New Doctor/Rose Ficlet: STRAWBERRIES

STRAWBERRIES
by Rabid1st
Doctor Who
Ten/Rose
Rated: E for Everybody
Betas: Nope, just a little something I threw together.
Spoilers: AU beyond S4, Journey's End
Summary: This is another tale of the Doctor coming home to Rose.
Disclaimer: I do not have any say, whatsoever, in the making of Doctor Who. This story like all of my stories is completely unauthorized by the BBC or any of its production authorities.



It's cold, but not snowing. Not yet. He stuffs his hands in his trouser pockets, missing his long coat and his Gallifreyan body's temperature controls.

As he waits for Rose to exit the pub, say her good-byes to her coworkers and start for his street corner, the Doctor muses about a tale the Dalai Lama once told him. Or maybe it was Madonna. He was relatively certain it wasn't Margaret Thatcher. And somebody had definitely once told him the story. He hadn't made it up himself, he is sure of that. It was a story about a man hanging from a cliff and surrounded by tigers. Tigers above and tigers below and no escape. The story of his life, as he'd remarked at the time. It seems there was also a mouse, chewing through the vine the hapless man was clinging to for dear life.

“He knew he was about to die,” the Dalai Lama, or possibly Madonna, explained, “Yet, there before him was one perfectly ripe strawberry. And he thought, 'Yes, my life is full of tragedy, tigers above and below, but also, there are strawberries.'”

The other people scatter to their cars in pairs, laughing and nudging one another playfully. For them, this is a strawberry moment. Ephemeral, but sweet. Rose is left alone. She hugs herself against the bitter chill, hunching her parka hood higher as she descends the stairs to the street. She's gained a stone of weight and his brief clear glimpse of her upturned face shows it is nearly devoid of make-up. Not that she'd ever needed false color in his opinion. Unadorned, she's beautiful, first thing in the morning or straight from the shower. He loves the natural condition of her skin. Its peachy glow as pleasing as the fresh velvety texture of it under his fingertips. But this woman is colorless at a distance, a moth, not a butterfly. Her drab, shapeless clothing, down cast gaze, and the lack of spring in her step speak to the truth he's already been told.

Rose is unhappy.

Guilt slices through him and he loses his nerve. He draws back into the shadows as she walks briskly toward him. She keeps her chin tucked into the folds of her scarf and her eyes fixed on the pavement a few steps ahead of her. As she approaches, he can feel his heart pounding. He's not sure he can get used to the sensations of heat and breathlessness that accompany a racing pulse. She passes under a street lamp and he notices her hair. It shines, but is nothing like the sun. She's stopped bleaching it. Months of new growth have left a dividing line between mousy brown and bright blond. Like the rings of an ancient tree speak of droughts and fires, here, her hair tells him, at this point in time, there was unbearable tragedy. Rose has lost something of herself.

No. He can't pretend this is accidental. That shining light was taken from her. He took it when he broke his promise and left her behind at Bad Wolf Bay. Just as Davros took all hope from him, he, in turn, took all hope from Rose. Was it something he could return to her? Or was it like innocence, once lost, forever gone?

There is only one way to find out.

Steeling his resolve, he steps into her path, his chin lifting a little so the light behind her will illuminate his face. Startled, she shies as she glances up from her reverie.

“Hello,” he says, trying to sound casual. But the word breaks over his cresting emotions. He thinks he might cry with the joy of being so close to her again. Holding fast against the flood of his immediate desire to rush into a hug, he tries to speak again but his voice comes out as a mangled squeak. He clears his throat. “Rose?”

She relaxes, believing she recognizes him. “Oh, it's you,” she says, with no trace of welcome or enthusiasm. “Nearly scared the life out of me.” Her disinterested gaze strays beyond him to the intersection as she asks, “What do you want?”

“I...”

For a moment, he can manage no more than the pronoun. He swallows hard. What does he want? Forgiveness? No. He can't ask her for that. To explain himself? Yes, but...there is more to this. He wants to be happy again, if only for a moment before he is taken by the tigers. He wants what he has always believed he could never have, something fleetingly sweet, perfectly ripe.

“It's late and cold,” she tells him, stepping to one side to move by him. “And I've told you, this is...painful.”

“I know,” he assures her, “It's not...him. It's...” He huffs out a sigh and blurts, “Rose, it's me.”

