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The Doctor is searching for something lost...
His eyebrows shot up and he bounced to his feet, sprinting deeper into his ship. Down a corridor, turning right at the room containing the Eye of Harmony, through what had become a kitchen. More mess cluttered each surface, though it was mainly empty marmalade jars, blackened bread and a disassembled toaster. He didn't hesitate, bounding around the table and continued through to the storage rooms beyond - to one in particular.
His pace slowed to a walk, then he stopped. The plain metal door was half open. It was Rose's room. It used to be. He had been in here when he realized he'd lost it. He had wanted to put it on the antique Chiv prayer alter she used as a dresser. But it wasn't in his pocket, where he remembered putting it. He had felt it still being there when he put a packet of jelly babies in there... oh, at least a week or so ago. But then...
What had happened to it?
The Doctor prodded the door fully open with one finger before entering, seeing his brown trench coat draped on the bed. Oh yeah. He picked it up and patted the pockets again, checking the missing item hadn't returned to its pocket unexplainably. But no, there was only jelly babies. He sighed and threw it back on the bed. He had no clue at all where it could be.
He had looked everywhere he had been since then. He'd even gone back to the Persian market in 839AD. He and Rose had stopped a Thecan prospector from turning the Earth into a slave breeding ground. Eventually they were forced to douse the human carriers with weed killer to get the plant parasite out of them.
Going back there was difficult. He was so tempted to land a minute early to just see her again. But that was just one step from talking to her, touching her, telling her what he hadn't been able to... and he couldn't. Because he wouldn't be able to let her go again.
After landing, and the thanking and gratitude, he had questioned the street urchins. Bribed was more like it, but it turned out they had been too wary of him to try to take anything, though they had gotten a tube of lip gloss out of Rose's pocket. He had taken it back to the Tardis and started taking up the floor.
He fished in his inside pocket and put it with the rest of her make-up on the alien-made table. He didn't know why she thought she had to plaster her face with these products, but he hadn't said anything. It was her choice, after all. At least she wasn't carrying explosives in a backpack, or worse.
He sighed, rubbing his tired eyes with his fingertips. He knew he was missing something. But what?
He had it, in his left coat pocket since 2012 Earth. He played with it sometimes at breakfast. He remembered doing that one morning, but not the next. Was it during that day that it had gone? What had he done?
Had toast and marmalade. Listened to Rose chatter. Then, catchin the obvious hint, took her to the control room to teach her how to operate the Tardis. He had fiddled with it in his pocket as he went over what the switches and levers of the controls again with Rose. He'd talked her though giving the Old Girl a destination; at one point he'd taken his hand from his pocket to point at a dial. She landed them on Barcelona. He grinned widely, clapped his hands and cheered when they landed. She had been so pleased with herself, and she'd hugged him in excitement, and then rushed to her room to change so they could go and explore the planet. And he had been right, she had love it.
Oh, wait... No. No, she wouldn't have - couldn't have... could she?
His hand ruffled his hair, blowing out a breath. Might as well check... He doubted he'd find anything, of course... but, to be sure...
If he was Rose Tylor... where would he put something he didn't want an inquisitive Time Lord to discover?
He pivoted on his heel, his eyes roving over the various items that had accumulated. A chest of draws, stuffed so full it overflowed out onto the floor; a Belvian wall hanging used as a rug; her bed with the pink duvet still rumpled. Clothes were left where she had dropped them, tubs and tubes were left open and an Arac emotion sculpture was used as a hat and handbag rack. The only uncluttered part was the corner closest to the door, where a spindly looking stool stood, holding a glazed pot with a small, growing plant.
His eyes were drawn to the dark gap under the bed. Surly not. It was too clichÃ©. Yet that may be the beauty of it. So obvious it would be overlooked. He slowly approached the bed, stepping carefully over a sock, then knelt, peering into the space. There was a stack of CDs and a portable player, and another lone sock. It didn't seem as messy as it should have been.
The Doctor moved the plastic cases to a side and reached cautiously into the dark... and bumped his fingers on something. "Hello," the Doctor murmured, "What have we here..." He felt along it until he found a cool metal handle and pulled in out onto the priceless tapestry.
It was a blue box, with steel handles and corners, secured with a small padlock. His fingers drummed on the lid, "Oooh, a box," he whispered. He shouldn't be doing this. These were Rose's things. But desire to know, the curiosity. The deep primal instinct whispering, go on, go on, go on, go on...
He lent back on his heels and pulled out his sonic screwdriver, adjusted the setting and poked it at the lock. It sprang open, and eagerly the Doctor slid it off and opened the lid.
His eyes went wide and his lips parted in surprise, "Huh." Now that was unexpected.
He lifted the leather jacket out of the box, recognising it. He'd worn it quite often in his previous regeneration. Why did Rose have it? He put it to his face and sniffed deeply - why did it smell of her?
That wasn't all. Under the jacket were various trinkets. He nudge through them, recognising most from some adventure or mishap, though a few were just ... day-to-day stuff. Normal. Not worth anything, except to Rose. A crystal cluster from a swamp planet; a book he had lent her when she complained of boredom; a newspaper clipping of the smashed face of Big Ben; a orb of dark stone - she shouldn't even have that; a sheaf of paper proclaiming a Charles Dickens reading of 1869; a dinner lady's cap; a long stick of year 200,000 Earth currency; a marmalade lid; and... the impossible, twisted knot of graphite.
He picked it up, turning it. So she had taken it. She had kept it in a treasure box under her bed. It was so wonderfully human.
He put the 3-D scribble back in the box and folded his old jacket over it, then pulled the lid down, and snapped the padlock in place. The emptiness inside pressed against his mind. He had an eternity reaching before him. And it was empty and hollow, because she wouldn't be a part of it. His breath shuddered out, hands clutching the edges of the box. She had said forever. He had know it was a promise she couldn't keep, but oh, it was such a beautiful lie.
He stood, looking around the room again. It looked so... lived in. It looked like she'd come back at any moment. But she wasn't going to. He rubbed a hand over his mouth, and choked out, "Oh, Rose... I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..."
The Doctor picked up his coat, folded it over his arm and staggered out, closing the door behind him. He stood in the hall for a long moment, then turned back, stepping close and laying his cheek against the cold metal, resting his right hand against it too. He shut his eyes, and could almost... feel her inside. He raised his left hand, pointed the sonic screwdriver at the doorknob sealed it shut, the high-pitched warble sounding shrill and final. Gulping another shuddered breath he stepped away, feeling raw and aching and so /hollow/.
But he was a Time Lord. And he had to continue, no matter who he lost. Hands in his pockets, he headed to the control room to tidy the frantic mess he had made.