- March 11th, 2013
Chapter Four—Going Home
The TARDIS landed, without warning, in the middle of Jackie Tyler’s flat. It was by no means the first time it had happened, but it was such a rare occurrence that Jackie left the kitchen in the middle of washing the dishes. Wearing her signature light blue track suit, her bottle blonde hair in a messy ponytail, she waited by the door, grinning, still drying her hands on a tea towel.
When the Doctor opened the door, Jackie’s smile faded. Without greeting her, he carried an unconscious Rose straight to her old bedroom.
“What happened?” she said sharply. “What did you do to her?”
“Shhh, Jackie,” he said softly, but his voice still showed his irritation. “Wait till I get her in her bed.”
With great effort, Jackie waited while the Doctor gently put Rose in bed, only removing her jacket and trainers before he pulled a blanket over her too-still form. Before he had even closed her bedroom door, she lay into him.
“What’s wrong with Rose? What happened?”
The Doctor took a deep breath, steeling himself for the conversation. “She’s going to be alright, Jackie. She got bitten by a worm, well, a bunch of worms, and she had a bad reaction to it, but she should be fine.” He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably and sighed. “Well, I say fine, really it’s more like mostly fine. I think.”
Jackie blanched and her hands flew to her mouth. If the Doctor wasn’t even certain how Rose was going to be…
“Oh, no,” she whispered wide-eyed. “Is she gonna die?”
His expression lightened. “Oh, no, no, no,” he tried to reassure her. “As far as her health is concerned, she will be alright. It’s just… the kind of worm she was bitten by can cause amnesia. Possibly permanently. Now I tried to counteract the effects while we were in the TARDIS, but we won’t know if it works until she wakes up. In the meantime I need to move the TARDIS. I’m just going to park her around the corner. If she sees it before she’s ready to, it could make the situation worse.” He moved to enter his ship.
“Doctor, wait,” Jackie said and the Doctor turned to her. “How much memory has she lost?”
“Probably three years.” And with that he left the room and the TARDIS dematerialized.
With moments he was back. Not bothering to knocking, he used his sonic screwdriver to unlock the door and enter the flat. He sank down next to her on the sofa.
“Three years, huh?” she asked without preamble. “So she won’t remember you.”
He shook his head. “And that may be for the best,” he said softly.
She looked at him sharply. “What do you mean?” Jackie demanded. “What did you do?”
“I gave her a flower,” he said. His elbow on his knee, he dropped his head into his hand and rubbed his forehead. “It was just a flower. Should have been perfectly safe. If she is in danger even when we are somewhere where she should be safe…” He looked up at her. “I’m leaving her here. I’ll give you the number to the TARDIS,” he said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen and paper and proceeded to write it down. He handed it to her, along with Rose’s mobile. “I’ve erased my number from her phone as well as all of her pictures,” he said. Then he gestured at the small scrap of paper he had given her. “If you need anything, anything at all, no matter what it is, big or small… you call that number. And please… ” His voice broke a little, and he swallowed hard. “Please, can you call once in a while and tell me how she’s doing?”
“Of course,” she said, patting his arm and staring at him. “Y’know, this is not like you. Usually you’d just take off wi’ ‘er regardless.”
“Jackie, it’s important she doesn’t have any sudden shocks. She can know about the memory loss, you can even try to trigger some of her memories if you like, but you mustn’t do anything drastic, like tell her about me or remind her of the TARDIS. It could be such a shock to her system that she could lose even more memories.”
The door to Rose’s room opened and Rose walked out, yawning. “I can’t believe it. I musta fallen asleep in my clothes again. Were Shareen and I out late last night or somethin’? And where did I get this top? Is it one of hers? I really don’t remember. I musta been really pissed last night if I can’t even remember what I was wearin’ or where I got it. And what happened to my hair? Someone cut off about eight inches of it.” She walked into the small sitting room and saw the Doctor with her mother.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, yawning again. “Have we met?”
She didn’t remember him. The neurotransmitters he had given her hadn’t worked.
He shook his head. “No. John Smith.” He stood and offered his hand, which Rose shook. “Jackie, I’ve really got to get going,” he said, looking over his shoulder at Rose’s mother. Turning back to Rose, he said. “Pleasure meeting you.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you, too,” she replied, smiling at him, and his hearts broke. As he walked towards the door, he heard her sit down on the couch next to Jackie.
“Not your usual type, yeah? He’s kinda cute. And I like the pinstripes. Whatever happened to Charlie at the pub?”
“Oh, that’s been over ages ago,” he heard Jackie reply. “And he and I aren’t like that. I’ve been seein’ Howard.”
“Howard? From the shop? How long has this been goin’ on…”
He walked out of the flat and quietly closed the door.