|Eighth Doctor, Multi-Era, Eleventh Doctor|
A Trail of Chocolate Eggs by Vampiyaa [Reviews - 7] |
All my fics can be found on fanfiction.net, AO3 and tumblr.
A/N: Sooooo... I lied in the last story. April Fools! :3 ...Okay, you got me, I forgot Easter existed ^^' Thankfully I remembered before this year's Easter passed us all by.
PS, I know in the last Who Holidays story, I said there wouldn't be another fic till Thanksgiving... that was another lie :3 There won't be a thanksgiving fic (I had one planned, but it seemed stupid so I scrapped the idea). However, there WILL be a summer solstice fic, even though that's not really a holiday, leading up to a Hallowe'en fic. :p Hope you liked, please review!
A Trail of Chocolate Eggs
In the rundown old park in the centre of the Powell Estates, there could be seen several of the Estates children bouncing down the sunlit jogging path, woven baskets full of store-brand Easter eggs in their hands. The parents were either situated on the sidelines or hanging over their children’s shoulders. One large woman with ridiculously coiffed brown hair tore her eyes off her son picking up a brightly wrapped orange egg and putting it in his basket.
“S’about time, Jacks!” the woman said, hands on her enormous hips. “The others’ve been here for ages!”
“Rose had a gymnastics lesson– I had to pick her up,” said Jackie swiftly, placing her hand on top of her five-year-old daughter’s blonde head. “Say hello to Bev, sweetheart,” she added.
Rose’s big brown eyes dropped to her basket bashfully. “‘Lo Auntie Bev.”
“‘Ello, Rosie,” Bev cooed. “Ready to find loads of chocolate eggs?” Rose nodded eagerly, and Jackie and Bev both smiled with endearment. “Go on, then, have fun.”
Rose immediately let go of her mum’s hand and sprinted into the throng of children, nicking eggs off the ground before anybody else could get to them. Shareen and Mickey kept trying to steal eggs out of her basket, even though they already had full baskets and Rose barely had ten minute eggs in hers, since she’d arrived late, and Keisha burst into tears when she tripped over a tree root and some of her eggs spilled out onto the ground. Keisha’s mother tried to console her while the other children gawked and Rose happily gathered up the fallen eggs.
Sooner than wanted, the egg hunt was over and all the other children were ushered over to a tablecloth-covered picnic table to have hot dogs and juice, but Rose still didn’t feel the amount of eggs in her basket was satisfactory and strayed away from the group to look for more. Most of them had already been gathered up from the obvious places, like at the bottom of trees or perched on stones, but to Rose’s utter delight she spotted one near the sandbox. Upon picking it up, she immediately spotted another one some few feet away, and Rose skipped over to that one and picked it up as well, only to spy several more in a line. She got tired of bending over multiple times and ended up simply crawling on her hands and knees to gather up the trail of eggs, getting grass stains on her trousers and palms until there was more grass in the basket than eggs.
Eventually, Rose got to the last one, situated directly underneath a park bench occupied by a despondent-looking man. Rose snatched up the last egg and happily stuffed it into her basket, noting to herself with glee that she now had more eggs than Mickey or Shareen. The man gave her a glance and a wan smile before returning to his thoughts, and Rose promptly plopped onto her bottom and stared up at him rudely. He looked like the kind of man her mum would bring home for dinner and sometimes for sleepovers – ‘handsome’, Shareen said they were called – with cropped chestnut hair and silver blue eyes. His clothes were odd and out of place, like the uniforms the soldiers wore in Remembrance Day parades.
“Am I interesting, little one?” the man said curiously, when he noticed her staring.
“No,” she said bluntly, making him chuckle a bit bitterly. “How come you look so sad?”
His half-smile faded into despondence again– the same expression her mum wore whenever she’d talk about her dad. “It’s a secret.” Rose stuck out her jaw in irritation, but before she could say something rude to try and make him tell her, he patted the empty space on the bench next to him. “I think the bench is more comfortable than the ground, don’t you?”
