Welcome To Your Life by avoria
Summary: The most important things can be what we donít see. Clips and companion pieces to every episode throughout the newer Season. What starts with Rose ends with Doomsday; apparently.
Characters: Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler, The Doctor (9th)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Het
Chapter 1: Rose
Chapter 2: The End of the World
Chapter 3: The Unquiet Dead
Chapter 4: Aliens of London
Chapter 5: World War Three
Chapter 6: Dalek
Chapter 7: The Long Game
Chapter 8: Father's Day
Chapter 9: Interlude: Something You Once Said
Chapter 10: The Empty Child
Chapter 11: The Doctor Dances
Chapter 12: Boom Town
Chapter 13: Interlude - Caution to the Wind
Chapter 14: Bad Wolf
Chapter 15: The Parting of the Ways
Chapter 1: Rose
Author's Notes: Feedback would be very much appreciated, if you'd be kind enough to take the time. This is the first time I have done something like this, and it would be useful to know what's good and what's bad, so I can remember them for the later chapters. It's a little different from other things I'm writing right now, so what you think is doubly important. Thank you!
This entire collection was inspired by good old William Shakespeare, and now you all know what I read in my spare time. This just screamed ‘Doctor’ at me, but then, most things these days do:
Am I a Lord? And have I such a lady?
Or do I dream? Or have I dream’d till now?
I do not sleep; I see, I hear, I speak;
I smell sweet savours, and I feel soft things:
Upon my life, I am a Lord indeed.
-- ‘Christopher Sly’ from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.
Part The First — Rose
The Doctor stands at his machine, flicking switches absently while his mind is lost on other things. He saunters wearily around, pulling at various levers as he passes. There is no animation in his actions. There has not been for a long time. He watches the central column distantly, watches as his ships sighs and listens to his commands. He sees it yet not quite sees it, leaving him with untidy pictures and colours that mean little to him. He feels the TARDIS pull into the time vortex, and as they move, a gentle hum fills the room, a comfort, quiet noise, like a note in a child’s song.
He lowers his hand slowly, and almost smiles; but it is a a smile without humour, without spirit, void of the happiness he once remembers having and knows he will never have again. His mind and thoughts are wandering, and though he wants to stop, he knows the emptiness left behind is sometimes worse than the thoughts themselves.
Why? Why is he the one who survived? Why couldn’t he have just died like the rest of them, put his race on the list of the extinct? He is the last, the only, the alone. He has survived. He has won.
It is a hollow victory, and he welcomes death.
It is why he keeps fighting, he knows. Despite the part of him that screams out to time, to history, the part of him that feels like he is being wrenched apart by tears he keeps locked away, he keeps fighting. He keeps surviving. Because he knows that one day it will kill him, really and truly, and there is nothing he wants more than that.
The Lord of Time...
He is a Lord without a Lady, without a kingdom, without servants, friends, subjects — he scoffs at the title. Perhaps not so much for its pompous nature and more for the fact of what it stands for. He would rather be dead than alone.
Wait, is that true? he asks himself. The man he is now would not take his own life — no man he ever was or will ever be would stoop to that level. The universe would become unbalanced and unravel, its master having walked away and abandoned it. Then again, it has abandoned him now, too. It abandoned him when the Daleks fought through the last of Gallfirey’s defences and started to bleed through all timelines in all worlds. It abandoned him when he, along with others, rushed to what little rescue there was, only to be shot down. It abandoned him, too, when his people died and he didn’t. He was saved. Damn it, he was saved.
He and his people had made a silent agreement to forfeit their lives and take the filth down with them. It worked. They all died. Everyone. Everyone except him. He lives, and he hates himself for it. Where others had death, he had regeneration. It is a fickle friend.
He had awoken on the floor of his TARDIS, the both of them battered and bruised; but somehow alive. He knows why. He wishes he didn’t, but he does, and he hates himself for it all the more, because when he looks down to his hands he sees the blood of his people running through the withered crevices of his palms.
He is human. He blames his mother for that, or perhaps his father for falling for her in the first place. He is more so human for running away and trying to live like them. His compassion, his emotions, his spirit — every difference that separates him from the other Time Lords, from other humans, comes from his past. He was alone before he started, he reflects idly. Even with the life of his people, he was always alone. Because no one else in the universe is quite like him. He sees more. He feels more. He loves more.
And so does his ship, which is why she rescued him. His link to his TARDIS, stronger than any of the other Time Lords, provides him with a safety net he does not want.
He wants to be dead. He wants to burn. He wants the emptiness in his mind to drown him and swallow him whole. But instead he lives and radiates and survives.
Eight regenerations down, he muses piteously, having stood in the same spot on his ship for so long his feet are hurting. She dims the lights slightly, and the hum lowers. He glares at the wall.
“Let it go,” he growls viciously. He is not sure who he’s talking to.
The hum disappears, nevertheless, and he sighs.
The Nestene Consciousness is the closest he has come, so far. It is not exactly like he hunts for death, but he sure as hell is willing to accept it when it happens. So there he had been, teetering on the brink, and the stupid ape had saved him. He told her to run, run for her life, told her to leave him because she would die if she stayed. He had wanted to protect her, because she would die because of him and he could not bear the thought of such a young, innocent life being taken before it had begun.
Even that snivelling boyfriend of hers had agreed.
Just leave him! There’s nothing you can do!
And she had proven them all wrong, without even giving it a second thought.
He can’t exactly be angry with her, then, can he? She has a good heart. So many of her race would have just let him die, would have turned and ran, would have listened to him. But she didn’t, and part of him is thankful for that because his faith is a little restored. Not much, not anything really, but she has reminded him there are still anomalies out there. Mind, he isn’t entirely surprised. He had tricked tricked her once beforehand into coming with him, and that thirst to wonder what he did would always be with her now. Or so he thought.
The Doctor smiles to himself. She had been useful, he’ll give her that. Useful for the day, and good company. She had made the mistake of asking who he was. He had answered in a way that made it impossible to forget about him, and he had done it on purpose. He blinks in surprise, then, as realisation takes him. He hasn’t been manipulative before, but already this incarnation seems to be making quite a habit of it. He wonders why that need to prove he is exceptional burns a little more — just a little — when he thinks of her.
He works well with the exceptional. Perhaps that is why he asked her to come with him. He thinks about it now and is a little relieved she said no, though it came as quite a shock. No one has said no to his request in a very long time. But death follows him, and if she had come, there would have been two ways out — she would leave, or she would die. He doesn’t mind being left, it has happened before. But even he cannot draw such an innocent creature into the life he lives, into the face of death, because he doesn’t have the strength to protect anyone else. And he has enough guilt on his shoulders without adding yet more to it.
He will continue alone, because that is what the universe intended.
Despite his thirst for adventure again, he feels it is time for something a little less vigorous. While he was in London, a place he has not been in a very long time, he remembers that he smelled chips. Chips, he has never had, but something about them in this regeneration makes his mouth water. He can have chips, if he wants.
“Right, old girl,” he says fondly to his ship, with a softer tone than the last time he spoke to her. He pats the controls warmly. “This is in your hands. Take me somewhere they do the best chips in town.”
They work together, and he soon feels the ship materialise. He braces and steps out of the doors. He doesn’t know when. He doesn’t know where. He just knows that he has asked and his ship has delivered.
Until he walks out and spots, not fifteen foot a way, a man staring at him with wide eyes and a face like terror. His face is pale, and the Doctor stops in his tracks, staring too. His TARDIS has never, ever, landed when there have been others about. He casts a quick gaze around where the are. A park — no, a cemetery — weeping willows lining the gates and gravestones dotted all around.
