Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

At Once a Delight and a Tyrant

At Once a Delight and a Tyrant

by Mara

Summary: The Doctor decides that he and Rose need a vacation.

Notes: A pinch-hitting fic for the Ninth Doctor Ficathon, written for Sam
(eternalwings). No spoilers.

* * * * *

“Work…becomes at once a delight and a tyrant. For even when the time comes and
you can relax, you hardly know how.” — Alice Foote MacDougall, The
Autobiography of a Business Woman

“Vacation?” Rose followed the Doctor around the console as he smacked–
apparently at random–buttons and levers and switches and what appeared to be
the ESC key from a computer keyboard.

“Yes, vacation. Is that a problem?” He hit one final button and the TARDIS
shuddered.

“No. It’s just that you don’t seem like a vacation kind of bloke.”

“I don’t?” The Doctor looked up from the console, wearing the crestfallen
expression she’d dubbed ‘kicked puppy.’ “But I like vacations, I like relaxing
and…relaxing. It’s very…relaxing.”

Aha. Hands on her hips, she glared at him. “In 900 years, you’ve never actually
taken a vacation, have you?”

He stared up, avoiding her eyes. “Not precisely. I’ve been to quite a few
vacation spots, though.”

“But something always comes up? A handy alien invasion or something?”

“Well, yes, but there’s this little planet on the far side of Betelgeuse, it’s
so out of the way that nobody goes there except for vacationers.”

Sighing, she gave in. “And that’s where we’re going?”

“Yeah.” He grinned and she couldn’t help smiling back. “It’s supposed to be a
great resort, nothing but desert islands of bright blue beaches, water the
perfect temperature, drinks with those little umbrellas in them…”

The TARDIS came to a grinding halt and the Doctor opened the door, still
talking. “The food’s usually fabulous at these places, although I don’t always
get to eat.”

The sunlight streaming in seemed promising and Rose followed him out the door.
She blinked, blinded by light after the TARDIS’ dim interior, but gradually her
eyes adjusted. All she could see at first was blue–the promised blue beaches
and a sky so blue it looked like a crayon color.

Blue beaches, blue sky, yellow trees. And nothing else. Rose looked around. “Uh,
Doctor?”

He frowned. “That’s not right. There should be buildings here, people, some
signs of civilization.”

Leaning against the side of the TARDIS, Rose shrugged. “Guess we’re here at the
wrong time.”

“Rose, this planet was a resort for over 500 years. Somehow I doubt the TARDIS
went astray quite that far.” He peered into the distance as if he expected a
cabana or chip shop to materialize out of thin air.

“Hey, you!”

The voice came from the other side of the TARDIS and Rose and the Doctor stared
at each other for a second before ducking around the corner. There was still
nothing but endless vistas of blue sand and yellow plants, with the sole
exception of the man trudging through the sand toward them. He wore an
improbable outfit that most resembled an old-fashioned bellhop in one of those
posh hotels in Mayfair.

“Ah, hello,” Rose said.

“You can’t park that here,” the man said, scowling as he approached them.

“Pardon me?” the Doctor asked.

“Your ship.” The man circled it once, coming to stand in front of them again.
“It cannot stay here. This is a no-parking zone.”

The Doctor tucked his hands in his jacket pockets, looking particularly
affronted.

“A *what*?” Rose asked.

“No parking zone. There is clearly no parking here.”

“How were we supposed to know that?” Rose stared around her in confusion. Nope,
just trees and sand. “There aren’t any signs.”

“Well, do you see any other ships parked here?”

“Oh, that’s human logic for you.” The Doctor snorted.

“What?”

“Never mind,” Rose said quickly. “We’ll move it soon, but we were wondering
where all the other people are.”

The man stared at her. “None of your business. Move your ship.” He turned and
trudged away through the sand.

* * * * *

“Face it,” Rose said, smirking at the Doctor, “you’re just incapable of taking a
vacation *or* admitting you screwed up.”

“I didn’t screw up.” The Doctor furiously punched buttons, peered at the screen,
and muttered to himself. “There’s something wrong here.”

“You’re daft. There’re no monsters, no war, nothing.”

“Exactly!” His expression was manic. “There should be *something* here.”

