Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.
A/N: Um. Oops? I have no excuse for this being so god damn late. Well, except that my computer did catch a virus, which deleted my first draft of this. But... to be fair, that was a month or two ago. Sorry, really I am. I've been writing things without sending them into FF lately. Feeling a bit self conscious maybe. Dunno about this chapter, I think it waffles but I'll let you judge. If you can't remember why this story is on your staory alert, you should probably read chapter one. Hehe. Oh, and thank you so much for the reviews. Wasn't expecting all those at all. So thanks!
Anyway. Hem. Here's chapter two.
As Thou Wilt
Sweet soul, do with me as thou wilt;
I lull a fancy trouble-tost
With 'Love's too precious to be lost,
A little grain shall not be spilt.'
– – –
The Doctor could only watch in alarm as Rose fell back unconscious, spraying his shirt with her blood as a hacking cough escaped her. His hands went to the back of her head, lifting it up in case she coughed up any more blood. None appeared though and his fingers moved to her neck, noticing with some relief that the pulse point was steady. "Rose?" he called to her desperately, leaning down with his face inches from hers. "Rose?" he practically yelled in her face. "Rose, please! Wake up!"
This was pointless though, he was beginning to realize. Rose did not stir and the Doctor stood back up straight, hand running through his hair as his mind reeled.
Abruptly, he grabbed his sonic screwdriver back from his pocket and began to scan Rose's body. He received exactly the same result as before though. The screwdriver showed no physical wrong with her body. Heart, lungs, liver, stomach – every muscle, bone and organ in her body – they were all fine. Apparently.
The Doctor held back a frustrated groan. This made no sense! He stared with annoyance at his sonic. Rose's was coughing up blood, fainting on the spot, and he was expected to believe everything was just hunky dory? His hands ran over his face, as he tried to think, rubbing his eyes and sighing. Then he stilled, a frown bridging his brow. He looked at his hands in thoughtful wonder. They were still stained red with Rose's blood. Drying now, it marked the tips of his fingers and palms.
With tentative movements he brought the tip of his forefinger towards his mouth. And his frown deepened. That was... odd. It was blood, yes. And yet, it couldn't be Rose's, could it? Rose's blood was A Negative. He knew because of the amount of unfortunate times she'd ended up spilling it. Never anything serious... usually, but he would have to clean up the scrapes in the infirmary.
The first time she'd drawn blood on their adventures had been a little while after the Dalek in Van Stanton's museum when he'd been in his previous body. They had been running from a nasty race called the Vrictons in a long, windy tunnel, on a planet he'd thought was uninhabited, when Rose had tripped ungracefully to the floor on some jagged rock. She'd gotten straight back up, of course, and ran on immediately. But when they reached the TARDIS, the Doctor had noticed her very blooded jeans and clear discomfort.
It had been there in the infirmary, as he used his advanced equipment to heal her injured leg, that he'd decided to ask her what blood type she was.
"Why?" she'd asked, with a frown.
"Just in case," he'd insisted at the time, whilst hoping he would never need that information for something like looking for a blood donor, but knowing he needed to check – she was, after all, (probably) the most jeopardy-friendly companion he'd had yet.
She'd frowned slightly. "Not sure. Common as muck, probably. But I've never checked or anythin'."
"That's alright, I'll check for you," he'd said with a goofy grin. Taking a needle from the equipment beside him, the Doctor had taken a sample of her blood to one of the machines at the back and found that, yes, indeed, it was rather common. A negative.
The Doctor was fairly sure that's what he had read on the screen. In fact, he was positive. So, then why, right now, did he taste blood that almost definitely was not A negative? He stared at his hands for a moment as if they were speaking some vulgar language to him, before looking sharply back to Rose. She was very still, lying on the infirmary bed. He would have said she looked peaceful, like she was sleeping, if it weren't for the blood staining her lips and chin, and the dark red stain against her pink top.
Frowning, he took a syringe from the side table and took some blood from her arm, before taking it to one of the advanced machines at the back of the room. If it read A Negative then it was highly likely his senses were off today, along with his sonic screwdriver. He waited a few moments as it began to scan the blood, his gaze moving back over to Rose; keeping his eyes locked of the steady rise and fall of her chest.
