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FIC: Two Doctors 2/2

I've just aced two of my three finals, so I'm feeling relatively good about the world at the moment. But the Spoon mods have been MIA for 24 hours... and so I've broken down and decided to post on LJ. Call it a trial run to see if I like double posting to both places. Meanwhile, you get the fic sooner! Click here for part 1.

***


The aftereffects of the drug had to be fading. He was feeling guilty again.

There was a hurt look on Rose’s face, and a guarded look on Jack’s.

Curse Jack’s observational skills, anyway.

Now Rose wouldn’t let the painkillers out of her sight until she could return the bottle to the infirmary. He wouldn’t see it again until the next time Rose and the TARDIS both agreed that he truly needed it. Even if he searched the infirmary top to bottom, he wouldn’t be able to find it.

It wasn’t that Rose would hide it from him. She didn’t need to, and she already knew that. It was simply the danger of piloting a sentient trans-dimensional ship. The TARDIS often decided she knew what was best for him, and she more than had the power to get her way.

He supposed it was better that way. If he knew where the bottle was, there was always the chance he would swallow its entire contents in a particularly self-destructive moment of weakness.

That would hardly be fair to Rose and Jack. He’d already done enough to hurt both of them. They didn’t deserve to be faced with the aftermath of a drug overdosed regeneration.

But damn Jack and his observational skills.

And damn Rose’s kicked puppy look. If there were a real puppy on the TARDIS, he supposed he would have to kick the poor thing just for the sake of symmetry.

Why was it so wrong that he just wanted… not to hurt for a while?




“He’s not going to answer you, is he,” Jack surmised, finally looking over at Rose.

Rose shook her head. She looked down at the Doctor, feeling a little bit overwhelmed and a little bit defeated. The Doctor was staring off into space, unresponsive, his expression blank. There was no way for her to tell what he was thinking, or if he had even heard her question.

“And you’re okay with that?” Jack asked her, sounding skeptical.

“I can’t make him talk,” Rose told him. “Not if he doesn’t want to.”

“Okay, I know I’m still the new guy and everything, and you’re the one who has the experience here. But this is something I’m going to say even if it gets me kicked off the TARDIS,” Jack said resolutely. “I’ve met drug addicts, Rose. Letting them stay set in their ways is the fastest way to get them killed.”

“He’s not a drug addict!” she snapped, suddenly feeling like she was defending the Doctor’s honor.

“Are you sure about that?” Jack replied. “Just based on the last two minutes, this is not a man who has a healthy attitude towards painkillers.”

“Maybe he doesn’t,” Rose admitted, trying to keep her voice calm. “But sometimes he really needs them. You saw him last night. And I know he’s not addicted. He can’t be, because the TARDIS doesn’t let him have them. I’m the only one who can find that little blue bottle in the infirmary, and only when he really needs it.”

“Okay,” Jack said, verbally backing down. “Okay. I know how amazing this ship is, and I believe you. It’s… it’s a relief.”

“Good,” Rose replied shortly.

“I’m sorry,” Jack apologized. “Maybe it wasn’t my place to say anything, but I couldn’t just let that go.”

“No, it’s okay,” Rose said. She swallowed the lingering irrational feeling of betrayal and repeated, “It’s okay. Really. Actually, thank you for caring that much, and for realizing what he was doing. And don’t be stupid, you’d never be thrown off the TARDIS for speaking up about something that important.”

“Then I’m going to go out on a limb here one more time,” Jack replied. “I still don’t like the fact that you’re just going to let him get away with that stunt he tried to pull. We need to talk about that.”

“We can’t make him talk,” Rose repeated herself. “If we try, he’ll just push us away and we won’t be able to help him at all.”

“I could be wrong, but I don’t think he’s about to push us away,” Jack pointed out, glancing meaningfully down at where the Doctor still clung to his arm with dogged determination.



It was strange, to hear them talking about him.

He was proud of Jack for speaking up about his concerns, and proud of Rose for defending him.

He thought about saying something, even if just to point out that he was still in the room and still conscious. But they seemed to be doing so well without him, and interacting took so much effort.

Jack was just about to convince Rose that they should try talking.

Weren’t they already talking?

Oh, they wanted
him to talk.

He used to be good at talking. Back when he was… back before. Words had been his only weapons, before.

Nowadays the words always seemed to stay trapped inside his mind. Trapped, spinning around, falling all over each other until they lost their meaning.

What use were words? They wouldn’t change anything.

They just made everything real, made everything hurt that much worse. That was why he pushed away from words. From talking.

But he didn’t want to push away from Rose. He didn’t want to push away from Jack. It was somehow comforting to have them near, to curl around Jack’s arm like it was a security blanket.

As long as he didn’t talk, he could stay like this. Numb and safe. If they made him talk, it would all be real and he would just be a pathetic, broken fool clinging to an ape’s arm.

No, it was definitely better not to talk.




“I don’t know.” Rose was skeptical. Jack’s suggestion went against everything she’d learned through difficult trial and error. “I don’t think he can even hear us right now.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised. If the painkiller is wearing off, he’s very much aware of us. Trust me on this, my…” Jack’s voice trailed off suddenly.

“Jack?” Rose prompted him, reaching over to touch his shoulder when she saw the stricken look on his face. “Jack, what is it?”

Jack took a deep breath, and visibly collected himself.

“My… my mother. When I was a teenager, my mother was… she… it was a very severe depression. She took sleeping pills. I’d find her lying in bed, just like this, staring through the wall like I wasn’t even there. But I’d talk to her anyway because I knew she could hear me. Sometimes she would really wake up, just for a while.”

His voice caught on those last words, and Rose squeezed his shoulder. To have grown up like that and now be faced with the Doctor’s depression, when Jack so clearly looked up to him for approval, almost like a parent… suddenly Rose understood the context for his earlier comment about drug addicts.

He hadn’t lived with her two Doctors for very long, he didn’t know both of him the way she did. But maybe he knew what he was talking about nevertheless. Maybe she should listen to him. Maybe he knew how to help in a way she had never been able to.

