Gallifrey Records: The Human Nature EP, Part 3
It’s part three of the current Gallifrey Records fic tennis, because it wouldn’t be Gallifrey Records fic tennis if we weren’t spilling over into new posts with our wordiness. Here’s Part One and Part Two if you’d like to catch up, or you think you missed something. As Allison has mentioned before, we’re touching on the theme of memory loss in this story, so please savior “fic tennis” if you want to avoid the topic.
Rose has never been so relieved to see Donna in her entire life and she’s up off the wall in a flash, wrapping Donna in a hug.
“How did you — how are you here? Oh my god, Donna,” she nearly crumples as Donna slips her arms around Rose, returning the hug for a long moment before pulling back.
“Turns out someone overheard the conversation you had with your friend in there in the grocery store, and snapped a picture of the two of you. They posted it to Twitter, and suddenly the internet’s on fire, talking about the world’s greatest Doctor and Rose impersonators,” Donna says.
Rose sniffles, she’s not crying, not exactly, but it’s lingering right around the curves of her eyes, threatening, “And you knew we weren’t impersonators. Oh, Donna, it’s all messed up.”
A bloke staggers into the kitchen, looking for a beer, and Rose shoots him a look that has him tripping over his feet to get back out again.
“What’s messed up?” Donna says, voice gentle as her gaze scans over Rose like she’s checking for injuries.
“Everything, oh, god, Donna, he found out about Joanie, and now he’s here — he came on his own — and he’s with that woman,” Rose is getting progressively more frantic, heart slapping out a rhythm that makes her dizzy. “I don’t know how to fix this, I don’t even know where to start.”
Donna stands up straight, shoulders squaring, “I knew something like this would happen. You know I almost made you a list? A ‘what to do with the Doctor, pre-Suit Album’ list? Because that model should definitely come with instructions.”
Rose manages a small smile, instructions would have helped, but Rose has a feeling that ‘what to do if the Doctor starts chatting up another woman’ wouldn’t have been on them.
“What do I do?” Rose’s head is swimming, visions of all of this leaking, of Joanie someday finding out, clouding her thoughts.
“I’ve got a place rented, not too far from yours,” Donna says. “I’ll take him there for the night. You should get some sleep, Rose. Your mum’s flight gets in at noon and you need to be ready for Joanie. Unless — do you want me to have her keep Joanie longer?”
Rose’s knees buckle a bit, and she sags back against the wall.
“Yes. No. No, I need to see her, she needs her mum,” Rose says and Donna gives her an understanding smile.
“My cab is still outside,” Donna tells her. “Take that and I’ll get him home. I’ll call you in the morning.”
Rose nods and moves for the kitchen door, the one that leads to the backyard instead of the house because she’s afraid of what she’ll find if she goes through the living room. She turns back to Donna at the last second, fingers twisting the engagement ring on her finger, thinking of vows they haven’t said yet and how she feels them just the same.
“You don’t have to wait until morning,” Rose says. “If something comes up, if he needs me, call.”
Donna nods and Rose ducks out the door and into the night.
All things considered, the Doctor’s enjoying himself, a guitar in his hands, the eyes of the crowd on him, and a pretty blonde by his side — even if he gets the feeling it’s the wrong blonde entirely.
He’s between songs, tuning the guitar, fingers plucking the strings, when a sound he would recognize anywhere rings through the room.
He looks up and there she is, Donna Noble, and she does not look pleased.
It’s a split second decision to ignore her, one he knows she won’t stand for. Even if he can’t remember Rose, can’t remember much of anything, he can definitely recall Donna when she’s got a bone to pick.
Craig, clearly unaware of what he’s getting into, jumps in.
“Hey, you look just like his manager! Oh, this is great, you lot are thorough, aren’t you?”
Donna sizes Craig up and tidily sidesteps him, barreling for the Doctor.
She grabs his arm, the one Joan has her hand on, and tugs, “We have to go,” she tells him.
“Nope, haven’t even started the encore yet,” the Doctor says and Donna’s eyes blaze in response.
She leans down, right next to his ear, “You have no idea what you’re doing and. You. Are. Going. To. Regret. It.”
He slides neatly out of the chair, out of reach of both Donna and Joan.
“Just need to refill my drink,” he says, voice raised to the crowd as he strides across the room to the kitchen.
Donna predictably follows, door swinging shut behind her as he rifles through the sink for another beer.