The subtle beep behind him made him whip round, fixing his eyes on the screen. His brow furrowed. That couldn't be right. Yet there they were, quite clear, in Gallafreyan symbols, the words 'Origin unknown ' were plastered across the screen.
Origin unknown? But what did that mean? Rose was totally and completely human. He leaned back against the machine behind him, staring ahead in thought. Rose was 'origin unknown' ... or, perhaps there was something in her blood that was origin unknown. Well, that would certainly make more sense. Desperately, the Doctor tried to think back to a time or place where Rose could have got something unknown (and distinctly wrong , according to the bad feeling churning in his Time Lord gut) into her bloodstream.
Let's see, they'd gone to that parallel universe, met Pete, lost Mickey, and ended up having to... wait a minute. The Doctor stopped mid thought. It was an alternative universe. There could quite easily have been illnesses, diseases and other scary things there that they didn't have in this universe. An unpleasant thought suddenly popped into his head. What if Rose had somehow caught some deadly parallel disease? They couldn't return to that universe; it was impossible... but if that universe contained the cure that – should she have this parallel disease his mind was panicking on – would help her...
He swallowed back down those malicious thoughts; that hadn't happened, couldn't happen...
"Doctor?" The croaked voice behind him caused him to suddenly whip around, finding Rose looking at him with wide eyes.
"You're awake." He rushed over to her, placing a cool hand to her forehead.
"Mm, guess so." She tried to sit up, but he quickly stopped her, placing a hand gently on her shoulder.
"It's alright, don't get up," he said gently, "you might still be a bit dizzy."
"No," Rose muttered, "'m fine. Really." She looked up at him, her slightly dazed gaze meeting his warm, concerned eyes. "I fainted," she said; it wasn't a question.
"You fell unconscious, yes." He nodded, brow furrowed in concern.
"Did you find out what was wrong?" she asked nervously. "Am I sick or something?" She bit on her bottom lip, but he could see her trying to smile, tying to hide the fear that was surely plaguing her.
"Oh, well, I..." He stopped then, hesitated. His eyes swept over her, noting no real change in her physical appearance, beside the few bloodstains on her lips and t-shirt. He sighed and fell down into the chair next to the infirmary bed, his gaze looking down at the tiled floor. "I'm still not sure exactly," he admitted in a small voice.
"It's okay," she said quietly, her hand resting on his arm. "You'll think of something. Besides, I feel much better now."
He looked up at her, "But for how long?" Rose didn't answer, but simply continued to gaze at him, her eyes radiating trust. The Doctor sat up, his hand reaching out for hers. "How do you feel, exactly? Does anything hurt? Are you dizzy?"
Rose sat up, shaking her head. "No, I told you, I'm fine. Maybe it's gone now," she said with a tiny shrug, but he could tell by her voice that it wasn't something she really believed. "Did you find anything, anything at all?"
"Well, I had a theory..." he trailed off though, staring at her trusting face and suddenly very afraid. His theory terrified him if he was honest, of course. If it was correct, if it was true...
"Yeah?" Rose prompted after several moments of silence.
"The parallel world we went to. You know everything's a bit different there... different rules; government; food... everything."
Rose nodded slowly, either unwilling or unable to say if she knew where this was going.
The Doctor swallowed, nodded. "Yes. Well, there might also be different... illnesses over there. The people might even have a different biology. I was thinking that the reason my sonic screwdriver and equipment isn't detecting anything might be because whatever it is that's wrong with you... isn't from this universe." He swallowed. "Just a theory, of course. I mean I have no real way of knowing–"
"Doctor," Rose interrupted. Her voice was soft and quiet, but demanding and somehow forceful at the same time. He looked down at her, watching as she placed a hand into his. He noted the warmth of it; but Rose's hand was usually warm in his, and it didn't seem particularly different to the other times he held her hand. He clung onto that, if nothing else. "It's gonna be okay. And besides, it might not be true," she told him softly. "We left the parallel world weeks ago."
The Doctor thought about that; it was true, it had been three weeks and three days – linear time – since they had left that world.
