The First Mrs Rochester

by Alex Lyman [Reviews - 5]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Alternate Universe, Angst

Author's Notes:
The BBC owns this, I'm just playing in their attic.

They landed with an abrupt thump that knocked them off their feet into a laughing pile on the floor. The TARDIS door opened, revealing pure white snow and shimmering silver ice and the promise of exciting new adventures. She smiled at the sight, and at the Doctor's manic glee as he bustled about, slipping on his overcoat and talking a mile a minute.

Nick was first out the door and Hannah stifled a giggle as she heard him slip and fall within seconds.

"I told you to watch your footing!" the Doctor called over Nick's muffled cursing.

"Better go see if he's alright," Hannah said.

"Oh, I'm sure his thick head broke his fall," the Doctor replied, and they both laughed at Nick's outraged, "Oi!"

Lingering at the door of the TARDIS with one foot out, the Doctor looked back at Hannah and asked, "Are you sure you don't want to come?"

"Yeah...I'm just tired, didn't sleep very well last night. Or day. Or whatever it is when the sky's avocado green," Hannah replied, smiling at him.

The Doctor laughed. "That's day. At night on Kaerym the sky's pumpkin orange."

"Planet of the '70s shag carpeting," Nick said, popping his head back in the door. "Bye, Hannah, feel better! Come on, Doctor, let's go!"

"Yes, yes. Do feel better, Hannah."

"I will," Hannah said, with a small wave. The Doctor smiled at her and closed the door behind him, heading off with Nick to watch the 5th Annual Great Ice Regatta on the planet Vebaxua.

Hannah turned a slow circle around the console, the Time Rotor's light dimmer now that they had landed, the ever present humming more muted. She had lied to the Doctor and Nick, she was not the least bit tired. But she really had no interest in an Ice Regatta that no matter how many times the Doctor explained it sounded exactly like hockey. Even the Doctor's claim that the planet had the best hot chocolate in the universe hadn't been enough to sway her. She was much more interested in finding out a little more about the strange alien who only a few short weeks ago had plucked out of her boring existence in a boring job and a boring flat in Nottingham to travel to places she had never even dreamed about.

And lately she had been dreaming about him.

As much as she wanted to sit next to the Doctor at the regatta and listen to him prattle on about everything and nothing, with him and Nick gone she had a prime opportunity to do a bit of private exploring in the TARDIS. Hannah had realized that she really knew next to nothing about the Doctor, and intended to remedy that. He was an alien, and the last of his kind, he'd said, just knocking about space and time looking for a bit of fun. She didn't know where he came from, who his people were, or even his real name for that matter. Nick had been travelling with the Doctor for several months, but he hadn't known much either.

"For someone who never shuts up, he keeps some things pretty close to his chest, Hannah, and I'm not going to pry. You never seen him get really angry, and trust me, you do not want him to get furious at you. And who cares, really? He takes us travelling in time, that's enough for me. Don't need to know his whole life story."

Nick was such a typical man.

Hannah left the console room and headed down the twisting hallway. She passed the doors that led to Nick's room, and then hers, the kitchen, the spiral staircase that led up to the wardrobe room, the screening room where she and Nick watched movies while the Doctor was off doing who knows what in other parts of the TARDIS. She moved deeper into the ship then she'd ever gone before, normally she stuck to the rooms she knew, and even those had a tendency to move around at times. Nick claimed he'd once been lost in the TARDIS for 3 days before the Doctor found him. Said he'd found a swimming pool, a room with a miniature tornado that had nearly pulled him off his feet and sucked him in, and a rose garden. She paused briefly, wondering if the Doctor would be angry if he came back early and found her snooping, but then it wasn't like he had said any part of the ship was off-limits. Anyway, he'd said the Ice Regatta would last for hours, plenty of time for Hannah to have a better look around. The Doctor would never even know.


The hallway was very dim, and seemed to stretch out before her with no end. Hannah had a sudden vision of herself wandering the halls forever, and a shudder passed through her. She turned to go back, but stopped herself with a shake of her head.

"You're being ridiculous," she muttered to herself. "It's not infinite, it can't be. Anyway, if you get lost, the Doctor will find you eventually."

Hannah turned around again and continued on. She wondered if she'd find a wardrobe stuffed with a dozen identical brown suits. She wondered if she'd find the Doctor's bedroom. Another shudder passed through her, but it was not one of fear this time. Would he be like a human male, or different? Would his mouth feel hot on hers, or cool? She lifted her hand to her lips and brushed them with her fingertips, imagining him there. She'd dreamed of him the night before, a startlingly vivid dream. The memory of it was enough to make the blood rush to her cheeks as heat flared through her body. Hannah let herself enjoy the imagined sensations, hoping that maybe some day her dream could turn to reality.