“You just don’t want to give up.” Sighing, she watched him for a minute. “I’m
going to go for a lie down. Let me know when we go someplace interesting.”

When she emerged, yawning, the Doctor looked like he hadn’t moved. He certainly
hadn’t slept, she thought, leaning against the console.

“Look at this,” he said abruptly.

It looked like some squiggles with a side of flashing green lights. Rose
shrugged. “Yeah?”

“There’s something out there.”

“Yes, Doctor. There’s water and sand and trees and if you can find a place to
park, I might get to stick my foot in that lovely water and get a bit of a tan
before we get back to saving people.”

“No, there’s something else.” He thumped the console, making the squiggles
change to blips and then settle back into their previous positions. “Definitely
something wonky.”

“Is that a technical term?”

He shot an annoyed glance at her before apparently deciding to ignore that
comment. “The being we met must be the one who’s done it. Whatever *it* is.”

“What, the parking attendant? Who ever heard of an evil parking attendant?”

“Now you have,” he snapped. “Run along while I figure out what’s going on.”

Rose grumbled, thought about getting beans on toast just to annoy him, and went
to the TARDIS library to find something to read; there was no reasoning with him
in this mood. Sorting through the stacks–whose organizational scheme was
probably only comprehensible to a Time Lord–she found a book on small birds of
Ursa Minor which looked fairly interesting.

(Not that she was especially interested in birds, but the birds of Ursa Minor
seemed to have some very weird habits, at least if the cover was to be believed.
Was that actually…Rose wandered out of the library, turning the book around to
see if the cover made more sense that way.)

Settling down along the TARDIS wall, she flipped through the book while keeping
an eye on the Doctor, who muttered nearly continuously to himself.

“Aha!”

Rose dropped the book in surprise, jumping to her feet. “What?”

The Doctor was running around the console furiously and his words drifted to her
over the sounds of the TARDIS moving. “I’ve found all the people. And
buildings.”

“Doctor, what are you talking about?” Refusing to chase him, she stood against
the railing and waited for him to skid to a stop.

“They’re here,” he said, pointing toward the door.

Closing her eyes, Rose prayed for patience. “No, they’re not.”

“Yes, they are. They’re just in some kind of dimensional warp, at right angles
to the rest of the universe. That’s why we can’t see them. That…parking
attendant must have somehow trapped them.”

“Oh.” She blinked. “Let’s get them out then.”

“Righto!”

* * * * *

Six hours later:

“You,” the man said with a deep frown, “have caused me a great deal of
difficulty.” He stared at the Doctor and Rose. “A great deal of trouble.”

Rose stared down at the floor with a deep sense of doom. Now they were really in
for it. After all this time, all their adventures, this time they’d really
stepped in it.

“Um, would it help if I said I’m sorry?” the Doctor said.

“Sorry?” The chief administrator of the Happy Shores resort covered his face.
“Sorry? If you’d just registered at the front like all the *other* guests, or
even bothered to read the brochures, you’d have known that all our facilities
are in different dimensions to prevent overcrowding.”

“I can help put everything back,” the Doctor said. “Just the way it was.”

“No. Go sit on a beach. Do nothing.” The administrator pointed to the door and
glared at them. “Oh wait, there is one thing you’ll need to do.”

The Doctor perked up. “What’s that?”

“Apologize to our parking attendant. In his 12 years working here, he’s never
been tied up.”

–almost the end–

Three hours later:

Rose tipped up her shades and stretched, feeling the pop in her shoulders. She
really was enjoying the beach, but the Doctor was tapping his fingers
impatiently on the beach chair and if his foot bounced any harder, he was going
to dig himself a hole in the sand. If she didn’t get him out of here soon, he
was going to *start* a revolution just for fun.

“Doctor, why don’t we–”

The two figures materialized as if they’d been summoned. “Doctor!” called the
elephantine pale yellow creature. “We need your help. Please come quickly!”

“The invasion,” shouted the greenish one, “it’s begun!”

As quickly as they’d appeared, they vanished again. Silence spread as all the
nearby vacationers turned and stared at them.

Rose looked at the Doctor, whose eyes were wide. He turned toward her, looking
hopeful.

“Fine,” she said, picking up her towel with a sigh, “let’s go save your friends,
shall we?”

“Fantastic!”

–the real end–

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