Gallifrey Records: The Solo Album Import
ALLISON IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAAAAAAY! And for you birthday, I tried to write you some angsty Gallifrey Records fic! It did not necessarily work out! Not the writing or the angst! Nevertheless, here are some words that I strung together for you. I have, occasionally, even used nouns and verbs in the same sentence, because that’s how much I love you.
I HOPE YOUR BIRTHDAY IS AWESOME AND YOU’RE PARTYING LIKE IT’S 1999, WHICH IS TO SAY THAT YOU’VE FOUND THE DOCTOR AND THE TARDIS AND TIME TRAVELED THERE.
It’s a mistake to make the decision for her, and the Doctor does it anyway.
There’s some new guy from the label — well, new in that he’s been around, given vague (and frankly horrible) input on some tracks, and is decidedly not Russell.
But this new guy, Steven, he throws around a lot of meaningless industry buzzwords that basically amount to the label feeling like they can make more money from Rose than they are currently.
Her solo albums had sold decently before she paired up with the Doctor, but she’s a full-fledged rock star now, for all intents and purposes, and before they run up against diminishing returns on the duet stuff, they want her to put out a solo album.
Strike while the iron’s hot, Steven says, give the fans what they want — music from Rose Tyler — but not quite in the way they’re anticipating.
Steven, the Doctor can tell, fancies himself to be pretty clever.
This though, it does make sense, financial and career-planning sort of sense, and the way Russell had sat in the meeting, face blank and shoulders set, it seems like it’s a done deal. Russell had been gently easing away for months now, and if the Doctor’s honest, that’s what he’d thought the meeting was going to be about — that Russell was relinquishing control.
Rose had press commitments and they’d both agreed that if this was it, if Russell were leaving, they’d make sure to give him a proper send-off anyway and then evaluate their own options. The meeting was just a formality.
But now there’s this, and the Doctor finds the old voices that she’s hitched her wagon to a fading star — one so disgruntled and jaded and guilty that it poisons everything it touches — roaring back to life.
So, he’s just thinking about protecting Rose, her career, making sure she doesn’t get chewed up and spit out by the machine, when he agrees not to work on the next album, the one they’ve already booked the studio time for. He signs away his claim on it, has them send the contracts off to Jackie, and that’s it.
He spends the cab ride back to the flat rehearsing what he’s going to say to her — how this is for her own good, how he doesn’t want her to get hurt, how the thought of a future where she pours her heart into an album, like she does every time, and it’s received as a flop, makes him feel sick.
What he actually says when he reaches the flat is wildly different.
“What are you doing?” He says, because Rose is bent over the fax machine in their makeshift office, trying to pry the top off. Her fingertips are white with the effort of it, jaw clenched, and any second now that lid is going to give, spewing ink and fax machine guts all over the room.
“Can’t get this bloody thing to work,” she says.
“And you thought prying it open would do the trick?” He walks over to her, gently easing her hands from the machine. There are patterns and roles they’ve fallen into in their relationship and “breaks electronics by ripping them apart” is firmly a Doctor sort of behavior.
“Seemed as good a plan as any,” she says, dusting her hands on her jeans and he can see there’s somehow already ink on them. “I called Mickey to help, but he was busy and my mum’s the one I’m trying to fax back to, and she’s not going to be happy.”
He peers around her to look at the front of the machine and the documents she’s trying to send — it’s the contracts from earlier, struck through with black marker, whole sections crossed out. He can guess at which ones they are.
“Rose, I think you should do it,” he says.
She glances at him before ducking down to peer inside the paper tray, “What? Call my mum? You’re here now, you can help. And anyway, if I call her, we’ll just have a row. Seriously, you should read this thing. They want me to do a solo album.”
The paper tray doesn’t give anything away and Rose finally relents, shuffling back to collapse into the desk chair while the Doctor tries to remember the offense he’d prepared in the cab.
“I know they do,” he says. “That’s what the meeting was about. I think you should do it, I told them you would.”
Rose wheels around in the chair to face him more fully, eyes already narrowing.
“You told them I would do it?”