For a second her eyes flash with the old fire. “I know it's you,” she begins in annoyance. “I can see it's...”

“No, it's me, me,” he says. Stepping forward to seize her wrist, he draws her hand from her coat pocket. She shrinks back a little, pulling into her puffy parka shell, but doesn't tug free of his hold. “Me,” he says again, staring into her eyes, willing her to understand him, as he interlaces their fingers. “The Doctor.”

“You're not...” On the brink of leveling an exasperated scold, she hesitates, searching his face. He sees the faintest glimmer of hope in her eyes. He can tell she is fighting it. She doesn't want to believe. He gives her fingers a squeeze. “Doctor?” she breathes, definitely not convinced of it.

He grins broadly at her. “We switched bodies. The other me and...well...me.”

The furrow between her brows deepens. “You switched?”

“It's what we do, Time Lords. Well, not, commonly, of course, not on a daily basis. Practically never, but in a crisis, in a pinch, when there is a biological necessity. Didn't he tell you?”

“He...we don't... He's been in New York for a year,” she rushes the sentences out, “I knew he was going to try something, try to get back home." Pain seems to steal her breath away and she stops speaking for a moment. A mewling noise escapes her as, blinking and sniffling, she bites down on her lip. Despite these effort, tears spill over her lashes. She wrenches from his grasp to brush angrily at her cheeks with both hands. He reaches for her shoulder, but she ducks away from him. “Don't,” she warns, holding up a palm to ward him off. Then, casting a sidelong glance his way, she says, “I don't understand.”

He opens his mouth to explain everything that's happened to bring him to this spot. But, as his brain arranges all the relevant data into a jumble of reasons why and how he's returned to her, the hurt confusion on her face registers. He shelves his usual barrage of words. Keep it simple, he thinks. Go straight to the point. The process is not important. Rose wanted to know why he was there, his primary motivation. There would, hopefully, be time later to explain about the metacrisis and his out of body experiences.

“I love you,” he says.

“You... What?”

“I had to come back,” he says, “Because, I...never said.”

It's as if he's hit the switch on a whole market district full of Christmas illuminations. Rose lights up at her core. Her spine straightens, her eyes sparkle and a smile tugs at the corner of her lips. He sees a mischievous flash of pink tongue tip as her hand flutters toward his.

She breaths out his name, “Doctor?”

The slight lift of inflection and her searching gaze, twists into him and he rushes to reassure her.

“Yes, absolutely, positively, definitely...me,” he burbles inanely, taking hold of her hand again and impulsively lifting it to his lips. “I am so,” he says, between fingertip kisses, “so...so...very sorry.”

Rose's other hand emerges from her coat pocket to clutch at the front of his suit jacket. “It's you,” she says, “Oh, God. It is you. But, how...?”

The miracle holds her transfixed for a fraction of a second, and then her joy is swept aside by a tsunami of anger. She recoils from him with such resolve that he knows sorry isn't going to be good enough. He wishes he'd thought to bring flowers or an engagement ring or...reinforcements. Rose looks like she's about to borrow an idea from her mother and slap him. He can see her fury mounting. It turns her cheeks a blotchy red. Her dark brows pinch together as she grinds her teeth.

“You left me. You promised you never would, and then you just...you just...dumped me on that beach with...a...a project...that...that---” She sputters as she struggles to find the words to adequately express how exasperated she is with him. "I should tell you to go to hell, to get out of my sight and never speak to me again."

“I know. I know,” he says, soothingly, praying she's not seriously considering one of those options. “I deserve it. I was wrong. I was more than wrong...I was a dumbo, foolish, idiotic, and, also...cruel and thoughtless and...and an unforgivable cad and...something even worse than that...pond scum or...Roxac bile. Remember the bilious Roxac that cornered us on...right, never mind. The point is I was wrong. But I, truly, honestly thought he would be better for you. Me...but...not me?”

“Not YOU,” she stresses, through her clenched teeth. Throwing her hands into the air, she starts stalking away from him again, but he follows her like a spaniel. Dogging her heels, he is nearly trampled when she whirls to confront him. “Is that what you think of me, that I cared so little...that I would just...what? Love him? Because...because...he was good enough...close enough...human?”

“No!” he quickly denies it, “No.” But then, he realizes that was exactly what he thought. “Or, yes, partly that. Partly because he was human and could give you a normal life.” Rose growls at the notion and he hurries to placate her before she can start yelling at him again. “But, also, because he really was better than me. Healthier. Because he was new...and...he could express everything he was feeling. And I just thought...I...thought...”

