Title: The Script (2/?)
Disclaimer: This story about Billie Piper and David Tennant
is entirely fictional and is in no way meant to
Summary: As the first Doctor Who series sans Billie begins
filming, she is intrigued by an unexpected parcel....
As soon as her friend had mentioned the page number, Billie had flipped efficiently through the stack until she could follow along with him. And she was once again amazed by his abundant talent. It was as if he was reading one of his audio books! David switched between the voices of the disparate characters without a pause, inflecting them perfectly for the given situation. You'd never know, she marveled, that he was only fifteen minutes on the side of wakefulness and without any strong stimulants to speak of.
" 'Gone where?' Donna asks with admirable patience," he continued, only pausing to sip his tea at regular intervals. "The Doctor looks away, unable to meet Donna's eye. 'I lost her,' he admits shortly, his eyes on the console. 'Well, you can hurry up and lose me!' Donna exclaims fervently. Pause. 'How d'ya mean, "lost"?' she asks dubiously. The Doctor merely raises his intense and pained gaze to hers for a long moment before leaping into action," David concluded with a flourish, making it seem as if speaking in three different accents is something less than a hardship.
"Who's a clever boy, Davy?" Billie praised him, grinning delightedly.
"Tha's just sheer talent, that is," he said with mock-pomposity, closing his eyes, lifting his chin, and smiling serenely as if to accept wide-spread acclaim and adulation with all due modesty.
"And animal magnetism, I'm sure," Billie interjected, duly taking the mickey out of him, as was their custom.
" 'Hot Scot,' remember?"
"Mmmhmmm," she agreed mildly, before taking a moment to think about the scene David had just performed for her. It was perfect, of course. Everything Russell wrote seemed to be absolutely spot on. But it was gratifying to her to know that she was not forgotten; Rose was gone, but she wouldn't be simply cast aside like all previous companions on "Doctor Who." Rose was special, she'd always known it. Billie had watched several of the old "Doctor Who" shows, and as far as she could tell, not a one of the companions had really broken the surface of the Doctor's calm, untouched exterior. The Doctor was pretty much impervious to close emotional ties.
That is, until Russell had come along. Even when Chris Eccleston had been the Doctor, it was as if nothing and no one could come between what he and Rose had shared. There were those that tried, but it always came down to the two of them in the end. It had helped that she and Chris and gotten along; they were happy to play the best of friends, and the emotions required of the show had flowed naturally between them.
But when David had taken over the role, it was if a nuclear explosion had occurred. They simply scintillated, onscreen and off. The chemistry between them was off the charts, and it would have been the height of thickheadedness to simply serve them with a catastrophic separation without any kind of transition period.
The Doctor had suddenly lost the love of his life. Of course he was going to be touchy about it, reluctant to talk about Rose, reluctant to share his precious memories with relative strangers. It was months since she'd been wrenched away from him, but he was still in turmoil, still closed off and vulnerable. He could deal with the crisis of the moment, but he couldn't handle a direct question about his lost Rose.
It was too poignant for words, Billie thought, her eyes tearing up without conscious effort. The Doctor needed Rose, and Rose was gone. It was as simple and as stark as that. The Doctor loved Rose, and Rose was gone. One felt for the last of the Time Lords in that moment more than you could conceivably feel for a bereaved mortal of normal life span.
Billie swiped at the corners of her eyes with her thumb, letting out a sigh of distress. As always, she just wanted to make him feel better, and she wasn't sure whether she meant the Doctor or David. The urge to fling herself at him and squeeze all of his anguish away was rather startling. And rather reassuring. She was an actress, after all. But then, she was also his close friend, so she wasn't quite sure where role began and friendship ended. And maybe they didn't separate, anyway. Most of the things Rose felt for the Doctor, she'd felt for her best mate, David. You couldn't help it, anyway, she'd reasoned. Someone so spectacular deserved a grand entrance and a fine finish. His own sparkling presence made the difference.
Sniffing wetly, Billie wiped her eyes again and cleared her throat, deciding that it was rather unproductive to simply dissolve into a maudlin heap when she knew David was on a tight schedule. Anyway, she could always do a bit of that later, after he'd performed every precious scene for her and rung off. Spending time with her best friend was much more important than indulging her wretchedness.