She never would have thought that she'd be having fantasies about an alien, hadn't even considered it at first when he'd asked her to come travelling, but there was something about him that had slowly drawn her in. His insane enthusiasm for everything that crossed his path, his nonstop 100 mile an hour gob, it was exhausting keeping up with him, but he was so full of life it was impossible not to try.

"And he's not bad to look at either," a voice whispered in her mind. "Not bad at all."

Up and down, left and right, it felt like she was going in circles, and maybe she was. There was no doors in the walls, nothing but an endless stretch of hallway in front of her. The ship hummed quietly and she let her hand trail against the wall as she walked, feeling slight vibrations pass through her. Some mornings she woke up sure that she had heard the TARDIS's humming even in her dreams. It was a soothing sound.

Just when she was about to give up and head back, she caught a glimpse the end of the hallway and a large door. Hurrying forward, she saw that it was made of wood and ornately carved in a swirling floral pattern. A large script "R" was set right at eye level, and Hannah raised her hand and ran her fingertips over it. For a second the TARDIS humming rose alarmingly in pitch and she jerked her hand back, uncertain. A few seconds passed and nothing happened so she swallowed her sudden trepidation and reached for the doorknob.

Hannah pushed open the door and paused on the threshold, mouth dropping open in shock. A riot of colour greeted her, and it was gorgeous. This must be the rose garden Nick mentioned, but he hadn't actually described it, not that a description could really do the place justice. Roses of every size, shape and colour grew in pots, weaved around trellises and hung in big bunches from strange looking trees. There were purple blooms as wide as a hula hoop, and tiny silver buds no bigger then the nail on her baby finger. She reached out and lightly touched one, and watched with delight as it flowered open in response. It was beyond beautiful, why had the Doctor never shown her this?

There was a soft carpet of green grass and a stone path that led into the garden. Hannah stepped onto it, letting the door fall shut behind her. She tilted her face up and looked at a perfect blue sky, hardly able to believe that such a place could exist inside a box. A slight breeze stirred her skirt around her legs and a few yellow petals scattered in the air in front of her.

Hannah followed the path, stopping every few feet to admire a particularly striking arrangement. Peach coloured roses twining around a white decorative column that dwarfed her by several feet. Turquoise blue roses spilling out of a large silver urn. The air was heavy with the fragrance of them, but it wasn't overpowering. Petals continued to drift on the wind, seeming to follow her as she made her way along the path. One brushed across her face and left a soft velvet kiss in its wake. She was tempted to pick some of the flowers, but they were just too beautiful to disturb.

A clearing came into view and she stepped off the path into it. There was actually a waterfall, a small one about fifteen feet high that emptied into a silvery pool. The sound of the water falling was surprising soft, and strangely musical. If she concentrated, she could almost imagine it was a song, a secret one for this secret place.

Hannah walked over to the pool and bent down, looking at her reflection in the water. A pink petal floated across her face and sent a ripple of distortion through it.

"Hello, Hannah."

She nearly fell into the pool at the shock of the sudden, unfamiliar voice, but managed to keep her balance and spun around in confusion. A woman stood a few feet away, watching her. Hannah stared back, feeling flustered and a little bit guilty, as if she was the interloper here and the woman had caught her out. And then the stranger's words registered and she was even more confused.

"How did you know my name?" Hannah asked, pulling up to her full height and putting her hands on her hips.

The woman didn't answer immediately. Hannah looked her up and down. She was very pretty, blonde hair, full lips, and the light blue sundress she wore showed off a nicely curved figure. She looked young, barely out of her teens Hannah would guess, and human, but she had learned from the Doctor that such assumptions could easily prove to be false.

The woman gazed back at Hannah with equal scrutiny, tapping a long finger against her lips. "He told me, of course," the woman said, "Before you came onboard, he told me about you."

"What? Who told you?" Hannah asked.

"The Doctor, who else? Told me all about you, Hannah Clarkson, human, 21st century Earth, figured out something wasn't right when the bicycles in Nottingham started to become sentient. Well done you, with that, by the way. Heard you got into a fistfight with three children's trykes."

Hannah blinked in shock at the woman. The Doctor had told her those things? When? Where had the woman come from? "Yes, I'm Hannah, but...who are you?"

The woman sat down on the grass, folding her legs under her and looked up at Hannah with a smile. "Oh, me? I'm Rose, and this is my garden. Do you like it?"

