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justprompts: Tell me a Secret

[OOC WARNING: AU, sort of shippy (Duplicate/Rose), very angsty, very dark. Read at your own risk.]


"You can't be here."

"Yet clearly I am. Maybe I just grew out of you telling me what I can be."


--

As a human, he learns that it's much too easy to hate.

He learns a lot of things, actually, being human. He learns how to set up a routine, how to wake up, brush his teeth, go to work, go home, have dinner, and go to sleep. He learns how to do it all without going insane. He learns how to observe with the senses he has, not the senses he used to. He learns that hate is not like the casual dislike of carrots or pears or the blithe animosity towards beings who look at him and think he'll look better on a stick over a nice hot fire, because he can cope with that. He's quite used to coping with that. But this... this is hate. He learns that this is that over-consuming emotion that can drive the best of people to kill.

He had always (never) talked about it to others, in that hypocritical way, with a hand on their shoulder, reminding them that there were better things in life than hate. But he realises now that he had never felt it like they did, never felt it like this. A flash maybe, in a body almost forgotten, trapped in a room with nothing but a Dalek and fear that merged easily with anger and distress, but not like this. It pulses in his mind and in his chest, a steady painful beat that constantly reassures him of its presence.

Emotions continue to bat along his senses as they always have, and he bats them right back, locking the door on them with a firm click. He used to. He used to be capable. He used to be able to clamp down on what he feels, to cover it up, to shove it under a carpet and ignore it because if he ever stops to think, they would crush him in an instant. Now the feelings flutter easily from his grasp, and he no longer knows if it's due to their strength or his own inability to keep them in reign any more. He's accustomed to feeling them in the back of his mind, controlled and tempered, not right at his finger tips. The way they tingle there is almost pleasant, right on the edge, bursting to get free.

A smaller lifespan, was that truly all it took to force him to deal with his emotions rather than simply ignoring them? Was that human urge to blurt out everything that flitted across their little minds because the next day they might go to sleep and never wake up the reason why he kept having to stop himself from saying everything, anything that he could think of to anyone that would listen? Was that all it took to strip him of his long laboured walls of self-control?

He doesn't notice that this is where it begins. Loss of identity and his own life, loss of the only ship in the universe that reminded him that he wasn't alone in being alone. Desperation and confusion to that innate need to be unique, to not conform in a place where there's nothing else to do but conform.

Hate begins at self-pity.

--

"You don't know what you're doing."

"Oh, you'd be surprised exactly how much I know."


--

His eyes close as his fingers run over the small soft grooves of the coral.

The TARDIS gave it to him as a gift, he thinks that his other self gave it to him as a reminder.

A reminder of his hideously short mortality, because he knew, he knew, even if he was lucky, even if he managed to live out all of his years, he would never, ever be able to use or see or have a ship, a timeless friend of his own, not like the TARDIS. This was both his momento mori and his fleeting taste for hopeless, non-existent freedom; always there, but always impossible, slipping through his fingers like sand in an hourglass.

He knows that he should stop staring at it, watching it sullenly, almost willing it to sprout, grow its rooms, right in front of him, in moments. To cut his chains, or even just to loosen them, because no matter what happened, whether he could still travel or not, he was still trapped in this universe. This universe where he didn’t know anything, where planets he knew could be completely different. Where the skies were filled with oblong ovals, where all the laws, all knowledge stored in his brain were turned to dust because everything was new.

He should stop staring at it like this, every night, every day, whenever he has a moment alone. He knows that he should stop being drawn in by its silent taunts, knows that he should put it away in a corner, to attempt a life instead. (He had a life, a life that was his and yet not. Now what does he have? Beans on toast? Chips around the corner?)

As his fingers close around the small object, notes how it fits almost perfectly in his hand. He can feel its confusion, its sense of loss, the uncomprehending knowledge that it had once been part of something larger, but had now lost it all.

It whispers to him in emotions rather than words, filling, just slightly, the gaping hole in his mind where the TARDIS used to sing him her songs.

His hand grips the coral suddenly, fingers digging into the living metal.

