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04 March 2010 @ 04:39 am
doctor who: flocks (1/1); ten/rose; g  
Title: Flocks
Author: lieutenants
Characters: Ten/Rose
Genre: General (drama, comedy, introspection)
Summary: Sugared crepês and crows. A calm before a storm. And Furbies.
Author's Notes: Pre-'Doomsday.'


There were crows hanging from the sky like folded black tears of paper. As if strings attached to their backs and drew up, like old UFOs in films, they dipped and bobbed drunkenly in little packs as the tide came in and sucked the shore. Hair blew into her mouth and a single strand caught and curled against her tongue and she dragged a finger across her cheek to pull it out. It left a tiny whip of saliva along her chin. She didn't rub it away. She watched the birds.

He was a bit further up the beach and far gone, kicking pebbles into the sea and eating a paper-folded crêpe sucre with both hands. He stopped the rock footy for a moment to chew quietly on an enormous bite while gazing at her a good hundred feet or so away, solemnly, and gave such a pronounced swallow Rose could've sworn she heard a cartoon 'guuulp' go with it. He motioned at his lips.

"You've got Nutella on your face," he shouted. She moved her hands to her mouth, and he shook his head fervently. "No, no. Just there."

She used the heel of her palm and dragged across every inch of skin beneath her nose but he was still shaking his head at her before she rolled her eyes and let her hands drop. "Rose," he snarled, annoyed. "It's still there."

"I don't mind," she shouted back. "Anyway, you're like, miles away, how can you tell?"

"I'm an alien."



"You can't just use that excuse every time you wanna seem cooler than me. Or pretend that you're right."

"Who says I can't?" He loudly sucked at some sugar in his teeth. "And what do you mean 'seem'? 'Pretend'? I am cooler than you and I am always right."

"You said Furbies were real."

"I didn't, I said they were based on real things, called Nigwhats. Who are coincidentally battery-powered. But unlike the toys they have an off-switch. Thank god."

"And you said my blood under my skin was 'weird looking.' Only I would never know because the minute it's visible it 'turns normal'."

"That's also the day I married that life-size Legolas cutout after drinking a quart of melted Ben & Jerry's, I thought we weren't gonna talk about that ever..."

"It's still in your room."


"Tellin' my mum that song was written about her 'cause that one time you brought ABBA round for tea and they thought she was a 'super trooper'?"

"Well, that's--" His face screwed up momentarily. "Okay, well, yeah, that was a stretch, but I'm always--"

She was now standing directly in front of him, inches away, arms crossed. Her hair was whipping about her head like a yellow storm. He watched her for a moment in a silence that seemed almost tender, before dragging his thumb along his tongue and polishing her mouth. Rose reeled backward and flitted his hand away, spitting.

"Don't...lick yourself! And wipe me!"

"Wheyy, that sounded gross," he said happily. "There." He bunched his crêpe wrapper into a little ball and stuck it in his pocket. "No more Nutella-face."

"You are so bleedin' weird."

"Wheeee." The Doctor hooked his arm in Rose's, pressing her fist tightly against his ribs, and started to bounce down the sloping mouth of the beach. The sky was like an itchy grey cloth choking everything. The town of Sète, tacked on the thin, flat land in the distance, was cold and not ideal in the March of 1964. But she had asked for a place that was like England, only not, where she could see a shore and eat some chocolate. In spite of her vagueness he seemed to have a nifty, general idea. Originally (accidentally) they had landed on Ritskod, slap-bang in the middle of an insectoid bloodbath ("Oops," he'd said), then on July 2nd, 1863 - "Gettysburg!?" she'd shrieked. "Not a bad place, usually, lovely foliage," he'd said, atop the exploding powder kegs and gunfire and screams of the dying, and she repeated "Gettysburg!?" and he said, "Sorry." Then and now came Sète, southern France, and he'd wrinkled his nose when peering out the TARDIS doors and honked, "Boooring" and she violently interrupted with, "No! No. Boring's good. Let's do boring."

They watched a dance class being conducted along the Consigne Quay, set between two fish-seller's stands with a bearded man whom they presumed to be the instructor tapping along to the record player with a white parakeet perched on his shoulder. In the center of town was a fountain of an octopus, which delighted the Doctor, and he held Rose's hand as she flicked a Nwerkian coin into the water with her thumb. The coin glowed orange as it hit the stone floor. The Doctor asked her what she wished for and she wouldn't tell him. He agreed with this and conceded that he knew better.

They ate stale baguettes and soup. Rose had a sneaky fag behind the restaurant while the Doctor argued with a local 78-year-old about the proper way to prepare a baked salmon. (He lost. "In the kitchen, French still beats Time Lord," said Rose, smoke suspicious on her breath.)