“Then talk to him,” she told Jack, squeezing his shoulder again, giving him her blessing.



Jack’s experiences with his mother were certainly not the fault of someone who hadn’t even known him then. There was no reason for him to feel guilty about her, or anything else in Jack’s life before they met. Not one single reason.

And yet now, somehow, it would be his fault for causing Jack yet more pain if he refused to respond.

“Are you listening to me, Doctor? I know you can hear me.”

He could hear. He was listening. But even if he wanted to talk, he wasn’t sure he could. The safe, fuzzy feeling from the painkiller was fading, heralding the return of the oppressive weight of guilt and lethargy that drained his willpower, forcing him to lie still even if he wanted to move.

“He’s not asking you for a dissertation, Doctor. Just something to let us know you’re here. A word, a nod, just something. If you really are listening. Please?”

And now it would be his fault if he ignored Rose, as well.

He didn’t particularly want to ignore them. He knew his understanding of humans wasn’t always perfect, and he really didn’t want to risk hurting them or driving them away.

But they weren’t just any apes. They were his companions, and he only took the best. And Rose… Rose knew him. She knew. And Jack seemed to know.

Maybe if he gave them something… a word, a nod, just something… maybe that would be enough. Maybe they would stay, and not expect any more from him than he could give.

It seemed to take an overwhelming effort, but he steeled himself and turned over onto his back. He kept his grip on Jack’s arm, willing the attached human to understand.

He carefully made eye contact with Jack, and then with Rose.

He was here. He was listening.

He hoped that would be enough.




Rose could see, in his eyes, how much that acknowledgement had cost him. When he turned over it had looked like he was trying to move through molasses, and when he looked into her eyes it was like he was silently pleading with her.

“Thank you,” she said, wanting him to know how much his effort meant to them.

He blinked at her. He looked… resigned. Like he was at the end of his rope, barely holding on for dear life, and resigned to his inevitable fall. Like there was no fight left in him.

“I’m sorry I can’t give you another dose of the painkiller,” she told him. “And don’t think we won’t be talking about that. Jack’s right. But that can wait. Is there anything else, anything at all, that we can do to help?”



They could stay. Without pushing, without forcing him to fight. If they just stayed, like Rose always had before, it would all be a little bit more bearable. And eventually, the misery would fade and the lethargy would lift and he would be able to function again.

It had always worked before.

This was just the consequence for his week of unsullied joy. His penance for forgetting. It would run its course, and he would recover.

It was a familiar cycle now. He was used to it.

The depression was almost comforting in its familiarity. He couldn’t even lift himself off the bed, and thus nobody would expect him to run to the rescue, save planets, or make horrifying choices.

There was a certain safety in being almost catatonic.

If only he could communicate that to Rose and Jack. If only the terrible monster that had broken free in his mind would allow him the words just for this.

But even though he tried, he didn’t have the strength to fight it. He never had before, and he hadn’t truly expected anything different now. The monster was too strong, just as it always had been, and he was resigned to the suffering he would have to wait through as it raged. Eventually it would wear itself out and settle back to sleep in the depths of his mind. Until the next time.

If only he could tell Rose and Jack to stay, it wouldn’t be as painful a wait.




Rose watched as the Doctor seemed to consider her question. She watched as emotions chased each other across his face, until finally his eyes were pleading with her again. She thought she understood. He always wanted her to stay with him, just be there for him until he felt better. It was usually all she could do.

It was the only answer she had expected, though she knew Jack had been hoping for something more. She placed her hands over the Doctor’s where they were still wrapped around Jack’s arm. Whatever else happened, she was staying. That much was certain.

“Hey, Doc,” Jack said suddenly.

The Doctor’s eyes shifted over to Jack, and Rose turned to look at him as well. His face was arranged into a merry smile, though his eyes were still haunted.

“Enough of that difficult emotional stuff, huh? How about we just chat? I’ve got some easy questions for you. Don’t think, just let yourself say whatever you want, okay? Can you do that for me?” Jack asked. He sounded bright and cheerful, almost inappropriately so.

Rose wondered if he’d gone mad. What was chatting supposed to accomplish?

But the Doctor favored him with a relieved look and, much to Rose’s surprise, nodded and whispered, “Okay.”



Chatting. Chatting he could do. Chatting was meaningless, empty words robbed of any power they might have in another context. He didn’t have to fight to get empty words out. Only when he had something important to say was it difficult.

So if all he had to do to keep them here was chat, then he would chat until his voice was hoarse.

“You like bananas, right? Bananas are good.”

Jack hadn’t been kidding when he said he had some easy questions. The Captain knew full well his opinion of bananas. It had been the topic of one of their first conversations. During the Blitz, on the Day When Everyone Lived. It had been such a good day. Why couldn’t he have more days like that?

“Doc, stop thinking. Just answer the question. Do you like bananas?”

Right. Don’t think, just answer. Chatting. “Yes.”

“We’re in a bed, right?”

Another easy one. “Yes.”

“In a bedroom on the TARDIS?”

“Yes.”

“And the TARDIS is parked on an empty world for a maintenance stop?”

No it wasn’t. “No.”

“Okay, I thought I felt the dematerialization. We in the Vortex, then?”

“Yes.”

“And Rose looked great in that bikini she wore when we tried out the TARDIS pool, didn’t she?”

Of course she had. “Of course she… Jack!”

“Hey, no cheating, you’re supposed to say whatever’s on your mind. Ow! Rose, stop it! Okay, okay. Um… Vegas Six is the best casino planet in the galaxy, right?”

Jack had no taste. “No. Seven is classier.”

“To each their own, Doc. What did you eat for breakfast yesterday?”

“Um… a cup of tea?”

“You need to eat more. So, is Time Lord your species or your job description?”

“Both.” Sort of.

“And is Doctor your name or your title?”

“Both.” Again, sort of.

“So you know about the physical and mental illnesses that your people can have?”