Rose started to get up, but froze. “Mum says ‘m not s’posed to speak to strangers.”
“Very smart woman, your mother,” he said with a nod. “How about this– what’s your name?”
“Rose Marion Tyler,” she said at once, reciting from memory.
He chuckled again. “Nice to meet you, Rose Marion Tyler. I am the Doctor. See, now we’re not strangers anymore.”
Rose thought hard for a moment before nodding seriously. “S’pose not.” She placed both hands on the bench and tried hoisting herself up, the first time to no avail. He tried to help her but she stubbornly said, “I can do it, watch!” and tried a second time, grinning triumphantly when she successfully managed to clamber onto it.
The Doctor clapped his hands and gave her a proud smile, making her beam. “Bravo!”
“Told ya I could do it,” Rose boasted, pulling her basket up into her lap.
“You did indeed,” he agreed. “How old are you, Rose Marion Tyler?”
“‘M five and a half,” she declared, idly rummaging around in her basket and picking out grass. “How old are you?”
“How old do you think I am?” the Doctor said.
She thought for a moment. “You’re old. Are you nine?”
He let out a delighted laugh. “No, I’m a bit older than that. I’m one thousand years old,” he added in an ominous tone.
Rose gaped. “No way! You’re really, really old!” She watched him, fascinated, as he collapsed into laughter, all previous despair forgotten. “How come you don’t have wrinkles?”
“Because I eat bananas,” the Doctor grinned. “Bananas are good, Rose. Eat plenty of bananas and you won’t get wrinkles.”
“I should tell Mum that– she’s got loads,” Rose said offhand, starting to dig in her basket again. “Want an egg?”
“That would be lovely,” he said gallantly, accepting a slightly grassy green-wrapped egg from her and starting to unwrap it. “Thank you, Rose.”
“You’re welcome,” Rose said, remembering her manners. The remembrance was brief and lasted only up until she said frankly, “How come you looked so sad? Don’t tell me s’a secret,” she added sternly.
The Doctor didn’t answer her for a long time, simply taking his time unwrapping the egg and popping it into his mouth. When he swallowed, the sadness had returned to his eyes. “I’m a soldier, Rose.”
“Thought you said you’re a doctor.”
He chuckled. “I’m that too.” Another long pause. “Do you know what soldiers do, Rose?”
She furrowed her brows in concentration. “Mummy said they fight in wars.”
“You’re in a war?” Rose gaped, and he nodded, eyes now locked on a squirrel clinging to the side of a pine tree. “Where is it?”
“Where I’m from,” he said vaguely. “It’s a bad one, Rose. War is bad, and that’s what makes me sad.”
“Couldn’t you just leave?” Rose said, mouth full of chocolate. “If it makes you sad, I’m sure they’ll understand.”
He gave her a weak smile. “They wouldn’t, Rose. If I don’t fight, everyone I love will get hurt.”
Rose swallowed her chocolate, thinking hard. “I’d fight too.”
“You would?” he asked airily, though his face betrayed confusion.
“Mm hm.” Picking up another egg, she chattered, “If someone wants ta take away all the things I love, I’d kick them in the knees.” He laughed again, but she paid him no heed. “Like, this one time some mean old bloke tried to pull my mum out of the house. I threw my Barbie at him! Hit him right in the kisser.”
“How brave of you,” he said between laughs.
“Yep!” Rose nodded firmly, stuffing the egg into her mouth. “Nobody touches my mum. So that’s what you should do.”
“Kick them in the knees?” When she nodded, he grinned, “What if the bad guys don’t have knees?”
Rose knowing look slid off her face, replaced with her usual pout of concentration. “Kick them somewhere else,” she shrugged, unaware that he was now silently laughing behind his hand. “But if you’re protecting your family, how come you’re still sad? You ought to be proud of yourself. That’s what Mum says.”
“Oh?” The Doctor smiled at her endearingly.
“Yep,” she said again, handing him another chocolate egg without asking if he wanted one or not. “‘Sides, soldiers get to be in the Remembrance Day parades. Mum said it gives them ‘airs and graces’.” He snorted, and she left that unnoticed as well, taking out yet another egg for herself. “Mum also says soldiers do good things. They protect their villages, or something like that.”
