Fic: Five Times the Doctor Resisted His Own Charm (and One Time He Didn't) (3/6) (Ten/Ten, PG-13)
Word Count: 3202
Spoilers: Season 4 finale.
Summary: He knew that extra hand would come in handy some day.
A/N: This takes place in a little pocket of AU in which the Doctor's response to Rose's insistence that "he's not you," is "Fine, if you don't want him, I'll take him."
The new Doctor finds Roald in a library. He wanders into the room, trying to look casual and asks him what he thinks of the ship.
“It's completely impossible,” Roald tells him in such an unconcerned voice that the new Doctor isn't entirely sure that he heard him right. He chuckles weakly and walks up to the bookcase, scanning titles idly. “You know, I've been looking for something familiar, but I've never heard of any of these books. Not even one,” Roald comments.
“Well, that's because you're in the wrong section. These are from the thirty-fourth century. Sorry, but you'll never get a chance to read any of these. Spoilers.” The new Doctor leads Roald away from the bookshelf, and guides him down the isle to an open area. An armchair sits on one side, a book laying on its seat, bookmarked with a scribbled-on sticky-note. The lamp behind it has been left on and an abandoned cup of tea sits on an end table. The new Doctor shakes his head. He scans a few shelves and then pulls Roald over to one near the chairs. “Here we are. Twentieth century. Now you should recognise something.”
Roald doesn't look at the bookshelf. He's already looking at the cover of the book on the armchair. The new Doctor walks over to take a look. “Oops, sorry, you can't see that one,” he says, and snatches it away.
“Why not?” Roald wants to know. The new Doctor glances at the cover again.
“I can't have you plagiarising your own book.” It only takes Roald a moment to digest this comment, and he immediately wants elaboration. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the new Doctor says. “It's a children's book which you'll write in... another twenty-three years. Well. Technically, you wrote it forty-four years ago. But you haven't written it yet. So I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait about twenty years or so to find out what it's about. And no, you can't read anything else you've written either. 'Cause, really, you shouldn't even know about any of it...”
The new Doctor stops babbling when he notices that Roald has him fixed with a look of amusement.
“You were reading a children's book?”
Roald grins, and the new Doctor raises his hands defensively, saying, “It wasn't me. It was Jacob.”
“You are Jacob.” The new Doctor could tell him otherwise, but the man just looks so confident and certain that he doesn't even think to deny it
“Well, you wrote it!” he retorts lamely.
“No I didn't. Not yet, remember?” Roald points out. The new Doctor sputters for a moment, and then opts to stick out his tongue. Very Childish. He doesn't care. Roald chuckles lightly.
“Really though, it wasn't me.”
“Yep,” Roald says mockingly, and then a moment later, his chuckling dies down very quickly. The new Doctor raises an eyebrow. Roald's face takes on a vacant look, and the new Doctor steps closer, leans forward and peers into his eyes. No reaction. He backs up.
“Roald?” he asks. This time, he gets a very delayed response. Roald's eyes flick up to meet the new Doctor's first, and then, after a moment, he speaks.
He even sounds different. Like he's miles away. Almost mechanical. In an almost human sort of way. The new Doctor reaches into his jacket for the sonic screwdriver, and then remembers that the Doctor still has it. “Listen, I'll be back in bit. Why don't you stay here, okay?” Another delay and Roald agrees. He just nods, nothing more. And his expression stays blank. The new Doctor finds it slightly unnerving. He sets the book next to the cup of tea on the end table. “And don't be reading that while I'm gone, either,” he says firmly, but with a note of humour that he's fairly sure Roald hasn't even noticed. There won't be a need to worry about spoilers. Not with him in that state. The new Doctor leaves the library before Roald can formulate a reply.
The console room is empty. The new Doctor glances at the monitor before he goes off again. The Doctor has taken them away from the rift. A few preliminary tests and diagnostics have also been run on the rift itself. Nothing unusual, it seems. He takes a minute to look up Roald's personal timeline. There's a section of it that's a bit muddled near the end of age twenty-four. He looks closer, trying to find the physical temporal displacement. It's a bit difficult to tell because Roald's mind is a bit all over the place, but he manages to pinpoint a date with a reasonable amount of certainty. It was right around the time he arrived back in Cardiff after being sent home because of his blackouts. That should be another week or so from where his mind went last time.
He makes some mental notes and then clears the screen. The Doctor's overcoat hangs on one of the coral columns. The new Doctor searches the pockets, finds the sonic screwdriver. And then he's off again.
Back in the library, the new Doctor finds Roald right where he left him. He holds up the sonic and clicks it on. Roald flinches and suddenly he's back in the present. He blinks a few times and the new Doctor steps back to give him some space. His eyes focus on the new Doctor, and he realises that he being spoken to, “Make it back alright?”
Roald nods, but his nonchalant composure has left him. He's creased his brow and gone fidgety. The new Doctor pulls up another armchair, convenient courtesy of the TARDIS. “What happened?” he asks, watching Roald attentively.
“I was in mid-flight when I went back. Kind of a shocker. I wasn't really prepared to be flying and I nearly crashed before I got a hold of myself. That's never happened before. I've come back after a landing before, but never in flight. It used to bother me, the idea that I was quite literally flying absent-mindedly, but I've gotten used to it. This is completely different, though.”