Hannah was even more confused. Rose continued to smile at her, head tilted slightly to the side and tongue poking between her teeth. It felt to Hannah like she was being studied and she frowned as she remembered seeing the Doctor look at strange objects the same way.

"I don't understand," Hannah said. "Okay, you're Rose, but who are you? How is this your garden?"

"It was created for me. Lovely, isn't it? Oh, I admit roses for Rose is a bit of a cliche, but still. It's the thought that counts. Never stops thinking, that one. Great big thoughts in the big Time Lord brain. A place for Rose, a happy place, a place where nothing can touch Rose but him, not even time, a beautiful place for Rose and the Doctor"

"That..." Hannah tried to think of something to say. "Who are you?" she repeated, frustrated.

"Haven't you been listening? I'm Rose. Rose who took his hand and ran so very, very far away from home. Rose who cried for him. Rose who would have died for him. Oh, that rhymes!" she said, clapping her hands together in delight. "Rose who made the monsters turn to dust. Rose who watched whe he burst into flame and changed his face. Rose who fell. I fell and fell and it was so far, so far away, Hannah, you couldn't believe how far I fell."

Rose frowned, plucking at the folds of her skirt. "So far away to the other side of the wall. Gingerbread. Tempting me to take a bite. My father...but he wasn't! My mother in a metal shell. And they could pretend that it was home, but I knew, I knew Hannah, that it wasn't, it was only a gingerbread house. Little lost girl trying to follow the breadcrumbs home. And then he found me! Of course the Doctor found me, and carried me back. Home to the blue box and I promised to never leave him again. Never ever. Always keep your promises, Hannah."

Hannah looked at Rose warily as she tried to make sense of the strange ramblings. Rose continued to sit, smiling pleasantly. An uneasy feeling settled in the pit of Hannah's stomach.

"How come I've never seen you before?" she asked. "If you live here, in the TARDIS? The Doctor has never mentioned you."

Rose waved a hand dismissively in the air, "Oh, no. No, of course not. I stay here, and you go out there, and never the twain shall meet. It would be all awkward. And while you sleep and dream your little dreams the Doctor and I play in my garden."

She smiled then, soft and dreamy and more then a little mad. Hannah didn't know what to make of the whole weird situation she seemed to have wandered into. She was beginning to regret letting her curiosity get the better of her.

"Would you fall, Hannah?" Rose continued, looking up. "Can you run fast enough to keep up? Could you run forever? The Doctor can. The Doctor will. Forever and ever. Thought I knew what forever meant. This is my forever now."

A horrible thought occurred to Hannah, and her voice dropped to a whisper. "Are you a prisoner here?" she asked, an image of the Doctor flashing through her mind. She thought she knew him, but her unease grew as she started to realize that she didn't, not really. Definitely not if he had been hiding this seemingly insane woman away.

Rose looked shocked. "A prisoner? Haven't you been listening to me, Hannah?"

"You haven't been making a whole lot of sense," Hannah said slowly, eyeing the path behind Rose. She edged to the left slightly, shifting onto the balls of her feet as she contemplated dashing past and getting out of the garden. But Rose's disconcerting amber gaze kept her from moving further.

"You need to listen," Rose said, sternly. She stood up and took a few steps, and Hannah fought an enormous urge to flee, "You dream about him, don't you, Hannah? You dream about my Doctor."

Hannah looked down, feeling her heart start to race. "How do you know that?" she gasped.

"The TARDIS sees your dreams, and she whispers them into my ear. We're connected, she and I, in ways even the Doctor doesn't understand. All he sees is that she keeps me safe and forever for him, and he closes his eyes to the rest. But she sees what he doesn't. You want him, Hannah Clarkson, you dream of him. And I will not have that."

They were standing almost nose to nose now, and every nerve in Hannah's body was screaming for her to run away from the insanity she had wandered into. Rose smiled, a sharp feral thing, her eyes hard as diamonds.

"Are you afraid of the big bad wolf?"

Hannah ran, pushing past Rose and flying back down the path the way she had come. She though she heard laughter behind her and she willed herself to go faster, away from the garden that was no longer beautiful and the madwoman within. The false sky darkened, and the wind whipped around her carrying great handfuls of rose petals in its wake. Hannah threw her arms up in an attempt to ward them off, frantically brushing them off her face, her clothes. She saw the door, already open, and flung herself through it, hearing it slam shut behind her on its own. Falling to her knees in the hall she let out several great gasping breaths, then scrambled to her feet and continued to run, nearly slamming into the walls in her haste to get away. She could hear the ship's humming over the pounding over her heart, and put her hands over her ears in a vain attempt to block it out. But it grew louder and louder and Rose was laughing in the garden and the world was spinning, spinning, spinning and then everything went black.