The Doctor plants his feet, like he’s squaring up for a fight, and he is, but certainly not a physical one. The way she looks right now, Rose would lay him out.
“I did,” he says. “It’s for the best — reestablish your solo career, so that you’ve got something to fall back on if our next few albums don’t go as planned. I’ve made a lot of music, Rose, it’s only a matter of time before the public gets sick of me.”
Rose’s fingers flex on the arms of the chair, “That is not your decision to make.”
It’s like she’s refusing to even listen to his reasons, tuning out what she doesn’t want to hear, and it’s maddening. Doesn’t she see he’s just trying to protect her?
“Well, I’ve made it,” he says.
“And I’m unmaking it,” she’s out of the chair in an instant, stalking back to the fax machine and pressing buttons at random. The machine makes one long beep and goes dark. “Sod it! I’ll take them to my mum myself.”
She grabs the contracts from the tray and he’s gripped with an impulse to take them from her, but he knows that won’t stop it. She’ll just get another copy to mark up.
“Rose, we need to talk about this.”
“Do we need to talk? Or do you need to talk and I need to listen? Because that’s what it sounds like and I’m not doing it, Doctor, I made my choice a long time ago and I make music with you now.”
There’s an edge to her voice, like she wants to yell and is holding back from it, but underneath that there’s something else. There’s a thickness there, the kind she gets when she’s crying not because she’s sad, but because she’s frustrated and angry and there’s nowhere else for it to go.
It makes his own throat close up and he thinks briefly of giving in, but he’s doing this for her.
“You do, we do, we make amazing music, but —”
“I’m going to my mum’s,” she says, and she’s out of the flat before he can stop her.
She keeps it together the entire ride to her mum’s — music up loud, foot heavy on the accelerator, and some shouting at a group of teenagers in a zebra crossing, but there are no tears and no road accidents.
As soon as she’s in the door at her mum’s though, it crumbles.
“Mum!” She’s tearing through the house, eyes stinging and fists clenched.
Her mum’s in the kitchen, pulling the kettle off, and Rose wants to pick up one of the mugs and throw it against the wall, watch it shatter into a million pieces, and then break another one.
“I’m not doing it,” Rose says.
“Rose, I can’t say I’m surprised, but you need to think strategically about this,” her mum’s tone is conversational, but her fingers are tight around the kettle as she pours. “You’re just going to play with the Doctor forever? What if he gets hurt? Quits the business? Buys a ranch and moves to Texas?”
“Then I’ll go with him,” she says, because if there’s one thing she’s sure of, it’s that the Doctor is a part of her future.
“You’d give it all up? For him? Sweetheart, you love making music,” Jackie hands her a mug and Rose focuses on not throwing it.
“I love making the music I want to make, the Doctor helps me make it, he makes it better,” Rose says. “They wouldn’t even let me play my guitar before him!”
Jackie sighs and takes a long sip from her mug before answering, “And now they won’t let you play it with him. Will you at least think about it? Please? It’s one album.”
Rose meets her mother’s eye, squares her shoulders and says, “No.”
This is her career, her life, and no one is going to dictate it for her — not the label, not her mum, and not the man she wants to spend it with.
Donna has spent several years, several long years, training the Doctor to have some semblance of boundaries, to respect that there are certain times she is not to be bothered, to only use the access she’s given him to her schedule in complete emergencies.
So when he barges into the salon, hair more of a riot than usual and coat flapping behind him, she’s alarmed, but cautious. He’s taken the “emergency” thing to heart, but he also still thinks the dry cleaners being closed when he needs his suit is an emergency.
“Someone better be dead,” she tells him before turning back to smile politely at the woman filing her nails.
“It’s me, I’m dead,” he says and runs a hand through his hair, somehow managing to get even more of it up.
“Clearly not, because believing in ghosts is very last year and I’m not getting caught on another What Not To Do list,” she tells him, not even bothering to glance away from her nails this time.
He bolts up to her, prying her fingers away from the manicurist and crouching to meet her eye, “Donna, this is serious.”