“Doctor,” she says. “I know you can’t remember, but Rose is one of the loves of your life, and Joanie’s the other. When you get your memory back — and you will get it back — they’ll still be there. Do you want to sacrifice them, and the man you are with them, for a lark at a party?”
The Doctor is genuinely confused — Joanie? So Joan is from his future, too? And if she is, and he loves her, why all the fuss?
“Joanie? How do I know Joan?”
Donna’s eyes fill with sadness, the same expression he’s seen on Rose’s face for the last day.
“Joanie’s your daughter’s name, Doctor.”
Every scrap of the Doctor’s manic energy fizzles and gutters out, and he closes his eyes, shoulders slumping as he leans onto the counter. He can’t draw a deep enough breath – his chest isn’t big enough, his lungs aren’t working properly, grey and black spots swim behind his eyelids. The room spins and tilts sideways.
Donna’s hand settles on his shoulder, solid and comforting and familiar. Pulls him back to center, keeps him steady.
“I know what you’ve been doing, Doctor: sticking your nose right into the nearest adventure. You just got turned around, stuck your nose the wrong direction, that’s all.”
“Why didn’t she – why keep it secret? Any of it? How am I supposed to –”
“She’s scared. So are you. Quite a pair, the both of you. Always have been. Y’know, the first time you saw her onstage, Wembley Stadium, she was opening for the Suit Tour. All dolled up in a pink sequined dress with that matching pink guitar of hers, and you couldn’t keep your eyes off of her. I watched you, watching her, and knew you were already gone. She owned you, just as sure as she owned that stage. You both cast some sort of spell on each other, and neither of you have looked back since.”
The Doctor keeps his eyes closed, pushing at the edges of his memory, probing for any hint of pink sequins and blond hair and magic spells.
There’s nothing. “I don’t know this person I’m supposed to be, Donna.”
“He is a good man. Because Rose, she – she’s made you better. The best possible version of yourself, the person you were born to be. Give it time, you’ll find him again. She can help you find him again.” Donna draws a slow, deep breath from behind him. “C’mon, let’s get out of here. I’ve got a quiet place for you to rest.”
He puts his arm around Donna’s shoulders, and they slip out the back door.
Donna’s staying in an inn down the road from Rose’s cottage. He follows Donna into her room and crashes on one of the two double beds with hardly another word, besides a small mumbled thanks. The last thing he remembers is Donna covering him with a quilt.
He wakes up before dawn, the sky dark grey outside the window. Donna’s snoring in the bed on the other side of the room, red hair wild and tangled across the pillow, a sleeping mask over her eyes.
The Doctor quietly gets out of bed and locks the bathroom door, taking a long hot shower and staring at himself in the fogged mirror, watching white tendrils snake across the reflective surface, blurring his face.
He can’t shave or style his hair properly, he hasn’t got any of his toiletries, so he puts his suit on again and decides to get some fresh air. Donna still fast asleep, he leaves the inn.
At this early hour, the village streets are empty, and all the businesses are closed, save for one small café. Hands shoved in his trouser pockets, shoulders hunched and shivering – he can’t remember if he left his overcoat at the party last night, or if it’s still at the cottage – still forgetting things, he’s still forgetting – he makes a beeline for the door.
When he gets close enough to see through the café’s front window, he stops. Rose is sitting just inside, sunk down in a one of a few large leather armchairs beside a fireplace, nursing a steaming cup of tea. Her eyes are closed, her head tipped to the side, as though she’s listening to something.
In this unobserved moment, he lets himself stare at her. The Doctor has a clear memory of the YouTube videos Adam watched (obsessively, really, Adam had quite the crush) of Rose Tyler the pop ingénue, bright-eyed and round-cheeked.
Now, years later, with her dark roots and blond hair, slender neck and full lips, there’s something pleasing about the way her age sits on her face. She’s grown into herself, somehow. He grasps for a way to describe it or pin it down, but it’s beyond him. All he knows is that she’s lovely; the years he’s spent with her that he cannot recall, she has borne them well.
She’s borne him well. Which, the Doctor knows, is no small task.
A gust of cold wind shoves at his back, ruffling his wet hair, nudging him toward the door.
He steps inside, not letting himself look at Rose, even though her presence fills every last particle of air in the café Walks to the counter and orders a mug of tea and two scones – banana and chocolate chip. It feels like a shot in the dark, a guess, but when he turns around and comes to sit in the armchair beside Rose and the fireplace, when he leans over and hands her the chocolate chip scone, her entire being quivers in scarcely suppressed delight.