Could have had. Can’t have any more. No one left to have them. No, not thinking. Answering. Chatting. “Yes.”

“Is there a Time Lord version of the human common cold?”

“No.”

“Lucky bastards. What about a Time Lord version of an anxiety disorder? Can Time Lords have irrational phobias?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have any?”

“Yes. I hate heights. Fell off one once.” And died. But he wasn’t thinking about that. He was chatting. Chatting was easy.

“Understandable. Can Time Lords be bipolar? Is there a Time Lord version of manic depression?”

Not thinking. Chatting. “Yes.”

“What are the symptoms of that?”

Jack had funny ideas about chatting. But he could answer that. He could relate the information without thinking about it. “The same as for humans. Anything from occasional mild manic episodes to full blown cycles of mania, stability, and depression. It’s linked to creative genius, so most adult Time Lords show… showed at least mild symptoms.” And only mild symptoms. Except the unlucky ones. It had once been largely hereditary, but the Time Lords had learned how to clean up their genetics generations before he was born. The genius was bred into them and most of the instability bred out. Except for the unlucky ones… but he wasn’t thinking about that.

“And how is it treated?”

It used to be treated through telepathic intervention, but it didn’t matter what used to be. Jack’s question was in the present tense. “There are drugs, mood stabilizers, that can help smooth out the manic cycles. The depression can be treated as it occurs.”

“How?”

Not thinking about why Jack cared. Not seeing the blindingly obvious connection. Just answering. “There are antidepressants. They aren’t instantaneously effective, but they can reduce the severity of a depressive episode.”

“Is that it? I’m glad there’s medication that can help, but is that all we can really do for you?”

Not thinking. Just answering. “No. You can stay. Please… it hurts so much and I hate that I can’t even make myself get up and I don’t want to be alone. Just stay with me, please.”

Oh. So that’s what Jack had been trying to do with all the chatting.




By the time Jack had asked his first question about Time Lord medicine, Rose had figured out what he was doing. It was crazy, but she realized that it might just be crazy enough to work. So she kept quiet, listening carefully and wondering if Jack had spoken like this with his mother. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing.

By the time the Doctor was explaining the symptoms of Time Lord bipolar disorder, tripping over his verb tenses and still somehow clearly not really thinking about what he was saying, Rose was simply in awe. Jack had skillfully drawn more information out of the Doctor in one short, miraculous conversation than Rose had in almost all the time she’d known him.

And when Jack finally tricked the Doctor into speaking about himself, instead of just about a theoretical diagnosis, Rose could have kissed him for his cleverness. She would have, if she hadn’t been entirely too busy trying to reassure the Doctor.

“Of course we’ll stay. You won’t be alone,” she told him.

“Whatever it takes, Doc, you just tell me where to find that medication and I’ll get it for you,” Jack promised him.

“TARDIS infirmary. Rose knows what to do,” the Doctor replied, sounding distant and utterly shocked.

If it was shock that Jack had made him talk, shock that he was still talking, or shock that they were going to stay, that they wanted to help him, Rose didn’t know. But she did know how to find the medication for him.

“It’s how I found the painkiller the first time. The TARDIS will show me, and tell me the dosage. It’ll only take a moment,” Rose explained. Then she leaned down over the Doctor, gripping his shoulders and staring him right in the eyes. “I’m going to go get it now. But I’ll be back, okay? I’ll be right back, and Jack will stay here while I’m gone. We won’t leave you alone, I promise.”

The Doctor nodded, and Rose dipped her head lower to gently kiss his forehead.

Then she was off the bed, grabbing the neglected teacup off the floor, and sprinting up the stairs and out the door as fast as she could.

She nearly ran past the infirmary door a split second later, because the TARDIS had rearranged her interior dimensions again for the convenience of her passengers.

Dashing inside the infirmary, she called out, “TARDIS? What am I looking for?”

A light blinked on a computer panel, accompanied by a soft chime. Rose headed for the computer, setting the teacup down on a nearby examination bed, and pressed the control that was lit up.

Several lines of text appeared on the screen in English, detailing the dosage instructions for two drugs. Both appeared to come in dropper bottles, just like the painkiller, and also needed to be dissolved into another liquid when administered. Tea would work, and the drugs could be combined when necessary.

The first was a mood stabilizer, in a green bottle, with a small daily dosage of one drop. The second was an antidepressant, yellow bottle, two drops, that should be taken only when needed.

There was a seemingly unrelated note about TARDIS operation at the bottom of the screen which made Rose smile with affection and a bit of relief. Apparently, the TARDIS could monitor her pilot’s condition and suggest appropriate treatment as necessary.

Without knowing quite how, Rose suddenly suspected that if she looked in a particular cupboard in the kitchen when she made tea in the morning she would find the green bottle, and the yellow or blue bottles if the TARDIS thought either was needed. She glanced over at where she’d left the empty teacup, but it and the blue bottle she’d left inside it had both disappeared.

“Okay, I get the hint. Off to the kitchen,” she said to the TARDIS.

She stepped into the corridor and looked around more carefully than she had when leaving the bedroom, unsurprised but grateful to find that the kitchen had moved itself into the same area as well.

She started making another cup of tea, and then searched the cupboards as she waited for it to be ready.

She found the correct spot on her third try, finding the green and yellow bottles sitting side by side. The blue bottle, thankfully, was nowhere to be seen, which she knew meant that the TARDIS had determined that the Doctor’s headache was truly gone.

She carefully measured the medication into the tea, one drop from the green bottle and two from the yellow, stirring the mixture before replacing the bottles where she’d found them. She closed the cupboard, then opened it again on a hunch.

Both bottles were gone. They would only be there when she needed them.

“You’re amazing,” she told the TARDIS. “We’re very lucky to have you. Thank you for all your help.”

The kitchen lights blinked twice, and Rose knew that the TARDIS had heard her.



Rose had gone away.

Jack was still there beside him, still chatting, babbling about bananas again and something about the sonic screwdriver. He listened, occasionally he responded to a yes or no question, but mostly he kept his grip on Jack’s arm and watched the door, waiting for Rose to return.

