The Jacket by spastasmagoria [Reviews - 6] |
There is a certain article of clothing in the control room that the Doctor does not know what to do with. Post Doomsday. Made with love, instead of angst. And edible ball bearings.
Standard disclaimers, yadda yadda. Thanks to darkbunnyrabbit for the read thru and Rosesbud for the betaness.
…And for some reason, that pale blue coat hanging over the rail in the control room made him think of Reinette.
Rose’s jacket had been hanging over that rail for… two months, relative time. Well, except for that brief spell when Donna, the bride from hell had found it, demanding to know if he kidnapped women all the time (which now that he thought about it…).
And the times he picked it up and sniffed it.
He drew the line at licking cottony things–he’d gotten lint all over his mouth once and that had ended that lark before it’d really begun. So he was relegated to sniffing, trying to breathe in that last bit of Rose Tyler that remained in this universe. Besides–Rose always got hinky about the licking thing. Threatened to take all of his pens off of him one time. Dip one pen in peanut butter…
From the captain’s chair, he glanced at it. The thing was taunting him from the other side of the control console. He turned back to his work, splicing two wires together that had no business being spliced. That was the nature of TARDIS repair in a universe without TARDIS repair yards.
The Doctor knew he should put it away. In her room, which he had yet to venture into. Maybe in the bottom of his cupboard, next to the boxes of Adric’s things. It was doing him no good to have it here, to look at it. To think…
Oh thinking was always a dangerous thing. It always seemed to get him into trouble. Well, it also got him out of trouble. He wondered what the ratio of thinking getting him into trouble to thinking getting him out of trouble was.
Stabbing himself in the finger with a tiny fibre of copper wire, he winced, putting it in his mouth. The finger, not the wire. Stealing a glance up at the jacket, he wondered briefly if there was a finite amount of trouble in the universe. Perhaps it, like energy, could be neither created or destroyed, only change form.
He didn’t have to put the jacket away, he reasoned. He could… stash it under a grate. Hang it on the coat rack. It seemed to hang perpetually empty these last few times around–maybe he should get a fedora or baseball cap or…beret or something to hang on it. He didn’t actually have to wear the damned thing. But having something on the hook would make it seem less like… a prop. Or the last line of defense against unwanted TARDIS visitors. He could just picture Rose grabbing the thing and impaling some green slimy alien…
That was it. He hated that coat. He hated it and he wished it would die.
Stupid damned coat that he told her to put away, if she wasn’t going to wear. She’d decided at the last moment to grab the teal hoodie jumper thingy (why did she require so many TYPES of clothes?) instead of the blueish one, and he’d suggested NOT cluttering the control room. She simply laughed at this suggestion and said she’d just hang it there for a bit, until she found out what the weather was like on Earth, this way in case she had to run back in for something heavier, she wouldn’t take all day.
‘Oh, then you’ll be bellyaching about me taking so long to go back and get a heavier jacket,’ she’d said to him. Leave it to Rose Tyler to try and turn ‘slob’ into a positive attribute.
What was he going to do with that thing? It couldn’t stay in here forever.
Finger of his right hand still in his mouth, he didn’t even realised he’d crossed the control room and was clutching the thing in his other hand, lifting it to his nose. Yup. Still smelled like her, check.
Vanilla, soap and running for your life. It wasn’t polite to say that something (especially something associated with a lady) smelled of… well, BO, but really, that was what a person’s own unique scent was–especially to his sensitive and largely superior Time Lord nose–body odor and whatever was being used to wash away or cover it up. Rose had grown to fancy that vanilla body spray and her affinity for ‘morning dew’ antiperspirant amused him. He had no idea what the hell morning dew smelled like–but it wasn’t that deodorant. Mostly her deodorant smelt like dryer sheets.
So that was her jacket–vanilla, soap, dryer sheets, sweat and hair oil. That was Rose Tyler to him.
Which was why the jacket made him think of Reinette.
There was a heap load of regret to add onto the banana split sundae of discontent that this regeneration had become. Was it possible, as a…person, Time Lord, citizen of the universe, to suck any more completely and totally than he did?