She’s trying not to be hopeful, he can tell, but her eyes give her away.
He knows what it’s like to have things kept from him, and though what Donna said makes sense, that Rose was trying to protect him, lying about a scone doesn’t seem quite as worthy.
“It was just a guess,” he says and she nods sadly.
“It was a good guess,” she says. “Earned you a seat, at least.” She gestures at the armchair tilted to face hers. “If you want it.”
He moves to drop down into it, but stops himself, “What do I do if I want the armchair, but I can’t remember how to sit?”
Rose’s face clouds over in confusion, but it clears quickly.
“I don’t know, Doctor,” she says. “All I can tell you is that it used to be your favorite chair. And the little ottoman that goes with it, too.”
He stares at the chair and then at Rose, words forming slowly, “It does look comfortable. Exactly the sort of chair I’d pick, if I were picking out chairs.”
With a quiet deliberateness, he takes a seat, settling himself into the cushions, and he feels a slow release of pressure leaking out from his chest, warmth slipping through his body. He gives her a small, hopeful smile.
“I’m gonna remind you of this, you know,” Rose says, returning the smile. “That time you compared me to a piece of furniture.”
“You mean those sort of romantic declarations don’t happen often?” he teases. “What sort of man have I become?”
Rose catches his eye, her gaze sparkling and clear, “A good one.”
It’s a little uncomfortable, these continued assertions that he’s some sort of saint, and he shies away from it. “Anyway, you’re the one that compared Joanie to an ottoman.”
Rose’s breath catches as he says it, he can actually see the movement in her chest.
The Doctor shrugs, still feeling like he hasn’t got his feet, “Donna told me her name.”
“It’s for Joan Jett,” Rose says quietly. “Went ‘round and ‘round on that, we did. At one point I think you even tried to name her ‘Tom Petty.’”
It’s not an unfitting reference, the way he feels like he’s in a constant state of free falling lately, and he laughs softly.
“Glad you talked me out of that one.”
Rose clears her throat, shoulders straightening, “She’ll be here today, actually, Joanie will. My mum’s due with her in a few hours.”
His face must give him away, all the blood draining from it.
“You don’t have to see her,” Rose says, and he suddenly feels even worse. That’s not what he wants either. He wants to see her and remember her.
“I’d like to, if that’s okay.” His voice is nearly a whisper, but he delivers the words with as much conviction as he can muster.
“Of course it’s okay.”
They finish their drinks and scones in a silence more comfortable than any they’ve shared yet, and when they’re finished, the village is just opening up for the day.
They walk out to the street and he catches sight of a little barber shop just switching their ‘Open’ sign on, “I’ll be right back,” he says, and darts across the street.
Five minutes later he’s still in front of the bank of mirrors when Rose walks in, a small tube of newly purchased wax next to him as he styles his hair.
“Wouldn’t do to meet my daughter with a head like a poodle,” he tells Rose and the smile she gives him makes his stomach flip.
The rest of the morning passes quickly, exploring the small town once more with Rose by his side. She takes his hand again as they walk by the pub from yesterday and he wraps his fingers around hers before he can even tell his mind to do it. His muscles remember, at least.
Rose’s phone chimes with a text message from Donna at just past 11, Rose’s mum’s flight had caught a tailwind and they’ve already landed, so Donna arranges to pick them up in front of the grocery store.
When they get in the car, he watches as Rose gives Donna a small, affirming nod, and Donna smiles at him response.
“You’re getting there, mate,” she tells him.
The small airport is mostly quiet, not too many people around, and they make it to the baggage claim area quickly. The flight’s luggage has somehow beat the passengers out, and the Doctor watches as Rose pulls a folded up buggy and car seat from the carousel.
These are his daughter’s things, he has a daughter, and she’s small enough to fit in that little buggy.
Before he can even finish processing that thought, there’s the high, happy squeal of a toddler and suddenly a tiny little person is running towards him.
It’s slow motion then, the girl reaching him, Rose moving swiftly to his side. Reflexively he drops down to the child’s level, and she barrels into his chest, chubby little arms wrapping around his neck.
“Da! Da!” She shouts and he returns the embrace, heart thumping in his ears. She smells amazing, all baby soft and washing powder and he rubs a hand up her back, his fingers curling gently into her through her jumper.
She pulls away quickly, squirming across him to where Rose has her arms extended, squatting down next to him.