She fetched them crêpes from a skinny old vendor. Nutella for her; sugar ("sans beurre") for him. He wanted to eat them at the octopus fountain; she wanted the beach. So he took her to the beach. He put his arm around her shoulders as they walked, didn't mind that the wind was growing in strength and spreading strands of her hair into his mouth. His crêpe was tucked idly in one hand. Butter soaked through the paper and dripped down his wrist. He got angry, as she'd told them no butter, but he got over it and kissed it gently off the skin of his palm. Rose bit her lower lip watching him do this, as if he were some fire-plumed animal in an enclosed space that might bite her if she ventured close enough to touch it.

Rose got sad once they got to the sea. He didn't notice and didn't ask about it. He started excitedly proclaiming things in Latin that she didn't understand with the words of men who were long-since dead, started smelling the air and being weird and skipping stones while at last getting to work on his crêpe. She walked away from him and she saw the crows and she watched them fly, in packs, like flies caught on a dull grey window pane. There were crows everywhere they went now. All the time. They picked at the dead pink flesh at Gettysburg, cracked noisily atop the mausoleums at Golders Green. Or maybe they always had been but she just seemed to notice them now.

One night, when the Doctor had been just a little tired after having his life-forced drained out of him by an evil deity for the sixth time in a month, he told her over tea and trembling hands that crows symbolized trickery and change (relevant, as the draught that earlier that day had made him lifeless contained a slick oily feather off the animal's back). Trickery and change. She hated the sound of that and she hated the birds. The Doctor said, often, he did not believe in superstition ("nor films which feature chimps doing human things," he would add somberly, though this tended to weaken the depth of the moment). It was silly but she didn't like them anymore after he said that. This was a girl who now touched wood. She wished on stars and avoided pavement cracks and ladders and held her breath moving past cemeteries. Things were at stake, according to him, as he'd held her hand and the fireworks burst warmly open that Olympian night in 2012. Now Nutella was staining her lips and life seemed bleak. Trickery and change. She wanted another fag.

Then they argued about Furbies and ABBA and Legolas cutouts and things were okay again as they tromped through the sand. A spotted cat came out of nowhere and started to trail them, proper sirens escaping its throat. The Doctor christened him Oscar. And then he meowed.

"Oh, you did not," managed Rose, in horror.

"What?" said the Doctor.

"You can't speak Cat. I grant that you're capable of super-vision, or telling me that a kid's toy from the nineties is an actual alien race but there is no bloody sodding way that you can speak Cat."

"I must get it half-right."

She pushed away from his grip and started skidding ahead of him. "What?" he cried, affronted, dashing clumsily over damp sand to catch up with her.

"I refuse to walk next to a man who mews in public--"

"What's wrong with it!?"

"It's a...thing. Like how you hate films that star chimps wearing baseball caps, literally, it's like my skin's about to fall off it's so horrible."

"I'm sorry, cripes, just trying to make conversation...you don't understand, Oscar's very lonely..."

"You can't speak Cat!"

A crack in his face. Lightning. A solemnity that could rattle the gates of Hell itself: "I understand pain."

"Oh my god--!"

She was laughing now though, in spite of desperately attempting to hide it. She doubled over, tripping over her boots and giggling into a very cold hand. He was laughing too, joyously, too loudly, and stopped beside her and scooped her in a hug.

"Good day," he said.

"Good day," she echoed.

"Rose," he said.


"I lied before." He cleared his throat. "Obviously. I mean. You're cooler than me."

She hummed in approval. "I know."

He let go of her and bent down to scoop the cat up with his left hand, then put his right wrist to its mouth, where it lapped at the faint trails of butter still caked along his skin. Seaside cawing suddenly caught his ear. The Doctor's eyes went dark on the horizon, where massive steel clouds powdered the sky like frozen smoke. It was going to rain. And now the whole sky was peppered with black wings. "Look at those birds," he said. "So many of them."

"I hate them," she grumbled. "They give me the creeps."

"They're beautiful," he said, but in a tone one might reserve for being given a dismembered animal as a Christmas present. Like it was polite to say so, but inwardly, it hardened his blood.

Rose bit the inside of her cheek and put her face on his shoulder. She was stunned when she felt his lips and his nose bruise the top of her head and bury a tiny kiss in the yellow.

Of course he then ruined it, as only he could, by scratching her ear, and she knew he was scratching the cat's ear too, which kind of offended her, so she clicked her tongue and walked away. He put the cat down tenderly before going after her, shouting, and the animal sat in the deep sandy curve of the Doctor's footprint and watched them run. Kicking up sand like little dusty stars at their heels.

The next day, relatively, there was another beach. Another time, another place. Another universe and the draining of a sun, and a death. Another flock, dangling in the sky, and laughing.


Reviews make me compulsively give you chocolate. Just sayin'.
prairiedawntoo on March 7th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
I try to comment when I really like something.

Have you ever read The Elegance of the Hedgehog?

It's making me itch for a crossover, but I'm not a good enough writer to pull it off.

I just wonder what Paloma Josse would make of the Doctor.