He tenses, with nervousness, with anger. Maybe if he turns now and heads back indoors, goes somewhere else, it will all be forgotten about. This is Earth, he knows, and by the looks of things, not an Earth that is ready for time travel, or aliens. The entire place is deserted, except for the man who has not taken his eyes off him, has not said a word, just stares like he is frozen in the air.
The Doctor’s eyes flick down and he sees, in the man’s hand, a half eaten bag of chips. Oh, very funny, he scolds his TARDIS inwardly. He will be having “words” with her when he gets back inside, and they will involve a very small hammer. Already he can feel her disdain in his mind. Good.
“Er, hello,” he begins a little uncertainly, letting an explanation fall from his lips that might amend what he’s doing here. “Routine check-up of disappearing and reappearing police boxes. Nothing to worry about, just a little paranormal that we’re all sorting out. No worries. Honestly, you haven’t seen me.”
The man blinks, his fingers still buried in the bag of chips. The Doctor smiles slightly, pleased that this bloke probably isn’t even believing his own eyes, anyway. Stupid apes, the lot of them.
Something pangs within him, then, and he suddenly feels hurt again.
“Um...” the man stutters, clearing his throat. He closes his mouth and nods, his shoulders dropping. “Yes. Right. Check-up, I see. Won’t say a word. Promise.”
He gives a wide grin that is the most pathetic attempt at lying the Doctor has ever seen. Mind, his eyes are red and, given where they are, he probably isn’t in the happiest of moods. So, if nothing but a little taken aback, he turns and heads back into his TARDIS.
But then the man speaks again, and his voice is a deep whispering growl, like it’s the wind who is speaking to him. “...Go back for her...”
The Doctor whirls around, his face wide with shock. “Excuse me?”
He is greeted by a calm face, only slightly wide eyes in shock. The look he sees is expectant. “Yes...?”
“Did you just — ” the Doctor starts, confused himself now. He frowns. “Did you just say something?”
“Well, I,” the other man stumbles, clearly just as disorientated, “I don’t know. I said I wouldn’t... say a word... but...”
“No, no, after that,” he snaps back impatiently.
The man cocks an eyebrow. “I didn’t... say anything...”
The Doctor blinks. “Right.” An awkward pause fills the air as they consider each other. The Doctor glances to the gravestone and gestures to it. “I’m sorry.”
The man nods. “You’re bound to be.”
The Doctor gives him an odd look, a frown that shows confusion and just a hint of contempt. He clears his throat. “Right, well. Er... Have a nice day. Cheerio.”
Without waiting another second, he turns and completes his journey into the TARDIS, closing the door forcefully behind him and rushing to the controls in frustrated anger.
“Well, you didn’t have to go and to that, did you?” he spits angrily, slamming a hand down on a button more forcefully than is generally needed. He darts around to the other side and cranks a lever. “I mean, honestly, of all the places to get chips, you pick a... a weirdo in the middle of some park? You made me look like an idiot. I’ll go find my own lunch, next time, shall I?”
The TARDIS lights flicker in protest, but it merely serves to fuel the Doctor’s anger.
“Oh, don’t give me that! Don’t tell me you were tryin’ to tell me something. That’s not on.”
He pauses for a moment and straightens, shaking his head in pity.
“You, of all things, should know that — ”
He cuts himself off suddenly, his head snapping up. He hears those words again, remembers the tone, the promise, and wonders about them. Go back for her.
“Go back for her,” the Doctor mumbles quietly. Then, more loudly, “But what does it mean? Go back for who?”
He thinks of the girl from the shop. He thinks of the girl who ran with him, fought with him, saved his life, and he doesn’t know why. He thinks of the girl who told him no. Then he thinks of her reluctance in her answer. Is that it, then? Is he supposed to go back to the first ‘her’ he can think of, because she’s the last ‘she’ he came across? Well, he won’t do it. Back a second time... pfft. He’s better than that.
The lights dim and the temperature drops. The Doctor shivers.
“No,” he says firmly, to his ship, to himself. “It’s not right. I get it, you don’t want me to be alone. But there’ll be others. I’ll find someone the next place I go to, all right?”
He will be the first to admit that it bothers him she said no. Why would she say no? Because of the lump who was dribbling around her feet? Because she wants to spend the rest of her live watching television and eating beans on toast? Because she thinks she shouldn’t? The Doctor ponders this. His life, it’s dangerous, it’s threatening, and it’s likely to get him, her, anyone else, killed. But she deserves more than wasting away into nothing, he can see it. He hates waste, he really does, and seeing such a fiery young girl with a heart that could change the world chained to a life that will kill her slowly... well, that is sacrilege in his eyes. He may hate the thought of being the death of her, or anyone else, but he hates the thought of wasted life even more.
She could be so much more. He can teach her so many things. He stops and looks up, face drawn into dismay. Why, then did she say no, unless she really didn’t want to be taught? What would make the offer of hurtling through space and time any more appeal—
The Doctor stops that train of thought with wide eyes. Because he didn’t. Did he? He didn’t say, “I’ve got a time a machine. We could go anywhere. Anywhen, back, forwards, side to side. Up to you,” did he? He... he hadn’t mentioned a time machine at all. First word of his TARDIS — Time. And he hadn’t even told her.
...This box isn't just a London hopper, you know, it goes anywhere in the universe free of charge...
She had almost looked tempted, he remembers. Almost.
...You could stay here and fill your life with work and food and sleep, or you could go, uh... anywhere...
Maybe... if he’d said... then she wouldn’t wouldn’t have answered like that. Wouldn’t have stared at him in a way that made him wonder if she’d truly made up her mind.
The Doctor lets out a frustrated sigh, angry with himself. Well, he has to go back now, hasn’t he? She doesn’t even know what he does. Humans, he knows, have no concept of outer space in her time. It would have been like handing her a wooden stick, pointing to the top and saying, “Here’s a lolly, but you’ll have to imagine it, I’m afraid, ‘cause I’m too daft to give you a real one”.
Oh, if his people could see him now.
Would it be so wrong? Quite apart from the fact that asking a second time is beneath him (asking a first is a stretch — he hasn’t asked anyone else before, not quite like that), can he really drag her into this sort of world?
He has been prepared to do so once. What’s out there to stop him doing so again?
I’ll tell you, a little voice says in the back of his mind. Nothing.
The Doctor grins, and he doesn’t care if no one is around to see. He could quite look forward to being a teacher again, he thinks. He has not realised that he’s already started to put in the coordinates to go back. He doesn’t care. About five seconds after he left, that should do it.
It doesn’t take him long and soon the TARDIS has arrived. He walks to the door without hesitation, opens it, pops his head out. Rose has already begun to walk away, that stupid lump in tow. Five second was right, it seems. She’s staring at him now, alerted to his presence, already realisation sweeping through her.
“By the way — ” he grins slightly, tipping his head to her “ — Did I mention, it also travels in time?”
He raises his eyebrows just slightly, casting her a meaningful look for the smallest of seconds, before turning and heading back inside to the controls. He leaves the door open to her, but he will not ask a second time. Right, Rose Tyler, he thinks. The decision is yours. He hopes she will never ask why he came back again. ‘Oh, um, I forgot. I was... er... trying to make a point,’ doesn’t really sound so good, he thinks with a slight grimace.
He blinks, then, with shock, because he is already thinking like he expects her to say yes. Like he expects she will come. Like she has already done so. She said no a first time, what’s to stop her saying —
There is a quick flurry of footsteps on the ground and the next thing he knows, she is standing in the doorway.