It's a reminder of his losses, a reminder of a life he never had, and a mirror for him to look into, to watch the loss and pain and confusion and loneliness.

He suddenly wants simply to just fling it across the room, in frustration and pain, out of his sight, out of his head, just away, away from him.

His arm stretches out behind his head to do so, to let out his anger in anyway he can, but he stops himself in moments, chest still heaving through the ache in his chest, reinforcing that control he used to have (it wasn't such a long time ago), and instead puts the coral back inside his inner pocket. He feels the coral slide against fluidly against the cloth as it drops to the bottom of the fabric, feels the hands of gravity weight it down, pulling him toward the ground.

Human or not, he doesn't sleep that night.

--

"You're mad!"

"Yeah, probably."


--

Of course she finds him.

"What're you looking at?"

The coral hits the carpet of his room with a clear thunk as he starts abruptly at the sound of her voice.

"It's nothing," he mutters quickly, not looking at her, stooping down to retrieve the golden object in question and put it away before she can see.

She's too fast for him, ducking under his arm, picking it up from right under his fingers, leaving his hand to uselessly close around thin air. Her posture stiffens with the pang of recognition that he's all too familiar with, and he immediately turns away to sit on his bed. His normal, comforter covered, normal, human, blue, normal, embroidered, normal, normal, normal, normal bed.

His chest bites with stupid and selfish jealousy as he glances up to see her turn the metal over in her hand, stroking the slightly bumpy contours of its unspecific shape. He has to force back the urge to yell at her to get out, to give it back to him. Thoughts keep entering his mind that the coral is for him, just for him, and it was only there to find comfort in him, just as he was the only one who could find comfort in it. It doesn't occur to him that these thoughts are so, so pathetically human, and even if he does, he ignores them with a wave of a mental hand. The coral is his, and he can't help but want to rip it out of her grip and away from her, make her forget she ever saw it, because it's just his, not something to share with her or anyone else.

"What's this?" is the question he's expecting, but Rose was never one to deliver the expected.

"How long have you had this?" she asks softly, sitting down on the bed next to him, her posture an eerie mirror of his own.

He snaps his head away from her, partially to avoid the conversation, partially because of the guilt. He knows that she had same right to the coral as he had, but... but... "A while," he forces out bitterly.

She's quiet for a moment. "Ever since we came." Not a question.

"Yes."

Pause.

"Could you-"

"No."

He feels the glimmer of hope that had welled up in her chest roll away with one word, sinking right back into the despair that she had begun to deliriously crawl out of.

He sighs when she descends into silence again, rubbing the back of his neck in an old, familiar, and painful way. His hand drops immediately back to the bed. "Are you going to tell me to visit Dr. Stevens?"

She surprises him by emitting a small, sad laugh. "Why would I?"

He turns his head to her, slightly confused. He had heard her last night, talking to her parents about him, about what they wanted him to do, about how to get him to stop acting like the way he was, stubbornly doing next to nothing, doing small jobs for Torchwood every now and then, but spending a majority of his time... what was it Jackie said? 'Moping' in a corner. He had heard her defeated acquiescence to their proposal, arguments and raised voices wearing her down in minutes when it would have taken hours.

He tries for a casual shrug, a flippancy he doesn't feel. He glances at her again, notes the way her profile is the same as he's always remembered, maybe a bit smaller, a bit thinner, but her eyes are broken, not necessarily gaunt, but sad and worn. The golden metal hangs loosely from her fingers, upheld by the most minimal touch of her fingertips. "I heard you-"

"Pete and Mum don't understand and it's no use talking to a therapist when you don't want to. I said I'd talk to you about it, it didn't necessarily mean to convince you to go. They tried the same tactic with me. It doesn't work. All they give you is pills and you always feel mad that you have to be taking them in the first place. I think they somehow think that fake happiness created by endorphins is the same as the real one. It never is."

The veiled allusion hangs between them.

"I'm sorry."

She waves him off. "It's not your fault, and it doesn't matter any more anyway, does it? He said the walls were closed forever this time. The dimension cannon only worked because the walls were collapsing in the first place."

"Would you go back if you could?" he asks after a moment, even as the question really is "would you leave me too?"

