Very little exciting happened today for a Caturday; we went out to the Goodwill 50% off sales to see if I could find me something for a passable banana costume (our intrepid team at work are being "Monkey and Bananas" on Friday), and I found bright yellow shorts, a bright yellow hoodie, and a bottle holder which, stuffed and sewn to the hoodie, will make a reasonable stem. And, with the stem removed, these will actually be used as real clothes -- which means I got a multipurpose costume for quite a bit less than it would have cost me to buy a "real" banana costume at the Spirit Halloween store. I also found some nice new tops, a couple of nifty bottles (one of the full-sized Wheaton reproduction bitters bottles I actually collect and a nifty green glass one from Amsterdam, two for a buck, where either one would have probably been at least $4 in an antique shop). Then we went to Costco to get a few necessities, and now I am completely broke because of Homeowners Insurance, but hopefully that means we've reached the end of Hideous Expenses Involved With Homeownership for the year (termite treatment, property taxes, insurance) and now I can focus on the upcoming cruise and, then, OMG, CHRISTMAS!
Six Past Doomsday
They all tell me he’s the same. Exactly the same. That there’s no difference at all.
Oh, he looks the same, and mostly acts the same, and what they see on the surface, yes. In almost every way he’s an exact duplicate. He’s just as filled with restless, kinetic energy as the real one. He yearns to do good in places where he’s not welcome, and usually things turn out right for him because he’s still brilliant. Or bloody lucky. Or both.
It’s just that sometimes, well– I knew him better than they did, you know–sometimes when I look into those great big shining eyes I don’t see... forever.
That was what always set him apart, the way I could tell it was still him after he Regenerated and became someone new and different yet still the same. Those eyes that had seen forever behind and would see forever ahead and knew all of time inside and out; they were a different color and a different shape but when I looked deep inside, I could still see the depths and breadth and width of all time in them. In his eyes I could see to the very edges of the universe.
This copy, this exact duplicate, might have the memories and he certainly has the face and he has the amazing hair, but he can’t duplicate those eyes. He doesn’t have the same future. When I look into this set of big brown eyes, I don’t see it all anymore, all that knowledge I had, for a short time; he took that all away from me so I only dream about it now, when I was merged as one with the Time Vortex. I know it happened, I just can’t really remember it, but I could always see it in his eyes.
So I know it’s not him, not really. What’s really funny is once in a while he sounds like he comes from Chiswick. There’s not as much of Donna in him as there was the Doctor in Donna, but she’s there, nonetheless, and that positively makes him different. It’s the human part of him. I like it sometimes. It makes him approachable, a little more real, and it’s that man I live with, the man I agreed to marry, whom I tolerate and still call “Doctor” although he’s adopted the oh-so-average name of John Smith. But even though I do love him, he’s not really the man I fell in love with.
I didn’t intend to. When he first regenerated I didn’t like him. I wanted my Doctor back, that determined, fragile, tender, dangerous man with his infectious love of all existence. I soon learned the new Doctor was much the same, just, well, really handsome. Not that he wasn’t before, understand, but then he was sort of more like a big brother to me, someone I loved and could lean on, but wasn’t really IN love with, not yet, not until it was too late to realize it.
I don’t know exactly when it happened. I know I started to feel a little jealous when I learned he’d traveled with girls before, and I was weirdly jealous when Mickey started traveling with us, which was very, very odd, but I couldn’t help myself. Sarah Jane told me he’d traveled with a LOT of girls before, and who knew how many between her and me? All different, all ages, all manner of feelings going on there. I had to accept the fact that he’s over nine hundred bloody years old, and some twenty-something from London is hardly going to have been his first.
Still, I always felt like his first, the first one who he really almost said “I love you” to. I know he didn’t say it to any of the others. Of course, he still can’t say it, not really. He whispers it at night, so only I can hear, and he never says it out loud.
The first time I heard he loved me was when the Daleks said it, and I was a little too traumatized at the time to pay a great deal of attention, but in the years since I’ve thought a lot about our travels, when I lived in the other world, the universe I was actually born in. I think about how he tried to save me by putting me out of danger and I moved heaven, earth, and the time vortex to save him, instead. It wasn’t just a different face he wore then.
He was everything to me. I’ve learned somehow to love this almost-him, this kinetic stranger with his wonderful hair and his big eyes and his grand ideas. I love the way he approaches every problem as though it’s a dragon to be slain, even if it’s just figuring out something as simple as a school chemistry exam. What else could he do but teach? He’s not an alien any longer, so he’s of no import to the Torchwood of this world, and it seems this universe never had any Time Lords of its own. (Since I know that the Torchwood of my home universe was formed because of what happened in Scotland during that werewolf business, I often wondered how and why it had come into existence in this one; eventually I learned that apparently in this universe Queen Victoria was actually bitten by that werewolf because the Doctor and I weren’t there to stop it. Things changed from there. I took a history course at university.)
I live with this strange human who is my Doctor and yet he’s not. He’s now only an “ordinary” human who lives a “normal” life without a blue box and a free pass to hop throughout all time and the entire universe, righting wrongs and leaving a swath of destruction, death, and broken hearts behind him.
So. John Smith and me. He’s been a good husband, if rather distracted. He’s prone to fits of restless energy, trying, always trying, to make his “piece of TARDIS” grow into a fully-fledged time machine. It hasn’t grown so much as a hair in the years since the doorways between the universes were closed, this time permanently. Sometimes he’s depressed, so pulled into himself and hating this world he’s forced to live in, where he has everything he always desperately feared, a job and money and a mortgage, just like he worried would happen to him if he ever lost his TARDIS, that I can’t reach him at all. I don’t think he’ll ever get over it completely. I know I never can, and I only traveled a few years, relatively speaking.
The real Doctor traveled several of my lifetimes before he met me, and who knew how many more he’d go before he was finally at the last of his Regenerations? He said goodbye to me, and that was more, I knew, than most of them had gotten.
I thought about that farewell, the first one when my heart was torn out, and then the unexpected, horrible second goodbye when I felt an even keener sort of pain. “I can’t love you, Rose, not the way you want or need, so here’s an exact duplicate of me and that should suffice.” As though he were saying, as he so often did, that we “stupid monkeys” didn’t have the brains to fathom even his simplest thought. That much, at least, hasn’t changed. My “John Smith” doesn’t see, any more than the real Doctor did, why it was an insult, how an “exact duplicate” isn’t exact enough, and how I would have far rather simply been his companion for all time throughout the universe no matter the dangers than be consigned to an lifetime with him-as-ordinary-man in a nice flat in a nice estate in a slightly skewed London.
Our life has become exactly what it never had been, never should have been, going to work and out to shops and eating chips, watching his piece of TARDIS lay there inert and realizing that it takes generations–probably Time Lord generations–to grow a TARDIS, and neither of us have that kind of time anymore. That little chunk of stuff that looks like coral may become a time machine someday, but if so, it’ll be for our great-great-grandchildren.
That’s new for him, and I think he hasn’t realized it yet. It’s one thing that’s the same, sadly, as exact as everyone tells me he is. He still thinks like a Time Lord, and doesn’t realize the truth of being human, of being half-Donna from Chiswick, and for the first time, he really doesn’t understand something: he doesn’t have the time.