“What, Doctor?”

He cringes inwardly. He never exposes himself this way, but she has to be told. “I thought, I didn't really deserve to be here.”

Rose sighs, her shoulders drooping a little as a measure of her anger ebbs away. “That's what he said," she mutters, grudgingly. "Afterward...after you'd...gone.” There's another long pause, while she stares into the distance, gathering her composure. She rakes her fingers through her hair. Dislodged snowflakes melt on her skin. He looks up at the snow gently falling, but says nothing as he waits for her to go on. “It hurt,” she gasps at last, exposing the raw pain of her loss, “And I was...furious. You don't know... I couldn't even look at him without seeing you...without thinking about...”

“I know, he told me...everything.”

“You spoke to him? When?”

“Before we switched. He said you blamed yourself?”

“How could I not? I came all that way to find you...and..." Her hand flutters through the air, batting aside further recrimination. She goes straight to her feelings about all of it. “How could I not think that you didn't want...what I wanted? Everything I did to come back to you. And none of it mattered. To see how unimportant I was.” She grits her teeth against the pain, unshed tears glittering in her eyes. “I thought you needed me.”

“I did. I do.”

“He said, you were confused. That it wasn't about me.” The thought that it might be still seems to sting. She sniffs, knuckling into the corner of one eye to catch a tear. “God, I don't want to cry. I wish I could hate you. Kick you. Or just walk away and never regret...never look back. I wish...”

"Rose, you didn't do anything wrong."

She jabs one finger at his chest. “Too right, I didn't. It was you. You're the one who broke your promise.”

“I know.”

“He said you...loved me.”

“He would know.”

“Would he?” she asks, an open challenge in her lifted chin and petulant lower lip.

“He knew what I was going to say the first time we...parted, didn't he? Isn't that why you...?”

He stops short and silently reminds himself that he's vowed never to ask her about that kiss. Why she did it? What it meant? All that matters is the here and now. Does she still love him? Can she forgive him? Can he be part of her life or does she want him to go?

“Did he tell you he was going to try to find me? What he planned to do?”

Rose shakes her head. “I haven't spoken to him in over a year. But, when he left town, he said he was still sure you would come back to me, someday.”

“Here I am.”

“That's why, I kissed him," she confesses in a rush, as if she's been reading his mind. "When he said, you loved me. He also said...if I kissed him, you would stop...stay....” She gulps against a sob. “He said it was the only way to make you understand.”

“And I do. I understand.”

She grapples with the notion for a moment, and then shrugs. “I don't.”

He closes the distance between them in a few strides. He wants to take her into his arms, but he doesn't dare.

“He's not me,” he says, confirming what she has always known, before going on to explain why that had mattered so much to him. “He's better. He's whole. He's healthy.”

“You're better,” she insists, loyal despite her anger.

“I need you, more,” he says, tipping his head to the side, “Oh, so much more than him. But it took me a long time to realize that. To admit what I wanted. I thought...I wanted to go home.”

“But," she speaks slowly as if struggling to follow his logic, "you didn't?”

“Gallifrey is gone, Rose. Home is...not where I expected it to be. Do you remember when I called to you, burning up the sun? How I asked you to come to me?” Her tiny shrug encourages him and he decides again to wait on the mechanics of it all. “It was like that."

"Going home?"

"Yes. It was you, calling me. Well, it was him, knocking. But it was you I wanted to come home to."

"But, then, why did you leave?"

"Davros," he says, simply. "He showed me my true self. The darkness inside of me. What I did to my people, my world...Rose,” Unable to go on, he pinches the bridge of his nose. Closing his eyes against the pain, he wishes he could give up on mentally replaying every bad decision in his life. Maybe in time, with Rose's care, he would forgive himself.

"Doctor, you don't have to explain."

But he does. He lets his hand fall away from his face and opens his eyes. “I killed everyone, everything, I loved. And it never ends, the killing. I can't stop. People die and I just go on and on, saying I'm sorry. I killed Harriet Jones. I turned my friends into weapons. And you...I ruined your life and Donna's. When we left you, something terrible was happening to Donna. I knew I would have to do something...something even worse to save her. I didn't want you to know.”

“She was dying,” Rose says, nodding, "From the metacrisis. Did you take away her memories?”