He grins. She shuts the door.
Rose Tyler, welcome to your life.
Back to index
Chapter 2: The End of the World
Author's Notes: Must have sat fiddling with this for a good long time getting it right.
Part The Second — The End of the World
They stumble into the TARDIS full of chips and mirth. The Doctor cannot remember a time he has laughed so much, or even when he has let himself do so. Rose seems to offer him no choice. She ruthlessly fights through his barricades, and all she has to do is smile, or say something particularly charming. It is her innocence he notices first. That, and her complete lack of fear of him. She is not afraid to be herself around him, not afraid for him to know she has faults, not afraid that she may well harness personality traits he would dislike in others.
He, in turn, accepts them, accepts whatever faults she has — which for the moment is few, if not none — and knows that, one day, she will not be afraid to shout at him, or to stand up to him, or to be open with him.
She has bravery and he sees it in her eyes. She even flirts with him, knowing him little more than a couple of days yet somehow slipping it in like it means nothing. He flirts back, because it feels the most natural thing to do in the world. He takes her hand. He does things for her. He opens up about his home planet. Sort of.
Then she buys him chips. His first chips in this body, first chips ever, as a matter of fact, taste like she has just given him the Earth. Which is ironic, really, when he considers what he has just taken from her. That still astounds him, too. The death of her planet — she was heart broken, as any would be. But she still grins, because she can always go back.
He knows why he took her, if he is honest with himself. One hundred years is nothing; she deserves more. But he is kidding himself if he thinks he took her ten thousand years it impress her. He will never admit it, but it was because he wanted her to understand. Understand what it feels like to watch your planet burn, for the innocent to die, for the guilty to reign, and know it has all been vain. There is no one left in his life to understand, after all. This should not be the life of a Time Lord.
The Doctor makes fast work of pushing those thoughts out of his head and notices that it is slightly easier to do so when Rose turns to him with a smile. In that smile he can see she understands, if only how it feels to watch your planet die rather than the guilt of knowing it was your fault. He finds the strength to smile back.
“Right, come with me,” he grins, his face lighting up. He strolls over towards the door to the corridors, but notices she does not follow. He turns, and she is watching him with a strange expression. “Problem?”
“No,” she answers, shaking her head. Then she takes the time to look around the console room, up to the ceiling, down to the grille floor, the walls, the corners, the railings. He wonders if this is what it’s like to be judged. He wonders why it suddenly matters.
“Like what you see?” he smirks, surprising even himself.
Rose looks back to him playfully. “Wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” she answers, then gives him a side-on playful look, her tongue poking out between her teeth, her cheeks, eyes and mouth spelling ‘devil’ all over her face. The Doctor tips his head as he examines her, a mixture of a frown and a smile on his face. He supposes, if he can watch her, then she can watch him, too.
He sees curves, stale clothes, fresh skin and mind. A brave heart, a fighter. A friend.
She sees tortured eyes, rugged stance, strong arms. A teacher, a saviour. A friend.
They meet each other’s eye.
“What?” they both ask at the same time, and suddenly, this is the funniest thing in the world. They both laugh again. The Doctor places a hand on the door frame, leaning on it slightly while he watches her.
She doesn’t know why, but Rose suddenly thinks it quite suits him. She wonders if he spends a lot of his life standing in doorways, looking in on everyone else having fun while he is alone. She knows he thinks he’s alone, feels alone, and more than anything believes he is. She wants nothing more than to show him life is more than disappearing into his thoughts, as she has already seen him do.
Then she begins to feel a blush sweep her cheeks, because part of her believes she has no right to think these things. She hasn’t known him all that long, surely? It feels like they have never been apart. The-Doctor-And-Rose. She remembers what he said on the satellite, and suddenly straightens and blinks. Maybe he thinks the same way as she does. She’s my plus one. She may not be that experienced with all this time travel malarkey, but she certainly knows when she’s being paid a compliment.
At least, the with the Doctor, she does. She somehow just knows that this is rare for him, and therefore makes it mean that little bit more. He is making an effort, she realises. She smiles.
The Doctor grins back, giving her the sort of smile that reminds her of cheeky little schoolboys who want to go build houses out of mud. He beckons to her and, having had a good look at the console room with all its bits and bobs, sidles up to him and walks with him deeper into his ship. She finds it a little strange at first, through that door. She had assumed it was only the console room, and that was shocking enough. Then she had learned that the Doctor didn’t have a planet, didn’t have a home, and she feels so sorry that part of her wishes he could share hers.
Of course, another part of her tells her — quite rightly — that he probably wouldn’t want to. Which does not surprise her, because she expects nothing less or more of him.
Even so, the thought that the TARDIS is where he lives, is his home, gets her thinking. She wonders if it’s a bit like having to live in a camper van when your house has burned down in a fire. Then again, that idea is quelled fairly soon, too, when it becomes blindingly obvious that it houses a huge amount of space and can tailor to all his needs.
He stops when they reach a flight of stairs, and looks around like he’s lost something. He cranes his head up the spiralled staircase, then down again, then back the way they’ve just come, a corridor that has branched off from at least two others.
Rose giggles. “You lost?” she teases.
He instantly looks to her with his eyebrow arched and his face unamused. Still, somehow, she knows he is. “No, I am not ‘lost’. I’m contemplating.”
“Oh, I see,” she answers, nodding exaggeratedly and feigning absolute sincerity. “‘Contemplating’, is it? Contemplating what, Doctor?”
His second eyebrow meets his first and then he grins. He doesn’t answer, instead reaches for her hand and hurriedly yanks her up the stairs behind him. They are narrow and steep, the sort of stairs she would expect to find in a fire escape. He somehow manages to look in front of him, where he’s going, and down below him to Rose, smiling whenever she meets his eye.
They reach the next floor and the Doctor steps around the room, wondering which of the many doors he should take her down now. Rose takes the opportunity to sit in the sofa that runs the perimeter of the round room, watching him amusedly. He has just stopped squinting at the second door to the left when he hears stifled laughter.
“What?” he asks indignantly, turning to her.
“No, it’s nothing,” she smirks, waving a hand to him. “You carry on as you are.”
The Doctor rolls his eyes, then turns back to the doors. Deciding on one of his many options, he moves around the room, opening one, then another, then another, until all of them are open. Then he stands, in the middle of the room, looking at Rose.
“What are you up to?” she asks almost suspiciously, and he is glad she has asked, because now he gets to tell her and she can’t accuse him of boring her.
“I need you to pick one,” he shrugs, glancing to the floor and passing the comment off.
“Pick a what? A door?”
“No, I — ” He pauses for a moment, then frowns. “Well, yeah actually, you’ll need to pick a door eventually, I s’pose. But no, I meant pick a room. You live here now, and I’ll not have you sleeping on the floor. So, what kind of room do you want?”
Rose stares at him a moment, not quite sure if she should take him seriously or not. Did... did he just tell her she lives here? In this place with infinite corridors, that smells like no one’s hoovered in a hundred years? She wants to sneeze just thinking about it, and wonders how much dust the puce carpet has picked up.
He stands there with his hands in his pockets, waiting expectantly and watching her with the type of look she always remembers from teachers when they’re expecting an answer to a question in class and they know you haven’t been listening.
She clears her throat. “Um... We’re talking somewhere to sleep, yeah?” she asks a little uncertainly, sure she’s got it wrong. He’s an alien, after all (or so he says). Maybe he has some weird culture thing to do with rooms and sleeping.
But no, he seems to be just fine. A little excited, but fine.
