The last chapter! We're four of four…100 percent done…the glass is nearly full…
Haha, sorry. Go ahead and read, ignore me:
The Doctor entered the building just behind Rose. He noticed there was a queueof people to his left, a table set up in front of them with two women taking money and punching tickets, and beyond that, gymnastics equipment lined wall-to-wall.
"Oooh," Rose said, understanding. She was standing a few feet to his left, looking around in awe. "I'm competing today." She narrowed her eyes. "How old did I saw I was- ten? So I'm in, what, level six or seven? At least."
This information went in one of the Doctor's ears and out the other. "Sorry?" he asked.
"This is Judge's Cup, the most important competition of the year," Rose said, turning to him. "At least, for us it was." She broke out into a wide smile. "And I'm here to see myself compete!"
"What about Patricia Long?" the Doctor asked desperately. "Big-time actress, gets food poisoning next door? Remember her?"
Rose shushed him, as they were getting strange looks from the people in the queue.
"Look," she whispered. "Ten minutes, okay? Just to see what level I'm in, how I'm doing…" She stole a quick glance at a table where two women sat, taking money. "But I'm going to need you to get us in."
The Doctor looked at Rose in a pained sort of way "Do I have to?"
"It's five quidto get in- do you have any money? Nah, you never do. You'll have to use the-"
"Yes, yes, I know, thank you," he grumbled, wishing Rose would calm down a bit. The Doctor retrieved the psychic paper from his pocket and sauntered up to the table, acquiring an air of confidence as he went.
"Hello," he said cheerily, flashing the paper at the two women. "I'm Dr. John Smith, head physician at the…uh…at Cambridge, and I'm here to…" the Doctor paused- he hadn't planned this far ahead yet. "Investigate the…"
Rose clapped a hand on his shoulder and stepped forward. "Ice," she finished, "and the medical tape. There have been complaints that the tape is snapping too easily and the ice is melting too quickly. Hormones…or something."
One of the women raised an eyebrow. "And you are?"
"Lewis," the Doctor picked up the pace. "My colleague."
"It was either this or hairdressing," Rose told the two of them, smiling. "Anyway, we'll get some samples and take 'em back to the lab- we'll have the results back to you in a few days, probably. Make sure everything's copasetic."
"I thought you said you were a doctor," the other, who hadn't spoken before, shot a glance at the Doctor.
"I've got…multiple degrees," he replied quickly. "Anyway! Time is of the essence, ma'am, we've got to go in there and get those rice samples."
"Ice samples," Rose corrected.
The women exchanged glances. "Go ahead," the first woman told them, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. Rose thanked them and gave the Doctor a shove.
The two stepped over a balance beam placed at floor-level, which was serving as a barrier, and onto a blue mat. To their left, a few rows of stands about half-filled with parents and siblings of competing gymnasts.
Rose squinted at the competitors, all of whom had gathered on the floor and were warming up. All, that is, except one- clad in a blue and white leotard, there was a small, bored-looking brunette girl sitting in a chair, off to the side.
"There I am," Rose announced, pointing. "I must be the only one in my age group competing today."
The Doctor swung around. "Why aren't you…running and…jumping about…like the others?" he asked, making a vague motion with his hand.
"Coach hasn't showed up yet, I suppose." She shrugged and turned her head towards the stands. "There's mum, right in the middle, sitting with…aw, that's nice, look, a few people from my gym came to watch me."
"That is very nice," the Doctor agreed. "Can we go now?"
"No!" Rose punched the Doctor in the shoulder. "C'mon, don't be such a…look, do you want to go after mum or after me? 'Cause we're going to have to split up eventually."
"You," the Doctor said quickly, "Definitely. You know how many codes and rules we're violating just being here, let alone talking to…"
"Since when have you followed the rules?" Rose asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Well…it sounded good, didn't it?"
Rose grinned. "Well you'd better let me have the psychic paper, knowing mum..."
The Doctor frowned, but gave it to her anyway. Rose turned on her heel and went up to the stands where her mother sat: the Doctor in the opposite direction, over where the younger Rose seemed to be waiting for something.
Jackie was sitting approximately in the centre of the stands, chatting with a skinny blonde woman. Rose grabbed a programme and made her way along the row above where her mother sat, all the while trying to think of what to say to get her mother to talk. Finally, she sat down next to the blonde woman, watching the competitors idly until either of the women noticed she was there.
It was the woman who first turned around. "Hello," she said, sticking out her hand. "Sue Turner. Do you have someone competing?"
Sue! Rose remembered Sue- Stephanie's mother. She and Steph had never been great friends, but Sue had always been very kind to Rose.
"Hi, I'm R…" Damn, she thought "Patricia Lewis, and no, actually, I'm here doing research."