There’s a wild look in his eye, one she hasn’t seen in a long time, and she feels a wash of panic — what could possibly have happened?
“The label wants Rose to record a solo album, they’re going to use the studio time next month to do it,” he says.
Donna stands from the chair, grabbing the Doctor by the arm and tugging him to the back of the shop.
“You agreed to write off an entire album without speaking to your manager? You’re right, you are dead, rock boy,” she says.
“Don-na.” he says, dragging the syllables out. “I don’t care about being on the album. Rose needs this and she won’t do it.”
The other women in the shop have stopped to look at them and Donna leads him further back, ducking into a room with a tanning booth before speaking again.
“Rose needs this? Or you need this for Rose?”
He blows out a breath, “Oh, that just semantics, isn’t it?”
“Uh, no, it’s not, you dumbo. Tell me you didn’t try and force her into it.”
She gets the ear tug and the back of the neck scratch in response, oh, this is bad.
“You can’t just tell Rose what to do, you have to trust her to make the right decision on her own.”
The Doctor very nearly rolls his eyes, “Gee, thanks, Mum.”
“What are you really worried about? Is this another one of your ‘I’m no good for anyone, tortured artist, I only bring pain and suffering’ snits? Because I thought we’d agreed you weren’t allowed another of those until 2016. You lost that right in a card game years ago. You are shit at cards, you are.”
He reaches out a hand to flip the switch to the tanning bed back and forth, the light buzzing on and off until she glares at him, “Well?”
“Well, I had, perhaps, thought that she might be better off putting some distance between us,” he says.
“You live together.”
Donna rolls her eyes this time, “And this ‘professional distance,’ you didn’t think it might, oh, I don’t know, seem personal?”
His shoulders slump, “I see that now, thanks.”
He looks so sad, like an extremely tall puppy that someone’s taken a blowdryer to, that she has no choice but to ease up.
“Let me make some calls,” she says.
The Doctor isn’t in the flat when Rose gets back and it gives her a chance to try and let her anger dissipate. She sits on the sofa for half an hour, going round and round, and reaches the same two conclusions she’d reached hours ago — she is not making an album without the Doctor, she is furious with him for trying to make her.
When she finally hears his key fitting into the lock, she’s torn between standing up for a row and sinking back into the cushions in exhaustion. She doesn’t want to fight with him, that’s what all this is about — she wants to be with him, forever. She wants trust and love and rock and roll.
She settles for staying on the sofa, but sitting up straighter.
“Hi,” he says and she gives him a tight lipped smile in return.
“I was wrong,” his voice is measured, like he’s trying to make sure he says the right words in the right order. “If you don’t think you need to make an album on your own, I won’t make you.”
She raises her eyebrows.
“I can’t make you,” he says.
Her eyebrows climb higher.
“I shouldn’t even try to make you.”
She relaxes a bit, but doesn’t try to answer him. He’s gone out and bought himself a shovel, she ought to at least see what he’d like to do with it.
“I shouldn’t even try to make you because I respect you as an artist and as my — as Rose,” he says.
“Go on,” she says, but she can already feel the knot in her chest loosening.
“And I’m sorry.” He looks at her plaintively and she relents.
“Forgiven, this time,” she says. “This isn’t something that’s just going to go away, Doctor. You can’t try and save me from everything, everyone, and that includes yourself.”
“I know, I just — I love you, Rose,” he says. “And the thought of you not getting what to do what you love, because you threw in your lot with me, I can’t even tell you what that does to me.”
She moves over on the sofa, making room for him, and he drops down next to her quickly, as if he’s worried she’ll change her mind.
“We’ll figure it out,” she says. “Together.”
He nods, burrowing into her until she wraps her arms around him.
“And we’ll do the album as planned?”
“Welllll, I may have signed something.”
Six months later, Rose’s first solo album in years drops and the phone begins ringing off the hook. It’s glowing reviews, requests for interviews, and sixteen separate inquiries into Rose’s new guest guitarist. It’s a bloke nobody’s heard of, but he’s there on the liner notes, on every single song, and the story lasts for weeks.
Who is John Smith?
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