She’d promised. She would be back.

He felt so strange. The monster in his mind, the overpowering depression, had been bypassed by Jack’s clever manipulation and Rose’s reassurances. Lacking its familiar weight on his mind, he felt adrift.

He knew better than to expect miracles. He had experienced too many years of unforgiving reality and too many bitter disappointments to believe in magical cures and perfect solutions.

The monster was still there. Just shocked into silence for the moment.

But despite the certain knowledge that he probably deserved every iota of punishment the Universe saw fit to heap upon him, there was something else beginning to grow in the back of his mind.

Something small and fragile and beautiful.

Something that brightened and sang with joy when Rose reappeared in the doorway, his guardian angel with a cup of soothing, healing tea.

Despite being hampered by only having the use of one arm, Jack gently lifted him up into a sitting position and supported him just as he had the night before. Rose again sat down beside them on the bed and held a teacup to his lips.

He surprised himself by finding the energy to lift one shaking hand from Jack’s arm up to cover Rose’s own hand on the teacup.

They were going to stay with him. He had someone to lean against, and someone to take care of him.

And he had a tiny but growing spark of hope, a spark that no monster in his mind would ever be able to take from him again.




During those first days, as the Doctor fought through rest of that terrible bout of depression, Rose was unashamedly grateful to have Jack there to help. She knew that he was still sadly reminded of his mother, but each day they saw improvement in the Doctor she also saw a softening of the haunted look in Jack’s eyes. It was as if helping the Doctor was helping him to heal an old hurt of his own.

They kept their promise, never leaving the Doctor alone as he battled the demons in his mind. There were peaceful moments when the Doctor napped with his head cradled in Rose’s lap, and there were painful moments when the Doctor tried to push them away, sometimes screaming at them to leave him alone. Rose was constantly amazed at how easily Jack could often calm him with just a few words.

But no matter how difficult it sometimes was, they always stayed. When the moment had passed, he always apologized and sometimes he tearfully thanked them. It gave them the strength to stay with him yet again the next time he had a bad spell.

A few days after Rose started giving him the mood stabilizer and antidepressant, he seemed to even out and slowly begin turning back into the happier version of the Doctor. Before long, the yellow bottle stopped appearing in the kitchen cupboard and the Doctor began seeking out time away from his companions.

Not long after that, he was back to his usual manic, enigmatic self, dragging her and Jack off to a planet made of beach resorts for a holiday, only to get them embroiled in foiling the evil plot of a local conspiracy of resort owners. Rose was relieved to find that the mood stabilizer didn’t mute his vibrant personality or turn him into a milder, drugged version of himself.

He was still her Doctor. Both her Doctors, really, just evened out and smoothed into one whole person. He still had his ups and downs. He wasn’t perfect. But he was passionate and fantastic and alive.

Rose continued to be in charge of the medication. She would add whatever doses the TARDIS suggested into his tea each morning and hand him the cup. He never asked what was in it, as if he preferred not to know, or even think, about the drugs if he could possibly avoid it.

The yellow bottle made an occasional appearance, usually preceding a day when the Doctor would park them in the Vortex and disappear into the depths of the TARDIS. On yellow bottle days, Rose and Jack would seek him out and sit with him, sometimes chatting and sometimes just sharing a companionable silence. After a while, Rose noticed that yellow bottle days became almost relaxing and therapeutic for all of them. She supposed they were a chance to sit still for a little while and decompress.

On the second yellow bottle day in a row, something that didn’t happen very often, the Doctor would seek them out, instead. On those days, nothing seemed to help him more than Jack’s supporting arms and a cup of tea in Rose’s steady hands. Rose was more than willing to help, and she knew Jack agreed.

But most of the time they were a happy, crazy little family, traveling around, adventuring and running for their lives and saving the day. They weren’t conventional and they weren’t normal by anybody’s standards, but they just worked, the three of them together.

They were fantastic, right up until the day they lost Jack.

Rose cried on her mother’s shoulder for hours after the alien crisis had been averted, mourning Jack and mourning her Doctor. Jack was gone. The Doctor had turned into a stranger.

But there was something in that stranger’s eyes, eyes that were the wrong color, something familiar and something just a little bit desperate.

“It hurts so much… I don’t want to be alone. Just stay with me, please.”

In her mind could hear that Northern accent she had so loved, and she knew that her mind was the only place she would ever hear it again. But she could see it in that stranger’s eyes.

So she went with him. She took his hand in hers, and silently promised that she would not leave him alone.

Their first morning back in the TARDIS together, she found herself crying again as she stood in the kitchen making tea. She only needed two cups. Jack wouldn’t be there to complain about twenty first century tea being less manly than fifty first century coffee, even as he happily sipped at the tea she had given him.

Out of sheer habit, she reached for the cupboard to see which dropper bottles the TARDIS had left for her to use. Through her tears she could see the familiar green bottle sitting there as it always was.

The yellow bottle was beside it. She wiped the tears out of her eyes and reached up to grab both bottles.

Yes, this was certainly a yellow bottle day. She mixed the medication into the Doctor’s tea, and replaced the bottles in the cupboard. She turned around from the counter, a teacup in each hand, to find the stranger… the new Doctor… sitting quietly at the kitchen table, watching her.

“It’s still you,” she said, no surprise in her voice, just acceptance and truth. “You’re still both my Doctors.”

He looked strangely at her for a moment, and she supposed he was confused by her words. He seemed to decide that she had meant both his forms, old and new. “It’s still me,” he agreed.

“I know,” she replied, and handed him his tea. She watched with amusement when he added an extra spoonful of sugar after taking just one sip, and made a note of his apparent new preference for the future.

In the ensuing weeks she found that life was different with this new Doctor, and not just because they both missed Jack’s presence in their crazy little family. The yellow bottle days happened less frequently than they had used to, and the adventures were a little bit more energetic and dangerous. It was like he was starting to return to his more manic self, only without the depressive episodes.

