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11 January 2011 @ 12:49 am
doctor who: graffiti (1/1); rose/eight; g  
Title: Graffiti
Author: lieutenants
Characters: Eight, Rose, Ten, Jack
Rating: G
A/N: Set during the Time War, pre-S1 and the end of S3.



He breathes. He is being pulled into something much bigger than him, much too far ahead of him. The pavement seems to tremble beneath his knotted, bony hands as he spreads his palm over the whitewash ring, forming an 'O.' His eyes travel left, center, right.

B, A, D, W, O, L, F.

He is seeking refuge for a moment or two, on a quiet nook of a street in South London. Normal day. Light plashes the sidewalks. There are mothers taking their babies to the green in prams, men on park benches scratching lotto tickets and ticking crossword puzzles. Blood scrapes his cheek. His shirtsleeve is torn, deep velvet hanging from him like moss. The noise was far too much this time. Every day, buried in war. The war. His eyes are watering. He wipes them with the heel of his hand.

"You all right, sir?"

He's startled by the first voice in ages that isn't rattled with machinery or squeezed with pain. A policeman. Hands in pockets, the bright lime of his coat seems to burn.

He rises to his knees. His fingers are still planted on the word scrawled into the sidewalk.

"Yes," he says. "I'm fine."

"You're bleeding. And your clothes…"

"I fell." He attempts a smile.

"Hell of a fall."

"Oh, yes, it was." He shows his teeth. "I assure you, officer, I'm perfectly fine. I'm waiting for someone to come fetch me."

"Someone?"

"Yes."

No one.

The Doctor glances at the graffiti. "Curious writing."

"Innit, though?"

"Yes. Its energy, it's…" His voice falls.

"We can't get it to wash off," says the officer. "Poor fellas were out here for hours trying to scrub it clean. No use."

"It's like it's part of the earth," he says. "Planted." He chews the inside of his cheek, then looks the bobby in the eye. Smiles again. "Well. Thank you again for your trouble, officer."

The cop tips his cap and ambles away, towards a youth football game on the green. The Doctor watches him go. Fingers nudge his shoulder, startling him, and he turns too quickly and falls straight to his bottom.

A young girl of about eight is staring at him, hooking a finger inside her mouth. Hair like the sun is gathered into a sloppy ponytail dripping from her shoulder. Tiny gold studs in her ears. He's guessing they were only recently pierced.

"Hello," he manages.

"Hi," she says.

"Who are you?"

She starts chewing on her finger. "Rose."

"Rose," he says (for the first time). "I'm the Doctor. It's nice to meet you."

"You're bleeding."

"Yes I know." He puts a hand to his cheek, then pulls it back to examine the soft red coating his fingers. He looks at Rose. "You needn't be afraid. Blood's not all that scary."

"You're a Doctor," she says, annoyed, "it's easy for you to not be scared of blood, you see it all the time."

"That's hardly fair. I'm just as frightened of blood as anyone. I was trying to make you feel better."

"I wasn't even scared in the first place."

"No?"

"No."

He clears his throat. "Well then."

She pulls her finger out of her mouth. "How'd you cut yourself?"

"Oh," he says. He runs a hair through his hair. Scratches the scalp beneath the curls. "It's a very long, scary story..."

"Tell me. I can handle it."

"I bet you can. Where's your mother?"

Rose silently points to a park bench about forty feet away, where a woman with bleached hair is laughing alongside an unreasonably good-looking man in a steely great coat.

"Is that her?"

Rose nods.

"With your dad?"

Rose shakes her head.

"My dad's dead."

"Oh. I'm sorry. Mine too." He clears his throat. "Is that her boyfriend?"

"Dunno," says Rose. "Tell me why you're bleeding."

"Did you see this, Rose?" he asks. He gets to his knees and spreads his arms over the thick, white, big Bad Wolf. "Isn't it strange?"

"It's just graffiti," she says.

"No it isn't. Look. Put your hand there."

She makes a face before relenting, placing one knee on the ground. He spots that her other knee is heavily scabbed and she keeps it teetered precariously above the concrete. She pushes her hands against the bottom of the 'W,' stubby fingers capped by sparkly pink polish. A butterfly-shaped mood ring chokes her left pinky.