"Research?" Jackie chimed in. "On what?"
"The ice, actually, and the medical tape. There've been some complaints so we're just investigating…"
Rose smiled and nearly rolled her eyes. "Me and my colleague, Dr. Smith," she explained, pointing to the Doctor, who was waiting for his cue. He was looking at the posters and advertisements on the wall, trying to be inconspicuous. Unfortunately, he was failing miserably.
"He's doing research?" Jackie asked. "Really?"
"Yeah, he just…gets distracted easily."
Jackie shook her head, but turned her attention back to Rose. "Jackie Tyler, by the way. My daughter's competing today."
"Oh, really? Which one is she?"
Jackie pointed. "That's her, in the blue and white. She really should start warming up; I've got no idea where her coach is. She's already a half-hour late."
Rose, in an attempt to be casual, asked which level was competing, how many competitors there were, and how many gyms were competing.
"Fifteen? Are there always that many in a competition?" Rose asked, knowing the answer.
"No, but this is the biggest of the year," Jackie explained. "Everyone that qualifies is invited."
"Right," Rose nodded. She stole a quick glance to the Doctor, who was watching her out of the corner of his eye, and gave him a slight nod: the go-ahead. "Right."
"Rose Tyler?" the Doctor asked cautiously.
The girl turned her head to look at the approaching man. "How did you know my name?"
"I…it's embroidered on your bag," the Doctor pointed out, motioning to her athletic bag. Indeed, it had Rose Tyler sewn elegantly the side, above it, Jericho Street Junior School Gymnastics: London.
"That's a very nice bag. Extremely nice, actually. How much did that cost?"
"I got it for Christmas," Rose answered, shaking her head. "Can I…um, help you?"
The Doctor figured that, since she was a gymnast, it was safe to assume she'd be experiencing some kind of pain. "The women at the door said you were having some trouble with injuries? I'm a doctor, by the way."
Rose licked her lips. "Not really, although…well, I landed funny on my full last week, but the swelling went down really quickly."
The Doctor grimaced. "Any bruising?"
"Nope. Well, not on my ankle. I caught my heel on the bar a few months ago, doing a straddle back…" Rose stopped, eyeing the Doctor. "Wait, how did they know I was hurt? Who told them?"
"Your coach sent over a sheet before, describing everything."
Rose nodded. "Oh! I broke my wrist, too, but that was like a year ago." She chuckled slightly, as if the thought amused her
"Broke your wrist?" the Doctor asked, mildly interested.
"Back handspring on beam. I slipped. You know, now that I remember, I don't think it was ever actually broken. I didn't get any X-rays done. Not even a splint. The doctor just looked me over for a time and let me go."
The Doctor's mouth fell slightly open. "Sorry?"
"Yeah! Weirdest thing. I told everyone at gym about it and they said that they had all needed splints. Melanie broke her wrist in two places and wore a cast for four months. Me? I fall on my wrist, doctor looks it over, I cry a bit, he gives me an injection and that's that."
The Doctor blinked several times. "An injection? He fixed a broken wrist with an injection?"
"Yup. Strange syringe, though, it looked more like a pen. And I didn't feel the needle. But that's what happened. It hurt really, really badly, but he gives me an injection and I was able to compete."
The Doctor shook his head. "You should have reported him- you could be seriously injured because of what he did. Or, what he didn't do, I suppose."
"I placed fourth at that meet, in All-Around. I should be thanking him."
The Doctor shook his head again, completely befuddled. "A pen, did you say?" he asked, after a pause
Rose nodded. "Well, do you want to look at it?" She stood up and raised her arm.
The Doctor took it and pulled the long-sleeved leotard sleeve back slightly. "You know, these uniforms…"
"Leotards, right. Well, if you ask me, if you really want to make an impression, you should represent the home country. You need some Union Jacks on the front, not blue and white. People are going to think you're from Scotland."
Rose giggled. "I've always wanted a shirt with a Union flag on it, tell the truth. A leotard, though- those would be cool."
"Oh, I bet you'll get one," the Doctor said absent-mindedly. He paused briefly and looked up at the Rose that was sitting in the stands. "Actually, I'm sure you'll get one. The shirt, I mean. Don't have a clue about the leotard."
"I'll talk to Coach when she gets here. I mean, if she gets here."
The Doctor didn't say anything, but examined Rose's wrist. He turned it over, feeling for bumps where irregular bones would be protruding. There were none.
"Your wrist's fine, by some miracle," the Doctor said. "If you ever think you break something again, though, demand an X-ray. Demand it!"
Rose smiled. "I liked this doctor, though- he was nice. And I placed fourth in All-Around!"