"We've been to mum's and then to that planet with the huge market since then, haven't we? And I only started feeling... sick this morning." Her brow furrowed and she looked up, her honey eyes meeting the Doctor's. "Could I have got something from that planet we last visited? With the market? Raxom, wasn't it?"
His hand went up and rubbed his eyes as he thought this over. "I'm not sure. The screwdriver isn't coming up with anything, and I think it would if it were an illness from Raxom. Though..." He looked at Rose, "Seems like that might be our best lead at the moment."
Rose gave him a small, slightly forced, smile, "Better than the alternative, yeah?"
He didn't smile, just nodded. "Right, come on then!" He stood up suddenly, trying to put on his usual jovial attitude. "I'll go to Raxom, ask around a bit, you wait in the console room for me. I'll be as quick as I possibly can." He started toward the infirmary door, holding out his hand for Rose.
"Wait, what?" Rose got up, taking his hand, but stopped and stared at him with a furrowed brow before they could go any further. "What do you mean I'm gonna stay here?"
The Doctor sighed, and his voice was gentle and pleading when it came. "Rose, you can't come. You're sick, and if it is this planet that caused the illness then I really think it would be a bad idea to take you back there."
"But what good am I gonna be here? And what if you get whatever it is?"
The Doctor just gave her a knowing look. "Timelord physiology, remember? I'll be fine."
"Doctor," she said softly, her hand fitting into his and looking up at him with her wide, brown eyes. She needed to say no more, and he knew it.
He sighed, his eyes boring into hers. In truth, he was wary about his own plan if he was honest. Something could quite easily happen to her while he was on Raxom; she could fall unconscious again, and the blood she was coughing up was a rather large worry...
Reluctantly he nodded. "Okay, okay. Fine. It'd probably be better if you came anyway. Just... try not to wander off, would you?"
Keeping hold of her hand, the Doctor guided her back toward the console room. They both remained silent as he set in the coordinates for Raxom, something usually unheard of. The Doctor pulled dials and strode quickly around the console, being sure to keep at least one eye on Rose at all times.
As soon as they'd landed, Rose gave the Doctor the briefest of genuine smiles, before leading him straight to the TARDIS doors, most probably before he could change his mind about taking her. The planet was just as he remembered, but then it should be – he had set the coordinates for just the day after they'd left. It was rather beautiful. A permanently bright blue sky, small villages of friendly inhabitants, varying in species, and a vibrant market at the centre of it all.
His aim when they had visited before had been to cheer Rose up and take her mind off of Mickey. And it had worked moderately well; the shopping had seemed to make her smile a little more, and it had been a fun day out really; no running for their lives, no alien invasion... no problems. Well, that was then. Now, Rose was ill (possibly seriously), this planet may have been the cause of that and was their best chance of finding out why.
"So," Rose said quietly as they left the TARDIS, "do you have any idea of what we're looking for?"
"Our best chance is to look for their hospital clinic, describe your symptoms, and see if they know anything."
"But Doctor," Rose's tone was gentle, nervous, "if you don't know what's wrong, how will they?"
He looked at her, his features showing concern, affection, "I don't know, but it's our best chance right now." He swallowed and when he next spoke his voice carried something that even he recognised as desperation, "I don't know what else to do, Rose."
"It's okay," she said quickly, her hand giving his a gentle squeeze. "It'll all be fine."
She couldn't know that, of course, but he nodded anyway, giving away a tiny smile. "Yeah, of course it will," he said, and he knew he was convincing himself as much as he was her.
The clinic wasn't situated too far from the TARDIS as it turned out. The small building looked like a well-designed, modern cabin more than anything else; yellow wood with high wide windows and a bright blue painted front door. Others around them passed with little or no care, busy and most heading towards the market.
"You still feeling okay?" the Doctor asked Rose as they entered the building.
"I feel fine," she insisted, her eyes moving around the small reception to the young woman at the reception desk. "It could have gone now, you know," she added.
The Doctor sighed. "Doubtful."
"Good afternoon, sir, miss," the young woman greeted as they reached the front desk. "Would you like to make an appointment?"