She falls to silence again as her shield, until she smiles and takes his hand. Words don't get spoken.

Dr. Stephens' phone number is missing from her bedside table the next morning.

--

"I gave you everything!"

"You gave me nothing!"


--

Of course she dies.

He doesn't know how to react. He doesn't know the form, he doesn't know death exactly like this, when he's surrounded by their family, when they're all expecting him to do something as a reaction. Cry, wail, scream, shout, throw things around. He doesn't have the energy to do any of them, doesn't know what to do in general, what all of these emotions are, because suddenly it seems like his only lifeline to his sanity has snapped, leaving him untethered and lost. It feels too real, all of a sudden it's hitting only one heart and that's all of his hearts now and he somehow can't feel anything else because of that. His five senses are all bombarded by bewilderment and pain, and he can't even run away from it all.

He can only watch the blankness on her face with indifference as his mind whirls with stunned, confused emotions. Problems with aliens who plan on invading. They usually have weapons.

They usually have guns.

He doesn't know what to do.

Therapists didn't help, pills didn't help, nothing ever helped him. Whether he tried or refused, their intended affects or abilities bounced off him without any injury to the wall he'd constructed around himself, firm and standing strong. She, however, had neither pushed or pulled, just sat and talked if he wanted, just sat if he didn't. She hadn't loved him, he knew that as fact, and perhaps he hadn't loved her to begin with. But she had certainly made everything more bearable as the one who knew what he was going through because she'd experienced it as much herself. Maybe she didn't completely understand, she would never been able to know about the hole in his mind where the TARDIS had been for 900 years, gaping like some sort of black abyss, bleeding dark red droplets, but she had understood enough to make it... life... enough.

And he had... He had hoped that maybe... In time... Maybe she would have...

What was he to do now?

Her funeral is scheduled to happen in two weeks. Jackie is inconsolable. She screams a lot at him, specifically. About how he once promised to keep her safe. Doesn't take it well when he points out harshly that he's clearly not that man any more and why doesn't she go traipsing through universes to yell at the real man she wants to be accusing.

His cheek still stings with the fury of her slap. He hasn't gotten ice for it, and he feels it burning into his nervous system.

He walks blindly up to his room, his body moving more autonomously rather than out of any orders from his mind. He drops onto his bed, the exact same spot they had for the first time... months, had it only been months? It had only been months. The realisation rings in his head.

He lies to stretch across the mattress, mind too full to actually fall asleep as it attempts to deal.

...With what? Is he actually feeling anything?

His eyes catch on the chair next to him, pushed into the desk beside his bed. It has her leather blue jacket hanging from its back, where she'd forgotten it last night and this morning.

He stares at it for a while before reaching over to pick it up.

As her smell suddenly wafts up his nose, something snaps in him like a rubber band, recoiling back and hitting him in the face. He lunges the item of clothing across the room as if it insulted him (maybe it did, he doesn't know), not paying attention to the loud, heavy clunk when it hits the wall. It smells too much like her. And the bed, she'd sat there with him, rigid, cold, and unfamiliar at first, until they'd both begun to adapt (how human, to adapt), until she... until he... He rips the sheets off his bed in retaliation for holding those memories. His gaze falls on the bookshelf next. Nights spent reading to each other for lack of things to say. The books and novels slide and shift against each other, flapping to the floor as the shelves fall over. The lamp on his desk, slim fingers reaching across it for the switch as she leaves. The bulb shatters and catches him on the forehead with a shard as he hurls it against the floor, cords ripping apart and flailing at the force.

Everything, everything, everything here, it's all memories and he doesn't want them any more, needs to get rid of them, doesn't want to remember, just wants to forget, because it won't... it won't stop hurting, and why, why, he's the Doctor (never), he should know what to do, know what to be, save her, change something, but it's all closed off to him now, just as everything else is, as everything else would.

He slumps to the floor in a corner a while later, panting from the exertion, long legs curling in, away from the chaos he's turned his room into. His fingers scrape into his skull, nails digging as they run through his hair. His chest is heaving so hard, lungs and heart pulsing thunderously against his ribcage, but he's still unable to create the tears he's supposed to be shedding.