"How nice could he be? He examined your wrist then left you to fend for yourself. I would've kicked him in the shin."
"He told me something," she went on, pulling her leotard sleeve back up. "He said that sometimes, when you're doing something dangerous or whatever, you should go with your instincts, but sometimes you have to go with your brain, as far as what to do- whether to go or whether to not go. Just common sense stuff."
"Sounds like a nutter to me."
"Well, maybe he was," Rose laughed. "But I think about what he said sometimes. It really makes sense, when you think about it. 'Specially in gymnastics."
The Doctor scratched his head, but his grimace became a slight smile. "Well, good luck competing today."
Rose sat back down in her chair. "I just hope I'll get to compete," she said, flustered. "I can't if Coach doesn't never gets here."
At that moment, there was uproar of voices as a woman stormed through the entrance of the building, parting the people in the queue like the Red Sea. Gymnasts and coaches literally jumped out of the woman's way as she stormed through the gym, making a beeline for Rose and the Doctor.
"Rose!" she half-shouted, as if she didn't already have Rose's attention.
"Is this her?" the Doctor said, smiling broadly. Rose nodded weakly.
"Rose, Rose! Have you warmed up yet? No?"
"I couldn't start without you," she replied simply.
Coach waved her clipboard haphazardly. "Oh, oh, I see- so it's really my fault they had roads works? That's what I get for walking here, Rose! I could have driven, but nope, nope, had to walk, had to take the long way." She threw her bag down next to Rose's.
"Oh, and you know what else? I saw that they're trying to resurrect those police phone boxes! Passed one on the way down here!"
The Doctor snorted.
"And who the hell do you think you are?" Coach demanded. "Can I see some identification?"
"I…uh…" the Doctor felt in his pockets in vain. "I've left them in my other suit…"
"I tried to call the gym and tell them I was going to be late," Coach continued, focused on Rose again, "but the phone didn't dial, didn't go anywhere. Dead line. I don't think the cord was even attached to anything. It was locked, too. Can you imagine that? A locked police phone box! That's defeating the purpose of it, that is. Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable."
She turned back to the Doctor. "Some ID, huh?"
Rose locked eyes with Rose, who was already making her way towards him. "It's coming, just hold on…"
Coach's nostrils flared. She told the younger Rose to go do ten laps around the floor. The older Rose, however, saw the Doctor's face- she knew that face well, it was the panic-trying-to-maintain-calm face- and broke into a jog herself.
"Need some ID?" she asked, handing him the psychic paper. He flipped it open and showed it to Coach.
"Patricia Lewis?" Coach asked, taking the paper from him.
"Damn!" the Doctor hissed. "It got confused," he explained to Rose in a whisper. "We switched too quickly or something; I can't remember how it works."
"Not very good paper then, if you can't switch identities quickly…" Rose raised her eyebrows.
Coach made a noise that sounded like a lion about to go in for the kill.
"Well, I'll give the paper a stern talking to when we get back to the TARDIS, but till then…" the Doctor whispered back. He grinned at Coach apologetically and snatched the paper back. "Well just show ourselves out, then, will we?"
He grabbed Rose's arm and pulled her to the door.
"And if you pass that police box, don't try making any calls with it," Coach called after them. "It's like you're not meant to get in it or something," she huffed.
"Or something," the Doctor smiled back, and laughed at Rose, who looked completely puzzled.
The two swapped stories on their way back to the TARDIS- Rose had asked Jackie about her progress, how well she was getting along at gym, things like that. The Doctor recounted his discussion about the doctor that had worked on Rose's wrist.
"The way she described it, it was almost like…" the Doctor trailed off, rummaging around in his pocket for the TARDIS key.
"Almost like?" Rose asked.
"Like…nah," the Doctor said, opening the door. "Never mind. I'm going mental."
Rose just smiled and stepped into the pseudo-phone box, but the Doctor hung around for a moment, thinking. Thinking about Rose and gymnastics and the sonic screwdriver…
And in the middle of all of his thinking, he suddenly realised the fact that he seemed to be forgetting something (which he was grateful for, because he wanted to stop thinking. Thinking was much too hard, especially when it involved past regenerations). He checked his pockets; the sonic screwdriver and the psychic paper were both there. He certainly hadn't left Rose behind. So what was…?
At that very moment, at a small bistro next to a large building hosting a gymnastics meet, Patricia Long sat down at one of the tables and picked up her menu. She flipped her hair over her shoulder, opened the menu and put her index finger to her chin thoughtfully.
"I'll have the halibut."
Well, that's it! Thank you all very much for reading! Enjoy the salad bar. Don't forget to get your coat on the way out. And get one of those mints, you know, that they put in those baskets by the door? Those are really good, just give them a chance…