"Well, actually, we were just wondering if we could have a quick word with the doctor here," the Timelord admitted.
As he said it something twisted in his chest, and he was suddenly irrevocably ashamed of himself. He wasn't supposed to ask for a doctor; he was the Doctor . He'd never been much of a fan for asking for help, though he'd never been really opposed to it when it was needed; but then he'd never needed it often really, not from strangers. But this was different. This felt like he'd failed Rose by asking for assistance from a doctor of all people.
The receptionist gave a slight frown, her head beginning to shake, and the Doctor knew her answer before she'd opened her mouth. "I'm sorry. He's very busy. I'm not sure he'll be able to spare –"
"It's quite alright, Jaran," a gentle voice came from behind them. "I have time before the Hurvak with the bad chest bone comes in. I can see them, if they're quick." The Doctor and Rose turned to find a man, human in appearance, with greying hair and deep wrinkles grazing his face.
"Oh, hello!" the Doctor smiled, thrusting out his hand for old man to shake.
"Good afternoon, sir," he smiled back. "I'm Dr Lyes. What seems to be the problem?"
"Uhm, well, it's my friend actually..." The Doctor turned slowly to Rose. "She's, um, well, there's something wrong, and I can't," he looked down at the floor, "I can't work out what it is."
It felt almost like a physical ache to say that out loud, and as the Doctor felt Rose's eyes burning into him, he tried to ignore it.
"Right," Dr Lyes said with a nod. "Well, what are the symptoms?"
Rose went into a brief description of what had happened, the Doctor adding a comment or two when needed. Unnoticed by any of them, a man stood in the doorway of the clinic, listening intently to the symptoms Rose described, his face growing more worried by the minute. But while his features grew to concern, Dr Lyes' eyes were beginning to turn icy, his face becoming hard and distinctly impassive.
Finally, the Dr Lyes interrupted, "Is that quite enough?" He voice was hard, barely contained anger lacing his tone.
The Doctor stopped, his mouth open; features softened by shock. "Sorry?"
"I'm sure this is a very funny joke you two are playing, but I do actually have a job to do," Lyes hissed sourly. "Now, I suggest you wipe that ridicules nonsense from your minds and leave this clinic."
The Doctor's eyes narrowed. "I can assure you, this is no joke."
Dr Lyes let out a short bark of bitter laughter. "It can be nothing else!" he spat, and abruptly turned to stride through a door to their left.
"He didn't seem to happy," Rose murmured after a short pause, her honey eyes on the closed door.
"He didn't, did he?" the Doctor muttered distractedly. His attention had turned to the man standing in the doorway, whose gaze had not left Rose's face, staring at her in absolute horror. The Doctor frowned. It unnerved him, to say the least. He walked over. "Something wrong?" he asked the man as casually as he could manage.
Very slowly, his eyes finally left Rose, who was walking over to join them, and he turned his attention to the Doctor. "Oh, I – I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... listen in or anything..." His wide eyes met the Doctor's, something terrible, fearful and knowing burning behind them. He was of strong build and looked to be in his mid-thirties – distinctively human by the look of him.
"Oh, don't worry about it," the Doctor waved a hand dismissively. "My friend's symptoms though..." he glanced once at Rose before turning back to the man, "they seem to have struck a chord with you?"
"I..." the man hesitated, swallowed. "I don't know if I should say."
"Why?" asked Rose, a crease in her brow. "Do you recognise what I've got? Is it some sorta bad bug? Some sorta... really bad bug?"
The man didn't answer her, and whereas he couldn't take his eyes off of her before, he now looked determinedly anywhere but at Rose, his unease obvious. The Doctor felt his hearts tense, as he tried not to think about what this could mean, about what this man knew. "What's your name?" he asked quietly.
"Harrod," the man replied, his gaze on the Doctor's shoes. "My name is Harrod."
"Okay Harrod, listen, it's very important you tell us everything you know about what you think might be wrong with Rose."
Harrod finally looked up at the Doctor, anguish and something that appeared almost sympathetic covering his features. He sighed quietly. "Very well, but we'll have to go somewhere without prying ears." He glanced around the clinic before turning back out the door. "Come on, we don't have much time."