“Yes.”

To his surprise and relief, she steps closer. Her hand rests on his sleeve. “It must have been awful for you, to be alone again.”

Only Rose, he thinks with a singing lift of his spirits, only Rose would think of comforting a monster like him. Donna had punched him, when she returned to her senses, nearly breaking his nose. And quite right she'd been, too. But he couldn't accept Rose's sympathies, not until he'd confessed everything. Some things, it seemed, needed saying.

“Donna died," he states it with brutal frankness, "everything that she'd worked so hard to become, everything that made her who she wanted to be--died. And I did that. Not for her. No! I did it so I wouldn't be alone.” He can tell by her scowl that Rose is having trouble seeing him in this light, accepting him as the villian. “Don't you see? I couldn't bear to watch her die. I wouldn't allow her to choose death. I gave her no choice, because I thought I knew best. And because...I wanted her to always be out there somewhere, waiting. There is so much blood on my hands, Rose.”

“You couldn't take another death?” She really did know him. "Not when you had the power to save her."

“I had the power to keep her body alive,” he corrects, pacing off a few meters of pavement. “But what are we but the sum of our memories?”

“Memories aren't everything,” Rose snaps. “He had your memories.”

“Yes, but I can't have it both ways, can I?” He argues. “I can't pretend a collection of memories is what made the other me...me, and then take Donna's memories away and pretend she's still Donna. One of those assumptions must be wrong.”

“Or they're both wrong.”

“Two wrongs don't make a right?” he says, knowing his grin is a bit lopsided and sad. “And absolute power corrupts absolutely. I'm a walking cliché.”

“Quite right,” she agrees.

Surprised by her teasing tone, he arches a brow at her. He can't believe how this shift in her attitude lifts the weight from his shoulders, but he refuses to let anything go unspoken. Not this time. “I'm the last of my kind, Rose. Given absolute power over time and space, I used that power to arrange the universe to suit me. I shaped Donna's future for her. And I tried to shape your future, too.”

“But, I'm just too stubborn,” Rose says, her slight smile broadening into a smirk. Moving closer, she lifts a hand to his cheek, lightly caressing him as she stares into his eyes. “You thought you were doing the right thing. You said...you thought the other...you...would be better for me?”

“I am a kind and benevolent god, then? Does that make it all okay?”

Rose sobered, chewing her lip a little, before shaking her head. “No. You're a right tosser.”

“No,” he repeats softly. “And...yes.” He smiles at her insult. “But..I...punished myself. I was thoroughly miserable if that's any consolation to you.”

“It's not.” Her fingers clench against his arm, drawing his gaze down to where she has seized his sleeve. This time she's gripping just above his elbow. Her other hand falls from his cheek to his shoulder and she gives him a little shake. “Doctor, the universe does not revolve around you,” she says, as if she is speaking to a child. “You. Are. Not. A god. You've just done everything alone for so long. You started to believe that being alone is the only way to be. It's not.”

“Now, you sound like Wilf,” he says. Seeing the question in her face, he realizes she doesn't recognize the name and adds, “Donna's grandfather?”

“You talked to Donna's grandfather about this? Me?” She starts to shift away from him.

Cold air rushes into the expanding space between them and, instantly bereft, he seeks to recapture her warmth. His hands reach out and take hold of her at the waist.

“Yes. Me and...you. Us. You made quite an impression on him...apparently,” he tells her, before she can move further away from him. “And I didn't so much talk as listen. Every time I opened my mouth, he told me to shut it.”

“That's good advice,” Rose remarks. She gives in to his tugging hands and edges into his personal space until her feet are bracketed by his.

“Rose Tyler...?” he sighs.

“Doctor?”

“Can I stay?”

She meets his gaze steadily. “Does it need saying?” she asks. He opens his mouth to tell her again that he loves her, but she places her fingers against his lips to silence him. “I know,” she says.

He holds her gaze, wanting to ask for forgiveness. Wanting to explain about dying and how afraid he is of watching her slip away from him into eternal darkness. But she is so perfect in this moment. When her hands fall away from him, he lifts both of his to her face, cradling it. Her skin is cold, but quickly warms under his palms. Sweet youthful Rose, silken soft, so unblemished by time that she inspires a clutching pang at his core. He will not think of her dying, not now. Now she is ripe and alive. They both are. Eyelids fluttering closed, she tilts her head back, presenting her lips for a kiss. His mouth waters, his tongue already tasting the ripe, strawberry sweetness of her. Tigers above. Tigers below. And here before him, one perfect moment to savor.

