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12 April 2007 @ 01:10 am
Blow it Down (the Straw House remix)  
Title: Blow it Down (the Straw House remix)
Author: iamsab
Summary: Once upon a time, Rose Tyler was the big bad wolf.
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Rose
Rating: PG
Warnings: mild doppelcest, mild Torchwood AU
Disclaimer: Property of Russell T. Davies and the BBC.
Original story: Seven Demotic Signs by livii

Etta Straw lives in a house of brick in London, the Giles Estate. From Monday to Friday she works notions at Marks & Spencer at seven quid an hour, and at night she meets her mates at the pub on Whitset, and goes home before midnight. She is lonely all the time, angry on occasion for no reason, and for months now, she has been dreadfully, murderously bored. Then Saturday she goes to the library.

She spots the girl first near the magazines. Blonde hair, perky bust, big brown eyes. Could be Etta's twin. Etta feels her pulse racing and she sinks down a little in her seat and pulls her book closer to her face so she can peer over the top. The girl turns down an aisle and Etta gets up, ever so silently, to creep after her.

She spends some time in the geology section, thumbs through several books about rocks and selects one, which she brings to the counter. Etta flattens herself against the shelving and watches.

She follows the girl home, ducking from tree to phone box and staying a good half block behind all the way. The girl lives in a mansion on the hill and goes by the name of Rose Tyler, according to a kid sitting dejectedly on a busted skateboard. At home, Google does the rest.

Skinny bloke, pinstripe suit, and she has seen this man before. Not during the war with the Cybermen, but way back before that, like when Etta was a little girl and she couldn't easily make the distinctions between dreaming and waking. Etta punches keys with a new fury, devouring page after page about the Doctor.

By midnight, Etta is in love. At least, she thinks it's love -- something in her heart aches when she sees an image of him, and her stomach roils at the thought of him out there, somewhere, alive with two hearts beating. She crawls into bed and lets herself think of him, this strange, marvelous man whom she will never meet, but to whom she is tethered, with carbon wire running from heart to double heart. In her dreams, she undresses him with reverential bliss.

The next day Etta returns to the library, planning to research the Doctor. She finds some references in several dusty tomes in the linguistics section, and she's reaching for a copy of The Seven Demotic Signs when something bites her fingers and she looks up and drops the book, and there's Rose, who catches it.

"Whoops," says Rose.

"Sorry," says Etta.

Then they both plummet into mad laughter. Rose breaks first.

"I'm Rose Tyler, who the hell are you?"

Etta holds out her hand. "Etta Straw. I live just a couple estates down from your house, in Giles?"

"How d'you know where I live?" Rose's eyes narrow.

"I saw you yesterday and followed you," Etta confesses. "Can you blame me?"

Rose's eyes widen. "This is magic stuff, this is the stuff of the universe and aliens and that," she ponders. "The Doctor sent ya."

At the name, Etta feels her heart race and her gut stir. She shakes her head. "I've never met the Doctor," she says, with genuine remorse. "Nobody sent me."

Rose grips Etta's hand. "I'm taking you to Torchwood Cardiff," she says, decisively. "They're on the rift, they should be able to show us what you're doing in this universe at all."

Etta's not all that certain. "Excuse you? I don't recall signing up for any field trips, and I certainly don't want to be ejected from the universe by a bunch of Welsh people, so if it's all the same to you, I'm going home."

She picks up her bag from the floor and shoulders it. Rose reaches an arm across the shelf aisle to block Etta's way.

"Please," Rose says. "I promise, I won't let them hurt you. I won't let anyone hurt you. Just, trust me, yeah?"

Etta thinks for a minute. Somewhere deep in her chest the Doctor pulls at her, and she knows she'll say yes just as the words tumble from her mouth. "I'll go to Cardiff."

Torchwood Four is led by a young doctor named Owen Harper, with a wide, disarming smile, who never stands less than five feet away from a demure Asian woman who looks down a lot and doesn't say much.

"So," Doctor Harper says. "Twins? Clones?"

"Don't think so," says Rose. "More likely she's from a parallel universe. Of course, I am, too: there is no Rose Tyler in Pete's World."

Owen Harper rubs his eye. "Run that by me again, real slow, like I'm an idiot."

Rose looks at Etta, who tries not to giggle.

"You were both automatically scanned when you came in," the Asian woman says. "I'll check the biodata files." Harper follows her up the stairs to her workstation and Etta and Rose catch up with them beside a series of monitors and consoles which the woman is navigating with ease.

"This is Toshiko Sato," says Owen. "You can call her Tosh. Whiz with computers. With everything, really. Wouldn't know where I kept my own brain without her."

Owen doesn't see Tosh smile, but Etta does.

Rose and Owen talk some, and Etta hears the words "rift" and "Doctor" and her stomach gets that excited feeling again. Tosh blinks up at her and the expression on her face is something -- pity? -- that disappears before it begins.

But there's nothing subtle about what happens to Rose when Owen rolls back the crank and opens the rift, ever so slightly. Rose glows. Her eyes and mouth stream rivers of light, and her skin shimmers with an opalescent sheen. Her hair floats about her face, a golden halo.

Etta sees her own hand rise in the air, feels herself reach out toward Rose. When she stops to listen, she hears herself moaning, a sound of pleasure and desperation. Owen's got her fixed in a lascivious stare.

Then he wheels shut the rift, and everything stops. Rose sinks back, leans on a counter. "I've got a bit of time vortex in me," she says, breathlessly. "It's okay."

Etta, altogether unglowing, can only stare. Then she takes Rose's hand, and to her immense bliss Rose squeezes back.

"That was amazing," Etta says.

The rift has no effect whatsoever on Etta herself, and by the time they hop the zep back to London even Rose whispers that she is more enlightened about the secrets of Etta's existence than she was before they took the trip. She changes the subject and Etta doesn't mind.

At home, that night, Etta tries to make sense of it all, tries to piece her memories together to allow for this girl, this magical girl who looks so like her, and this Doctor, and time vortexes and parallel universes and space robots. She sits on the floor in the kitchen and the linoleum looks strange and foreign underneath the spread of Torchwood reports. She reads about Rose and the Doctor fighting the Daleks and the Cybermen, and about Rose crossing over here, and she remembers. She sees the burning white halo behind the doctor Doctor, gripping to the wall of the Torchwood Tower. She feels herself -- feels Rose -- ripped away from him, the very literal pain of being cleaved in two. She closes all the file folders and tries to remember Barcelona.

When she gets in bed, she feels the same strange yearnings, and she falls asleep imagining herself in the Doctor's and Rose's twin embrace.

The next day they meet at the stone tunnel near the entrance of the Giles Estate, and they sit on a mossy bench where Etta listens to Rose tell of Captain Jack, of the Doctor's regeneration and how Rose saved them all. She squirms in her seat, and her hand finds Rose's quite of its own accord. And again, Rose squeezes back. Etta nudges a little closer on the bench, and a warm rush of blood spreads to her cheeks as Rose smiles.

"So anyways, you and me gotta figure out how to contact the Tardis, now you're here. You got special powers."

"I've always been here," says Etta. Rose rests a hand on her knee, and Etta thinks, you're the one with special powers.

"Got any ideas?" Rose asks. "Cause I was thinking we could -- do you see that?"

Where Rose's fingers are spread along Etta's thigh, a cool blue glow is forming, curling up from Etta's jeans in an iridescent aura around Rose's hand. Etta pulls away, afraid, and the spell is broken. The look on Rose's face when Etta gets to her feet, stumbles, and mutters, "I have to go," is enough to break her heart.

Etta runs the whole way home.

She lies atop her made bed, staring at the ceiling. The house is empty, mum and dad at work, and it echoes with a brightly lit daytime emptiness that reminds Etta of sick days and Eastenders. But her memories are fuzzy and squirm out of reach, and her mind only lights on the Doctor and on Rose. She can't think of anything else, not even when she closes her eyes and balls her hands into fists and tries to remember her last birthday, or any birthday, or Christmas, or her parents' faces.

She goes to the library at dusk, her feet moving of their own accord, stopping only to hear the evening newsbreak and the joke, and then shuffling on, down Weyburn and across Commonwealth to the big stone public library.

Rose is in the history section. They touch hands, wordlessly. They glow.

"Oh, god," murmurs Etta. The world seems to fall away.

Rose leans in close and kisses her, first on the cheek but then on the lips, and she tastes of fruit and metal and space and time. Etta inhales and the time vortex spills into her like a backwater flood.

This time it's Rose who pushes away.

"I can't do it," Rose says. Etta just stares. "Etta -- I have to tell you something. You're not going to like it and you might not even understand it, but I've just gotta tell you."

Etta leans against a shelf. "Go on, then."

Rose looks at the floor. "When I said you were me, before, that you weren't from this universe? I meant it. Doctor Harper confirmed it when he scanned you. Etta -- you're not real."

"Not real?"

"Not like a real person, but more like a shadow, a reflection of a person. Me, my own anger, do ya see? The part of me that needs the Doctor, that'll fight to get back to him."

Rose still won't meet her eye, and now Etta understands why.

"And if we do this thing, if we --"

Rose nods. "Kiss, yeah, join."

"We'll contact the Tardis."

Rose looks up. "I think so."

Etta looks down. "And I'll, what. Disappear?"

Rose reaches out as if she means to touch Etta's hair, but she pulls back just in time. "I think so," says Rose again.

Etta feels her heart pounding in her chest. "But my life? My mum and dad?"

"They don't exist. You don't exist, except when I'm round," Rose says, and it sounds like she's about to cry.

"That's why nothing happened to me when the rift opened," Etta says.

"Yeah," shrugs Rose, sadly. "You're the part of me that was the Bad Wolf, see?"

She does see. Rose and the Doctor. Two, not three.

She leans in and kisses Rose with voracious passion.

And Rose kisses her back. And then --

The Doctor straightens up from the Tardis controls, a taut and fighting six feet of alien, turns around, and RUNS --

And wraps Rose in a rib-cracking embrace, and Etta sees it through Rose's eyes. They let go. Tears in Rose's eyes.


He's grinning hard enough to break his face, and he shakes his head like he can't believe it. "Rose Tyler! Conquerer of dimensions!"

"I couldn't stay away from you," Rose says, her voice cracking. "I just couldn't live there without --"

He nods, and he is so beautiful Etta feels herself -- what's left of her, corporeal, dissolving into Rose -- tremble with pleasure even as she's dying. "I know," he says.

Rose feels it too, and she clutches her head. "I don't have much time," she says. "You gotta find a way to make me stay." Then she chuckles. "Killed myself getting here."

The Doctor casts one desperate look at the Tardis controls, like there's some knob there that'll keep Rose here, but when he looks back, he's smiling. "You're absolutely amazing, you know," he says.

"I know," says Rose, and Etta doesn't hear or see anything after that.

For a while she floats, darkly, somewhere without light or form. She doesn't know how much time has passed.

Perhaps Rose is still in the Tardis, still with the Doctor, the great love that tore Rose in two and made Etta. Or maybe she was pulled back and is in boring old London, ready to face another day of news, sports, and the weather on the hour. Etta, who never really was, thinks this from somewhere, from no place, really. Has Rose left the Doctor again? Was it worth it, Etta's life, her sacrifice?

And then the part of her that thinks is gone too, and she will never know the truth of it.
eve11: dw_lost_in_translationeve11 on April 23rd, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. Cool concept, and poor Etta, living someone else's life and not realizing that she really isn't. The end was heartbreaking, and I don't know if it would be sadder if Rose stayed or if it was just a one-shot.
after me, the delugeiamsab on April 30th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
Thanks for your kind comment, and for the rec! I'm so glad you liked this.
Netgirlnetgirl_y2k on April 23rd, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
I certainly don't want to be ejected from the universe by a bunch of Welsh people

No, neither would I. This was great.
after me, the delugeiamsab on April 30th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
Hee! Thanks!
Worrals: sweet Roselivii on April 24th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
This is an interesting take on things, thank you for writing it!
after me, the delugeiamsab on April 30th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
I couldn't resist. The original piece was really lovely, and I got intrigued by Etta. thanks!
a princess of now: dr who - 1luvskywardprodigal on May 7th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC)
Her dark twin
That's really good stuff there.

I like this riff on the dark twin. And I like that he smiles for herr. And, I think Rose's voice was excellent. :)