“Yup” he confirms, dipping his head into a nod. “Anything you want. Pick it somewhere, anywhere, and the TARDIS will do the rest. D’you want a bathroom? Wardrobe? Dresser? What kind of bed? Double, single, King Size, Queen Size? ...Anything you want, Rose, just say the word and it’ll be right there waiting for you.”
She blinks at him. “You’re kidding.”
“I am not,” he smiles.
He ambles over and reaches to pat the wall of the ship, covered with plush wallpaper for the time being, but he knows she can feel it. “She’s a fantastic ship, my TARDIS.”
Rose doesn’t doubt it. She still feels a little weird about having it in her mind, translating things, but thinking about it now, it really isn’t that bad. Maybe that’s the way it can make her room, then, if she’s linked to it, like the Doctor said.
“What about where it’ll be?” the Doctor continues, only half aware that Rose isn’t really listening. “Next to the kitchen? Close to the gym? Opposite the library? So many options, Rose. And it doesn’t really matter what you pick, because you can always change your mind.”
The Doctor tries to remember if anyone else got so much choice in the matter.
“Wait,” she requests, holding a hand out and looking up to him with wide eyes. “You have a library in here? And a... a kitchen?”
“Course,” he shrugs, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. “I have to eat, don’t I?”
“Well... yeah, I guess. But that’s not what I mean.”
He nods, then gives her a gentle smile. “Rose, this ship has enough on it to live for centuries. TARDISes, they sort of have to.”
“TARDISes?” she breathes, standing now. “There’s more than one?”
The Doctor hesitates and looks away, not quite sure how to answer. He is surprised — really and truly — when Rose beats him to it.
“I’m sorry,” she says quietly. “I... I didn’t mean to... I mean, course there must’ve been...”
She trails off, feeling more and more embarrassed. Here he is, letting her into his life, his home (so it seems), and she’s just gone and put her foot in it by reminding him of what he’s lost. He has only told her today, and already she is mucking things up.
“It’s all right, Rose,” he says softly, watching her carefully. “Yes. There were more TARDISes. Once upon a time. And just ‘cause there’s only one left doesn’t mean it’s any worse than the other, so don’t you go thinking you’ve been ripped off, all right?”
He grins and she relaxes, nodding and offering a smile. She wanders around the doors, peering down them but seeing just more corridors. She wonders something and frowns, turning back to the Doctor with a question on her face.
“Doctor, where’s your room?”
“You’re not sleeping there,” he smirks, wondering if he dares push it further. He gives her a look that tells him he can. “You’d keep me up all night.”
There are two ways this can go, he reckons. One, she can think him a pervert and run away terrified. Two, she can —
“You don’t know the half of it,” Rose winks, smirking right back at him.
Oh. Or she can... do that. Obviously, she’s one to rise to a challenge.
He grins a disarming smile, figuring if nothing else, he can enjoy her company. “Actually, I don’t sleep half as much as you do. Barely at all. Last time I went in my room... oh, I don’t know. Month or so ago? And that was only ‘cause I needed a temporal destabilisation transmitter from under the bed.”
“A temporal... from under the...” Rose takes a breath, then nods, more to herself than the Doctor. She wonders why he even has a temporal whatsit under his bed, but then decides she probably doesn’t want to know. “Right,” she says at last, lengthening the ‘i’.
She chooses a door eventually, and he takes her down to somewhere she feels drawn to. He smiles, then points to the next door along, telling her that that’s the garden. She looks at him sceptically, so he sighs and proves it to her. One thing leads to another, and he soon ends up showing him the better part of his entire ship. Five floors, one hundred and twelve corridors, more rooms than he can count. He doesn’t show them all, of course, because there is only so much one can do in a TARDIS and not get bored.
They wind up in the console room eventually, after Rose has grabbed a quick snack in the kitchen (and consequently tried to use his toaster as a microwave. Honestly, humans) and the Doctor has popped off to switch his jumper. He is a little surprised at how easy he finds it to leave her alone in his ship, trusting that she will be safe and happy.
She even manages to find him in the console room. He made his way there out of habit to start reading the latest diagnostics, and the next thing he knew, there Rose was, brandishing a small tube at him. He blinks and smiles at her, then notices she isn’t smiling.
“There a problem?”
“This, right — ” she waves it under his nose, and he focuses on it so closely it makes his crossed eyes hurt. “ — is the same shape as a hole in a drawer that won’t open, but, it doesn’t... work. Can’t open it, and I’m pretty sure it’s there you keep the cutlery. So what is this, some kind of weird key? How’s it work?”
His eyes flick back to hers and he hovers his finger above the cylindrical tube. He has to fight back the temptation to laugh, because she is just so innocent, so curious, and he enjoys having things to explain and someone to explain them to. And the fact that she has got it so beautifully wrong is a bonus he enjoys, too.
She nods and he plucks it from her, holding it loosely in his hand. He brings it up in front of her face, so that she can see exactly what he is doing. Then he reaches his second hand up and pops the top open, just like that.
Rose blinks. “That’s a — ”
“Travel toothbrush, yup,” he shrugs, chucking it back to her. Rose eyes it suspiciously, obviously surprised. It looks like the things she could get from the local co-op. Only... on a spaceship... she just hadn’t thought about it. Why would an alien have a travel toothbrush, anyway? Suppose he is travelling, she muses then, with a smile.
He turns back to his diagnostics for a moment then spots something and continues his work. “That drawer in the kitchen,” he explains idly, eyes on what he’s doing, “is a bit tough. Need to jiggle it just about right. I usually don’t bother.”
“Oh.” She frowns, fiddling with the toothbrush in her fingers. “What’s in there?”
“A rather large collection of tin openers.” The Doctor feels her eyes on him and, sure enough, she’s looking at him like he’s just produced a rubber chicken. He shrugs half heartedly. “It was a phase.”
Silence grows between them and Rose wanders over to the settee while the Doctor works. He feels a little uncomfortable at first, and a little subconscious — it has been a long time since anyone has watched him while he works. But he soon decides he rather likes it and, now and again, check up to see if Rose is looking. She almost always is.
He thinks it is strange how easy it somehow feels with her here. She makes noise, and he likes that. Well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say she has noise — the sort of noise that static is, or that old tape cassettes eventually pick up, or that grains old videos when they’ve been left on the shelf too long. She has a type of noise that both keeps his silence at bay and keeps the space around him simple and quiet, just perfect enough to think in.
It is nice, he finds, to have someone to explain things to again. Someone with so much naivety that he is scared he will taint it, because there is nothing more beautiful than curiosity without an agenda. The Doctor glances up, looking around the central column to check he has not — through some inexplicable means — imagined her. He hasn’t and she is sitting there, staring into space with a smile and a frown on her face at once, like she’s just been given a maths problem and a joke at once.
“So, how’s it feel?” he finds himself asking, and he’s not the only one who is surprised. Rose jumps and blinks, turns to him, and then all that’s left is the smile, all for him.
“What’s what feel?”
He grins and gestures absently to the corridor, his hand still around his sonic screwdriver. “Room of your own.”
“Oh. I dunno. It sort of... hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
“What, that you live here, y’mean?” he asks, saying it yet again with a wolfish grin and folding his arms. Somehow, those words are both wrong and right at the same time. Wrong because he doesn’t really live here, as such, only when he’s ill, tired, or has nothing better to do — generally he lives in the universe, lives on planets and with people that aren’t trapped in his dimension. Maybe with Rose it will change. Yet he can’t help but smile when he says the words, because it somehow feels right that he is not on his own, that there is another he has to think about now and has to take care of. He thought this would be a challenge, but it’s easier than he thought.