Then, for the first time since the Doctor had started on the medication, his migraines returned. Rose found herself seeking out the blue bottle twice a week, worrying that something was terribly wrong with him. He was reluctant to talk about it, happy just to take a small dose of the painkiller and wait for any given headache to pass on its own.

But Rose was not so easily satisfied. She visited the infirmary, and asked the TARDIS what she should do. The same button on the same computer panel lit up as before, and she didn’t hesitate to press it.

The readout was a new prescription, the TARDIS suggesting two drops from the green bottle every morning instead of one.

Rose tried it, and it worked. The migraines stopped, and the Doctor seemed to settle down somewhat. Apparently regeneration had changed more than just his body and the number of sugars he took in his tea. But the new dosage worked.

They had a grand old time together, thick as thieves, a crazy little family of two. They weren’t conventional, and they weren’t perfect, but they did work together, the two of them.

They were brilliant, right up until the day she lost him.

She had clung desperately to her lever, knowing that she was about to fall, her heart breaking at the agony she could see on his face where he stood, helplessly clinging to his own lever.

She knew she would never see him again, and all she could think of was who would look for the little green dropper bottle in the cupboard each morning? Who would sit with him on yellow bottle days?

And then she slipped.



He was numb.

Donna had come and gone, a whirlwind through his already shattered existence. He had wandered aimlessly for a while after that, until he’d run into Martha.

Brilliant Martha, who had saved his life and who would probably be waking up from her first night aboard the TARDIS any moment now.

He was sitting in the kitchen, staring at the teakettle, and he was numb.

He wondered how long it would take for him to fall apart without the medication. Without Rose.

He knew he should go to the infirmary, run the diagnostics on himself, and let the TARDIS tell him how much of what drugs to take. Rose wouldn’t be there to take care of him anymore, he needed to take care of himself.

But the old familiar weight of that monster in his mind was already returning. It would take so much energy to go find the prescription and remember to take the medication each morning.

He knew Rose would want him to. But she had left him. Jack had left them, and then Rose had gone away as well.

They’d promised him. They’d told him they would never leave him alone.

But they were both gone now, and both times it had been his fault and, oh, it hurt so much. The hope he had clung to for so long, with Rose and Jack’s help, was gone.

He watched as Martha wandered into the kitchen, bleary eyed from sleep, mumbling a greeting to him and making a beeline for the teakettle.

He watched as she prepared the tea, and answered in a monotone when she asked him how many sugars he took.

“Not a morning person, either, are you,” she joked, still facing away from him, and he could hear the smile in her voice.

He sighed, dropping his head down onto his arms on the table. He missed feeling like that smile sounded. Happy and light.

“Hey, what are these little bottles?” she asked then, and he had to look up to see what she was talking about.

She held two small dropper bottles, one in each hand, green and yellow. He knew what they were, he had seen Rose using them even if he had pretended not to.

He tried to smother the panic he felt as he recognized the bottles and scrambled for a believable lie.

“They’re… eh… they’re just… flavors. You know, to go in the tea. That’s it.”

“Right,” she replied, and he could hear the skepticism in her voice. He wasn’t the best liar ever, then. “What flavors are they? Can I try one?”

“No! They’re, um… poisonous to humans.”

“Really. You’re the worst liar I’ve ever met. If you don’t want to tell me, just say you don’t want to tell me, and I’ll put them back where I found them in the cupboard.”

“No, it’s just… I…”

“What?”

“They’re medication I’m supposed to take every morning. They really do go in the tea.”

“Why didn’t you just say so? Weren’t you going to take them this morning?”

He didn’t answer, because he couldn’t think of anything less self incriminating to say than simply staying silent. He looked down at the floor, bringing one hand up to rub at the back of his neck.

Martha sighed. “I’m a medical student, remember? Needing to take daily meds isn’t something to be ashamed of. And I don’t have a problem making sure you take them if you’re supposed to. Your health is the most important thing you’ve got, you know.”

“I know,” he replied, still rubbing at the back of his neck. He wasn’t ashamed, not really. It just wasn’t easy.

“Well, what’s the dosage then?”

Brilliant, no-nonsense Martha. This was like Jack’s chatting. He could answer without really thinking about it.

“Two drops from each bottle, mixed into the tea. Don’t worry if you don’t see the yellow bottle there in the cupboard every morning, it’ll be there when I need it.”

“How’s that work, then?” Martha asked, already uncapping the first bottle and carefully measuring the dose into his tea.

“How’s what work?”

“The bottle just appears in the cupboard in the morning if you need it?”

“Um… it’s a magic cupboard?”

“You’re such a terrible liar. All right, Mr. Magic Cupboard, here’s your tea. And I’d better see you drink every last drop.”

“Thanks, Martha.”

When they left the kitchen, heading to the console room and their next adventure, he made sure he took the time to stroke the TARDIS wall, thanking her as well.

He still had his TARDIS. His wonderful, amazing TARDIS who loved him and knew what was best for him.

And, for now at least, he had Martha. Brilliant Martha.

He wasn’t alone. There was still hope, after all.



finis.

Comments

( 32 comments — leave a comment )
dark_aegis
May. 13th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
That was...wow. Just wow. You know how much I adore your work, and this was a prime example of just why. First of all, the Doctor. I absolutely love how you write him, in all his mercurial moods, but especially here.

I'm no stranger to depression myself. I had a bout of it when I was much younger and, well, the way you described it was spot on. It hurts. And you want to do whatever you can to stop it. But what matters the most, as the Doctor's learned, is having someone with you who cares. I love how the Doctor grabbed Jack's arm and held on. I love how Jack picked up on what was going on and so brilliantly managed to get the Doctor to talk about what to do to help him.

And Rose was simply brilliant here. Your description of "yellow bottle days" was very vivid. I love how you had it turn into almost a routine and how, even after the regeneration, Rose could still see him, the Doctor, behind brown eyes.