“Mama!” The girl shouts as Rose cuddles her, smattering kisses all over her head, the soft, messy brown hair, her round, full cheeks.
“Hi, love!” Rose says and shifts back up to her feet while he does the same.
“Doctor,” she says. “This is Joanie. Joanie, say hello.” Her voice rises in pitch, sing-song-y now, “Say hel-lo!”
Joanie grins, arm flapping in what he’s sure is supposed to be a wave, “Hello!” She parrots back.
Rose bounces Joanie on her hip a few times as he struggles to figure out an appropriate greeting.
It’s on his third attempt to speak that he realizes they’re not alone, and have been joined by another blonde woman, slightly older than Donna.
This must be Grandma.
Jackie cocks her head up at the Doctor appraisingly, hands on her hips. She hasn’t seen the Doctor since everything started, and for a wild instant, Rose can’t tell if she’s going to hug or slap him.
Lips pursed, she gestures toward herself and says, “So … nothing, hmm?”
“Mum,” Rose says, warning tone to her voice. Joanie’s pulling at her hair, little palm patting her cheek as she wiggles and leans toward the Doctor again.
“The infamous Jackie Tyler,” the Doctor says, sticking out a hand. “Rose’s mum and manager. ‘Course I know who you are!”
Jackie stares for a moment before shaking it. “I haven’t been Rose’s manager in years. I spend most of my time these days chairing the Doctor fanclub, running your website, and moderating the online forums.”
The Doctor’s eyes brighten just a little, one corner of his mouth lifting. Rose can practically see the gears turning in his head, creating an idyllic picture of Jackie as a doting mother-in-law figure, all the happy hours they must spend talking about both of their favorite subject: the Doctor. “Really?”
“No, you plum,” she snorts, affectionate even in her derision. “I run two charities, and babysit my granddaughter once a week so you two can go out on a date.”
There’s a tug on Rose’s elbow, and she twists her head sideways toward Donna. Donna nods at the bank of doors along one side of the baggage claim, at the four blokes with cameras standing just beyond the airport security guards.
Rose instinctively turns Joanie so she’s facing the opposite direction, keeping her face hidden.
“Bang-up celebrity impersonation job. The Doctor’s got ‘em fooled into thinking you’re both the real thing,” Donna murmurs. “Dunno if you noticed, but someone was filming his little performance last night and uploaded it. A couple thousand retweets later, and we might be looking at a full-scale invasion.”
Cold annoyance prickles the back of Rose’s neck, and there’s a word on the tip of her tongue, but Joanie’s little ears are close so she digs her teeth into her lip instead. “Bring the car around back?”
“Already on it. Just going to have a word with security first,” Donna says, keys jingling in her hand as she marches off toward the airport office.
Rose steps between the Doctor and Jackie. “We’ve got company,” she says, eyes darting toward the photographers outside, and their long lenses pointed toward the window. “Donna’s bringing the car around back.”
“Oh, those bloodsuckers,” Jackie says, expression hardening into something terrifying and determined. “You three go with Donna. I’ll take care of them.”
And with that, she’s marching across the baggage claim toward the door. Rose lets out a halfhearted “Mum!” at her back before sighing. Joanie’s wiggling, making a continuous whining noise punctuated with “Da! Da!” as she stretches toward the Doctor again.
“Your mum seems … nice,” the Doctor says carefully.
“She’s going to eat them alive,” Rose replies, shifting Joanie to the opposite hip, willing her to sit still, even as she keeps chanting “Da! Da!” and her face scrunches up unhappily. She’s been cooped up on an airplane for hours, and more than anything she needs space and time to get out her toddler energy. Given another few minutes, this is all going to end with a screaming tantrum.
And given the tabloid turn this quiet, recuperative retreat looks like it’s about to take, Rose just might join her.
Unfortunately, that would almost surely go viral, too, and Rose smothers the impulse down to save for later. Preferably in a room with very little noise and a very big bottle of wine.
They have to get themselves, and Joanie’s stuff, out of the airport.
Joanie is still squirming, bending backwards over Rose’s arm like she’s trying to tumble free to the floor, but if Rose lets her down, trying to pick her back up again is definitely going to usher in that tantrum.
“Can you —” she looks at the Doctor, the slightly wide-eyed look he’s giving the whole scene, and he turns back to her when she speaks. “I either need you to take Joanie, or take all the luggage,” she says and gestures to the suitcases and baby gear, lying next to a cart Jackie had brought.