She looks at him, hair hanging over the side of her face, and giggles. "Ooooh."

He smiles. "Feel that?"

"It's like when your skin's cold and you put hot water on it," she says quietly. "It's all tingly."

"Isn't it just," he replies. "And here…" He lifts a hand and cautiously cups it over her little fingers, intending to move her hand over a different letter, but it's suddenly as if he's touched a bud of fire. He hisses and lets go suddenly, and his eyes shoot to hers and he feels his lips part and he says, "Did you feel that?"

"Yeah," she says slowly. "Sometimes it happens when I touch my cat. Static, mummy says. But that was…bigger. That hurt." She swallows. "It burned."

"Let me see."

Rose extends her arm, and he exhales before tenderly bruising the sides of her tiny wrist with his fingertips. Her palm opens, like a flower. There's no trace of an injury, but his own blood suddenly feels thicker inside of him. Like a lethargy and a spark at once, poison coupled with perfume. A memory.

Without thinking, he places his hand against her temple. She flinches, and he shushes her gently, and suddenly he can feel the whole world swelling from her hair into his skin. He hasn't even made the effort to tear the thin barrier between her mind and his, it's just this simple act of touching, and the stars become a taste and her skin becomes the sky. The breath is knocked out of him. He wrenches his hand away, and she's staring at him, bottom lip quivering over a row of half-grown teeth.

"What?" she says.

"You're…" He runs out of voice. He glances at the letters, the big letters that contain whole galaxies in every curve, angle, line, nook, cranny.

BAD WOLF.

"I'm what?"

She's everything.

"Nothing," he breathes. For the first time in a very long time, he laughs. It tickles out of his throat in loud bursts, and he says, "But it's…aha..."

"What?"

"I'm excited, Rose," he says. He looks at her, glittering.

"Really?" Her eyes widen. "Why?"

"I'm not sure," he replies, breathless. Laughing. He shakes his hands in his hair.

"You're weird," says Rose.

"That's as may be. But oh. It's like…I'm going to know you. Somehow."

She wrinkles her nose. "But you're so old."

"Rude."

"Sorry."

The Doctor glances at her bruised leg. "What happened to your knee?"

"Fell off my bike," she mumbles, humiliated. She tucks her chest to her thighs and kisses the scab. "Hit it against a post, it was ruined and mum can't afford a new one. It was lovely too. Lovely and red."

"That's a shame."

"My elbow as well," she points out. She sticks her arm out for evidence. A thick brown patch of dried blood scrapes the skin. "I like scars, though. S'like like keepin' a diary on your body."

"Yes, I…suppose. As long as one doesn't get carried away…"

"That's why I wanted to know where your cuts came from." She tucks some hair behind her ear. "I like to hear people's stories."

"Well, one day," he says, "I'll tell you all my stories."

"But how do I know I'll see you again?"

"Rose!" shrieks a rather potent voice from a park bench. "Rose, what you doing? What'd I say, no talkin' to strangers!"

"He's all right, mum!" she calls.

"No, no, your mother's right," says the Doctor quietly. He takes her arms in his hands. "You ought not to speak to strange men who hang around playgrounds…"

"I don't," she snapped. "But I thought I ought to say hi to you."

"Any particular reason why?"

"Dunno, I just…" Her eyes hover at the ground, tracing over the graffiti. "Felt like I should."

"And I'm so glad you did." He smiles at her. She smiles back.

"Where are you from?"

"A very scary place," he says in a low voice. "Didn't used to be. Used to be lovely…well, not lovely, but it used to be home. Not anymore. I try to stay away from it as much as I can, but eventually I'm going to have to see it through to the end."

"That's true for anything," says Rose matter-of-factly. "Like school."

"Like school, right." He laughs. "You know, I was brought here too. I was originally going to go to Manhattan in 1982 but my way of getting here got a bit messed up. You know why?"

"Why?"

"I think it brought me to meet you."

"Rose!" hollers the mother.