"Moving on, my dear," David said softly, biting his lip in commiseration as he heard the sorrowful sounds from her end of the line. He sighed, then flipped directly to the next Rose Tab. "Page thirteen, Donna is trapped in a taxicab driven by a Santa-suited Pilot Fish. The Doctor is hovering alongside the speeding taxi, wedged into the open doorway of the TARDIS. He is trying desperately to get Donna to jump across the intervening distance to escape her captor. Donna opens the cab door, looks down at the motorway streaming past, and her terror is written plainly across her face. 'I can't do it!' she cries. The Doctor's face goes still, his expression as sincere as he can make it, and says, 'Trust me.' Needing to know, Donna asks, 'Is that what you said to her, your friend? The one you lost. Did she trust you?' The Doctor's expression is fixed and intense, as if he is waging some internal debate as to how much he should tell this stranger. Suddenly, his eyes tear up, not just from the wind howling past his face. 'Yes, she did,' he says softly. 'And she is not dead, she is so alive!' His voice is fervent as he speaks plainly for the first time about Rose. 'Now jump!' And Donna jumps."
Well, that just wasn't fair, Billie thought as tears coursed freely down her cheeks. If she'd thought the first scene David had read was piercing, she couldn't even dredge up words to describe what this second one did to her. It was breaking her heart. And when David had said the Doctor's lines, his voice had dipped lower, becoming gravelly and a bit muffled. Almost as if his throat was closing up with approaching tears.
"Sometimes I hate Russell," the Scot said simply, using the heel of his hand to wipe away the wetness clinging to his eyelashes.
"Me too, David," she agreed softly, finding it difficult suddenly to force any coherent words out. Billie had always detested the way weeping made her voice sound, but at the moment she could feel no embarrassment. Only love, for the Doctor and for David. "He's a right git, sweetheart. Always going for the tragedy, the bastard. I'd have been happy if he'd let the two of them continue on their joyous way indefinitely."
"Why'd he have to mess that up?" David breathed, and Billie wasn't sure if he meant their onscreen roles or their daily off screen camaraderie. Choosing truthfulness, as she always felt compelled to do in their relationship, she pointed out, "It wasn't all his fault, love. I chose to leave, after all."
"Do you regret it?" he asked softly.
Billie sighed, and adjusted the cell phone against her ear so she could hear him more clearly. " 'Course I do. Some things I don't, I mean, I like doing other things, obviously. But I miss Rose. An' I miss you **so** much!"
The longing in her voice made him wince in sympathy. "I know, lass. Gotta live with our choices, though," he said, then realized that it sounded rather accusatory and hastened to clarify. "I mean, I feel the same way, but I understand, too."
She laughed, though it sounded a bit sad. "You're my best mate, David, an' I miss you. S'nothing wrong with that," she insisted. "But you'd better move on to the next scene. I know you're due onset soon enough, Teninch."
David grinned at the familiar nickname, feeling a warm glow in his chest that never appeared when anyone else said the homemade word. "Right!" he barked, "Onward and upward." Grabbing the next Rose colored tab, he read, "Page twenty-six, The Doctor and Donna are seated on a rooftop, commiserating about her missed wedding. Donna expresses a complete ignorance of the circumstances of the previous Christmas, what with the Sycorax and all. 'I spent Christmas day just over there, the Powell Estate, with this--family. My friend, she had this family; well they were--' The Doctor trails off, the mention of anything concerning Rose instantly taking the wind out of his sails. He takes a moment to master his pain. 'Still,' he says slowly, 'Gone now.' Donna looks at the Doctor with sympathy and understanding. 'Your friend,' she asks, 'Who was she?' Ignoring her, the Doctor moves on, as always. No answers, no emotions," David finished in a low voice.
"Oh," Billie exclaimed softly, her face crumpling with her vexation for the Doctor. "Oh, David, it's too horrible! Makes me feel like when we were doin' that scene in Bad Wolf Bay, an' I couldn't touch you, on account of you being just a projection. As Rose, I thought everything would have been made alright, if only she could hug the Doctor." She sighed. "It's silly, I know. Guess that's the big Girl in me, wantin' to hug it all better."
"I know, I know," David agreed, remembering the turmoil he'd been in while watching Billie sob her heart out in that stark setting. Graeme Harper, the director, had been very sensitive to the stress his actors had been under that cold, wet day, and he'd tried to get the scene done as quickly as possible. And David had been grateful for his perceptiveness. The actor had been ever ready to step in and insist that enough was enough. It was bad enough for the two of them as it was; there was no need to stretch the pain out indefinitely with take after take.