“Please,” she adds.
The Doctor nods, eyes darting between his options, when Joanie lets out another wail for him, “Da-a-a-a-a!”
It’s not the steadiest of movements, but he reaches for Joanie and Rose hands her over gratefully. The luggage is heavier, but not sentient and fidgeting, and she loads it easily onto the cart, trying not to stare too much at the way the Doctor is holding Joanie like a cross between an explosive and a puppy.
“Mine,” Joanie shouts, twisting to point at the small owl backpack lying on top of the luggage cart.
“Yes, Joanie, that’s yours,” Rose tells her, and holds the bag up. “Can you say ‘please?’”
“Please!” Joanie claps happily and Rose hands it over.
She can’t hold back a smile as Joanie shoves the backpack into the Doctor’s chest, “On,” Joanie says.
“She wants you to wear it,” Rose tells him, trying not to laugh as the Doctor extends the backpack with his free arm and sizes it up. It’s blue and red and very small, clearly meant to be toddler-sized, but with the amount of stuff Joanie can pack into it, Rose is sure it has supernatural qualities.
“On,” Joanie repeats, more insistent this time, and the Doctor hustles to comply, slinging a strap of the backpack up one arm so it rests on his back, the eyes of the owl staring in the direction of the paparazzi.
“Looks brilliant,” Rose grins at him, and though his cheeks go pink, he smiles back at her.
It’s a series of complicated advance and block movements to get them all out to the back exit of the baggage claim and avoid cameras, and Donna meets them there with the car.
Installing the carseat is never Rose’s favorite thing, she usually makes the Doctor handle it, fighting with the straps and belts and buckles, but it’s not like he’d remember how to do it anymore, and she forces herself not to scream with then seatbelt locks for the sixth time.
They’ve finally got the last car door shut, the Doctor up front with Donna, and Rose in the back with Joanie, when the first photographer makes it out to the rear pick up area, Jackie right behind him.
Jackie waves her hand at them — go, go, go — and Donna lurches the car into the traffic lane.
They’re off like a shot, and once they round the front of the airport to the main road, a black sedan picks up their tail, two cameramen in the front seat. Rose struggles to keep Joanie happy as the car zips along, weaving in and out of traffic, Donna doing everything she can to shake off the sedan. The Doctor’s shouting directions, trying to get her to turn the wrong way down one street, duck into a garage the next block, pull a 180 and dazzle them with her headlights. She does an admirable job of ignoring most of his suggestions, even as he gets more agitated and inventive.
“I’ve got it – we should do a Marseille!” he crows excitedly. “Turn right, turn right!” He reaches over and grabs the wheel, the car is flung sideways, and Rose barely manages to catch Joanie’s dummy as it flies across the backseat.
Donna whacks the Doctor on the arm a few times, slapping his hands away as she stabilizes the car and checks the rear view for the paparazzi. “A what? A Marseille? Rose, what’s he going on about?”
“One time in” – Rose sticks the dummy back in Joanie’s mouth – “in Marseille, we ducked out of the car at our hotel and the driver led the press on a goose chase around town for hours.” Her eyes fix on the Doctor, her heart thumping – adrenaline and hope, like a star bursting to life in the dark void of space. Grinning like he’s on a roller coaster ride, he reaches toward the gearshift, and Donna smacks his hand again.
“We’ve just got to get far enough in front of them so you can slow down and we hop out, then let them pick your trail back up again, drive them all the way back to London! Or right off into the Channel! Wherever suits your fancy!”
“All right, all right, Rock Boy, I’ve got it, cool your jets.” Donna looks at Rose in the rear view mirror. “You and Joanie up for a Marseille?”
“Absolutely,” Rose replies.
It works better than it had in Marseilles, even. The small winding roads mean sightlines are often blocked, and it’s just a matter of pulling far enough ahead of the paparazzi car so Donna can come to a stop in front of the cottage, and the Doctor chucks all of Joanie’s bags and gear over the thick hedges in the front garden while Rose bundles her out of the carseat. Donna’s revving the engine, and the instant the last door closes she’s off again in a small puff of exhaust; Rose and the Doctor and Joanie tumble behind the hedges along with the luggage as the paparazzi car zips past a few seconds later, its occupants none the wiser.
Joanie crawls right out of Rose’s arms and settles herself into the Doctor’s lap, stretching up to scratch his cheeks with her little fingernails, giggling at his stubble. “Silly Da! Prickle prickle!”