Ripped wallpaper bobs up and down as though it's wondering whether to fall or return to its usual place plastered against the wood.

When he finally looks away from the empty space he's been staring at for at least half an hour, huddled against the darkened corners of the room, the first thing he sees is the object that started all this chaos in the first place.

He picks up her jacket from the floor, slowly, carefully, as though it'll shatter at any further pressure. Fingers slip into a small, inner pocket, and pull out a small, formless rock. It's bigger than when it was when he first arrived he notes, and it warms his hand as he rolls it around his palm.

Knuckles whiten around it suddenly, hatred flowing into every sinew of his grip.

And he decides, silently, firmly, that if he can't have his own life, he has to get it back from the man who took it.

His warden is dead, and that's a good time as any to plan an escape.

--

"How?"

"I'm clever, remember?"


--

He steps calmly over the dinner tray outside his door.

He's not hungry, he hasn't been hungry for weeks, not since that fateful day, not since the hours sitting in a chair, black suit blending with all the black around it. And at the moment, he's anything but hungry. The thought of eating something now of all times slightly sickens him.

The door is difficult to open, impaired from all the equations, calculations, ideas, and theories that are all scattered across the floor, but he manages to force it enough to slip through.

Tonight's the night. And this time it's not only a Neil Young album.

He shrugs his blue suit jacket on, newly washed and mended, just for the occasion. His hand scratches over his face, instinctively feeling for the non-existent bristles that he had shaved earlier that day. He takes his time in getting ready; today, he has no rush. He's free to do this at his leisure, and he'll no longer have Jackie's voice in his ears to tell him to do anything.

No coat. He'd never got one.

When his fingers finally finish pushing the knot of his tie to his neck, he reaches down to pick up something from his desk, something that's almost completely obscured by the papers cluttered around it. It takes both hands; two objects connected by a variety of wires. He observes them for a moment, admiring his admittedly crude, but effective handiwork. In his left hand is an almost indistinguishable modification of the dimension canon, its back prised open and letting out multicoloured cables that stretch out like tentacles to the TARDIS coral in the palm of his right, where they dig cruelly into what now seems more golden coloured flesh, pierced in deep.

He can hear its mental cries as it wonders why it all hurts so much, and he strokes it with the pad of his thumb. Reassures it. Tells it that it'll be home soon, just like him. It's all right.

He slings a bag over his shoulder, carrying some few essentials. Things he knows the TARDIS won't have but he needs, some other equipment for his plan, some books they don't have in the other universe and... her jacket.

No photos.

One last look around the life he's leaving and he knows by the lack of regret that neglects to flood through him that he won't miss any of it. This universe has nothing for him, and he no longer has the time to wait for it to come up with an offer.

His fingers depress the yellow button of the device in his hand and the room cackles with blue energy.

--

"What do you want?"

"Only everything you took."


--

He's very easy to find.

His body has only been in the same universe with her for what can barely be two minutes, and yet he can already feel that hole in his mind filling up. It's almost dizzying in its euphoria and he has to lean on a lamppost to stay upright.

He wanders around for a bit, thankful that currency doesn't differ much between universes. Chips in a corner there, coffee in a shop there, a few bananas stuffed into his bag there.

He's ready.

The coral calls for its mother, drawing a certain familiar blue box back to Earth, back to him. He soon realises, however, that a call isn't enough, the TARDIS begins to draw close, but it's not enough, it's still able to stay away, and he knows that the man piloting the ship is doing everything to make it so.

Refusing to give up, he turns the call into a scream, pulling the ship down, down to him, down to where he's waiting, oh so patiently. He'd wait for decades if he'd had them.

But he doesn't have to wait quite that long, and he is soon graciously rewarded by the sound of wheezing grinds as blue begins to melt into the picture of his surroundings.

It takes a while before door opens, and he knows that the person inside is observing the view screen with consternation and bemusement, but finally, the door creaks, and a familiar brown suit walks out.

And stops.

"You."

"Me. Or you. We never really did specify."