List of offences: well, he’d better just back up to his last regeneration and keeping Jackie Tyler’s daughter away from her for an entire year without even meaning to. Ok, he conceded to deserving that slap. Who the hell couldn’t just… land in the right year?
There was, well…there wasn’t even a word for what he was. Donkey’s arse didn’t even cover what he’d done to Jack for the sake of preserving some idiotic timeline that hadn’t even EXISTED until Bad Wolf showed herself. But oh, that was the timeline that had popped up, and he’d had his brain so addled with the beginnings of regeneration, he just… left Jack. No explanations. No later return for the Time Agent, because, oh, there’s that damned dominant timeline to preserve!
Oh wait, if he was going in chronological order (and just what the hell was that to a Time Lord?) he had to back up and append the part where he frightens Rose right the hell out of her mind by regenerating without warning. Talk about trauma that should have left the girl in therapy for a few years.
Then he drags Rickey along, against Rose’s wishes. That was just mean to do to her, and he’d never properly apologised, and worse–he’d done it for a brilliant reason–he wanted to use idiot ex-boyfriend as a buffer between himself and Rose.
If he was going in order, did he throw in the wasted time crime here, or later on? Wasted time seemed to be spread over his own personal timeline like marmalade–sticky, and once it dries up, impossible to clear away. Well, wasted time–a Time Lord sin–was officially on the checklist of things he couldn’t take back. Whipped cream on the sundae of discontent, as it were.
Which brought him back to vanilla, hair oil and the cherry on top– Reinette. He just…ran out of time. Wasn’t fast enough. Damn him for leaving someone else waiting. How many people had waited for him over the years? Would Rose wait for him still?
All time being now (the metaphysicalness of his Time Lordhood could get annoying sometimes–other times it was a painful, searing, stinging temptation), Reinette was still standing at that fireplace, waiting for him.
He turned the jacket in his hand, sniffing first the hood, then the collar, noting the difference–slight but there. The collar sported more of the salty tinge of sweat. One day he’d have to stop sniffing it.
Maybe he could…turn it into something useful. Like a pillow covering. Then he could…
Oh who the hell was he kidding? He had nothing resembling sewing skills.
Reinette was a true Renaissance woman–she was good at practically anything she set her hand to. Or enlightenment…whatever. He bet she could have done something with the jacket…
His mind was a muddled mess, wasn’t it? Memories were twisting around each other, like snakes up a tree. The flip of Rose’s blonde tresses, Reinette lips upon his, the weird feeling of falling out of a tree when he’d realised what she’d seen in his head.
Forcing himself to put the jacket down, he took his finger out of his mouth, ordering himself to place one foot in front of the other, picking up the makeshift locational regulator and investing his attention back upon it. Reinette had been the only person to ever see…
It wasn’t the war. That wasn’t what she’d seen. Well, maybe she had–but that hadn’t been the focus of her attention. His childhood. Sitting alone in his room, the youngest of his house, the only one not loomed and born with only a fraction of the genetic knowledge of the others in his house. The only one who knew his parents…which somehow made him even more alone. His father wanted him to be as he should be, which was a proper Gallifreyan–his mother wanted desperately to understand him, but in the short time they’d been afforded together had never managed it.
At the academy, being ‘that’ boy. The one from Longbarrow who…wasn’t quite right. And then, he’d thought he’d found a friend in Koschi. Well–he had. They were kindred spirits, truly. He’d been set apart because of his heritage, and the view of the world that he possessed because of it. Koschi had been set apart because of his superior intellect.
The Doctor…Theta Sigma, as he’d been known back then (a cruel nickname that he’d eventually come to wear with pride) had often wished to be as clever and quick as Koschi–ok, he’d actually looked up to Koschi. Admired the way he did not care about what his classmates or lecturers thought of him, admired the way he did not care for perfect marks–the pursuit of knowledge and the solving of a problem was its own reward, Koschi had said–not appeasing some two thousand year old professor who hadn’t seen the inside of a TARDIS since the dawn of Boe Kind.
