Neither One Nor The Other.
Doctor Who/ Casanova Crossover.
Set between POTW and the Christmas Invasion
Disclaimer: All belongs to the BBC. I'm just playing, I promise.
People to thank: Saganami Dreams for her support during the writing of this, and for being a wonderful beta. For that reason, also thanks to Shadows Dancing. And despite the fact that I ended up disregarding her advice, Margaret Price did put quite a lot of effort into this. Blame me for any mistakes, not them.
Any comments are more than welcome, leave a review or email me at xwingace at gmail dot com.
The Doctor starts to say something, but is distracted by an odd feeling in his mouth. He runs his tongue over the offending articles, and concludes that they are, in fact, this regeneration's teeth. Weird. Now, where was he? He distinctly remembers talking about going somewhere, before. What was it again? Ah yes, Barcelona. The planet, that is.
Hmm, he must have said some of that out loud, because Rose is staring at him like he suddenly has grown that second head. Still, this is no time to be standing around goggling at each other. There are times to go to, places to see. So he grins at her, and then turns to the TARDIS's console, ready to set the coordinates. Before he can properly reach it, though, he feels a wave of nausea wash over him and his legs abruptly lose the ability to support his weight.
He can just brace himself on the edge of the console, knocking back a few levers in the process. Oh no. This will not do. The last thing he needs now is to succumb to the effects of post-regenerative crisis. Well, if there were just him in the TARDIS, it might not be so bad. He managed last time. But now Rose is here as well, and she already has to deal with a Doctor that has completely changed his face. What will it do to her if he just collapses now?
Yes, that's another weird thing. He remembers her; not just as another name, another face of another companion, but as Rose, the woman he's died for. Who he would die for again, if necessary. Normally feelings like that changed, didn't they? Yet here he is, with a brand new face, brand new body, and not so brand new feelings. All of which makes it all the more important not to worry her too much.
But he really does need to sit down for a little while and try to find his strength again, so that he can let go of the TARDIS's console without falling on the floor. Ah, that's it, send her to get changed. Barcelona is populated by fairly humanoid aliens, and they have a strict dress code, one that Rose currently doesn't comply with. Nor does he, to be honest, and this jacket really is on the large side, but he doesn't have the energy to do anything about that at the moment.
The Doctor looks up at Rose. She's still in shock, still staring out to where his previous self changed into this one. His movement now at least does draw her gaze.
"You might want to change your clothes if you don't want to get arrested in Barcelona," he tells her. When she just stands there, looking confused, he eggs her on further. "Go on, you know where the wardrobe is." Well, he hopes she does, at any rate, because its location seems to have slipped his mind at the moment. Thankfully, she leaves the console room. He sags on the floor as soon as she is out the door.
Rose walks out of the console room in a daze. What has just happened? Why is she even in the TARDIS, and who is the stranger that just sent her out of the console room? She remembers her mother shouting at Mickey to put his foot down. Why, though? Then there was singing, and millions of bright sparks, and when she woke up the Doctor was there, babbling on about Barcelona. He said goodbye, or she thinks he did, and then there was another gold light and the stranger had taken the Doctor's place. And then she just gets sent off with nary an explanation, just some gibberish about teeth. That's not right. That's never right.
Despite her confusion the wardrobe is easily found and Rose enters it before realising she's reached it. Dozens of utterly gorgeous dresses, of silk and lace and rich brocade, in all the colours of the rainbow, shimmer and glitter in front of her. Unfortunately, they do not include black. She's in the mood for black. Deep purple will have to do, then.
There's a diagram on the inside of the door. Why is it, when the Doctor sends her to get changed, that the things she has to change into are always this complicated? The dress she wore in nineteenth century Cardiff had been painful and difficult to put on by herself, but this one looks even more impossible. How is she supposed to lace the bodice at her own back, for example? Ah, but this dress has thoughtfully been provided with little insets, so she doesn't have to. Small mercies, at least.
The struggling with the dress does take her mind off her current circumstances for a little while. She is dressing up to go somewhere with the Doctor, just like always. Maybe the Doctor changing — dying? — was just a bad dream. A hallucination, perhaps. Yeah, that sounds right. So that's it, then. She's just hallucinating.
When she keeps that in mind, it's a lot easier to enjoy the dressing up. It's almost like she used to play as a kid, only now the dresses are much nicer than Grandma's old nightgowns. And the jewellery and accessories are a lot prettier. Rose folds open an ivory fan with a gold-embroidered leaf of purple silk and studies herself with it in the mirror. Yes, this is as good as it's going to get and it's excellent, even if she does say so herself. Or should she put on another dress? This purple one is a bit dark… No, that'll take too long. She wants to go out with the Doctor and explore.