Then you brought in Martha just as the depression started to swell again and I think you summed it up brilliantly yourself:

He still had his TARDIS. His wonderful, amazing TARDIS who loved him and knew what was best for him.

And, for now at least, he had Martha. Brilliant Martha.

He wasn’t alone. There was still hope, after all.


No. He's not alone. Never alone. No matter what.

Thank you so much for sharing this story (and it's immediately going into my favourites on Tsp whenever Tsp gets updated!)
adaliafic
May. 13th, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)
This story was very much written from experience, though I filled in character specifics where appropriate. I'm manic depressive. Normally I just gently cycle between periods of unusual productivity and periods where I sleep more than I do anything else. But I've had some epic highs and some epic lows. (The Doctor's storage room cleaning spree is something I actually did two years ago. That was a truly epic high.)

I've been in something of a low these past two weeks, and a couple of days ago I just sat down and this 30 page thing appeared in my word processor. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. :-)

All the pieces you mentioned specifically, but especially the Doctor holding on to Jack's arm, Jack knowing how to talk to him, the yellow bottle days, and the routine of it... those were all things that stuck out in my mind as I wrote it. And you nailed the moral of the story right on the head when you said, "But what matters the most, as the Doctor's learned, is having someone with you who cares."

Thank you so much for your lovely comment! :-)
wendymr
May. 13th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
What I really love about this is how strong both Rose and Jack are here. They figure out, in their own different ways, how best to help, and they succeed. I love Jack's simple question-and-answer routine, and the way the Doctor trusted him enough to answer.

Now, I know that depression's not something you simply 'get over' and live happily ever after, so I was completely fine with it being an ongoing thing that they dealt with as a family. But once the Doctor recovered from that really bad bout I felt as if you went into super-speed mode - from the crushing blow I felt when 'they lost Jack' (and in this close relationship the Doctor never tells Rose the truth either? Harsh), galloping through the regeneration, losing Rose at Canary Wharf and then Martha joining. It may just be me, but I felt that the story lost something in this final quarter. Though it may be that I'd got myself in the mindset of a Nine/Rose/Jack story at that point and simply didn't expect the shifting of gears to Ten and then Martha.

Anyway, I really loved the first 3/4 :)
adaliafic
May. 13th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
I'm glad you loved the first 3/4! :-)

As for the ending, I did consider slowing it down and taking the oportunity to rewrite certain aspects of their canon post-Jack life.

There are two reasons why I didn't. First, I actually see this as hiding inside of canon and I didn't want to change the canon too much. The Doctor is still an emotionally stunted alien, he's still a bastard sometimes. He still runs away from Jack and lies about it, for all the same canon reasons, even though it hurts both himself and Rose.

The second reason came out of debating with myself over the fact that last two sections are definitely super-speed mode. It's something I've noticed in my own writing and I know I usually do it because I've lost my grip on how the story should end.

This time, when I re-read it, it felt right. The first 3/4 of the story establishes the Doctor's manic depression with Rose (and for a while Jack) as his primary caretaker(s). The last 1/4 of the story tells how that illness overshadowed a few of the major events of his life in the next few years of canon.

There's probably a novel hidden in this fic if I were to slow down the last 1/4 of it as it currently stands. But I feel like it would really just be a novelization of the series with the twist of including the backstory from the first 3/4 of the fic. I didn't want to write that novelization, just the backstory and a few moments that show the high points of how that twist would affect the rest of canon.

As for it shifting gears from everyone's favorite OT3 to Ten/Rose and then to Ten and Martha, well... they are up there in the characters list. I don't know if I would want to give any more warning than that.

Anyway... enough babbling from me. Thank you for your very thoughtful review! I hope my ramblings at least put your mind at ease about the back quarter of the story, if not improve your opinion of it even just a little bit. :-)
(no subject) - wendymr - May. 14th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC) - Expand
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edenfalling
May. 13th, 2008 04:44 am (UTC)
That was beautiful. This bit, from part 1, really resonated for me:

He wished he had the energy or the motivation to get up and help himself. He could go to the infirmary. He could find Jack and apologize. There were so many things he could do. Should do.

He thought about it. He would sit up, then stand up, then climb the stairs and open the door. He would make his way to the infirmary, and take something for the headache. Then he would find Jack, if he hadn’t run into him by then, and he would try to apologize somehow. Maybe he would take Jack and Rose somewhere nice if the TARDIS had finished her self diagnostic. They would relax, and maybe he would get some sleep. Later he would wake up and he would be himself again, relatively happy and ready for their next adventure.

It was a great plan. And if he could just make himself move, maybe it would even work. But he felt like there was an oppressive weight forcing him down into the pillows, and he couldn’t bring himself to fight against it.

So he stayed there, feeling miserable and trying to tell himself that if he just sat still for long enough, maybe it would all go away.


I went through a few years suffering from periodic depression, and that's almost exactly how I felt during my worst episodes. There were all sorts of things I knew I could and should be doing, but somehow I just couldn't do them -- in my own case, it was more like being wrapped in gray fog rather than pressed down by a weight, but everything else is eerily as if you were reading my mind.

I hope your own downs aren't usually this bad!

I agree with wendymr that the story seems rushed after Jack's death. The final Doctor POV with Martha seems fine, but the way you skim over all of season 2 in a few paragraphs, after taking a wonderfully decompressed look at one particular moment in season 1, feels a little... unbalanced, maybe? But I do like the way that the final section, with Martha, brings back the importance of not being alone, and how having somebody who cares is, perhaps, more important than any specific person. The Doctor never gets to keep anyone forever, after all, so it's good that he can receive help from more than one person.

Um. I really like the TARDIS in this story. She can't fix herself, or always communicate as clearly as she'd like to -- witness the Doctor's frustration at the very beginning, before he realizes she needs to be in the Vortex for a while -- but she's very clever at circumventing her limitations. I love how her bond with the Doctor lets her judge the dosages for his medications.