“Sort of, yeah,” she shrugs, rattling the toothbrush again. “I mean, you’ve just taken me forward to see something I never even thought or dreamed of. When you asked me to come with you, I sort of thought...” Rose trails off with the smallest of sighs, giving up.
The Doctor, who before may have let her get on with it, tightens his arms and shifts his balance, not wanting to let this go. There is something in her tone of voice that intrigues him.
“Sort of what?” he asks quietly, because she needs a prompt but he doesn’t want to break the silence of her noise.
Rose looks up, meets his eye, and something in her chestnut gaze wants to make him turn and bolt down the corridor very, very fast and lock himself in the library. Literature is, after all, always perfect for hiding in.
“I thought you’d... y’know...” She waves a hand towards the front doors, fingers in the air curling them around empty space. “Thought I’d get just the once, a preview, then back at home again to carry on with life.”
“This is your life now,” he counters in a tone so soft it makes the air around them shiver. He holds her gaze. “If you want it, it’s yours. I can take you anywhere you want to go; and it’s not just once. I don’t ask for once — I ask for life.” He pauses then, hovers his answer in the air and only continues because she seems not to be able to. “Is that all right?”
There is another pause, longer, thicker, but this one he cannot fill. He can only watch, see the thought on her face as her frown relaxes, see the temptation lure her in. He hopes she will not thwart his request a second time.
It is finally broken when she looks to him again, slightly unnerved that he has not taken his eyes off her and has been on the receiving end of a rather intense stare.
“I dunno. It’s a big decision.”
The Doctor nods, trying to understand. He will not push, instead smiles and leaves her to her thoughts. He will ask again in a few days’ time, because the last thing he wants is to coax her out of a life that will make her happy. Even if she is valiant enough to be a warrior.
He slips into his thoughts again as he works, only noticing the deafening silence when her noise seems to have dissipated. He looks up, knowing there has been quiet for for seven minutes and thirty seven seconds, and it makes him wonder, makes him wish she would say something just so he could hear sanctuary.
He blinks in shock at this thought. He has been alone too long.
Then his hands still on the intricate wires and settings he has been working with — Rose has fallen asleep. He’s both touched that she feels safe enough to fall asleep with him in the room and troubled that she trusts him so much. Mind, he saved her life today. The thought gives him a fleeting smile that holds in his mind. At least now they are even.
The Doctor crosses the room and squats beside her, fearful of waking her up. She cannot sleep in the control room, and yet there is something holding him back. He hesitates, a hand hovering over her cheek. He withdraws it in a moment, instead murmurs her name in little more than a whisper, part of him hoping she’ll stay asleep.
She jumps, her eyes open and alert, and raises a hand to wipe her dreams away.
“Doctor, wassamatta; where’re we goin’...” she mutters sleepily. Her mind is filled with the remnants of dreams like dregs in a teacup. There is a blinding heat, explosions, action and fears like she never experienced before. But at the back of it all, behind her web of intricacies, there’s a glimmer of comfort, and she has never felt quite so safe as this.
He grins, pushing back on his haunches and standing. She is not even ashamed she has fallen asleep, as some might be, and he likes that, too. “I’m staying here. You’re going off to bed,” he says very matter-of-factly.
Rose pulls herself into a sitting position and shakes her head. “No, I’m fine, just tell me where we’re — ”
“Nonsense,” he beams, not caring that he’s cut her off. “Rose, I can’t have you tired when we go off somewhere. You might fall asleep and then I’d have to carry you back here. And my back can do without that sort of strain, thank you very much.”
“Yeah, all right granddad,” she laughs in response, reaching her arms up to stretch in a somewhat feline-esque way. “Point made.”
He chuckles, then wanders back to his work as Rose shuffles to the door. She is still a little uncertain, but is pretty sure she can remember where the room she picked is. Still, some directions might be ni—
“Fourth corridor on the right,” the Doctor says without looking up. “Up the stairs, second door on the left then right at the fork. I’ll have the TARDIS direct you if you get lost.”
She turns sheepishly and thanks him. He hears a blush in her voice, but lets it go. It is strange for him, he will admit, but it must be stranger for her. He thinks her gone when there is silence, but then she startles him, again.
He starts, partly by her voice, partly by her words. He looks up and meets her eye, smiles as gently as he dares. It has been a long time since anyone has said those words to him.
“Good night, Rose,” he nods, his voice soft. She returns his smile then turns and pads away down the corridor.
He goes back to his work, keeping his mind busy, because this time he is fairly sure that the emptiness is better than thoughts. Mostly because it doesn’t feel quite so empty as it once did. And even then, when a few stray thoughts do break through and drift through his mind, only one of them is about Gallifrey. And about how Rose will never get to see it.
The rest serve as a warming reminder that there is someone who does not hate him, someone who smiles when she sees him, someone who trusts him with her life. And someone who he trusts with his.
He pauses from the controls again, suddenly staring into space. His face, usually animated and full of life, is oddly insipid. His trust, the thing that most would die for but never deign to accept, lies in the palm of a nineteen-year-old’s hand — and he hadn’t even noticed.
Back to index
Chapter 3: The Unquiet Dead
Author's Notes: She's only been with him three days and already he's getting confused about how he feels. Gwyneth is dead, but maybe he can make up for it. In some abstract way. When you wish upon a star...
Part The Third — The Unquiet Dead
“You all right?”
The question, soft as it is, breaks Rose out of her thoughtful enchantment. She blinks and nods, keeping her eyes on the yellow flames of the fire that burns and crackles in the grate.
“Yeah,” she answers, he voice betraying nothing of what is going on in her mind. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
A thick silence settles between them quickly and the Doctor shuffles forward, creeping down onto the sofa so he sinks into it, like it is trying to swallow him whole. He leans forward a little, peering to his shoes over the tops of his knees. He glances at Rose out of the corner of his eyes, sees her curled up on the sofa with her feet tucked under her. He doesn’t dare give her a proper look, so his gaze is soon back on his toes.
“I tried to save her,” he murmurs after a moment, and he is curious why he is explaining himself, again. Nobody else got explanations. Nobody else made him feel like he has to justify himself. Rose does, though, and he wonders about that, too. Then again, Rose is upset and he doesn’t want to see her subdued and quiet. He wants her back the way she was when she first ran into his ship, with that grin on her face.
Part of him knows why. But he ignores it.
Rose looks at him as the fire dances across his face, then slides a foot out from beneath her to poke him tenderly in the thigh. “I know. I’m not blaming you. ‘S not your fault.”
He tears his eyes away from his feet, finally meeting her gaze with empathy for her. He remembers how she feels, has felt it countless times before, and wishes he could feel it again, now, so that he can share it with her, take the burden from her shoulders and protect her. But the truth is, he has dealt with the death of innocents for far too long, and, much as he cares and tries to avoid it, it stops mattering so much.
This is a first for Rose. So he feels for her, instead.
“It’s not yours either,” he says meaningfully, looking at her in such a way that makes her think he is trying to see into her mind with just his gaze.
She sighs, gazing back into the fire again. He doesn’t take his eyes from her, isn’t really sure why he doesn’t get up and leave. Then again, she has been fantastic today, and leaving her on her own with guilt-ridden thoughts isn’t going to help either of them. He just wishes he knew what to say.