"Go on, get," he says. He tickles her away, and she shrieks with laughter before gazing at him a moment. Then, wasting no time, she leans forward quickly pecks a kiss on his cheek.

"Bye-bye, Doctor," she whispers.

"Bye-bye, Rose," he says.

Rose grins, mouth half-full of teeth, and tears off in the direction of her mother, who shoots the Doctor a look that he will become very familiar with later in life. But not yet.

He gets to his feet. Blood has trickled down from a wound in his shoulder to the sweet curve of his palm, soaking through torn velvet, clotting it in delicate lumps, but he hardly notices. He stares at the text swelling in the street and whispers her name.

--

His mind does not survive the War in one piece, and one day, he forgets about the little girl with the bruised knees and the yellow hair. She floats into oblivion, an escaped balloon lost in childhood only to return years later and fasten around his wrist. His face bears scars, and he is killed, and they stay hidden beneath the new skin, always. Stories ripe for the plucking.

He does remember the red bicycle, a few years late. To give to a girl who lived in SE15 on her twelfth birthday - she was likely to have outgrown it - but he left it all the same, with a bow as blood-colored as the bike. He only remembered her scabs, and her missing teeth and her laugh, and hoped these things had healed and grown in and hadn't changed, respectively.

He would remember their encounter years later, when he had died twice since first locking eyes with the child (and possibly died again; for the girl was eventually a woman, and his best friend, and he loved her endlessly and she was taken away forever, like everything). And, stood against a radiation chamber with his face pressed against glass that bled searing light against his skin, he listened to the miraculously undead Jack Harkness speak of her, watching her as a child, while Martha and an enemy launched the citizens of the end of the world toward Utopia. And he remembered the little girl, little Rose, the man in the great coat on the bench, the Big Bad Wolf, and the endlessness he felt in her, hand pressed against her little skull. So many stories he could have filled her with. So many more that could have been made. A light at the end of a war.

He realizes, when he put his Eighth palms against the concrete, parallel to her tiny fists, her butterfly mood ring, her sparkly nail polish, what they felt rolling in the earth beneath them was forever. The burnt touch of her skin was forever, the breath in her voice, the falling of her eyes. Fate and forever. Not the right time. He had to die and she had to grow up, but their destinies were still scrawled into concrete beneath two words she scattered that swallowed the universe whole - but only one mattered.

"Forever," she'd said.
 
 
 
earlgreytea68: Ten/Roseearlgreytea68 on January 11th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
This is so, so gorgeous. Your prose is just beautiful. There is so very much I love about it, I would end up quoting everything. I especially loved the subtle twist of Jack at the end. At first, with the description of the man with Jackie, I thought of Jack, but I was confused as to how that would work, having totally forgotten what Jack said in Utopia. That was so perfect. I also especially loved Rose's description that it was like cold skin hitting hot water. So vivid.

I love reading Eight/Rose so much, so this was a delight for me.
mariah: yum.thenakedcupcake on January 11th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
Oh.

I really don't know what to say. I have just finished reading Jessa L'Rynn's A Long History, just this morning, and reading this right after, and I've got tears in my eyes.

He can feel her anywhere in his life, and you've done this so perfectly. You always do.
(Deleted comment)
mariahthenakedcupcake on January 11th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Is it wrong that I want to tear through London with you? :X I've never been and I can't imagine anyone better than someone who would understand something as weird as existential ponderings of TARDISes.

Edit: TARDII? ;D

Edited at 2011-01-11 02:44 am (UTC)
Glynnis: Doctor Who - Eight (entirely too pretty)quean_of_swords on January 11th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
This was gorgeously written. I love Eight meets Rose stories. Your baby!Rose was adorable. :D
tripocket: 8rosestandtripocket on January 11th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
I adore reading Rose/Eight fic and this is simply beautiful. You pulled so many pieces together into one moment in the Doctor's timeline. Jack was a fabulous addition.
wendymr: Eight Time Lordwendymr on January 11th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
This is really well-written. Eight's innocent joyfulness is conveyed so very well in your descriptions and in his dialogue. And the timey-wimeyness - the red bicycle and Jack! I completely missed Jack the first time through, and it wasn't until the reference to Jack and the radiation chamber that I realised. Wonderful! :)
meremoon: Eightmeremoon on January 11th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
GUH.