I'm of two minds about the way the Doctor tries to get an extra dose of the painkiller. You can tell that he's a definite risk for addictive behavior, and while it's certainly useful that the TARDIS flat-out won't let him do that, I agree with Jack that the attempt to fool Rose into overdosing him is a sign of bad things in his mind, which do need to be acknowledged and dealt with even though the TARDIS is preventing the outward expression of addiction.

I dunno. I think you did a good job of showing that coping is an ongoing process. I like the Doctor's ambivalence about his medications in front of a new companion; it rings very true, since using psychoactive medicine is often construed of as 'weak,' which would undercut the arrogance of his public persona. I like that you had Jack bring up the point about addictive impulses. You made me think, and didn't take any easy ways out, and I really respect that.

Thank you for a lovely story!
adaliafic
May. 20th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
I went through a few years suffering from periodic depression, and that's almost exactly how I felt during my worst episodes. There were all sorts of things I knew I could and should be doing, but somehow I just couldn't do them -- in my own case, it was more like being wrapped in gray fog rather than pressed down by a weight, but everything else is eerily as if you were reading my mind.

I'm not sure if this really makes sense, but I'm both happy and sad that the story resonates that much with you. Happy because that means I wrote it well, and sad because that means you really know what I was writing about.

I hope your own downs aren't usually this bad!

They usually aren't, thankfully. I usually just have occasional manic periods that involve impulse buying, starting huge projects, or working on absurd cleaning sprees. Sometimes I actually get useful things done while I'm manic. :-)

Um. I really like the TARDIS in this story. She can't fix herself, or always communicate as clearly as she'd like to -- witness the Doctor's frustration at the very beginning, before he realizes she needs to be in the Vortex for a while -- but she's very clever at circumventing her limitations. I love how her bond with the Doctor lets her judge the dosages for his medications.

I just love the TARDIS. I see her as consciously protective of her pilot, and I wanted her to have an active way to help him in this story.

I'm of two minds about the way the Doctor tries to get an extra dose of the painkiller. You can tell that he's a definite risk for addictive behavior, and while it's certainly useful that the TARDIS flat-out won't let him do that, I agree with Jack that the attempt to fool Rose into overdosing him is a sign of bad things in his mind, which do need to be acknowledged and dealt with even though the TARDIS is preventing the outward expression of addiction.

I completely agree with you. That's the one thing that I really feel I didn't cover properly in the story. Rose mentions that they'll be talking about it later, and Jack clearly would not let them forget because it's such an important thing to him. But I never actually wrote that bit of conversation. Perhaps they sat down and talked it out at some point... perhaps the Doctor wiggled out of actually having that conversation... I honestly don't know. ::shrug::

You made me think, and didn't take any easy ways out, and I really respect that.

Thank you for a lovely story!


Thank you for such a lovely, thoughtful review! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :-)
order_of_chaos
May. 13th, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)
Loved it!
Yay, Jack! Yay, TARDIS! Yay, Rose! Yay, Martha!
*snuggles Doctors*

*adds to memories*
adaliafic
May. 20th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for commenting! :-)
slvrcrystalc
May. 13th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
I love the poor Doctor. Maniac Depressive seems to suit him too well.
adaliafic
May. 20th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
It does, doesn't it? I think it's partly because of both CE and DT's brilliant acting. Both of them can do the instantaneous flips between happy!Doc and brooding!Doc.

Thank you for commenting. :-)
Late... But - fiverly - Jul. 20th, 2015 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
nightrider101
May. 14th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
I commented on Teaspoon, but this story left such an incredible impression on me I wanted to say more. Unfortunately I completely suck at giving voice to my opinions.

I suppose the best way to describe how I feel is that I have the desire to hug the next person I see. There really aren't enough hugs in the world.

This fic was beautiful, painful, touching, and haunting. I think we've all had days like this. Perhaps not to this extreme, but we've all been there. I fight most of my battles in my head. You'd never know anything was wrong, but the battle is always waging behind closed doors.

Another big thing I wanted to say was that I'm amazed at your strength as an author. You write what you feel in your heart. I have to respect that.

Incredible. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

ETA: Congratulations on your finals! YAY!

Edited at 2008-05-14 02:37 am (UTC)
robling_t
May. 15th, 2008 09:56 am (UTC)
...Everything Nightrider said, especially the 'behind closed doors' part. I sometimes think that this is why the best of us write, to get around that Voice Of Society in all our heads that says "don't drag everybody else along on your downer, man" -- disguising it as fiction gets it out there, but with Plausible Deniability if it's needed...
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crimedoc1
May. 16th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
Wow. I ran across this and it is completely and totally amazing. Beautiful and painful and utterly wonderful.

I have a family member and a close friend who both suffer from clinical depression and this really resonated with me. After reading it through, and picking my jaw up from the ground and remembering how to breathe, I *immediately* went back and reread it from the beginning.

I love the characterization of Jack in this one. And the way he manages to get the doctor talking by his light chatting (and of course i love that bananas come into it!) Although I do think that the story feels a bit hurried after the regeneration, and again after Rose leaves. I do like how he feels almost betrayed that Rose and Jack left him, after promising not to leave him alone, and at the same time blames himself for their loss.
adaliafic
May. 20th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked the story, especially Jack's characterization. It was a different experience for me to try to write him just after he joins the TARDIS crew.

Thank you for reading and commenting. :-)
tkurogrym
May. 19th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
Genius. Such a strange shaped story - with the sudden and soul-shattering leaps into the future - but it works so very well. So very, very well. The single, stand-alone line of losing Jack is terrible in its simplicity and finality, and it made me ache all over for the loss of the warm camaraderie the trio had built in the series and the gentle, safety net relationship you've created here with your green bottle days and yellow bottle days, a supportive, comfortable pattern of normalcy - destroyed in an instant. And following hard on its heels, the "she slipped." Gut-wrenching.

And brilliant, too. Without this, we'd be left wondering whether the Doctor could ever survive without them, recognizing that dark downswing in Ten during Season 3. (This is such a compelling justification for that, btw.) By moving ahead to Martha and her matter-of-fact medical student ways, we see into a future of new companions and hope that Ten ... and Eleven and Twelve, whoever they are ... will indeed find his way out of the morass of depression. Gorgeous.