Billie sighed, then said as briskly as she could manage, "Next scene, me lovely. I don't want to make you late."
"Right, lying back and thinking of England, now," he joked, and was gratified to hear his friend's watery chuckle. Flipping to the penultimate Rose Tab, he read, "Page thirty, The Doctor is stood at the bar as Donna's botched wedding reception rages around him. He has just discovered that Torchwood is somewhere at the back of the whole mess, and is thinking furiously as he watches the happy couples gyrating on the dance floor. His gaze suddenly rests on one pair, the woman with long, blond hair flying about. It is as if the breath is suddenly knocked out of him. Images from 'New Earth' suddenly flash onscreen, interposing the dancing couple with the Doctor's memory of catching Rose as Casandra's essence leaves her. The man dips the blonde back over his arm, but the Doctor sees himself leaning down to gather the limp Rose to him protectively. The blond dancer is brought upright, smiling, her hair dangling down behind her, but all the Doctor can see is Rose's hair flowing down as he hugs her to him. He looks away from the happy couple abruptly, unable to stand the memories any longer. He breathes deeply and swallows thickly, trying to rein his mind back to the problem at hand. His expression shows that this is a hard thing, indeed," David finished disconsolately, his voice catching slightly on the last word.
Billie grimaced, her brow furrowing as she brought her trembling hand up to cover her face. It was too moving for words, that was all. It was Russell T. Davis all over, tragedy leaking out of every pore. "Oh, David," she moaned softly, her mind's eye seeing only an image of the Doctor, broken and alone and desperately trying to hold back the flood of despair in order to fix this latest problem. The lonely god, indeed.
"You may moan and sigh, my darlin', but I have to play it," the mournful voice said, insinuating itself into her ear. "An' it shouldn't be hard to do at all, what with my best mate being off, God knows where, leaving poor, wee Teninch on his own."
Billie forced a small laugh, knowing that her friend was busily whistling in the dark, trying to make the best of a bad job. "I wish I could just squeeze you to bits, right this second!" she exclaimed forcefully, having to content herself with the memory of his wiry arms wrapping around her and his warm, comforting scent enveloping her.
"An' who wouldn't want to, tha's what I'm asking?" David querried, his cheerfulness cracking a bit around the edges.
"Not a one! You're every girl's bedraggled teddy bear, Davy."
"Bedraggled?!" he exclaimed incredulously. "I'll have you know, I'm in top form! A bit skinny, perhaps, but still a 'Hot Scot,' remember?"
She smirked, her eyes slipping shut as she pictured him lounging on his god-awful sofa with his cold tea and his script. He was perfect, and he always would be, no matter how skinny he got. "Well, come on then, Hottie, finish it off. Time's a-wasting, love, an' I'll not have the whole crew breathing down my neck for monopolizing their preeminent star."
David glanced again at the wall-clock, noting the minute hand slipping past the hour, and knew that he was pushing his luck. Much as he would like to chat with his friend indefinitely, his obligations were pressing. There was always next time, after all. No matter what happened, David knew that there would always be a next time with Billie Piper. It was part of what kept him going. "Okay, Bills, brace yourself, now. Here's the last one, for this script, at least."
"Fire away, big boy!"
Flipping to the absolute last Rose Tab, David read, "Page, fifty-two, The Doctor has just had several 'goodbyes' with Donna and has stuck his head out of the TARDIS once again at the behest of her bellow. 'Oh, what is it now?' he asks, feigning annoyance. Donna looks hesitant, but plows ahead. 'That friend of yours, what was her name?' In the Doctor's eyes, you can see his soul poured out before you, vulnerable and accessible. For the first time, his essence is laid bare, and it is painful to see. 'Rose,' he says slowly and with fervor. 'Her name was Rose.' His voice is strangled as he says it, but he seems almost proud to speak the hallowed name. He disappears behind the TARDIS doors as quickly as possible, but one impression remains with Donna as the blue box dematerializes. The Doctor is in love, bereft, and in desperate need of somebody to stop him."
Billie sighed loudly, her eyes slipping shut. Damn Russell, anyway. A smirk suddenly crept over her lips as she said, "You know, love, I'm liable to get a swelled head over all this Rose Reverence. Might as well be tacked to a pedestal an' have you groveling at my feet regularly!"