It's ridiculously easy to get the syringe in his neck.

Even easier to strap him to the operating table, but then, that was the whole purpose of the syringe in the first place.

--

"Do you hear that?" he asks, something akin to glee flitting around the edges of his voice. He sounds happy, an almost deluded happy, and yet a happy that he seems not to have felt in years.

"What?"

"That."

There's nothing but the TARDIS' worried hums in the infirmary as it observes the both of them, equal and yet so different.

"I don't hear anything."

"I can, I assumed you could. All powerful Time Lord and that. Can't you hear the heartbeats?"

They both pause to listen, one out of interest, the other out of fear. But they both can hear it now. Three heartbeats coming from both, never out of sync. They've never been out of sync. A whole universe apart and they'd still worked in tandem, a rhythm that had been unbreakable.

"Can't you hear my heart?" the blue suited one continues with a grin that's altogether terrifying. He moves to press a hand to the heart of which he speaks, but he doesn't point to the singular heart in his own ribcage, under the red pinstripes and brand new tie, his palm pushes suddenly into the right side of his own, once brown suited but now bare, chest. His shirt and jacket have been shoved to the sides, out of the way, tie discarded elsewhere.

"That's my heart," he replies weakly.

"Mi casa es su casa," the other him replies with a flippant wave of his hand and a casual shrug. He grins again. "Or, in this case, su corazon es mi corazon."

A sense of dread floods through him at the horrifying insinuation hidden under those words, chilling his already cold blood to the point of freezing. He won't... he can't... would he? He struggles a little hopelessly against his bonds. "What are you going to do!?"

"I think you know."

"You can't."

"Say who? I want to have a stern talk with them."

"Says ME!" he cries desperately, trying to pull away from the straps that keep his arms restrained. He can't do anything, he can't talk his usual talk, his once useful words die straight on his lips. He can't convince a man who's clearly out of his mind to stop this, especially when that man is himself. What's he supposed to do?! He's the Doctor, he has to come up with something! He was never completely helpless.

Except for now.

A smirk. "You're in no position to argue." A pause. "Well, actually, you can argue all you like, but the point is that it won't make a difference."

To the side of him, somewhere where he can't twist his head, there comes a clatter of metal utensils hitting a metal tray. "Oh, look," comes a histrionically disappointed voice, "I forgot the anaesthetic."

They both know that he knows exactly where it is.

"Looks like I'll have to go without."

He screams, writhing on the table like a madman, body jerking uselessly. He has to get away, he has to... has to...

"I wouldn't recommend moving," comes the amused voice as his own face returns to view, scalpel in hand.

"You'll kill me."

The humour completely leaves his voice at the comment. "That's nothing less than what you've condemned me to," he spits with venom.

"I gave you a life."

"One that didn't turn out as well as you probably hoped. But I'm currently working on getting a new one at the moment."

"You can't do surgery on yourself!"

"We're both used to pain," is the laconic reply.

Nothing works. Something has to work! "This is wrong!"

The blur of blue in his vision sighs. "Well, if that's all..."

Cold, sharp metal presses against his chest.

"No, wait."

Another sigh of impatient exasperation. "What now?"

"Why?"

A string of silence suddenly and abruptly stretches out between them as the other him contemplates the answer. For a split second, he thinks he might have gotten through to him, that he might have convinced the man to rethink his reasons and, more specifically, actions. But then a manic grin, slow, silent, wolfish, and blood curling, spreads across his twin's face as he leans down, bringing his mouth close to his ear as if whispering a deadly secret.

Blood drains from his face as he hears the words, once spoken to him a long time ago.

"Because you made me."


The Duplicate Doctor
Doctor Who
4306 words

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
not_from_mars
Aug. 31st, 2008 12:49 pm (UTC)
ooc:
Ohmygod. Ohmygod. I am nothing short of flailing right now. This was brilliant and terrifying and so amazingly well-written.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)
Re: ooc:
I am nothing short of flailing about as equally at your comment! It made me happy, yes it did. Thank you so much.
brigadiertardis
Aug. 31st, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
Fffffffffffff, ohmygosh. Just ... just ... ohmygosh, reject!Ten. Can't ... stop ... flailing. Can I give him a hug? Please? Oh for the love of God he needs a hug.