They followed Harrod for about ten minutes through the market and across several streets until they came across a small wooden hut at the edge of a brimming forest. "In here," Harrod said quietly, opening the door for them. Rose followed just behind the Doctor. He couldn't help thinking that she'd been oddly quiet as they walked. He'd asked how she was at least half a dozen times but had only gained a simple, but forced, "fine," in reply. He wondered if she was beginning to feel ill again, or if she was merely afraid.
They entered a small, but cosy, living area, with plenty of comfortable chairs, and a stove sitting by the fire.
"Please, have a seat," Harrod told Rose, pointing to a chair to his right, which she sat down in gratefully. His tone was soft, but his eyes were not quite managing to meet hers. "Would you like a drink?" he asked, but before she could answer he took a glass from one of his many cabinets and began filling it with water. He handed it to her. "I think you must be thirsty," he said quietly, and it wasn't a question.
Harrod turned then to the Doctor, their gaze meeting steadily. "When I heard you talking to Lyes before... I heard you say you were a Doctor. Is that true?"
"In a sense, yes."
Harrod glanced at Rose. "But you don't know what's wrong with your friend."
Once again, the Doctor was ripped with another wave of guilt and he felt himself wince in response. "No," he admitted, "I don't."
Harrod walked towards a door at the back of the room, turning back to him at the door. "Follow me."
Rose was getting up to follow them as the Doctor reached the door, but he quickly stopped her. "No, Rose. Wait here, I'm just going to talk to Harrod. I won't be a minute."
It was a credit to how ill (or was that afraid?) she felt, that she did not object to this or attempt to move from her seat, only nodding once.
The next room was smaller, more crowded, than the other. There was a workbench following the walls with stacks of old files and various lab-like beakers. Harrod was at the other side of the room, searching through some old papers.
"This is very nice," said the Doctor, his hands in his pockets as his eyes moved around the room. "Bit plain, but most labs are. Are you a scientist?"
"A little. But I haven't been in here in years," Harrod muttered distractedly. "Doctor," he then said more urgently, beckoning the Time Lord over.
The Doctor didn't hesitate, joining Harrod to see him looking through some newspapers. "Harrod," he said, his voice calm. "Do you know what's wrong with Rose?"
Harrod glanced up at the Doctor gravely. "Yes, I do. I think she may have a... disease. A disease from this village. It's very rare; only three people have ever had it before. One man, seventy-six years ago. Another, a woman, twelve years ago. And a girl – a teenager – three years ago." He looked down at the paper, and the Doctor saw the blurred face of a young woman, no more than nineteen, smiling up at the page. "The early symptoms – coughing up blood, fainting, in between times of brief well being – your friend seems to show all of those."
The Doctor tore his gaze from the girl on the paper, looking up into Harrod's depressed features. "What do we do about it? What's the medication?"
"There's nothing we can do." Harrod sighed sadly. "Doctor, there is no medication for this disease. It's been hushed up for a very long time and every single one of the people who caught it have not survived. They died a," he swallowed heavily, "a slow... painful death." He looked down at the worktop. "I'm very sorry. You have no idea how sorry. I've... I've been looking for a cure for a very, very long time, but... there is none. I gave up long ago."
The Doctor stared at him for a moment. "You're wrong." He said it calmly, but his jaw was tight. "Because Rose is not going to die. I won't let her. Besides, when you quit I don't think you counted on having a Doctor like me on your side. We'll find a way; a cure, I swear it. What's the name of the disease?"
Harrod shrugged, "There isn't a name. The government want it unknown, and to keep something unnamed is to keep it unknown."
"Hm, keeping it quiet," the Doctor muttered. "Could be why I haven't heard of it."
"Not many have."
"I should have," the Doctor said, his head shaking. "I should have known..."
Harrod sighed, and was about to say something, when a terrified scream sounded in the next room and the Doctor's hearts stopped for a moment; he could swear it.
Moving faster than he can ever remember moving in his lives, he ran into the next room. But at the sight before him, he heard himself gasp out loud, absolutely terrified.