“They do indeed,” he agreed, looking a bit more cheerful. “You’re absolutely right, Rose Tyler.”
She beamed at him, before her smile faded when she noticed her basket was empty save for one lonesome egg. “Aw, I’ve got almost no eggs left!”
“Here, have a jelly baby,” said the Doctor, sticking his hand into his coat pocket and pulling out a white bag.
Rose pocketed the last egg for later, plopped the basket unceremoniously on the ground and eagerly stuck her hand into the bag, pulling out a handful of jelly babies. “The orange ones are my favourite.”
“Mine too,” he said happily, taking a handful himself.
“Where are you from, anyway?” Rose said with her mouth full.
“Gallifrey,” the Doctor said gaily.
“Never heard of it.”
“I should imagine not,” he chuckled. Pointing up in the sky with his finger, just above the tree line, he said, “Gallifrey is up there, in the sky. It’s very far away.”
“Then how come you’re all the way down here?” Rose asked curiously.
He sobered again, taking his time chewing. “I was thinking.”
“About lots of things.”
“Like…?” she egged him.
Huffing a sigh, he said airily, “Like my family, all the people that have been hurt in the Time War–”
“Wait a minute, time’s in danger?” Rose said urgently, the last jelly baby falling out of her hand. “We have to help it!”
“‘We’,” he echoed, chuckling softly. “We aren’t going to do anything, little Miss. You are going to stay here and enjoy life whilst I save time.”
“But I wanta help,” Rose scowled, crossing her arms. “I can help! I can kick them in the knees, remember?”
The Doctor let loose yet another amused laugh. “You’re staying right here, little one.”
“‘M not little,” she pouted, glaring at her feet. “Can’t you take me to Gall… Galli… Gallifrey?”
“Maybe when you’re older,” he said wanly, barely smiling at her struggle to say the name of his home. Rose could just tell that was a lie, but when she opened her mouth to tell him off, he gave her the same ‘and that’s final’ look that her mum gave her.
They sat in silence, in which Rose brooded and he looked faraway. Rose jumped, scowl dropping off her face when she heard Jackie’s voice calling her name. “That’s Mum!”
“You’d better go, Rose,” said the Doctor, giving her a smile that suggested he was quite sad to see her go.
“But I don’t wanna,” she said earnestly.
“You said I could go with you when I’m older,” Rose insisted stubbornly. “Will you come back when I’m old enough?”
He opened his mouth like he wanted to argue but slumped his shoulders. “All right.”
“Promise?” she said firmly, sticking out her pinkie.
He smiled at her gently like she was the most fantastic thing in the world then and there, and curled his own pinkie around hers. “Promise.”
Satisfied, Rose hopped off the bench and gathered up her basket. “Here,” she added as an afterthought, taking the half-melted Easter egg out of her pocket and handing it to him. “You can have it.”
“Thank you,” he said graciously, eyes twinkling with mirth.
She gave him one more toothy beam before running off, tossing a, “Bye Mister Doctor!” over her shoulder.
When she returned to the park, her mother ran towards her and grabbed her shoulders, white-faced. “Rose, where on Earth have you been?!” Before Rose could answer, Jackie spotted her empty Easter egg basket. “You ate all of your eggs?! Rose Marion Tyler!”
“Did not!” Rose insisted, before her mum could start shouting at her. “I shared some with my friend!”
“An’ who’s that, then?” Jackie asked her warily.
“He’s a doctor from a place called Galli– Gallifrey,” Rose announced. “I gave him some eggs and he gave me jelly babies!”
“Rose Tyler, what have I said about taking things from strangers?!” Jackie all but shrieked.
“But he’s not a stranger, Mum!” Rose said. “He’s my friend, and he’s in a war, and he’s a soldier!”
“Oh, a soldier,” Jackie sighed, finally paying proper attention. “That’s a bit more reassuring. Come on, let’s go home,” she added, taking Rose’s hand and leading her towards the thinning group. “Say goodbye to Mickey and Shareen.”