David snorted, though if pressed, he couldn't have claimed that she was far off the mark. "The Cult of Rose," he mused, narrowing his eyes in thought. "It has a bit of a ring to it, I have to say. What d'ya think of semi-annual festivals and a garland of fresh roses 'round your nude statue every morning?"
"Oi, nude is it?!"
"Well, o' course, what would be the point otherwise?" he asked cheekily, grinning from ear to ear.
"I'll 'ave you know I have many sterling qualities! My hot bod is only one of them," Billie added as an afterthought, smiling contentedly at their banter.
David rose from the couch, abandoning his frigid tea, and made his way into his bedroom, well aware that he had only a few minutes left before he was due in the make-up trailer. "Wellll, yes, I suppose," he mused exaggeratedly. "You're alright for a laugh, now an' then." Smirking, he chose a set of cargo shorts and his favorite orange t-shirt from the chest of drawers, assuming that the new day would be just as sultry as the previous one.
"Thanks a lot," Billie muttered, rolling her eyes at his insults. He would have to go soon, she knew, and she could feel the reluctant tension creeping up on her as she heard him stripping off his sleep raiment and putting on something more suitable for public consumption.
Billie had to grin reminiscently as she remembered the many times he'd stayed over at her flat, and the sight of him in the morning, groggy and mummbly, with his hair more awry than usual and clad only in boxers, which were usually covered in stop signs or reindeer or bananas or something equally unexpected.
As a gag, she'd bought him a pair of boxers that she'd found in Carnaby Street, with the "Doctor Who" logo emblazoned across the bum and a picture of the TARDIS directly over the front placket. David had immediately blushed pink and hurriedly shoved her gift into his pants pocket, while trying to appear unruffled to the others seated around the read-through table. When Billie had casually leaned near him to murmur, "They say it's bigger on the inside," under the booming lines coming from the other end of the table, David had choked and spluttered a bit, but couldn't help joining her in quiet sniggering. And then, of course, he'd missed his cue.
The next day, while loitering on the Interior TARDIS set waiting for the lighting crew to finish, Billie had joined him on the jump seat and asked quietly, "So, ya puttin' my present to good use yet, Teninch?" Her face had been alight with mischief, and she'd been rewarded when he glanced furtively at her and tried to pout casually as he denied taking part in such silliness. "Liar," she'd accused, her tongue peaking out between her grinning teeth. He'd confessed. Eventually.
Billie smirked, and asked over the rustle of his clothing, "You wouldn't happen to be wearing your Bigger-On-The-Inside-Pants, would you, mate? That charming gift from your extremely generous and thoughtful best friend, if you'll recall."
David giggled as he buttoned his fly over the TARDIS. "O' course I am, lass! They are my lucky pants, especially now tha' my Bills is away. An' you'll be happy to know that they always give the costume department fits. It's embarrassing to watch people's eyes widen incredulously as they stare at your crotch!" he whinged good-naturedly as he glanced in the mirror and ran a hand through his unkempt hair. No time for a shower today, he sighed, so this would have to do. Not that he regretted the way he'd spent his "morning." Not by any means. His lips pursed in a moue of disgust, and he abandoned the bathroom hurriedly, grabbing his keys and wallet and glancing about his apartment distractedly. His eyes landed on the cascade of paper on his coffee table, and he exclaimed, "Script!" and grabbed it before jogging out the front door, his cell phone still propped between his shoulder and ear.
Biting her lip to distract her sadness, Billie began to sing raucously, "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work you go," and then whistled the next bit rather inexpertly. She smiled to herself, hearing his laughter, but also hearing the driver's side door of his Skoda slamming to. He would be ringing off soon, she knew, leaving poor Billie sprawled on her couch all night with only her box-set of "House" to comfort her.
"Shite, I'm goin' to be late," David muttered as he peeled out of the car park, and headed toward the A470 and the BBC Studios.
Billie bit her lip and furrowed her brow. "Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart, I really didn't want to make you late," she whimpered guiltily. Then, hearing the screech of tires, she exclaimed, "Be careful, ya stupid git!"
He laughed at her. "It's alright, silly, just went through a turn too quickly," David assured her soothingly, conscienciously using his turn signal and breaking properly through his next turn. "You know what a spectacular driver I am."
Raising a shaking hand to cover her eyes, Billie sighed in relief. "I know, I know," she replied slowly, then forced some flipancy into her tone. "I can't imagine what the studio solicitors would say if thier Golden Boy went and banged up his pretty face in a motor accident." She was trying hard to make a joke of her reaction, but it was difficult to quell the visceral reflex she'd felt at the thought of her best friend in the world hurt or, God forbid, killed. The bile stung her throat remorselessly. The thought could simply not be bourne. "Please, David, please be careful," she exorted, and was pleased that her voice didn't quaiver overly much.
His smile dropped away as he entered the motorway. "I'm always careful, darling Billie," he promised, then his mind caught on his phrasing and he was reminded of a song heard in his youth. "Oh, where have you been, Billie girl, Billie girl, oh where have you been, charming Billie?" he sang softly as he sped along the tarmac, hoping to soothe his friend's anxieties.
Billie smiled in spite of her dark thoughts. "I'm a young thing, an' cannot leave my mother? I think I'm rather past it by that count, mate. An' I seem to remember that tune was about 'Billy boy,' not 'Billie girl.' "
"Ehm, at least the first couple of lines apply, darlin'. In fact, I'm now thinkng seriously of singing it at the start of each new day, just to aleviate my woe about my missing Billie!"
She snorted with mirth at his antics and felt herself relax a bit.
"Wait a minute now!" he exclaimed suddenly, switching his cell phone from one ear to the other. "I totally forgot about this in the rush of hearing your sweet tones, love. How would you like," he paused dramatically, and Billie felt a sudden desire to brain him for his cheek, "to journey down to Cardiff tomorrow or the next day in order to perform the DVD commentary for 'Doomday,' with yours-truely, of course?"
Billie couldn't repress the squeel of delight that pushed its way past her suddenly numb lips. It was just what she'd secretly been hoping for, of course. An impromptu trip to Cardiff, to David's side, where she could squeeze him and fawn over him to her heart's content. How fantastic was this?! A slight pause was imposed on her mental glee when she realized they'd be talking candidly about thier least-favorite episode for the benefit of thier millions of faithful viewers, but it caused hardly a ripple on the lake of her sudden happiness. "My God, of course!" she exclaimed vehemently. "Here I was, expecting to spend the week doing nothin' interesting, an' you come out with that! What did you think I'd say, ya great swot?!"
David grinned happily, his eyes still scanning relentlessly over the open roadway as he neared his destination. "Well, I hoped you'd be a bit pleased," he intoned with mock-modesty.
"Pleased?!" Billie cried incredulously, feeling the inexorable urge to leap off of her sofa and pelt her way toward Cardiff immediately. "You knew I'd go berserk, you twat, an' you forgot about it all this time?"
"Ehm, I was a bit distracted by the whole personal read-through thing, an' I was plucked cruely out of a deep sleep, as well," he defended himself, though he knew it wasn't really necessary.
"Wellll, alright," Bilie admitted grudgingly, though she still felt the relentless pull toward action. She'd have to go for a brisk walk or something if she wanted to belay her body's impulse to be with her friend as soon as possible. "But you are still totally in for a beating, mister," she warned.
David smirked. "I look forward to it. And speaking of such things," he added as a sudden idea occured to him, "what say you drive up tonight and have a kip at my flat? We could catch up a bit before I have a nap after the night-shoot, since I'm free tomorrow, an' when I awaken, we could go to the studio and get the recording done. We'll make a week-end of it, how does that sound?"
Closing her eyes and grinning in anticipation, Billie replied, "Fantastic, as always! You're my knight in shining armor!" As she said it, she could picture Katherine Hepburn, graying and quivering with age, saying those words to Henry Fonda in one of her favorite older films.
"Norman, you old poop!" David exclaimed, in a perfect immitation of the great lady's distinctive accent. Sighing as he turned into the BBC car park, he saw from his dashboard clock that he was at least ten minuts overdue in the makeup truck. "I've got to dash, love," he said regretfully. "Ring me when you get here?"
"As soon as may be, Davy," Billie promised, hoisting herself from the couch already to make the first in-roads on packing.
"I look forward to it."
"Me, too," she said quietly, her riotous anticipation going still momentarily.
David came to a smooth stop in the parking space and set the hand break. "Until then, my darling," he promised as he leapt out of his compact car and sprinted toward the makeup trailer.
Billie couldn't wait.
Author's Note: Well, what did you think? I do like to focus on their obvious close friendship when I write, and I hope I've captured it adequately here.
I am forced into making this two posts due to length, apparently.
Should I write about the commentary, or not?
I appreciate all comments!