“You think you have unlimited choices, Doctor, all of time and space,” the Dalai Lama, he doubted it was Madonna, had once told him. “But if we never decide, we have nothing. All there is of forever is the fresh fruit in front of you. You may visit the strawberry again and again. But it isn't yours until you sink your teeth into it.”

All we have of forever...is what we bite into and savor. That sounded like it could be Madonna after all. His pulse hammered out a steady beat.

Want. Need. Have. Take. Live. Kiss. Rose.

His new body delights in anticipation. It craves contact, sending blood racing to vital organs as his fingertips trace along Rose's brows and cheek bones. His thumbs come to rest against her mouth, applying gentle pressure before they slide from the center of her lips to the corners. She sighs, trembling under this tantilizing touch, and a puff of warm breath caresses him. He runs one hand into her hair, a slight tug urging her to come closer. She complies, but makes no move to initiate a kiss. Her arms encircle his waist as their bodies seek to merge despite the layers of clothing between them. She fits him like a glove, she always has.

His fingers tease together a ribbon of her hair. It slithers slick and smooth against the pad of his thumb. He wraps the strands around one knuckle. And then, ever so slowly, he draws the back of his other hand along her jaw. His fingers glide down her neck and around to cup her nape. Tenderness balloons behind his breastbone as his lips near hers. The tide of feeling rises, putting pressure on his throat, squeezing it closed. Love and fear and hope knot together, threatening to choke him and he fights the urge to break away and run, to deny himself what he needs. He knows he doesn't deserve this...this gift from the universe. But it is exactly what he wants. His perfect Rose. He leans in to capture her mouth, making it...her...this moment...his forever.


THE END
I like it! Except -- you refer to the "Dahlia Lama" several times. It should be "Dalai". :) But that's Spellchecker for you!
Ah...that really is spellchecker. I think I even had it right. It is at the suggestion of spell check that I changed it, figuring...what did I know?

Amazing, yeah! I just said I couldn't write anything and then this sort of popped into my head, so I scribbled it out and posted...a second or two before LJ stopped allowing any interaction. So, there it sat with me unable to correct anything. But at least you got to read it.

I'm very glad you liked it.
Yes, THIS, we need this. Please, RTD?

Lovely story, great job with the charcters! =)
Well...the BBC asked me to write RTD...so maybe I should! :grin:

Happy you enjoyed the story. Thanks for the comment in this LJ drought.

Rae
I had internet issues (and am surprised it didn't triple post my comment two hours ago) but here's my comment! (Better late than never!)

So sweet! I love how perfectly you portray Ten in all his wonkiness (for lack of a better word, although perhaps quirkiness would work too). It's perfect.
"An internet issue" about sums up my experience since I posted this. It was awful to see all those typos and be unable to correct anything. But I am happy to see your lovely comment made it through. And, I am glad, you enjoyed Ten and his wonkiness.

I do love him...despite his bad behavior in JE.

Rae
...and then her joy is swept aside by a tsunami of anger. She recoils from him with such resolve that he knows sorry isn't going to be good enough. He wishes he'd thought to bring flowers or an engagement ring or...reinforcements.

Very nice, very authentic. Personally, I've never found his "sorry" good enough - and I feel that "tsunami of anger" wash over me every time that I've watched Donna say "no"! But, of course Rose will forgive him...

This is the kind of story that must be canon in order to finally give closure -- to the Doctor & Rose and to us.

The Doctor must ultimately become the man Ten clearly wants to be, shedding the burden of being a "lonely god". I saw that Nine felt the draw of it, but Ten needs it with every fiber of his being, to the bottom of his soul. Want to talk redemption? That is the only future that I see that can save him from himself. Another regeneration won't change the core of him any more than it does the Master. He can't go on, business as usual, with the current resolution any more (and even less!) than he could after DD. And we can't - shouldn't - either.

...But I rant. Sorry...

Yes, a "switch Doctors" fic is the AU I can believe. Better still, when it's written by you! Thank you!