***********

"Hannah? Hannah? HANNAH, WAKE UP!"

"What?....Dammit, Nick, what's with the yelling?"

Hannah sat up and glared at Nick, who immediately looked sheepish.

"Uh, sorry bout that. Just wanted you to try this hot chocolate while it was still hot. Lukewarm chocolate doesn't have the same ring."

He passed her a paper cup and she took it automatically, "Thanks," she said, and reached up to pinch the bridge of her nose. Her head felt strangely foggy.

"Are you feeling better?" Nick asked, sitting down next to her on the couch.

Hannah frowned at the question for a second before she remembered. The Ice Regatta. Staying behind because she hadn't felt well. Something seemed off though, and she sipped the drink as she tried to sort things out. She had wanted to explore the TARDIS, and she'd wandered around for a while, hadn't she? But she hadn't found anything interesting, and she supposed she must have made her way back to the TV room and fallen asleep on the sofa. Strange that she had no memory of it though. Must have been way more tired then she thought.

"Hannah?"

Nick had flopped down on the sofa next to her and was looking at her in concern, "You look a little green."

"I...I'm fine. Just still tired. How was the regatta?"

He launched into a detailed recap of the trip to Vebaxua, and Hannah smiled as he tried to explain exactly how the Ice Regatta wasn't exactly like hockey, "It's just different!" he exclaimed, but a faint sense of unease floated at the edge of her thoughts. Maybe she'd had a bad dream? She concentrated, and had a vague impression of a garden, but then it was gone.

"Where's the Doctor?" Hannah asked when Nick had finished his story. For some reason she felt a flutter of apprehension at saying his name.

"Dunno. Disappeared down the hall. Oh, he said we were going to stay here for the night and go somewhere new in the morning. Maybe we'll go check out Woodstock. Get your love beads ready."

She made a peace sign with her fingers. "Far out, man."

Nick picked up the TV remote. "Want to watch a movie?"

"No, thanks. I think I'll head to my room. I don't know why I'm still so knackered."

"Are you sure you're all right?" Nick asked. "Maybe the Doctor should take a look at you."

"No!" Hannah was startled at the vehemence in her voice. "Uh, I'm sure it's nothing. All this travelling, probably just have the universe's worst jet lag or something."

Nick blinked but didn't say anything. Hannah thanked him again for the hot chocolate and went out the door, heading down the hall to her bedroom. Once inside she began to change for bed, moving slowly as something started to prickle in the back of her mind. Something was wrong. Something was different.

A simple bud vase stood on her nightstand, with a single white rose resting in it. Hannah frowned, it hadn't been in her room before. Was it a gift from the Doctor? From Nick? Or from...someone else? But that was impossible, there was no one else on the TARDIS.

No one else.

She backed slowly away. Her whole body tensed and her eyes flicked from left to right. She had the sudden feeling of being watched, the sensation of movement at the corner of her eye, flickering just beyond her view.

The humming of the TARDIS grew louder. It sounded almost like a human voice, a whisper in her ear.

"Time to leave."

The thought popped into her head and she nodded in agreement. It was time to leave. Time to say goodbye to the Doctor, and go back home to her normal life. She began gathering her things. Time to leave.

Hannah packed, delibrately keeping her back turned on the rose.


*********

The door swung shut behind her, and the Doctor moved to the console, starting the dematerialization sequence.

"I wonder what got into her?" Nick said, leaning against the rail. "She seemed so into the travelling and them boom, she wants to go home?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Not everyone's cut out for this type of life, Nick."

"Well, that's just nuts. What could be better then this?" Nick asked.

"What indeed. So I take it you're still happy here?"

Nick snorted, "You'd have to throw me out and change the locks to get rid of me. So where to next, Doctor?"

"Oh...just hang out in the Vortex for a bit. I have some things I need to do in the ship. Can you amuse yourself for a few hours?"

"Yeah, sure," Nick left the room, throwing a wave over his shoulder. "Call me when we land."

"Will do," the Doctor said. He moved the TARDIS into the Vortex and gave the console a fond pat. It was a bit disappointing that Hannah had left, she was clever on her feet and she and Nick had got along so well. Didn't bother him too much, though, he was used to companions leaving. Even Nick would at some point, no matter what he said now. They all did.

All but one.

The TARDIS spun lazily in the Vortex and the Doctor left the console room, hands in his pockets. He went down the hall, a smile on his face.

Heading to the garden.