The Hidden Well

by Kalleah [Reviews - 208]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure

Author's Notes:
The Doctor and Rose settle in, for the moment, on Arisbe. For those intrigued by Emelia and Connor, a brief glimpse of a conversation.

Once outside the Trabanes' flat, the Doctor steered her away from the path back to Section 4, Habitation D. "Back to the TARDIS," he explained briefly, letting his palm press into the small of her back. "I'd like something a little more robust than the sonic screwdriver to look for our telepathic friend."

Rose once again floundered up the loose, shifting soil, her calves burning, and wondered if there were any snowshoes in the wardrobe room. The Doctor, predictably, seemed to be having much less trouble than she was.

The first few steps on the hard floor of the TARDIS felt odd after the soft ground, and she straightened up with her hands on her hips, sucking in air. The Doctor shot her a single, curious look and began fiddling with controls on the console.

"All right," he said with enthusiasm, "just need to get a resonance field established to scan for Kirlian waves." He scrunched up his face. "They would be Kirlian waves, wouldn't they? Surely something that powerful …" Rose gave him a wide-eyed look in response and he trailed off, lost in thought.

She came over to stand next to him, eyeing the display. The technobabble that streamed out of him was foreign, but she loved to hear him talk. When he stopped talking, she bumped her hip against his playfully in encouragement. To her delight, he bumped right back and winked at her. However, the glasses came out after that, and that indicated a transition from silliness to science, at least for the moment.

Watching her favorite mad scientist intent on a project was entertaining for quite some time, but Rose eventually lost interest. She wandered off to the wardrobe room and began to search for clothes that seemed appropriate for her first day of work tomorrow, and for good measure, a few days after that. Granted, she wasn't quite sure what was "appropriate" for a nursery full of hybrid humans on a planet that was being terraformed, but the TARDIS made a few helpful suggestions.

At length, she settled on an outfit similar to what Emelia had been wearing, although the jumper she selected was a muted violet instead of camouflage green. Even on an alien planet, a girl could allow herself some vanity. The Doctor had said she should wear purple more often, after all.

She held up the jumper in front of her and pivoted back and forth in front of the mirror. Behind her, she heard a loud clatter and a low curse. She turned to find the Doctor tangled up in pair of snowshoes that she hadn't seen earlier, and she burst out laughing before she could stop herself.

"Where did those come from?" he grumbled, tucking them back behind the rail of one of the gracefully curving staircases.

She ignored the rhetorical question. "Did you find anything?"

"No," he responded, running a hand through his hair and leaving it sticking up in all directions. "Just a lot of normally functioning, mostly human brains thinking mostly ordinary human thoughts. I'll have to catch the telepath actually transmitting to find anything."

She leaned against the railing and nodded. "That makes sense. Like trying to figure out what language someone's speaking when they're not talking?"

"Something like," he agreed. "I'm leaving the scanners online, so I don't have to be here every moment."

Rose yawned, and immediately put her hand over her mouth. "I'm not sleepy," she said, and yawned again.

The Doctor came over and took the garments from her. "Better start adjusting to local time," he suggested. "Why don't we get you packed and head back so you can get some sleep?" One hand came up and gently smoothed her hair back from her face, his touch lingering and tender.

Back in the flat, Rose changed into some nightclothes while the Doctor put his supplies from the TARDIS away in the closet. When she returned, he had folded down the covers and was sitting on the edge of the bed, unlacing his trainers. She climbed in behind him and slid underneath the sheets.

They had settled into this routine after they had become lovers and before their separation. He would come to bed with her, where they might make love, or simply snuggle close and talk in low tones until she fell asleep. She was never sure how long he stayed after that; he was agile and quiet as a cat when he left.

Some mornings, she would wake to find him sleeping next to her, and those were the moments she treasured most. She would watch his face, unguarded in sleep and looking impossibly young, and listen to his regular breathing.

After her return, he had taken to staying with her more often than not. She didn't need to ask why.

"Oi! Cold feet," she cried, as he joined her under the covers, and then squeaked even louder. "Cold hands, too."

He chuckled and rolled onto his back. Despite her protests, she curled against his bare side and slung her leg over his. "Doesn't seem to bother you too much," he observed. He lifted his arm and she tucked her head into his shoulder. A small, contented sigh fluttered past her ear.

Despite her earlier tiredness, she was now too keyed up to sleep. A new planet, a new adventure, even a new bed. The Doctor's light touch as he stroked up and down her back helped, but she felt restless.

He rolled over on his side to face her, and she shifted to rest her head on his upper arm. His hand came up to stroke through her hair, gently down her neck, and back up past her cheekbone to her temple. "Can I help?" he asked quietly. She nodded.

His fingers pressed against her skin, and his eyes met hers, to invite her in and share his mind.

She fell, as she always did, into his coffee gaze and felt the scratchy sweet warmth of his mind surround her. A hundred swarming images and sensations danced wildly around her until he forced them back and away. As she relaxed, her breathing slowed to a rhythm to match his, and a sense of blissful well-being settled over her. Her Doctor's enfolding mind, his warmth and affection around her, calmed her even more than his physical presence in the bed did.

"Sweet dreams," he whispered.

In Section A, Habitation 1, Emelia Trabane sat cross-legged on a virtually identical bed and brushed her long, dark hair, wavy from having been twisted in a bun all day.

"You think he is actually an inspector from the company, then?" she asked.

Connor, clad only in blue striped pajama pants, stuck his head around the bathroom door and pulled a face at her. "I have no idea, Em. What I do know is that neither one of them were on the passenger manifest for the carrier ship."

"Well, if the company was sending a flunky to check the converters, I'd expect them to be discreet about it," she pointed out. "Wouldn't do much good for them to have the whole project on ready for his arrival. And if he is involved with the sabotage, why not just fake some normal credentials and blend in?"

"True enough," conceded Connor, joining her on the bed and tucking his hands behind his head. He exhaled a long, huffing breath of frustration and gave his wife a measuring look. "You assigned her to the nursery, of all things?"

Emelia's face darkened and he immediately saw he had made a mistake. They were colleagues and spouses, and it was all well enough to discuss his work life and decisions, but she was incredibly prickly when it came to her own authority.

"I put her where we had the most need," she stated flatly. She put the hairbrush down on the end table with a sharp thwack. Suspicion was one thing, apparently, but the operations of Arisbe Project came first. "I've paired her with Brandon. I trust him to keep an eye on her."

"Brandon — but Em, that means —" Now, his parental obligations came into play, and he could not sit back idly, regardless of whether it risked Emelia's temper to question her decision.

"Yes," she interrupted. "She met Ian earlier. And I have a good sense about her."

"A good sense!" Connor burst out, unable to restrain himself. "This is our son. And not to mention Jonah. You're putting them both in the hands of a perfect stranger!"

Emelia folded her hands in her lap and regarded her husband with a stony expression. "I am doing no such thing. Brandon is there, remember? I trust him completely."

He relented slightly and shook his head in resignation. "I assume you prepped him?" The icy look she gave him assured him that she had in fact taken care of that, and probably a good bit more beyond.

Connor sighed and considered moving to the couch in the front room for his own health. In the end, he stayed where he was, and turned off the light.