P.S. - you have a "really" with 3 "l"s in there...deliberate?
This is the telling point for me...Nine loved Rose, I do not doubt it. But Ten really needs her to be whole. His pathetic little..."and you made me better"...spoke volumes to me...as did the "He needs you, that's very me." But even if we missed the fact that those lines wouldn't come from a man who was able to move past this woman. We would still have him rushing to her at the end of the previous episode...and the obvious fact that he is NOT okay at any point after he leaves Rose on that beach.

And you are quite right...regeneration will not fix what is wrong with the Doctor. If we go to the Old School and the Valeyard...we know that the Doctor spawns this dark side creature between is 12th and 13th incarnations. What is spawned in JE...is a little bit better than the Valeyard...Ten is...not evil, not yet. But the potential to become a vengeful god is very obvious at this point. To me. To you. And I think RTD could well make it obvious to other people in a few more episodes. Then, all we need him to understand is that HE is the one who needs to go be a man...and 10.5 is the one who is the true Doctor. A Doctor Switch is something everyone can believe in, I think.

Oh...and no...that extra L was a typo...but, unfortunately, LJ has been offline since I posted this and I could not fix any of the many typos I noticed the next morning. Hopefully, it is cleaner now than it was when you read it.

Thanks for pointing out the extra letter and for the lovely feedback.

Rae
not one to object to ranting...since I am so very prone to it myself.
Oh yay! Definitely. This is what should happen.

Now if we can just find a TARDIS to take us back a few months so we can hold RTD at gunpoint and force him to make this the finale. ;)

So glad to see you writing again!!!!
Well...I have some hope that RTD knows this is the way to go...so I hope we won't need the TARDIS...or firearms. I am happy to be writing again. And I'm happy that you are happy with the results.

Rae
sigh
lovely... and sad and so perfect! So is this a teaser? Do we get more? And what about Wild geese :)
Re: sigh
You are nothing if not tenacious! I work on Wild Geese from time to time...but there is no headway to be had. And unfortunately, I need to proceed with my original work because it is what will ultimately pay the bills.

Sorry about that.

Rae
Thank you so much for the support. I find it especially encouraging considering this thing was full of typos. Thankfully, LJ is finally allowing me to update and edit. And...of course...reply to the many kind comments. I am thrilled that you were moved by my imagery and found the story beautiful. Certain, I very much want Ten to find his way home to Rose. Not so much for her...but for him. He truly needs this redemption...down to his very soul, as Astitchintime9 says in her comment.

Thank you again for taking some time away from your lovely children to read my fic and leave me feedback.

Rae
As much as I appreciated the earlier version, may I say that this expanded update is not only cleaner but also smoother? I like how you've fleshed it out. Nice added touches with "strawberry moments" and "bilious Roxac" and such. Plus, the extra time they now spend in conversation does help the reader to follow both the shorthand of a backstory and the current rapprochement.

Very satisfying!

P.S. - tiny, tiny, tiny distraction: you've a mouse chewing the vine and another squeaking in his throat. Same mouse? ;-D

- - -

I can't wait 'til you are published! What's your genre? (SF?)
Yes...actually...it was the same mouse. But...I can see how the reference might distract. So...I've removed said mouse. The bilious Roxac is so him, really, he would definitely blather a bit if he was in this situation. That's one of the things I used to love about him and Rose...and did you ever notice...he never sputters on like that when explaining things to Martha or Donna? I think this is a subconscious response to having to really EXPLAIN to Rose. His understanding that Rose can actually stop him from doing something.

And on another note...that is something I liked about Donna...she argued with him without having that advantage that Rose has of knowing he wanted to please her. Donna is a very brave woman. And I do think she is the pattern they should base all future companions on. Speaking of...btw...did you notice the new companion's ginger hair? I was thinking...since human Ten has Donna's human DNA...any child he and Rose had might have red hair. Rose's dad having red-hair, too. Of course, I want to make sure that it is TEN fathering those children...and not 10.5.

Rae
Thanks for the fluffy YAY!
I am happy to be your new canon! Are you new to my writing? I do not recognize you. If you are new...points you toward Disheveled. Or Suicide Blonde if you prefer light reading.

Rae
Very painful and very good. Excellent, really. Adding to my memories!
And another person I do not readily recognize. Perhaps I am just not remembering well...or you are a lurker coming out of the dark. Anyway, I am happy to see you enjoyed the story enough to add it to your memories. If you are new to my work, I must point you toward Wild Geese or Disheveled (though the latter is not for the faint of heart...as it is huge).