ALSO ALSO ALSO! I love this interpretation of reject!Ten. It's different, it's dark, and I love how twisted he is. It made me glee.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:09 am (UTC)
*uses wibble icon that you can snug* He does need a hug, doesn't he? You just sort of have to hope that you still have all your organs when you pull away.

And thank you so much! Although, it's not really an interpretation, more of too much Wikipedia and "Hey, I should make him go crazy and try to cut out Real!Ten's heart." Totally stole the idea from one of the EDA (Sabbath). *is not original*
brigadiertardis
Sep. 1st, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
He totally needs a hug. *HUGGLES HIM* As long as he doesn't take one I need, I'm okay with that.

Pfft, Wiki is so an interpretation. Besides, I rather liked the whole idea. And since I've no previous experience with that EDA, it was original enough for meeeeee. Also, I dunno, I just thought it was pretty fegging awesome, so.
rude_not_ginger
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
ooc
This is absolutely brilliant. Without a doubt, one of the most unique and terrifying visions of the dup!Doc ever.

I. Want. More.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Re: ooc
Thank ye! I'm not exactly sure how I would add more to this, I ended it where it was so that people could decide whether he did kill Real!Doc, whether the transplant was successful, or he botched it up and killed them both. And honestly, I don't know which one I'd like to go for.
dameluckypants
Aug. 31st, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Wow. That's just amazing and scary and flail-worthy all at once.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:15 am (UTC)
I'm glad to have induced the reaction of uncontrollable arms in so many people.
dameluckypants
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:16 am (UTC)
It's something to be proud of.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:25 am (UTC)
And I am proud! So proud that I'm thinking of pinning all you peoples' arms on a bulletin board like a ribbons!

This is not doing anything in my attempt to sound not-creepy, is it?
dameluckypants
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:29 am (UTC)
Not really! But it's okay. We're all creepy here--
handysparehand
Aug. 31st, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
ooc
.......ohmygod!

This....just....I'm speechless. This is nothing short of absolutely amazing! This is just haunting and amazing and the imagery. I can't even think of the words to describe this, just...wow.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
Re: ooc
I wasn't even aware there was imagery! It was intended for a sort of stream-of-consciousness piece. Or something. What was I writing? I have no idea. Who am I? Why is the sky blue?

I am glad to have stripped you of your words.
handysparehand
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
Re: ooc
Just the scene of him tearing the room apart, that I think was a big part of the imagery thing for me. Just that ripped wall paper, and the entire room torn apart. The image really stuck with me.

But yes. Words? What are these things? Strings of thought? Me? Incapable of after reading this story.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:34 am (UTC)
Re: ooc
Yeeaaaaah.... Dup!Doc needs some happy pills. No, wait, they tried that. I'm glad I could get some sort of imagery across, I really didn't do much with descriptions of surroundings. I think that ripped wallpaper line was the only thing outside of his head?

Eee! Your compliments though! They make me squee inside.
handysparehand
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:41 am (UTC)
Re: ooc
Poor Dup!Doc. He really is so sad. But there were many mental images this story gave me, so you were very good with painting both his psyche and the scene. Like I loved him taking a deliberately long time in getting ready, because he knew he would be away from this life soon.


And yay, I love to make people squee. My compliments make you squee. Your story makes me flail. Nice trade-off, I think :)
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:49 am (UTC)
Re: ooc
I'm glad someone thought so, you're discovering things about my writing I didn't even notice.

And it's a done deal. *handshake*
galeforcehero
Aug. 31st, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
D:

Seriously, holy crap. Incredible.
isntthatwizard
Sep. 1st, 2008 07:22 am (UTC)
Seriously, you're awesome. Yeah. XD

*snog*
dtstrainers
Aug. 15th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, this just leaves me cold and shivery on a hot summer morning. 99% of the horror writers out there could take lessons from you. The whole idea that someone so beautiful could be so twisted and damaged by losses compounded is just terrifying. This is soul-shatteringly beautiful.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )