Purpose: Part of the Who Fest, I volunteered to write a Ten/Reinette, simply because we need more!
Title: After Me, The Deluge.
Summary: "He wished he was the other chap that was good at time manipulation AND had an umbrella." The Doctor returns to Versaille for a last goodbye...or does he?
Now, because I'm a bit wishy washy (and a shipper despite the impossible), I've given this thing two different Part 2s.
“If I could not do it for one, I cannot do it for another. I loved him. I love you. But to put him and the King through all of this again, even if they do not know about it…I would be nothing more than what my critics say of me.” She clenched the sheets between her hands, tortured at refusing him. But it had to go this way. It wouldn’t be fair or honest.
The Doctor looked at her sorrowfully. This…wasn’t fair… But Time seemed to be unfair. He had offered her his lifestyle, but she knew that she would not fit. She would leave him to be someone else’s queen rather than his lady, wife, or sidekick. He sat down on her bed again and took her hand gently. Reinette gripped his hand tightly in silence. She knew her death was before her, and that she could have run away. Instead, she did what Time willed her, and not even the last Time Lord could sway her. He knew that. He said nothing more about the subject.
Their last hour together was spent discussing what the world was going to be like without her. She readily grasped the concept that Time marched on, with or without Madame de Pompadour. With or without Jeanne Antoinette Poisson. With or without Reinette. “I, likely, will not take up the beat so quickly,” he commented in a low voice, tracing the delicate embroidery on the edges of the bed sheets. “Not after you. Not after Rose. Not after seeing what I’ve done in the past has done to –”
She covered his mouth with her hand. “Forgiven yourself if you have no God to forgive you. Continue for me,” she asked of him. How could he refuse? “Life, Doctor. Life. That is what it is about.”
When six o’clock rolled around and the locksmith hurriedly began working to release the sick Marquise, the Doctor kissed her one last time, not caring about propriety at all. She rewarded him afterward with that coquette’s smile, and he kissed her hand again. He slipped out the window, popping his head over the sill one last time to give her his grin.
Then he was gone.
It was pouring again outside.
The console room was dimmed to an eerie green glow in the blackness. He stood alone at the side, manipulating switches and turning dials that really did nothing at all. Just gave him something to do.
The green glow throbbed occasionally. On one of these occasions, he looked up at the centre of the Tardis, just to look at something else. The power of the ship flickered about like green fire, dancing tamely and safely within its glass tube. It was safe there. It was protected. It would never escape unless he set it free. An odd feeling of…anger seized up inside of him. It caught him off-guard as he found him self talking to the darkness. “Stupid apes.”
An older version of him. When the world gets tough, blame the “Stupid apes.” He finished that aloud as well.
The Doctor bowed his head and let out one last angry remark. “Stupid damned apes.” It trailed off into another noise not commonly heard in that room.
The Tardis gleamed silently. She wept too for his loneliness.
It was not until he reflected upon punching holes in the universe for a woman that he grew active again. When that venture came to an end, there was little time before he was forced to take up the beat again. She was right.
It was about life.
Part Two -- Gazing Off Into the Horizon.
“I would be a hypocrite if I talked of you of life and then freely went to my own death, you being forced to watch. Tell me of your plan.” Her eyes glittered mischievously and with intellect piqued. The Doctor’s eyes twinkled as he launched into his explanation. “We start by you taking your pills right now.” He reached over to a table near her bed and poured her a glass of warmed wine. “Normally, I don’t recommend you mixing your medications, but in this case, it’s an exception. Doctor’s orders.”
Reinette obediently swallowed the first pill. “For my lungs, if I recall correctly.”
“Yes.” Her voice was warmed not only by the wine. She swallowed the second pill. “And now, tell me of this ‘Romeo and Juliet’ plan that you plan to enact while I am asleep.” Her eyes gleamed with humour. “It had better not end up the same way.”
“Next for the worlds we’re going to see together.”
“No no no no no!” He threw back his head and laughed as he started to pace around the room, a slight dance in his step as he explained to her the specifics. “You will enter a deep sleep on Sunday, easily mistakable for death. You’re supposed to lie in state at the Hotel des Reservoirs; you know the rule about dead people in here. Because of your high status, there will not be an open casket; don’t want anyone defacing you before death. During that time, I’ll sneak in and steal you out of your coffin. I’ll try to get there before you wake up, else things may get a little scary. The coffin and about a hundred pounds of sand will be taken for burial in Paris on Tuesday. And in the meantime, we’ll be making a run for it to my ship. It’s about halfway between here and the city.”
“You mentioned the horse your brought to me years ago,” Reinette supplied. “Arthur is in the stables, first stall on the left. If you care to use him…”
“We’ll ride off into the sunset on a white horse!” the Doctor exclaimed joyously. “You’ve taken good care of the old boy, right?”
She stifled a laugh. “Some men bring women chocolate, some flowers, some jewellery, others a parcel of land or a title. You give me a horse that thinks it is … the English rhyme – Mary’s little lamb.”
“Poor thing must be utterly dejected without you.”
“It has been acting as if it is dying as long as I have.” Both let out a short, harsh laugh at the gallows humour. She looked around her room, suddenly uncertain. “I cannot pack a bag…”
“You won’t need it. Just ask to be buried in your Sunday best and I’ll take care of the rest.” At this point, the Doctor was practically prancing around her bed. She found it both amusing and endearing.
“You mentioned I shall see many times and places – Will I have to change many times in my manner and wardrobe?” He had been somewhat vague, only specifying odd places and far off stars. She had never been interested in the sciences, but it appeared that it would not take much effort on her part to adjust, as evidenced by his Rose.
The Doctor shrugged, still grinning madly. “Don’t change a thing about yourself, but the clothes are whatever you make of it. Cling to the old, or treat every night as a masquerade!” He twirled around her room, banging into the screen once. Reinette laughed, still a horrid sound, but it seemed to be getting better to his ears. “Now stop looking at that pill and swallow!”
Reinette tossed the pill back and drained her glass of wine completely. The Doctor swore he could see the yellow dissipating from her face and eyes already, but he pushed that aside for now. “When will I enter this long sleep, my angel?”
“You’ll start being drowsy all the time by the time they get in here. Give your last confession tonight as if I’m not coming back.” Reinette started at this and stared up at him, eyes wide. The Doctor noticed his slip and stopped, leaning slightly on the screen. He said in a low tone, “For history to be right, you have to give a last confession as if I never saw you again. You know that I did not originally. You died with just the maid here. You knew that you would die that way without me telling you. You have to give your final performance, Reinette…you were a fantastic actress.”
She pursed her lips in thought momentarily as she straightened the covers on the bed. “The illusion of death, even if there is not. Acting in pain, though I am not. Leaving, though permanent it is not.” She straightened up in her bed. “Tell me about Louis. What happens to him?”
“I can’t tell you that yet.”
“You best do so.” The sickly Reinette was soon replaced by the aloof, intimidating, and ever so dignified visage of Madame de Pompadour, mistress to the King, his prized advisor, his would-have-been-wife. It struck the Doctor then and there that if she had survived, she would have become Queen; Louis’ wife would die five years from now. He decided not to mention that for now.
He sighed. La Pompadour looked at him expectantly, waiting. She would not look away from him until he told all. He felt as if he was back in the Academy, being forced to reveal his latest prank’s inner workings. The Doctor stood tall, hands behind his back. “Louis’ image does not improve upon your death. The money he has spent haunts him for the rest of his life. He dies of smallpox in 1774. The Dauphin dies in two years, so Louis the XVI is his young grandson.”
Madame de Pompadour nodded her head slightly, digesting this thoroughly. “The disease that passed over him in childhood returns and claims him in adulthood. A circle. And I would not expect the French to clamour back to him lest his life be threatened again….and I would never want that.” She allowed herself a small shudder. She then raised her chin slightly. Uh oh. “And of his women?”
Oh, damn. “He does not take another mistress for almost five years. She could never hold a candle to you, and even he said that—”
“And of Marie?” The king’s wife. The woman she would have replaced if she had not left Versailles. Her friend.
He chose his words carefully. “Her death...in part…caused Louis to take the woman that he did.” Her eyes temporarily flashed, but then the poker face returned.
“And the next mistress’s fate?”
“He banished her before he died. She later would be executed for treason.” La Pompadour’s eyes widened, and she opened her mouth to speak again, but he cut her off. “Reinette, stop! I can’t say anymore. You can’t stay here, even to become Queen.” She inhaled sharply. Her smart little head had been caught thinking the impossible. The Doctor sat down on the edge of the foot of her bed, all formality gone. “I’ve said too much already. I promise you, I’ll show you and tell you everything you’ll ever want to know about you and your country, but now is not the time.”
Reinette’s own façade of formality dropped as well, and she leaned back onto her pillows again, quiet. “Did he know peace when he died?”
“No king knows peace. You know that.” His reply was brusque; he couldn’t answer anymore questions lest he tempt the Reapers. And God help him when he had to tell her about the Revolution.
“Peace of God?” Her thin hands folded over her waist, as if offering a quick prayer for her King.
The Doctor let out another sigh and in a softened tone replied, “Yes. He was square with God when he passed. Got rid of his mistresses, made his confession, and surrounded himself with his children and grandchildren.”
Reinette closed her eyes. As the seconds ticked by, he thought she had gone to sleep. He carefully moved down the side of the bed to check….and then she spoke, eyes opening. “I ask too much of you. Not an attractive feature in women.” The drowsiness was creeping into her voice slowly, and her eyelids were fighting their way down, but she had retained a bit of humour.
He grinned “Actually, I’ve found that I like women who ask too many questions. Adds trouble most of the time. Still worthwhile for the adventure.” Behind him, he heard a light clatter of tools. Time’s up.
Reinette smiled back at him, her eyes half closed. “I wonder now, am I falling asleep, or am I waking up? Some dreams are too good to be true.”
“Just remember in your dream to give your finest performance to the good père.” He bent over to bring his face closer to hers. “I hear the locksmith outside. I need to go.”
Her eyes fluttered, but she willed them to be as open as possible. “Yes, I understand.” She scooted up against her headboard to sit up a bit more. At the sound of a wheeze, the Doctor rearranged the pillows hastily to give her more support. “I shall see you when I wake?”
The Doctor nodded, and then lurched forward to kiss her suddenly. She let out a girlish giggle but then collected herself. As the door knob started to jiggle, he pulled away first and started to back up toward the window. “Sweet dreams, Reinette!” was supposed to be the next thing he said, but it came out more like “Sweet dreams, Re-argh!” as a result of her grabbing his tie and pulling him back to her in a surprising feat of strength and alertness. The coquettish grin crossed her face, and he fell for it again. Another kiss. He gently removed her hands from his tie and turned away to start on opening the window back out to the grounds. It was pouring again.
It wouldn’t be so bad this time.
Reinette let her head fall to the side as she watched him work on his exit from behind. He pulled out his candle lighter…his weapon…his fireplace fixer? Now it was a window opener….she would have to order it repainted over again so that the insects did not seek dominion over it. “Shall I bill you for repairs?” she called lightly from her bed.
He chuckled. “Where do you get money?”
This time, rather than saddening at how he did not fit in her world, she smiled. Soon she would no longer fit this world either. She would be like him, free of fortune and of fame. Free of this weak body and its ills.
Now he had one leg slung over the sill, readying himself to leap over the bushes and take off running before the poodles took note of him. She turned to him and let her lips curve upward in silence. He slipped out the window, popping his head over the sill one last time to give her his grin.
Then he was gone.
The door flew open and the maid ran in, chattering about how the window got open and was probably about to say she would catch her death of cold before realizing it didn’t matter anymore.
And it didn’t.
“Madame, the Père is here. Are you ready for your confession?”
“Yes. Bring him in.”
The old man that had accompanied her from Chosey took the chair from her dressing table. She noted how differently his stride was to the Doctor’s. “How is the King?”
“As well as one would expect him to be. Let us start.”
Reinette watched as he got himself comfortable, as if preparing for a rather long opera. Oh, and she would give him an opera, complete with…cowboys?...as the Doctor had said.
However, she did not need to make as much effort as she thought she would. The pills were taking effect. After her increasingly hazy words finished spilling from her mouth, she heard the door click shut again. A strong swelling in her chest spread upward into her head, and she felt light-headed – if she had not been already propped up in bed, she would have fallen to the floor in a faint. But that did not alarm her now.
“I hope this is what dying is like,” she thought to herself. Then she was enveloped in light and taken to a quiet place, her ears feeling so hot on the outside and cold within.
Her next moment of awareness was ….
Slightly damp. It was cool out. She was moving. A fair gallop. A familiar, lopsided, neurotic gallop. She apparently moved or made some noise that indicated her presence, since her fellow passenger on this horse spoke.
“About time you woke up, Sleeping Beauty! Do you know how hard it is to get someone out of a coffin? I had you slung around my shoulders and then the lid closed on my hand. Think I woke his grandfather up with the amount of Gallifreyan oaths I swore – think I made up a few new ones too. Sleep well?”
A familiar, lilted, rapid-fire delivery.
Before even opening her eyes, she inhaled deeply through her nose. It didn’t hurt for the first time in a long time.
It was about life….
And no more rain, at last.
The AU continuation will get one more part to round it out. Depending on reaction, I may continue this universe with a loosely mapped out "The Fireplace Man Chronicles."