Rae
Strawberries / Fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!
(Anonymous)
Wow! That is it in a nutshell. My friend suggested I check this story out and I am glad she did. You have a fantastic way with words. Your descriptions are so inventive, and paint a detailed picture in our minds as we read. I also like the way you capture 10 and rose so well.

Oz Lovi
This is quite, quite wonderful. I am reading it for the first time as I've been away a few days and I will treasure it - more, even than the ending of "Dishevelled" because it is so rooted in the reality of what RTD created (and needs to finish, please?)
There are little bits of this that I'll cut and paste to keep by me - the lovely strawberry metaphor for instance:

“You think you have unlimited choices, Doctor, all of time and space,” the Dalai Lama, he doubted it was Madonna, had once told him. “But if we never decide, we have nothing. All there is of forever is the fresh fruit in front of you. You may visit the strawberry again and again. But it isn't yours until you sink your teeth into it.”

I have been away doing something I promised myself for many years, but didn't have the courage to begin because it really is pretty physically demanding and I'm not as young or fit as I once was - I'm walking the South West Peninsula Coastpath, all 630 miles of it, in bits with my partner. Because in the end nothing in the world makes me feel more alive than the wind in my face and the sound of the sea in my ears and miles and miles of Dorset, Devon or Cornwall spread out below me. Despite the blisters, dehydration, exhaustion and exposure to horrible weather at times, that's my particular strawberry and this summer I've claimed it.

I could go on and on, but this line just leapt out at me:

“Yes, but I can't have it both ways, can I?” He argues. “I can't pretend a collection of memories is what made the other me...me, and then take Donna's memories away and pretend she's still Donna. One of those assumptions must be wrong.”

And there, for me, is the whole fallacy of JE - poke at that and the house of cards comes crashing down.
I couldn't reply to this the day you sent it
Sorry, I didn't get back to your sooner. Thank you so much for the vote of "quite wonderful." I am very happy to hear you enjoyed it so much. It is firmly in harmony with the canon as it sits. Though someone below reminded me that I didn't make it quite clear that 10.5 was happy to make the trade. I do not feel that the Doctor switch idea leaves poor 10.5 lamenting the loss of Rose. But I am guilty of not making that perfectly clear in this story.

I do feel if we SEE 10.5 talking to Ten...then he will make it clear that he wants HIS life back...so it will be clear that Ten took something from everyone in the final few moments of JE. My view is that Ten, for whatever reason...either not wanting to die himself...or not wanting to let go of Rose...chose to keep the body beyond the time when he should have let it go. And I would like to see that decision have "End of Time" consequences.

I would like the fact that Ten cheated at his regeneration be meaningful...and I would view the BODY that was created by the Donna/Doctor metacrisis...as a good storage vessel for A DOCTOR...currently 11...but could be 10...given a switch of some sort.

Of course...you've heard this all before...so...let me say...instead, I am happy you have savored a strawberry. It sounds like a really juicy one. And, well, it is undeniably a part of my personal philosophy that we are made up of our experiences. That essentially all we have is what we savored in life and made our own.

This is why I found all of the decisions at the end of JE...just beyond my comprehension. It isn't something I can reconcile in the future with a regeneration, because it means the Doctor is basically self-denying, therefore, he is NOT a character I admire. The character that I always admired was full of hope and joy in living. He would, of course, bite into a strawberry if it was offered to him and he wanted a strawberry. And RTD never created even one moment when the Doctor didn't want Rose...so he's simply denying himself, her, Donna and 10.5 (11) that sweet experience of living the life they all want to live. Not my hero. So not!

You though...definitely are out there being heroic. :grin: Thanks for the lovely sharing and feedback.

Rae
He wishes he'd thought to bring flowers or an engagement ring or...reinforcements.

Each of those items created amusing scenarios in my head. Rose gaping at him like he's an idiot, considering the enormity of the wrong he's done vs flowers. Flailing confusion and yelling at the engagement ring. And Jack jumping around trying to play matchmaker and hold back Rose from slapping. Or getting a hug first, and seeing the Doctor pout. XD

“Doctor, the universe does not revolve around you,” she says, as if she is speaking to a child.

I maybe found this part more amusing than you meant it to be.