Rose waved goodbye to her friends as her mother walked her to the Tube, and she spent the whole way chattering about her doctor/soldier friend who was going to kick the bad guys in their non-existent knees.
The Eighth Doctor watched by the park’s edge as the little blonde girl bounced off hand-in-hand with her equally blonde mother. In his palm was cradled the mushed and slightly sticky chocolate egg. The Time War, which he knew was only in its early stages, had taken one hell of a toll on him, and in his own despair and self-hatred he’d taken the TARDIS and piloted her as far away as possible from Gallifrey and all its slowly falling outposts. He’d expected to be alone with his thoughts, his memories of people burning, screaming, endless pain and the scent of decaying flesh– never had he expected to land in a park in which a bunch of children were on an Easter egg hunt, where one would crawl up to him and cheer him up with her five-year-old wisdom.
Rose Marion Tyler was positively adorable, and undeniably clever. He couldn’t help but let out another laugh in remembrance of her suggestion of ‘kicking the bad guys in the knees’. Daleks didn’t have knees, nor would they be affected by it. Laughter fading but smile still present, he revelled in the cheer she’d brought him, which was rare nowadays. The only sort of delight he got was when he successfully killed Daleks, which was starting to sicken him. And yet here was this little child, innocent in every way, telling him with great astuteness that he was fighting for a proper cause, and if he didn’t, everyone he loved would die.
And she’d made him promise to come back and get her when she was older. He grimaced a bit at that. By the time she was old enough to travel with him, she will have forgotten him completely, too caught up in her own simple life of boys and drama, makeup and beans on toast. He’d probably end up forgetting her too, depending how many centuries the Time War lasted– if he even survived. Still, he’d savour the grand amount of hope she’d given him now, until it was time to face the fire again. He’d fight with her in his mind, knowing that if he gave up, she and the rest of the universe would perish at the hands of the Daleks.
He ran a hand through his cropped hair and grimaced at the feel of it. The Doctor hated that he had had to cut it– it had been so wonderfully long before the start of the War, and he’d looked rather dashing, if he was being frank. A startling picture of a random-faced blonde woman – an older Rose Tyler, grown and beautiful – next to his old self, with his wonderful cravats and fantastically long hair, popped unbidden into his mind. The Doctor shook the thought out of his head. That was a dangerous topic in itself.
Slipping the chocolate egg into his pocket to treasure, the Doctor headed back to the TARDIS and rang up Romana. Her dishevelled, newly regenerated face appeared on the monitor. “It’s about time I heard from you, Doctor!”
“Sorry, Romana,” he mumbled. “What’s the news?”
His friend looked unimaginably sombre. “Arcadia’s started to fall.”
Centuries later, the Eleventh Doctor lay motionless on the jump seat of the console room, curled up in a ball in an effort to comfort himself. Had there been anyone there, they might have mistaken him to be asleep, but there wasn’t anyone there. Not anymore. Rory and Amy were gone forever, as was River, who had just left to go to the Library. She would die there, saving him, and he selfishly didn’t care, his thoughts centred on his Ponds. The afterword from Amy’s book was clutched in his hand, with deep creases where it was folded and unfolded too many times.
The TARDIS hummed at him, both in his mind and outward, for the first time since he’d dragged himself onto the jump seat thirteen hours ago. Usually in situations like this, she let him mourn until he hit the forty-eight hour ‘limit’ that she’d established for him. Evidently, it was something important.
With a drawn-out sigh, the Doctor slowly sat up, wanting nothing more than to plop back down. “What is it, sexy?”
The doors opened on their own, revealing a park in the middle of springtime. Earth, April twentieth, 2014, he surmised half-heartedly. When had the TARDIS piloted herself to Earth? Maybe inside the two-hour time window that he’d fallen asleep in, although that was ages ago.