Rose fidgets on the seat, feeling his iron hot eyes burn into her. She does not like that he is so concentrated on her; it is a little unnerving. She keeps looking into the spiralling flames because looking at him right now isn’t that much of an option. She thought she was going to die today. That said, she has often thought she would die with the Doctor. But today is different, because they were together, and they would have died together. He is the last of his species, she remembers with a touch of sadness. His planet is gone, like the Earth, and for some reason, he can’t go back. His people are gone. She has no idea how that feels, can only imagine.
“Doctor?” she asks quietly. She catches a glimpse of him from the corner of her eye and knows he is waiting for her to continue, that she has his full attention. Rose pauses a moment, wondering if asking would be too much. She hopes not. “How... How many people died in the War?”
He takes in a sharp breath that is almost a gasp, but it is let out in a sigh. Shaking his head, he gazes to the floor as he ponders.
“Far too many,” he offers at last, and there is the sort of pain in his voice that implies more than he is saying. Rose doesn’t push it, though. She can sense how difficult this must be for him, especially if he believes himself to be alone.
She drums her fingers absently on her thigh, remembering how tightly he had held on in that basement. It is nice to feel so needed for a change, rather than just... there. For convenience. He wants her, she realises with a little shock. He wants her with him. Her. Not Mickey. Not Gwyneth — and how much of a brave heart had she had? Not anyone else.
“Rose,” the Doctor requests quietly, and she jumps from her thoughts with a curious frown on her face. He has never said her name quite like that before, his tone lowered, his voice almost pleading. She meets his eye and he juts his chin out slightly. When he speaks again, his voice is the quietest she has ever heard it before. “Don’t be afraid to talk to me.”
She is thinking the same thing of him, but feels they are not quite at the right time, yet, for her to say so. Instead, she shakes her head. “I’m not afraid of you.”
This he knows already — today is proof enough. She stood up to him where no one else would, and though he snapped at her with words he wishes he hadn’t said, she had bickered with him because she believed her way, and he believed his, and just because they had a difference of opinion didn’t make her any more or less wrong than him.
He doesn’t force her, however. He was not really sure how to offer in the first place, and now that he has, it is up to her whether she accepts his invitation. He wishes there was someone else she could talk to, but as there’s no one, he would rather it were him than for her to suffer in silence. Choosing not to say anything of his thoughts, he just dips his head into a nod.
He really does think he should leave now, because staying might mean complications on both sides. So he slides a hand along the sofa then climbs to his feet, feeling every muscle and bone in his body stretch and twinge with the movement. He is getting old, he considers with a wry smile.
The Doctor has not gone more than half a step when Rose’s voice makes him turn on his heel to look back to her.
“Doctor, will they...?” She bites back her question and shakes her head, curling her hands defensively into her stomach. A moment’s silence passes, just the crack and snap of the fire darting through the atmosphere. “...Never mind,” she finishes at last. She isn’t even looking at him.
He takes the lining of his pocket, twiddling it between his fingertips. “Tell me,” he pleads softly, and it is mid way between a question and a request.
She takes in an audible breath through her teeth then braves a look to meet his eye. He fights the urge to recoil, instead simply raising both of his eyebrows when he sees her eyes are damp with uncried tears. He wants to think it is just an illusion from the fire, but he isn’t so sure.
“Will they ever remember her? I mean, she was... just a servant girl to the outside world. And... no one’s gonna know what she did. Are they?”
The Doctor blinks gently for a moment or two, his face unreadable, his eyes a mask. There are so many answers he can give, but he isn’t sure which would be adequate and which he may as well throw out of the window. After what feels like far too long comfort, especially as he has just been stood there looking at her, he stretches out his arm towards her. The fingers of his hand are curled downwards, ever so slightly, but the invitation is just as effectual.
“Come with me.”
They are on the bottom floor of the TARDIS, one of the old style sitting rooms, so he leads her up the stairs. They reach the third floor in silence, then the Doctor guides Rose ahead of him, his hand resting in the small of her back while he directs her down the corridor. They take the middle door, make two lefts, then head up another flight of stairs before he reaches where he wants to be.
They are in an observatory. A large telescope sits in the middle of the room, its eye peering out of a glass-domed roof to a night sky above. Stars twinkle down, some brighter than others, and a large moon bathes the room in white water. The Doctor gives Rose a gentle smile, then wanders over to the telescope, leaving her at the door. He looks a little like a ghost, in his slow movements and the eerie light, but she cannot stop watching him all the same because his actions are so precise is it fascinating.
He pulls a small box out from the base of the desk, and when he places it on the surface next to the telescope, something that sounds like marbles rattles inside it. He peers at it for a moment or two, then straightens and beckons Rose over to him. She steps slowly and he moves aside, showing her what’s in the box.
She wasn’t far wrong thinking it was a lot of marbles. It is pretty much all she can see, yet they seem to shimmer slightly in the moonlight.
“One of those,” the Doctor explains in hushed tones, his eyes darting from the box to her, then back, “will have more of an effect on you than the others. It’ll be the one you pick up, the one you’re drawn to. If the right one isn’t in that box, tell me; I’ve got lots of them.”
“What are they?” she asks, eyes twinkling with a taste of sadness.
Looking back to the box, her fingers hover above it as the marbles shine out at her. There is one she can see, just off right from the centre, that has the vaguest of pinky tints down its middle, like it has been bruised. She plucks it from the box and places it in the Doctor’s outstretched palm.
He grins because he feels he can, then dashes over to the telescope. Balancing the marble between his thumb and forefinger, he slips it into a small holder, like a barrel for a gun. Then he looks up and meets Rose’s eye, giving her a reassuring smile.
“Gwyneth, yeah?” he asks, just to be sure, although he already knows.
Rose nods, looking vaguely surprised, and he pushes a button under his thumb. Just a simple button is all it takes and there is a great whooshing sound and a light ‘thunk’. Then silence. The Doctor bounces on his feet before peering through the eye-hole like an excited child.
“Ah, yup, gotcha. Rose, you should come look at this.”
She obeys, and again he moves so that she can see. She bends down, closes one eye and looks through the tube, just as the Doctor tells her to. She sees a bright star, a pink haze around its edge, shining brightly and new in the night sky.
“That’s Gwyneth,” a voice murmurs in her ear and she all but jumps with surprise. Straightening, her entire face lights up.
“Gwyneth from Cardiff?” she asks hopefully.
“Well,” the Doctor shrugs. “More like ‘Gwyneth, Saviour of Angels’, but yeah. This machine here — ” he pats the telescope with the same affection he does with the rest of his ship “ — is an existential part of the TARDIS. It connects to time and space in a different way, lets me put stars in the sky. If you name them, such as you have done, you can stick them anywhere, anywhen you want and everyone who sees it and questions its name will just know. Don’t go thinking I’ve nabbed a piece of her soul, or anything as corny as that.” He pulls a face, to which Rose giggles. “It’s just a star.”
Then she subsides, looking to the large, bulky telescope in awe.
“So we’ve basically named a star after her?”
“Made a star,” he corrects, good-naturedly. “A star that will always have that name and can be seen from... hold on a mo.” He checks there coordinates of the telescope, then looks up to Rose with a grin in his eyes. “What d’you know? That can be seen from anywhere on Earth, and a couple of other planets in your solar system too. She’ll go down in history, she will. Technically already has.”
Rose smiles shyly to him, reaching up and tucking some stray hair behind her ear. “Thank you, Doctor.”
“Don’t thank me,” he counters, though he is smiling, and his demeanour obviously says that he is proud she is pleased. “Thank Gwyneth. She’s the one who saved us all. If you want, we can make up a whole constellation in memory, when the time comes. A collection of people who’ve given their lives for the Earth. Sound good?”