“If it's any consolation, it's highly unlikely that anything really bad will happen,” the new Doctor tells him as he holds up the sonic screwdriver again. Roald eyes it as it blinks and buzzes. “According to history, nothing happens, and while that's not a concrete fact, it's a fairly stable assumption.”
He's picking up some slightly strange energy signatures. They seem insignificant enough, but he thinks he'll keep them in mind anyway. He keeps buzzing the sonic and continues, “But what's even more stable is the fact that you're here right now. I've had a look at your timeline, and your physical presence here happens after your flights in Haifa. Either you make it here in one piece or that's one heck of a paradox you'll create.” The new Doctor grins at Roald, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “You'll be fine.”
Roald looks up at him, showing an uncertain smile. “Thanks,” he says weakly. “I hope you're right.”
“I am right,” the new Doctor says pompously. He smirks as he slips the sonic screwdriver back into his jacket. “Now...” His tone has changed to something more serious. “I'm going to have a look into your mind. I'm not looking for thoughts or memories, so I won't even see any of them unless they're at the surface. Is this okay?”
“Yes, just...” Roald closes his eyes a moment, clearing his mind. He opens them again and gives a nods. The new Doctor presses two fingers to each of Roald's temples and focuses his mind. After a second, he feels the familiar spark as he slips into the other man's mind. He takes a moment to adjust...
Something's wrong. He feels strange, disoriented. Disembodied. Trapped. He can't move. All he can do is look around, and there's not much to see. A sickening thought creeps across his mind. What if he can't get back? He abruptly tries to turn back, grappling for an anchor, something to pull himself back into his own body, but it isn't working. He thinks to call out for Roald, but he knows it won't do him any good. He's barely at scratched the surface of his mind. He can't even hear any of his most conscious thoughts. Roald certainly can't hear him. He tries anyway, desperate, panicky.
And suddenly, there's someone there. He can feel a wave of concern wash over him and he knows that there's some other presence there with him. And it speaks. It's Roald. He's trying to help. Asking what he can do. The new Doctor cries out blindly. Where are you?
Right here. There's a figurative hand on his shoulder, and he lunges at it.
He clings to Roald and puts all his energy into one thought. Get me out of here!
Roald moves forward slowly, uncertain of the direction. That's it! the new Doctor encourages. He moves quicker and soon they're at the boundary of his mind. The new Doctor lets go, and Roald shoves him away.
The new Doctor snaps back into his own body like a slingshot, and he arches back against the armchair, breathing hard, eyes still wide with remnants of panic. That's definitely not something he'll try again in a hurry.
“Thanks,” he says as he catches his breath.
“What on Earth was that?” Roald asks, looking at him like he's mad.
“Something I used to be able to do,” the new Doctor says fretfully. Roald looks inquisitive. “It's a long story.” He leans forward, rests his elbows on his knees and folds his hands in front of him. He takes a moment to compose himself, and then stands up sprightly. “Well, you be good,” he says. “Don't go reading anything published after your time. I'm off to find Jacob.”
“John, you mean?” Roald mocks as the new Doctor walks away.
“Quiet,” he calls over his shoulder obstinately. He thinks he'll be sure to switch suits with the Doctor later.
Outside of the library, the new Doctor looks left and then right. After a few seconds' deliberation, he starts to move one way, but then changes his mind and briskly walks off in the other direction.
The TARDIS seems to be working with rather than against him today, because he finds the Doctor rather quickly. This surprises him, because recently, she's been making it difficult for him to get anywhere at all. Perhaps it's because he actually intends to be productive rather than obnoxious this time.
The Doctor is in one of the storage rooms, perched on a mountain of boxes, riffling through one at the very top. The new Doctor climbs up the boxes to sit with him.
“How's Roald?” the Doctor wants to know.
“Oh, he's fine. He hardly seems phased by the TARDIS and her transdimentional interior. He's less interested in questioning the reality of it, and more into exploring it while he can. He's quite an interesting young fellow... He almost got a hold of one of his books in one of the libraries. And when I told him why he couldn't see it, he seemed more keen on teasing me for reading a children's book than the fact that he wrote it. Or will write it.”
The Doctor grins and laughs lightly. “Was it Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? You know, I was the one who was reading that.”
“Yes, I know. We had a little semantic argument about that, and I lost,” the new Doctor recalls sourly, but he laughs in spite of himself. “But he is fun to talk to, even if he is mocking me.”
“It's always fun to talk to people with brilliant minds, isn't it?” the Doctor asks.
“Of course,” the new Doctor says with a smile. “We wouldn't have had so many companions if it wasn't, would we?” The question ends on a quiet nostalgic note. The Doctor nods silently and then turns his attention back to the box in front of him. He pulls out a package of magnets and a coil of copper wire and drops them into a smaller box sitting in his lap. He pulls another box toward him. The new Doctor watches him go through this one and then another, picking out random bits of circuitry and materials, before he leans over and peers into the smaller box.
“What's all this for?” the new Doctor asks when he can't figure it out.