Love so much here -- especially the touches of in-character humor (“And Rose looked great in that bikini she wore when we tried out the TARDIS pool, didn’t she?”) that serve as great comic relief in an otherwise dark scene. The entire "chat" and the Doctor's responses were a pleasure. Also the line about having someone to lean on and someone to care for him -- such an OT3 line, really. Rose we know is there for him in every way she can be; but this captures Jack's particular space in the triad -- someone who is strong enough for even a rangy Time Lord to both metaphorically and physically lean upon.

Always an absolute joy to read new fic from you.

Edited at 2008-05-19 04:30 pm (UTC)
adaliafic
May. 20th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
Such a strange shaped story - with the sudden and soul-shattering leaps into the future - but it works so very well.

It is kinda funny shaped, and I understand why other folks have complained about it. Glad you liked it, though! :-)

By moving ahead to Martha and her matter-of-fact medical student ways, we see into a future of new companions and hope that Ten ... and Eleven and Twelve, whoever they are ... will indeed find his way out of the morass of depression.

There's hope for him. Despite all the horrible things that happen to him in S3 and now occasionally in 4... there's hope. That's the moral of the story.

Also the line about having someone to lean on and someone to care for him -- such an OT3 line, really. Rose we know is there for him in every way she can be; but this captures Jack's particular space in the triad -- someone who is strong enough for even a rangy Time Lord to both metaphorically and physically lean upon.

That's very much how I like to see the OT3. Rose was good for the Doctor, but so was Jack in his own way, a way that was distinctly different from Rose's.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and, as always, thank you so much for your fantastic reviews! :-)
nina_ds
May. 25th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
As others have mentioned, I really like the way you draw the dynamic between Nine, Rose, and Jack and how beautifully they work together; Jack really does complement Rose's strengths and weaknesses with the Doctor, since Nine is complex enough to need two fully complex humans to complete him! Yes, I would have liked to have seen the "we're going to talk about it" scene, but I can understand why we didn't.

Strangely, I didn't have as much a problem with the "fast forward", although perhaps I was just reading it as an epilogue. A friend of mine has actually posited that Ten is the embodiment of the impossible unipolar, he's simply manic all the time. I don't fully agree with that, although I do find that Ten's "dark" never really resonates me, so... I'm not sure where I'm going with this, as I myself have a headache and am on little red-and-white capsules instead of drops from a blue bottle!
adaliafic
May. 25th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
Jack really does complement Rose's strengths and weaknesses with the Doctor, since Nine is complex enough to need two fully complex humans to complete him!

I love so much to see that three-way balance between them! They can each complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, which is why I personally think so many of us in fandom have fallen in love with the idea of the OT3 and find it so compelling.

Strangely, I didn't have as much a problem with the "fast forward", although perhaps I was just reading it as an epilogue.

You know... I hadn't thought of it that way, but it really is more of an epilogue! But it isn't clearly marked as such, and I wonder if that's why it didn't work for some readers?

...Ten is the embodiment of the impossible unipolar, he's simply manic all the time. I don't fully agree with that, although I do find that Ten's "dark" never really resonates me...

I don't really agree with that, myself. He seems to be 100% manic, but it's partly a defense mechanism. He does definitely have his dark, depressive moments.

I'm not sure where you were going, either, but if you're on blue-bottle meds, I hope you're doing all right!

Thank you for reading and commenting. :-)
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bulky_monster
May. 26th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Every time I read your fic, I identify with someone - usually Jack, and this was no exception. I have to admit it was a bit uncomfortable a portrayal of the Ninth Doctor, although they did demonstrate his moods on the show. I'm not sure how I feel about him being in that catatonic state, or his own internal monologue being as open as it was, but this story nevertheless had a lot to say about him.

Still, I liked Jack best. My mom had major depressive disorder, was hospitalized for it, tried to kill herself with pills and probably more than once (stopped herself, she later said, because of us.) Sometimes I wonder if that's why she died, indirectly - lack of sleep, slowed responses from the meds, something like that. I have a strong aversion now to extreme emotions demonstrated by other people, and it's not easy to grow up like that but I think it does teach you compassion and understanding, to hold off judgment and try to figure out the "why" of things.

On a lighter note, I have an amusing vision of Donna giving him his meds in the morning. "Oh don't start that moping, now, the TARDIS saw fit to leave the yellow dropper out and you'll drink this tea, so help me, I'm not havin' a moody Time Lord off 'is meds on my watch..." All said with Donna's own brand of love and compassion, of course. A slap and a hug to go with his morning cuppa ;)
adaliafic
May. 28th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how I feel about him being in that catatonic state, or his own internal monologue being as open as it was, but this story nevertheless had a lot to say about him.

On some level I intended it to be a bit uncomfortable, so I'm okay with that reaction.

... it's not easy to grow up like that but I think it does teach you compassion and understanding, to hold off judgment and try to figure out the "why" of things.

Strangely, that is perhaps the one piece of this story that isn't auto-biographical in any way. It just seemed to fit for Jack's story and his character.

On a lighter note, I have an amusing vision of Donna giving him his meds in the morning.

I was imagining that, too! If I ever write a sequel to this, it'll be a much lighter story with exactly that "slap and a hug to go with his morning cuppa". I <3 Donna!

As always, I love hearing your responses to my writing. Thank you for reading and commenting! :-)
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adaliafic
Adalia Zandra

greetings

This is adaliazandra's fic journal, which she hadn't planned to use very often. That plan has since been defenestrated in favor of posting fic update notices and rambles about DW and TW.

If you note the spiffy paid-account layout, that's because nightrider101 is simply the most wonderful person ever! :-)

If I seem to have disappeared off the face of the Internet, it's because I probably did. I don't actually *like* suddenly ignoring my LJ friends and leaving my stories hanging, though, so odds are I'll be back eventually.