She has to walk through the doors to the console room sideways; her dress is so wide. Rose doesn't care; she wants to show it off to the Doctor. She's certain he'll gape again and tell her she's beautiful, just like he did way back then. So when she enters the console room and sees the Doctor standing there, half hidden by the central column, she smiles broadly and steps around it to surprise him.
But then the Doctor's head and face come into view, and they are the usurper's. Rose feels her smile fall as she registers the new man's features all over again. It was all real. Her Doctor is gone, and any trace of the good mood she was in disappears. It burns away into despair, like her Doctor burned.
The new man's face forms a pale contrast to the Doctor's dark clothes. A smile almost seems to form on it as she comes over, but it falls along with her own. Large, glittery eyes move from her face to take in her clothing. Then the dark eyebrows drop into a frown. Does he disapprove of the dress? Then that's his problem. It's not like she dressed up to please him, anyway. But he says nothing, merely gestures towards the door, in a gesture that is almost, but not quite, that of the Doctor she remembers.
Outside, the weather isn't being helpful either. Instead of torrential rain and a storm-force gale, or even simply a blackly overcast sky, there is bright sunshine and barely a breeze to be found. The usurper has followed her out and is now walking a little ahead, feeling the wall of one of the buildings lining the alley they have landed in. She doesn't want to be following him, so she sweeps ahead and out of the alley. She senses him walking half a step behind. They must have walked at least half a mile through a maze of streets and canals before he even speaks.
"This isn't right."
Oh, he's one to talk about things not being right. He's everything that's wrong about this situation in the first place. Rose doesn't hesitate to say so. A little to her surprise, that seems to genuinely hurt this entity that has taken the Doctor's place. His posture slumps, making the Doctor's clothes seem even more incongruously large, and the man even stumbles. But he collects himself again, takes a deep breath and manages a reply.
"Unfortunately, Rose, I'm not what's wrong here." He takes another deep breath, and his Adam's apple rises and falls as he swallows before continuing. "This isn't Barcelona." Something catches his eye and conjures something resembling a grin on his face. He nods at something behind her. "Look, a dog, nose and all."
Rose turns around to see a dog, which is indeed fully nasally equipped, rummaging in a refuse pile. Nothing to laugh about, though. Her expression must speak volumes, because the grin on the stranger's face disappears instantly when she faces him again. Then there is a long silence, during which he first stares at her face, then slowly lowers his eyes to stare at the cobbles, while she keeps glaring at him.
Well. If he keeps this up, then she's never going to find out where they are. "So where are we, then? And when?"
The stranger looks up and around. "It looks like Venice. Probably somewhere in the middle of the eighteenth century." The usurper pauses again. Is he waiting for her to say something? No, because now he turns to look at her again and continues: "Do you want to go back to the TARDIS? We could try again…"
Just another reminder that the new man isn't the Doctor. When had he ever cared that where they arrived wasn't where they had wanted to go? No, she is here, so she's going to explore. Even if it does feel strange without the Doctor by her side to grin, take her hand, and lead her into trouble. This time, Rose is leading as she turns around and heads off in the opposite direction from where she thinks they left the TARDIS.
He follows her again, struggling to keep up with her angry strides. Very quickly now they reach busier thoroughfares. She notices they're drawing odd looks from the crowd, but she doesn't care. As the number of people increases, so does the beauty of the environment. The magnificent facades of the houses and the intricate fountains and benches are somehow accentuated by the colourful masses streaming around them. Snatches of music drift in from somewhere, from an instrument Rose doesn't recognise.
So absorbed in her surroundings is she that she doesn't notice her companion falling further behind. The crowd around her increases, the buildings draw back further, and she finds herself in a large square. At one end is a structure even Rose recognises, and now she is sure that they really are in Venice. She turns around to smugly inform the usurper of this, and finds him gone.
This is some cause for worry. It's not that she really minds him being gone; she wasn't really enjoying his company anyway. But she's now alone in a strange city, in a strange time, and that is less comforting.
You know what? She's a big girl. She can find her own way back. She just needs to find the TARDIS again. Mister 'let's go to Barcelona' is bound to have gone back there as well. After all, he was the one who suggested turning around in the first place. Now, which alley had they come out of again?