“Many things,” the Doctor says as he pulls another box forward. “Mostly tools for psychoanalysis. Plus a few things I just found interesting.” He grins and the new Doctor grins with him.
“Of course,” the new Doctor says brightly. He looks into the box again and studies its contents. After identifying the makings of several vastly different devices, he looks at the Doctor and asks, “So you haven't narrowed the problem down any, have you?”
“Nope, 'fraid not,” the Doctor says, digging through another box.
“Well, I was checking some things out, and I noticed some strange energy readings,” the new Doctor explains. “I... well, I tried to investigate them, but I appear to have lost most of my psychic abilities... Roald on the other hand, I think his are definitely greater than those of most humans.”
The Doctor looks at him curiously. “Hmm...” He pushes the box away and then starts digging for a specific one. A few boxes later and he's found it. He eyes the set of marbles he's found. One of the larger ones is glowing a deep royal blue. He holds it up with a sudden childlike excitement. “Look, it's going to rain soon!”
The new Doctor raises an eyebrow. “Here?” They're not even near a planet, let alone one with an atmosphere. The Doctor's expression falls.
“Good point,” he says, and then tosses the marble aside. The new Doctor picks it up and watches the glowing particles as they shift about. He remembers finding it in a pawn shop on a human colony in 3246. He always found it fascinating. Too bad it has never worked properly. Raining in space. He chuckles softly.
“Oh, wow! Look!” The Doctor has found another glass sphere, though this time, it's closer in size to the dome of a snow globe. However, instead of showcasing a Christmas scene, there's an impressively detailed galaxy on display. “It looks like the Argo Dwarf Galaxy,” he concludes. The new Doctor eyes the orb dubiously and quickly decides that he doesn't agree. He pockets the weather marble and takes the galaxy globe to inspect the image closer.
“No way, that's smaller than this. This has got to be the Pegasus Dwarf.” The Doctor takes it back and examines it again.
“You're blind. It looks nothing like Pegasus.”
“Well, it certainly looks nothing like Argo, either,” the new Doctor retorts.
“Oh whatever. Your astronomy is probably rusty anyway.” The Doctor puts the orb in his smaller box and keeps looking through the marbles.
“Like yours isn't.”
“I've had some practice,” he says indignantly.
“Not since you were shot by that Dalek,” the new Doctor points out. The Doctor pauses for a few seconds and then cuts his eyes to him in a glare. The new Doctor smirks triumphantly, even if it is a feeble victory.
“Ah, here we are!” the Doctor exclaims. He's pulled out another one, smaller than the galaxy globe but larger than the weather marble. If the new Doctor recalls correctly, it is from a souvenir shop on some planet in the forty-fourth century, and it's particularly sensitive to psychic energy. He reaches out with his mind tentatively. Pleased with the result so far, he reaches further. The stuff inside springs to life: glowing and shimmering and swimming around. It's blue, like the weather marble, but of lighter, mistier shades. Before long, the Doctor jumps in too, and swirls of gold and orange disturb the new Doctor's blues. They watch in silence as the colours mix and mingle, and then separate, only to blend together again. After a minute or so, the new Doctor withdraws, and the Doctor's golden-orange hue takes over, glowing brightly in place of the blue. Eventually, the Doctor withdraws as well and the activity inside is snuffed out like a candle. He places the marble in the small box with the galaxy globe.
The new Doctor helps him close up the boxes and put them back, for the most part, where they came from. With the last box set aside, the Doctor turns and beckons him closer. “Let's have a look,” he says as he reaches for the new Doctor.
He can feel the Doctor's mind even before he crosses the outermost boundary, a highly consoling thought. He relaxes, enjoying the familiar presence as it feels around the edges, trying to scout out his psychic senses. Everything is a bit different, but still functional, it seems, the Doctor tells him after a second. I think you'll just need some time to get used to it, and a mind to practise on. It'll probably never be quite so easy as before, but practise would definitely help.
“Can I assume you'll volunteer?” the new Doctor asks aloud. The Doctor hesitates minutely before confirming it verbally and sending a sort of warmth by way of thought. He returns it with gratitude.
Suddenly, the Doctor is gone, and they're back in the storage room. And they're falling. A box has collapsed somewhere under them, and the ones above it are toppling downward, and the two Doctors are going with them. The new Doctor's back hits the ground and it's only slightly painful. Thankfully, his head lands on something soft, which turns out to be the Doctor's hand, who's lying on top of him, half buried in boxes. They each take a moment to ensure that nothing's broken. And then the Doctor rests his head on the new Doctor's chest, and they're both laughing. It is only after the room is quiet again that he notices the Doctor's arms around him. His pulse is still accelerated, and it doesn't start to slow down as he considers putting his own around the man on top of him. He makes the decision and is a second away from taking the action when the Doctor lets go.
He shifts awkwardly under the boxes, kicking them away and crawling to his feet. He holds out his hand to the new Doctor, who feels slightly crestfallen. On his feet again, he helps the Doctor find the small box he had collected all his gadgets in.
“Let's go sort this out then, shall we?” the Doctor says before he leaves the storage room. A few seconds later, the new Doctor follows him.