morning date?"
Her heart gave a twist at the word and his accompanying bashful expression, but she continued to smile back; leaning up to press a kiss on the part of his cheek that was smudge free. "Think I'll go make up a pot then. You want a cuppa?" she offered.
The Doctor beamed happily at her, "Sounds brilliant."
Donna made it to the hallway off the console room before turning to look back at the alien. He stood with his hands in his pockets, smiling and watching her as she left. Knowing what she did now and what was likely coming, Donna gave him one last parting grin before finally walking off. While the coming days were likely to be hard on her, she knew the ones after, when the Doctor came to his senses, were going to be worse and that this time…this time she wouldn't be all confused and accusing during his grief. She'd be what he'd needed in the first place.