Beautifully written, just gorgeous. Honestly I haven't been reading much fanfic recently, but Eight is my favorite, and a new Eight/Rose fic is sure to suck me in. And this did not disappoint.

You should post this to eight_rose_love.
Viviansekichu on January 11th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
Oh, this is perfect.

It's authors like you that sucked me into ever being brave enough to write fic of my own; I was so inspired the first time I read a truly brilliant dw!fic, which, coincidentally, was 11/Rose, and we can all see how that first impression panned out, but I suspect if it had been this fic, I'd be writing 8/Rose all the time.

I yearn to one day be as half as gorgeous as you are at writing.
dark_aegis: Eighth & Ninth Doctors - Falling Fallendark_aegis on January 11th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
This was lovely, absolutely lovely. You've got a perfect handle on the Eighth Doctor's character -- I could practically hear his voice, speaking his lines. And I love the mention of Jack :) Thank you for sharing!
Alex: [DW] Eight with Watchredknightalex on January 11th, 2011 02:19 am (UTC)
This was a wonderful story. Just absolutely a delight to read and uncover like unwrapping an expected birthday present. Plus, it's Eight and I absolutely adore him. The moment he came out of that morgue I went "oh, but where is Rose?"

This is the first Eight/Rose story I've read and what a perfect place to start. Thank you very much for sharing!
(Deleted comment)
meremoon: 8/Eightmeremoon on January 11th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
Just had to comment that it's great to come across another fan of the Eighth Doctor audios, especially one who writes fanfic!
Alex: [DW] Eight Looking Upredknightalex on January 11th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
we needed some Rose up in that TV movie and maybe it would've been more awesome and less Power Rangers.

LOL! Aw, come on, not all '90s American films were that bad...although the fireworks at the end and the dreadful Terminator Style Master was a bit much. At least we got Eight out of all that mess (and good shoes!).
beachy_geek: EighthDoctorCloseUpbeachy_geek on January 11th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
I adore Eight, he's such an unsung hero and a bittersweet figure--especially now that we know more about why he really had to end the war. It's nice to think that he had this portent of Rose in his life, and was able to find some respite and happiness in your beautiful fic. And Jack-you sneaky thing, that caught me by surprise! Thanks for posting this--hope to see more Eight from you!
kilodaltonkilodalton on January 11th, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
This is beautiful!!
kajmere: Doctor Who : Ten/Rose Hugkajmere on January 11th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
just lovely ♥ little Rose is adorable! I love the interaction between them :D
drox: vogue!masterdrox on January 11th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC)
***wibble***

That was stunning and I am stunned and can't type coherently.

***wibbles some more***

Poor battered TimeWar!Eight. You write him so well though.

***wibbles and goes to read it again***
Ellin: your hand in mine; dw; nine/rosesapphire_child on January 11th, 2011 06:23 am (UTC)
*flops over dead*

This was - there's no other word, honestly - AMAZING. Such an incredible, epic story in such a short space of words. I love this, truly truly loved this. Every word just felt so right - every word from the characters, every movement, everything they did.

*applauds*
develish1: Eightdevelish1 on January 11th, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
I love this :) your battered Eight is perfect, your lil Rose is so cute, just...love it
sunnytyler001: made by deeptowngirlsunnytyler001 on January 11th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
This is sooo lovely! :D
I love Eight/Rose
thestarlitrosethestarlitrose on January 11th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOSH!!! AMAZING! That was really really enjoyable! I adore 8/Rose <3
just_a_dram: doctor rose 10 (4)just_a_dram on January 13th, 2011 06:43 am (UTC)
This is marvelous Rose/Eight. Rose is perfection as you paint her at this age. When I realized that the man talking to Jackie was Jack, I squeed a little bit :) Their connection across time is very touching.
emraldeyedauteremraldeyedauter on January 22nd, 2011 11:14 am (UTC)
Words have failed me I'm afraid. I'm too emotional after reading this. Just incrediably lovely.