It was entirely fitting, then, that Koschi–the Master, should become his greatest enemy (that wasn’t the Daleks, of course–they had their own special place of infamy in his hearts).
It wasn’t so much that Reinette had seen that. The whys and wheres and whats weren’t important. It didn’t matter when the wounds were nine hundred years old.
But they were still there. And suddenly, for a moment, there was some other person in all of time and space that knew what that felt like–that twist in the pit of his stomach every time one of the cousins excluded him or made a snide remark because he was the house oddity for not being loomed. The sort of…stone that developed there every time events blew around the stacks of paper in his mind and unburied those particular memories.
The feeling of being alone then–of being alone now.
That was a certain painful irony that Reinette had hit upon. He intentionally surrounded himself with people that he knew would leave him, and then gave just enough of himself to feel an imaginary closeness with them…so that he could pretend in the middle of a chase or a dull, rambling explanation that he was alive and part of something. Ultimately, he had about as much life in him as an animated tin woodsman…and enough heart.
He’d invited Mickey along because he was getting too close to Rose. A wall had been about to break down, and he wasn’t sure he could handle that. Alone in a crowd of people–all because there was a piece of himself he couldn’t give. It was as sad as it was pathetic, and he’d spent at least four hundred years trying to not think about it, because every time he did, he despised himself.
Went back to the wasted time thing–he’d allowed himself to be lonely even when Rose was with him. And all because he didn’t pay attention to his own mental blocks and doorways, Reinette had stepped straight though, seeing that bit of him that he had no words to explain. For a minute, there was someone else that knew how he felt, without him having to use words.
For someone with five million languages at his disposal and who’d been accused of being a right Chatty Cathy, he sure was shit at even deciphering his own inner machinations, much less expressing that with someone else. That’s one reason he wanted her to come along (timelines be damned–see what it had gotten him with Jack? Very little, ultimately). Reinette knew. She had a piece of him that he’d never been able to give to anyone else because of that whole part where he’d have to… figure himself out and then, like, express that to another living being.
He wasn’t sure how Rose felt about that ‘psychic in the head stuff.’ Maybe he could have…you know. With her.
Oh sure, right. That would have happened. Then he’d have had to have opened his damned mouth to tell her of his intention. And he’d have left her with… that. Reinette wandering in unannounced and finding long festering wounds in his soul was one thing. Saying here, Rose, why don’t you take some of these, so we don’t have to…you know…talk about it… that was quite another.
She knew about his involvement with the Time War and still accepted him. She’d have accepted him if he’d have shown her those things… but he just couldn’t. Couldn’t heap that sadness on another living soul intentionally.
Part of it was the loneliness and the feeling of being so…isolated from everybody and everything. Which was something that stung most of all when he saw the boring normal little people, going about their boring normal lives, having those boring, mundane moments–a mother wiping ice cream from her child’s chin, a boy on his father’s shoulder. An older couple on a park bench, his hand not on hers, just brushing against it, each knowing the other so well they need not say anything–everything is expressed in that bare few inches of touching skin.
The other part he had no intention of strapping another being with was all the other…stuff that was in there, mixing around in his head, entirely unsorted and unfocused, intermittently being ignored and eating at him over the years.
Sure. He’ll just hand Rose a steaming, heaping plate of maudlin emo Doctor-angst. Nothing says ‘you’re really special’ like Doctor-angst. He really should have just bought her a necklace or something. Maybe something with little multi-coloured stones that made a butterfly or a flower or something ridiculous like that. Some gesture to say what was on his mind without him having to take that monumental step of saying something beyond ‘I’m always fine.’
Did he just say–er–think ‘emo’?
Add that to the thirty-seven other words he hoped never to say, think or read again in this lifetime. Where the hell had he even picked up that word from? Stupid Goth/Punk/Whateverthehell they were supposed to be kids on the estate (though he did admire that one kid’s monumental number of face piercings–that’s dedication). And what had he been doing, hanging out there long and often enough to pick up Internet slang from any random fifteen year old that crossed his path?