“Say brill-iant, Joanie. Brill-iant!”
“Vwill-ant Da,” Joanie tries gamely, dummy still in her mouth.
Rose is still breathing fast, heart hammering and aching. “What made you say Marseille, Doctor?”
“Dunno,” he replies, shooting her a grin as he takes Joanie’s hand and stops her from smacking his face again – she’s like a little Donna. “As far as old dogs go, I like new tricks, but sometimes old ones work just as well.”
“You do realize that Marseille was nine months ago,” she says.
At that exact moment, Joanie squeals and hops out of the Doctor’s lap, making a beeline for the road, and Rose’s mobile simultaneously begins to ring.
Before she can tell him to, the Doctor is up off the ground, running after Joanie, the hurried, hunched sprint of a parent that has him scooping her up in a moment.
Rose’s phone rings again, right in time to Joanie’s indignant wail, and this time Rose gets it out, her mum’s face staring up at her from the screen.
"Hello," she says, slightly breathless, blood still thrumming with adrenaline.
"Hi, honey," her mum says. "They’re on my cab, I’m going to take them to the hotel, instead of where you’re staying. I’ll have to catch up with you later."
It’s for the best, and they say their goodbyes quickly, her mum just beginning to shout at the driver in the background as Rose disconnects.
Suddenly, it’s completely quiet, the Doctor and Joanie standing in the yard, staring at her and awaiting instructions.
It’s a feeling that chafes even in their old, regular life — that she’s always the ringleader, always in charge, and it’s even worse now, when she has no direction to give.
"We better get this stuff inside," she finally says, because at the very least, having Joanie’s things litter the lawn is probably not a good idea.
Rose moves to take Joanie from the Doctor, but she twists away, curling further into him. It’s a thing that would normally bother Rose, but the happy and awed look on the Doctor’s face takes the sting out.
"I think she likes me," the Doctor says.
"She loves you,” Rose tells him.
Two hours later and the Doctor’s in the weirdest situation he’s encountered in this small town yet — lying on the sofa while Joanie naps on his chest, small puffs of her breath ruffling and warming his shirt.
Rose had fed her, heating up some of their leftover pasta from the evening before, and then gone to set up the small play yard in the bedroom for her to sleep in.
When she comes back, the Doctor almost wants to tell her to leave Joanie, she’s a comfortable weight on his chest, and something about the position seems natural. Familiar, even.
Instead he gently rises with her, signaling to Rose that he’ll put her down, and Rose trails him to the bedroom.
When Joanie’s settled, blanket tucked around her and dummy firmly in her mouth, he turns to see Rose leaning against the door frame.
She gives him a smile, a slow thing that creeps through his blood like the burn of good scotch, and then she turns back to the living room and he follows.
Settled on the sofa again, this time with Rose situated on the opposite end, he suddenly wants to know everything there is to know about the amazing girl in the other room. And her amazing mum.
"Tell me about her," he says, at the same time Rose speaks. "So, Marseille."
They both laugh, “You go first,” she says.
“I want — I know I remembered Marseille, but it was like a reflex, I didn’t think about it, it was just there. I was wondering if maybe you could tell me about Joanie,” his voice is tentative. “See if it sparks something else?”
Rose nods and he feels a sense of relief. He’s not sure why he feels on uneasy ground, she’s his daughter, whether he remembers her or not, but it seems like he’s asking a lot of Rose, having to fill him in.
“She’s completely brilliant,” Rose is beaming. “I know you’re not supposed to say that, the books tell you not to, but she really is. She’s curious and happy and a really good eater, Doctor, she’s amazing. I wish – I wish you could remember her.”
He searches, mind flipping through anything, everything, but it’s not there, the only memories he has of Joanie are the ones they’ve just made, “What else?”
“She loves to know how things work, always pulling stuff apart,” Rose laughs. “You should see the number she did on your guitar.”
He feels horror overtake his face, what’s happened to his guitar?
“Don’t worry it was just a spare,” Rose grins at him, tongue between her teeth. “You took all the fiddly bits off though, after that, let her play with it. She drags it through the house sometimes.”
It’s there then, just behind his eyes, a still image of a stripped-down, dark brown acoustic, one he doesn’t even recognize, sitting next to a small toy hammer.
“Is it walnut?”
Rose’s eyes light up, “It is, yeah. Do you remember it?”
He shakes his head, trying to poke at the image, get more details, “Not really, but I can sort of — I can see it. That has to count for something.”
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