Tucking Amy’s note in his pocket for safekeeping, the Doctor reluctantly stood and made it as far as the doorway so he could take a proper look outside. There were parents, mostly mothers, situated either on benches chattering away or strolling within visual distance of a playground, where children were playing, clambering onto swing sets or rolling around in the sandbox, and most of them had baskets filled with store-bought chocolate eggs. Oh, right, he realised, this year, this time around, it’s Easter.
“Why’m I here?” he mumbled half-heartedly, wanting to turn around and return to the jump seat.
The TARDIS hummed at him, this time only out loud, and he frowned– her hum gave him no clue whatsoever as to the answer to his question. He opened his mouth to inquire again before he spotted a chocolate egg a foot away from the TARDIS, directly in the middle of the doorway. Frown deepening, the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and picked it up, only to have the doors close behind him. He started to turn around to investigate only to spot a trail of Easter eggs leading down the jogging path.
“Okay, I can take a hint,” he muttered, more to himself than his ship, and upon pocketing the first egg began to follow the trail.
It wasn’t a long trail, only about a five-minute walk, and ended abruptly at the base of an oak tree. Why did it stop? He frowned, scanning everything he could see. Then he froze.
No. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be.
She was there, in all her pink-and-yellow magnificence, seated comfortably on a park bench less than ten yards away. Her legs were crossed, bare for the TARDIS-blue dress she donned, and the smooth skin of them shone. The sunlight caught on every strand of her hair, making a kind of glowing halo around her head.
And in that instant, he remembered. Remembered when he was an elegant Victorian man forced to become a soldier. Remembered when he’d run away to Earth to escape the terrible things he’d done. Remembered the little golden girl who’d shared her chocolate eggs with him and gave him her wisdom, gave him hope and the strength to return to the fire.
Remembered his promise to come back and get her ‘when she was older’. He’d kept it without even knowing it, and now he could keep it again.
Her name flung from his lips, sounding half-strangled; she looked up at once, and when her eyes fell on him he was certain he’d died and gone to heaven, despite knowing the notion of heaven was completely absurd. He spent the first three-point-seven seconds panicking when her eyes reflected confusion, but once that dreadful period was over, they lit up with recognition. Then he was definitely in heaven.
She called his name as well, and the sound of her voice was the greatest melody ever conceived. It kicked his legs into gear, and he practically threw himself towards her position, tears sliding unabashedly down his cheeks which were glimpsed only for a moment before the Doctor threw his arms around her, drawing her in almost too tightly. This couldn’t be real. He couldn’t have lost everything and gained everything in the same day. His Ponds were gone, but she came back.
“You found me,” she whispered into his neck.
“I’ll always find you,” he breathed on an honest-to-goodness sob.
Though anybody else would have pulled back to address her properly, the Doctor merely tightened his grip on her, unwilling to let go lest she vanish. “I followed the trail of Easter eggs.”
She laughed, and it was punctuated with a sob echoing his own. “I did that once. Followed them straight to a man, a soldier, who promised to come and get me when I was older.” She was the one to pull back, and he saw that her eyes shone with happy tears. “You kept your promise.”
Oh, she remembered. “Rose,” he whimpered, dragging her back towards him and fisting a hand in her hair. Recollection of a certain important fact hit him like a ton of bricks to the head, and he stiffened. “What about… the other me?”
“He wasn’t you, Doctor,” Rose sighed into his shoulder. “He was more like Donna than anyone else. We stayed friends, an’ he met a woman in the parallel universe.”
He felt a pang, of mixed guilt and anger at his twin for abandoning her, until he realised she’d said the last phrase with happy nostalgia in her tone. Yet another realisation smacked him in the face a la Jackie Tyler. The Doctor was the one to pull back this time, tearstained eyes locked on her own. “Th-then… I can?” he stammered, only just aware that he wasn’t making much sense.
Rose seemed to understand, though – only she would – and gave him a tongue-touched grin that had longing burning through him. “You’d better.”
He let out a happy cry and yanked her close so he could capture her lips, kissing her with centuries of pent-up desire and desperation brought on from their unexpected reunion. He – or one of him – had also promised her forever.
And this time, he intended to keep it.