Ok. And what was he doing holding this jacket again? What did he do with the regulator he’d been rebuilding?
Losing his mind. Or what little was left of it by this point.
Looking around, he turned in a circle twice, trying to think of what he’d do with a boxy metal pieced-together abomination if he were an absent-minded Doctor. It didn’t help. Huffing, puffing, flummoxing and generally berating himself for foolishness, the Doctor dug around on every surface, looked under and above everything in site and…
…And he was an idiot. Or dementia was setting in. Stupid thing was in his hand the whole time, under the coat.
What the hell was he going to do with the coat? Obviously the thing was a distraction, could quite possibly be classified as a menace and was quite quickly ruining what little remained of what he tried to pass for a life. He should burn it, space it…something.
Oh that’d be a proper sendoff… push the thing out an airlock or the front door and into the Vortex, or toward a sun or something.
But he won’t do that. Any more than Adric’s stuff will ever leave the bottom of his cupboard, except when he takes them out to intermittently remember fondly and torture himself. He won’t put it with Adric’s things either, because she’s alive. His cupboard seems to be little more than a reminder of the dead–pieces of a home that had never been his home–relics from a dead world, the robes of the president of Gallifrey, the school uniform of someone who wanted to be anywhere but there, meaningless diplomas that bespoke only that he could jump through someone elses’ hoops and were no real measurement of understanding… other baubles and things he couldn’t even remember.
Rose was alive. Not in that moronic metaphysical sense, the way Reinette was. Rose was honest-to-gosh, for real, really and truly alive, and universe-willing, having a fantastic life, as he’d asked her to do a long time ago. Working for Torchwood, defending the Earth, getting to know her dad, about to embark on some new phase of ordinary life as a big sister… things he wouldn’t ever have, and couldn’t ever give her.
And he…felt as he did about her. Felt as he did so much so that he wanted happiness and good things for her. He wanted…
He wanted to be a different person.
Not to live another life, wasn’t sure if he’d ever handle settling down. But he wanted to be a different kind of man–one that believed in second chances–one that would offer himself a second chance and would hope that the universe would give him one in return.
Correctumundo, emo, leet, ginormous, gooder-est, transmat-tational, spamtastic, Sparticulicious sperminate…the list of words he hoped never to say again was fairly substantial. He had two more he needed to add to that list: hopeless and impossible. Impossible had somehow become a permanent and overused part of his vocabulary lately. He was officially putting a moratorium on impossible. From now on he was morally obligated to do seven impossible things before breakfast every day, just to prove how possible they were.
Abandoning his re-foundified (oh hell–there went another one) regulator, the Doctor walked back to the rail where he’d found the jacket, reverently putting it back just as Rose had done on her last day in the TARDIS.
One of the sixty-four thousand reasons why he’d left Gallifrey was the lack of cheese. An entire planet without cheese was… well, a planet without cheese. Granted it smelt better than a bunch of things that smelled like cheese, but it wasn’t a very yummy world to live in. Another rather large reason was the way the Time Lords used their power. They had command over time and space, and they… didn’t actually use their powers to their fullest extent.
The Time Lords called it interference. He called it… ok, so it was interfering with the natural course of history. But why have abilities if you squander them? If you help no one but your own tedious record keeping, and only get involved when the universe is on the brink of annihilation.
But there was so much that just… wasn’t right in the universe. What was the difference between one being destroying the life of another and a million beings destroying the lives of others? One was worth the Time Lord’s attention, and the other was not. Why not just… change it?
If you don’t like something–change it. If something isn’t right, change it. It may not be perfect when you’re done, but at least you changed it instead of… he didn’t know. Complaining, whining, becoming a maudlin man without mercy or integrity. There were things in the universe that he didn’t like and he attempted to change them all the time. Perhaps it was time to look at himself as one of those problems in various places that he was so fond of walking right into the thick of.
Running a hand along the sleeve of the material, devising his plan. The jacket stayed where it was, until he was that man–someone who believed in second chances and believed that impossible was just a word for things he hadn’t set his mind to yet.