But the story as a whole was bittersweet - ending on sweet! - and made great use of a... would you call that a fable? The strawberry story fits this situation peeerfectly. And I was left with a serious case of the warm-and-fuzzies.
I think it is a parable. But I could be wrong about that. Anyway, the real issue here...is you were amused by the idea of Rose speaking to the Doctor as if he were a child. Well, sometimes, I think that's exactly what he needs...and she's done it before...like when she told him in Doomsday, "I'm never going to leave you." I would hate for Rose to prove unfaithful...and I'm so sorry that so many of her fans feel that she would write off Ten just because he's being foolish. I mean, Rose is very strongminded...she always has been one to tell him how it is going to be...this is not something she would tolerate.

Also, I feel that 10.5 has been denied his own shot at life. He obviously would make choices that differ from Ten's choices...he decides to kill the Daleks, he understood Donna better...and he wasn't a fan of the "Bad Wolf Bay" idea at all. So, I think he definitely could want another sort of life. Ten, on the other hand, as we have discussed...definitely wants a life with Rose.

I want RTD to leave us all with a serious case of warm-and-fuzzies. But we will see what happens. Meanwhile, you have this fic...and I am happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for the feedback.

Rae

“Yes, but I can't have it both ways, can I?” He argues. “I can't pretend a collection of memories is what made the other me...me, and then take Donna's memories away and pretend she's still Donna. One of those assumptions must be wrong.”

Too bloody true. And I am still no closer to accepting the “ending” that Journey’s End gave us, primarily for that reason.

(In the deepest, darkest part of my heart I believe he didn’t let that ending lie. But I’m still not yet sure how he fixed it, only that he did.)

I believe he's fixed it, too. I can't see him letting it remain that way because...well...RTD loves Rose...and he has always supported the love story. Even when he shoots the Doctor down in Stolen Earth...he's talking about every love story...hence...it is a love story...and in the book...he definitely says that the ending doesn't work...that the only reason Rose and Ten are not together is that HE wrote it that way...it is NOT in character for either of them.

I will be deeply disappointed in RTD if, knowing that, he lets this story go with such an unsatisfactory ending.

Rae
This was a good read! I can't help feeling sorry for 10.5 though! Thanks for writing!
Don't feel sorry for 10.5...he got the life he was supposed to have. He doesn't belong in Ten's fantasy world anymore than Rose does. 10.5 is the Doctor...and he should have his body and his life back...same as Donna should. Everyone is in the wrong place...that's all that's wrong with JE. 10.5 should be off having adventures...Donna should have her memories of him...Ten should have his life with Rose...and Rose should have HER Doctor.

If you switch 10 and 10.5 to their proper bodies...everyone can be happy. Well, provided 10.5 can save Donna...or Donna can be saved by the switch...which I think is a definite possiblity...considering it was the creation of 10.5 that was killing her.

Anyway, glad you liked the story. I suppose I should have put a bit more love into it for 10.5. But he knew all along that 10 would come back...he was working on it.

Rae
Sigh...if only. Thanks, for re recc'ing this. Now.....(hopes) does this mean there's hope for more Wild Geese????? :)
You know...I think there is some hope for more Wild Geese. My arms really hurt these days...so it is hard to type for long. But I do have some viable ideas percolating.

Rae
*SWOON*

This is such a sweet, wonderful fic. I love the motif of the strawberry among the tigers, siezing the moment of beauty and the thing you love...they get their happy ending. Rose and her Doctor, in this moment, in the ending moment of this fic, get their happy ending and this is why I love fanfic. Thank you for giving them this. Thank you for sharing it with us!
It was so good to read this again. You're right that you captured the whole sentiment behind Waters of Mars before it even happened.

This is still mentally canon for me, btw. The switch happened as the TARDIS got explodey before Eleven officially became Eleven.
This is my canon. I adore this fic to pieces. I've read it a bunch of times but never commented.

Rose gets the Doctor. 10.5 becomes eleven after he finds some way to save Donna. Donna then has a fantastic life of her own and the Doctor becomes eleven. Everyone gets a happy ending.
Exactly, everyone wins. I don't know why RTD chose to give us an "everyone loses" ending, when it was completely possible to have everyone win. And Doctor Who is all about hope and last minute impossible saves.

Anyway, thank you so much for the love. I am happy that you have returned a bunch of times to this story. It really bothers me when a canon story has the wrong ending. I'm fine with Scarlett O'Hara losing Rhett Butler...but I just can't fathom Ten and Rose losing one another. I can't see either one of them allowing that to happen and to me 10.5 is just as likely to want them together as I am.

Rae