aibhinn_fics: (DW Ten  Lover-Friend)
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Title: Star-gazing
Author: [livejournal.com profile] aibhinn
Rating: All Ages
Pairing: Ten/Rose
Warnings: None
Summary: Rose misses her family in the parallel universe. The Doctor helps give her a connection, of sorts.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not making any money. Please not to sue me.
Author's Note: Written for round 1.1 of [livejournal.com profile] writerinatardis. Prompt: The Doctor shows Rose a room in the TARDIS he's never shown anyone before. This is AU post-Doomsday, not post-JE, for what it's worth.


The night air was cold. Rose drew the sleeves of her jacket down over her hands before wrapping her arms around her knees, hugging them to her chest. It might have made more sense to go inside, but she wasn't ready to, not yet.

"Never seen so many stars before," she said softly.

"Too much light pollution in your time," the Doctor said, scooting closer to her. "No electric lights yet in 1853." He draped his overcoat around her shoulders. As usual, he didn't seem to be uncomfortable in the cold. Usual, she thought wryly. Until just a few weeks ago, usual had been her flat in the other London, her job at Torchwood, her friends and her family. Now, since she'd found a way through the Void and back to him, her life in the other universe seemed ages away.

"Mm." She sighed, tilting her head so her temple rested against his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around her. "Mum used to take me to the planetarium when I was a kid. Used to fascinate me, all the stars and planets and stuff."

"Is that why you wanted to stargaze tonight?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said softly. "When I travelled with you the first time, any time I missed Mum, I could look up at the stars and think, 'She's seeing the same ones I am.' But she's not any more, is she?"

He rubbed his thumb along her shoulder. "No," he said. "They're not the same stars in the other universe. They're echoes--parallel stars, if you will--but not the same ones. And there are differences, even among the echoes. Like the London Eye still existing in a world with zeppelins and a President of the United Kingdom."

"Yeah," she said again, staring upward. Constellations she recognised glinted down at her: Cassiopeia, Leo, the Big and Little Dippers. No Orion, though, she thought. He shows up in the winter, not the spring. Though this spring night up here in the Rocky Mountains was as cold as any winter day she'd spent at home.

The Doctor shifted, drawing his arm from around her. "Let's go," he said, standing and gently tugging her to her feet. "Let's get you inside before you freeze. Besides, I've got something I want to show you."

"What?" she asked, as he pulled open the door to the TARDIS and led her inside.

"You'll see. Come on." He grinned at her, and she felt she couldn't resist. Tossing his overcoat into its accustomed place in a forked support strut near the door, she let him lead her deep into the TARDIS, deeper even than the wardrobe room. S'like a maze, she thought, not for the first time, and felt a tendril of amusement in her mind.

Right, left, right, right, left again, down the stairs, through a long corridor… it seemed their trip was never ending. The Doctor flashed a smile at Rose, who smiled back. "You love springing things on me, don't you?" she asked affectionately.

"Only when I think it's something you'll like," he answered. "And you will, Rose Tyler. You'll like this."

Another couple of turnings and they were there, stopped in front of an ordinary-looking door. He gestured dramatically. "Voila!" he said, and opened the door.

Knowing full well that an ordinary-looking door was probably as far from ordinary as it was possible to get, Rose stepped inside and felt her eyes widen. She gasped, staring up at the ceiling. "Oh my God," she said, awe-struck. "Doctor, is this--?"

"A planetarium," he said proudly. "You're the first person I've brought here--well, the first one who showed any interest, be honest. But still. I thought you'd like it."

"Wow. This is…." She shook her head, too touched to find the right words.

"Fantastic?" he offered.

She laughed and hugged his arm to her. "Yes," she said. "That's it exactly. Fantastic. Thank you."

"You're welcome, though you've not even seen the best part." He pulled away to close the door. The lights came up a bit, just enough for her to be able to navigate, and he guided her to a spot on the floor where a pair of pillows lay. When she stepped closer, she found the floor was slightly squishy--perfect for lying on. She settled down with the Doctor beside her, and the lights dimmed again.

"Can you guess what this is?" he asked, gesturing towards the ceiling.

"Looks like Earth's sky," she said.

"You're right, but that's not the important bit. The important bit is that this," he said, "is what the sky looked like from London the day you were born."

Rose blinked and turned to him. "Really?" she asked, startled.

"Oh yes. And the sky changes, too; nothing in the universe is ever entirely static. The night sky changes over the course of the year as the Earth orbits the sun, and over the course of aeons, as the earth wobbles on its axis. Five thousand years ago, the Earth's axis didn't point at Polaris, which is why Egyptian monuments don't line up with the seasons the way they were built to. Even the stars move; all of the galaxies are racing away from the point of the Big Bang like shrapnel from an explosion. Which, if you look at it in a certain way, they are."

Rose laughed. "Galaxy-sized shrapnel. Only you would use that metaphor."

"Perhaps," he said, and she grinned. "But this isn't all I wanted to show you."

The pattern of stars on the ceiling shifted slightly, subtly. "This," he said, taking her hand, "is the sky in the parallel universe, the date that you left."

She stared upward. Now that she'd seen them transition one to the other, she could see the differences, despite the fact that they were very nearly the same time of year. "So this is what Mum and Pete and Mickey and the others are seeing?" she asked.

"Or something very similar, yeah." His hand tightened on hers. "I don't know exactly how the passage of time there compares to ours, though I do know it's different. But since we know know which day you left, we can extrapolate what the stars would look like on any given date, if you want to."

Rose was silent for a moment, then she propped herself up on an elbow, turning to him. "Thank you," she whispered.

He stroked a thumb over her cheekbone, then raised his head to kiss her gently. "You're welcome," he said again.

She lay back down, looking at the projected points of light that were almost exactly what her mum would be seeing, if she were looking. I miss you, Mum, she thought. And Pete, and all the rest. I'm happy here, with him, but I miss you so much.

It was several minutes later when he said in an oddly tentative voice, "Mind if I show you something else?"

She twitched, startled, when he spoke. He squeezed her hand reassuringly, and she settled back with an air of embarrassment. "All right," she said.

There was a moment's pause, and then the stars changed once more, this time to a completely different configuration. The Milky Way was gone; now all the stars were packed densely together, much more densely than she was used to. It was clearly not an Earth sky. "Where's this?" Rose asked.

"This… is the Gallifreyan night sky," he said so quietly she almost couldn't hear, as though he couldn't quite bear to speak any louder. "What it would have looked like from the Citadel on the day you came back to me."

The knowledge hit her like a blow to the solar plexus. It was the first time he'd mentioned Gallifrey on his own, without being prompted. "Oh," Rose said in a small voice. She turned to look at him. His face was set, expressionless, though long familiarity enabled her to recognise the pain he was holding back. "I'm sorry," she added, somewhat inadequately.

"I wish you could have seen Gallifrey as it was," the Doctor said, still quietly. "The mountains, and the ocean, and the Citadel in the background. My Family's House and grounds. At night, I used to lie on the grass--it was red, you know, our grass--and watch the stars and listen to the trees chiming in the night breeze."

Rose just looked at him for a moment, then released his hand and snuggled in closer. "Tell me about your constellations," she suggested.

His arm came around her, and he drew in a deep breath. "All right," he said. "But it'll take a while."

"It always does, with you," she teased, and to her relief, heard him laugh. As he began to speak, she pillowed her head on his chest and listened to the double beat of his heart. Above her, the ghosts of a long-dead night sky twinkled at her.
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