She knows he is trying to make her feel better for the casualty of an innocent, for the casualties that are yet to come. There will be more who do not deserve it, but who will die because they have to. The Doctor can’t save everyone, she realises, and she is lucky he is trying at all. He could up and leave, ignore the problems of the world. But he doesn’t. He just can’t help but help.
Rose suddenly finds herself thinking of Mickey, and consequently, of her Mum. She never said goodbye, she realises with horror. She just... left. And they could be worried sick. Never mind about the super phone the Doctor has managed for her, though she will be forever touched by his gesture: after the realisation that a girl not much older than herself has just died without warning, she feels guilty and a little homesick without her Mum’s hug for comfort.
The Doctor did ask her to talk to him. Perhaps she should take him up on it.
They are wandering back down the stairs when she asks, and he stops so suddenly in front of her that she almost walks right into him.
“Doctor, can you take me home?”
“Oh.” He turns to look over his shoulder at her, his face pulled into something she cannot read. In the darkness of the corridor, he looks even more like a spectre than he did in the observatory. She shivers slightly at the memory of the Gelth, their ghostly faces still clear in her mind like a fresh wound.
“Okay,” the Doctor says somewhat stiffly, hiding his disappointment well. He remembers the words he spoke to her in Cardiff, words that slipped out of his mouth by accident. It’s a different morality. Get used to it, or go home. All right, so he had wanted to make a point — their morals were different and it mattered. But he doesn’t want her to leave, not in the slightest.
It is force of habit, offering a ludicrous ultimatum like that, to prove something rather than anything else. And now look where it’s got him.
They hit the second floor of the TARDIS and begin the walk to the console room. He walks a little in front of her, not quite being able to look her in the eye yet.
“Er...” he begins awkwardly after a cough, casting her a cursory glance. “Do you want to go... now?”
Rose shrugs and sighs. “Whenever, I guess. ‘S not urgent. Just want to pop by, make sure Mum’s all right, pick up some stuff. We can go any time, yeah?” she grins to him now, and a realisation dawns on him that makes him stop in his tracks. It is not only the realisation that he got it wrong, and that Rose doesn’t want to leave — it is something else.
He is lucky they have reached the console room by this point.
His first assumption had been that she had wanted to leave and that it was his fault for telling her to. And his first reaction had been like he was winded both in the stomach and chest at the same time. This is quickly replaced by the dread of being on his own again, for not having her around to keep the lights in the hall bright, for reaching for someone’s hand to hold and finding just empty space.
Rose, oblivious to all of this, bids him a momentary farewell as she makes her way to the kitchen. The Doctor is left in stunned silence once again. He has become dependant on her. So much so that the thought of life without her would be like living without colour in his vision. He remembers how he felt in that morgue, clinging onto her hand like he was clinging on to life. He could have died today. He can always die, but today is different. Today Rose was with him, would have been with him in his final moment, and she didn’t even care. She just wanted to be together.
Is this it, then? Is this what having a companion is supposed to feel like? Because he has never felt quite like this before, and he hardly wants to go diminishing the meaning of everyone else he’s had in his life. Which means that there must be something about Rose that has changed him. She can be so child-like at times, yet at others, she can seem so old it makes him feel like he is young again. Makes him feel like the universe’s sins aren’t his alone to bear. There is wisdom and age in her eyes, and it scares him, just a little bit.
He shudders, even at the thought. And he vows, silently to himself, that he will never let her know about this power she seemingly has on him.
If he ignores it, maybe it will go away anyway.
Back to index
Chapter 4: Aliens of London
Author's Notes: Yup, I even managed to put in a little piece here, despite it being a run-on two parter. Isn't it fun to see inside people's heads? :)
Part the Fourth — Aliens of London
Pain. There is pain, and light, and it hurts so much. His muscles and cells are straining for freedom, fighting to hold on to life even as it slips away from him. He sinks to his knees but is barely aware of it. He can feel the tingle of regeneration on the outskirts of his mind, feel his body begin to prepare itself for the inevitable. He has been electrocuted before and, much as it hurts, he will live through it. It might be a bit of a shock to Rose, though. Will he have more hair this time? he wonders. Will Rose like him with hair? Then he wonders why he is thinking of hair, of all things, at a time like this.
The pain spreads through him like a disease, and soon he cannot think coherently any more, can just feel as the pain intensifies. He holds back a scream, eyes screwed shut so tightly he can see stars, but it escapes in anguish.
He has been so stupid. Of course it was a trap. Of course he shouldn’t have left Rose. Of course he’s going to die. Thoughts whir and beat around his head, chasing each other like some insatiable child. He isn’t aware of his surroundings, just of how he feels and how much he is going to regret. Five days he’s known Rose. Not enough for anyone. Forever wouldn’t be long enough to know her, he amends, but the fact that he’s not even going to get the chance to try hurts that little bit more. And he’s fairly sure this pain is nothing to do with the electricity shooting through his blood.
Rose won’t understand, he thinks. He will change and she won’t understand. He’ll be someone else, his tenth body already, and he’s only just getting to know her. What if it makes her leave? What if she doesn’t trust him? Why can’t he just hold on? Oh, the irony of the situation. Just days ago, he would have welcomed death, welcomed regeneration. Now a human ape has changed his outlook, because if he changes, she leaves, and suddenly, life will be so very empty. Lost Gallifrey. Lost Rose. The next thing you know, he’ll have lost his TARDIS, and then everything he ever believed in will have turned his back on him and laughed.
One thought rushes to him, and even though his muscles are contracting severely as he tries to fight, he can still hear it.
He never got to say goodbye.
He won’t be able to prepare her. She’s seeing someone being murdered right before her eyes, the first time she’s seen it, and he isn’t there to tell her it’s all right. She’s just standing, waiting for death to turn on her. She’s so scared, so terrified that she’s going to die, and the only thing she can think and hope is that the Doctor is safe and will make it out alive. That he’ll remember her.
Oh, God, Rose is in her last seconds and she’s thinking of him. He cannot comment on that too much, he supposes, but he curses the fact that being so close to regeneration has seemingly upped his psychic connection to her. He curses that he can feel her pain, hear her thoughts, see what she sees through closed eyes.
There’s a woman with her who is also terrified out of her mind. She thinks of her mother. Rose thinks of him. Why, why, is that fair?
His teeth bare in pain as another spike shoots through him. It is too much...
He won’t leave. He can’t leave.
Can’t die like this. Can’t leave Rose with a million questions that he may or may not answer. Can’t leave her in this mess. He has to fight, has to draw his strength, has to make sure she survives. Regeneration can have nasty effects. He may not remember. He may collapse and be out cold for hours. He may not even like her, though he’s fairly sure that whatever regeneration does to him, it won’t keep him from caring about her. But he won’t leave. Won’t regenerate. Not today.
He. Won’t. Do. That. To. Her.
With unbelievable strength he wouldn’t have thought was capable, the Doctor feels his hand snap to his chest, feels his fingers close around the hot plastic. It burns him, but he does not care. He wrenches it from his neck, the combined strength of he and Rose flowing through him. The chain snaps. He is free. His feet push against the floor; he feels every muscle in his body work to get him upright, feels them fight against each other like suddenly there is a war within him. There’s terror in Rose and he uses her fear, her prayers that he’s alive, feeds off them and fights to his feet. He hurts, but he’s alive. The throb of regeneration begins to dwindle.
He stands proud — eyes blazing with rage and victory — panting. Sweat glistens on his forehead, soaks his clothes from his effort and exhilaration. But he does not care. He feels glowing as the pain abates, feels more alive than he has felt in a long time. He has fought to hold on and he has survived. Is this what it feels like to be victorious? To win? Determination washes through him as his thoughts return, and anger blazes his hearts on fire. He is a living fury. He grips the ID card in his hand, hard, and it shoots electricity along his arm as sparks fly into the air around him. He barely feels it now, because he’s empowered by something more. Hate. Triumph. Passion.
He looks to the Slitheen with vehement anger, murder in his eyes, because how dare they try and take him from this world, this world that he has only just realised is so beautiful. They have tried and they have failed, and now they need to pay the price.
“Deadly to humans, maybe,” he spits with venom, then launches the device and plunges it into the throat of the nearest one.
Such is death.
Rose watches and there’s nothing she can do. A man is dying, right in front of her eyes, and all she can do is just stand and speculate, like she’s at the zoo. Sickness rises and she has a hard time keeping it down. She’s never seen someone die before, not like this, and this seems such an unnatural way for it to happen that she almost can’t believe it. He’s having the life crushed out of him, and then there’ll be just an empty shell where work and sleep and food once were. Perhaps the Doctor is right.
Harriet is terrified, and so is she. She’ll be next. She’s going to die here, and it isn’t somewhere alien. It’s not another planet, or another time, or place she’s never been before. It’s Ten Downing Street, in London, in 2006. It’s almost home. And she’s still going to die.
It doesn’t seem to matter, though, because ever since meeting the Doctor, she’s known she isn’t going to have a peaceful death. She’s not going to live until she’s eighty-nine and have grandkids that she spoils. She’s never going to be normal again. And she loves it. She can die, right here and now, when that alien turns on them, and she’ll be happier now than she ever was or would have been in the real world. The normal world.
And it’s all thanks to the Doctor, for showing her this life, for making it safe for her, for making her want it.
She smiles a little, even if only a bit. She’s going to fight if that thing comes near her. She’s not going to just stand and scream. Not since meeting the Doctor. She has strength, his strength, and she has courage — she can fight if she tries. Even if she knows it will be fruitless, because that man has just been killed and he’s just as capable as her.
At the very least, she hopes the Doctor will be safe. Hopes with all her heart, because he is so good for this world, and if there’s one thing she believes, it is that he’ll survive. He always does. Maybe he’ll remember her, because no matter what happens, she’ll always remember him. Maybe he’ll finally find the happiness she knows he’s looking for. Maybe he’ll keep fighting to save the Earth, because he seems rather fond of her race.
Right, that alien wants a fight? Bring it on. ‘Cause she’s got courage and she’s not afraid to use it. She smiles again, remembering what the Doctor once said when they were sat chatting in the TARDIS. The world had better watch out, y’know; it’s got a warrior on its hands. ‘Cause she’s got courage, this Rose Tyler, and nothing’s gonna stop her. So be it.
And then the alien drops the dead body and screams, clutching its throat like it’s being strangled. Bright blue sparks of electricity shoot through it and it is rendered helpless in pain. Rose stares in horror and awe for a moment then, without even thinking about what she’s doing or where she’s going to go, grabs Harriet and runs with her out of the room.
Such is life.
Back to index
Chapter 5: World War Three
Author's Notes: Analysing when they fall for each other is one of the hardest things I think I've ever done. I'm not even sure if I've cracked it right. Hmm...
Part the Fifth — World War Three
He surprises her when he isn’t in the console room, where he said he would be. She blinks into the empty room, peering around the corner to check that he isn’t just hiding there. There is no sign. With a shrug, Rose heads back down the corridor, following where the path leads her. She has become used to the TARDIS leading her now, her feet somehow knowing where they’re going, even if she has never been there before.
She barely even concentrates on where she is, instead peering anxiously around for him. He has always been around usually, and to think that he might be lost in this ship where she can’t find him — well, that’s almost as bad as being on a vicious alien planet.
She stops in a doorway when she spots him, standing tensed next to a desk as he leafs hurriedly through a book. There are piles of them everywhere, large masses strewn over the tables, papers spilling out of them. Still, the shelves are full to bursting, so perhaps he has a valid excuse for keeping the library in such a state. There are some books bigger than her, and Rose has to wonder what type of alien would write that large. Then again, maybe they are the equivalents of giants. The thought stills her.
He casts her a brief look over his shoulder, but barely registers she is there, gaze intense on the book beneath him again in mere seconds. Frustrated anger that he doesn’t deserve beats through his blood and he sighs, bowing his head for a moment in silent defeat. He has done it again. Manipulated her. And she doesn’t even know it. After today, after all the things he’s said and done, all the people he has put up with and the accusations he has taken, there really is only one reason for it, and it’s that reason that made him do what he did. He is so very cruel he hates himself a little bit. Just that little bit more, and that hurts, because she can do that to him. Make him do it to himself. Of all the things today that he regrets doing and saying, it’s that that haunts him the most. Those stupid words. That telephone call.
He lets out a frustrated noise and slams the cover closed, darting to a pile of books to his right and ripping one out at random. His movement is strong and the pile goes flying, clattering down over the table and onto the floor and spreading papers everywhere.
Rose arches an eyebrow, especially when he growls again and stoops to pick them up.
She folds her arms. “I’m surprised you can find anything in here,” she points out, before sidling over and crouching to help him.
He doesn’t quite look at her when he answers, a little brusquely, “I manage.”
“I could try and alphabetise,” she teases with a smile, knowing that that is precisely what he doesn’t want. He doesn’t step up to it in quite the way she expects him to and she stands, shocked, as he reaches for the large leather-bound book in her hands and looks her right in the eye.
“You can leave your domestics outside, thanks,” he answers, no humour in his voice whatsoever. He yanks the book from her. “And careful with these; they’re valuable.”
He turns away, his back to her, piling them up again. Her eyes are fixed on his shoulders.
“What?” He puts the book down on the table and, perhaps because of its weight, the noise it makes is almost thunderous. Rose looks at the Doctor, astounded. He is guarded, almost angry, yet there is no reason she can see for it happening.
His hand lingers on the table, his knuckles turning white as he grips the corner in his palm. He turns and stares at Rose, his mouth thinned and his face contorted into an unreadable expression. She has seen it only a few times, knows that he is either angry or upset. Or both.
“Do you...?” she starts a little fearfully, because she does not want to offend him more. He folds his arms and looks at her with slightly raised eyebrows, as if she is the source of his irritation. She frowns a little, but lets it go and pushes on. “D’you want me to go?”
He sighs and looks away, down to the books beside him. Truth be told, he doesn’t what he wants. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing here. Working on the TARDIS had proved fruitless and irritating, especially since she kept flashing pictures in his mind of things he didn’t want to be shown. Not then. Not ever. The library seemed the best bet after that, purely because it holds every book that has ever been published — to his knowledge — and surely there must be something in here to quench his thirst.
But everything he picked up bored him, and he soon became frustrated. No piece of literature quite covers what he wants to read, and he only looks because if he doesn’t, he will be left with thoughts and memories that he can not — will not — have.
He is aware that he hasn’t answered, that she’s watching him expectantly. She expects him to say no? The look on her face certainly makes him think so. Perhaps he is being too blunt with her; this is not her fault, after all. Well, not directly.
The Doctor sighs and shakes his head, unfolding his arms and walking past her.
“You can do what you like,” he offers instead, only looking at her through the corner of his eye.
“Well yeah, I know,” Rose shrugs, following him as he walks out of the room ahead of her. He turns on his heel suddenly, looking her right in the eye. She stops, a little taken aback at what she sees. He’s hurting, somewhere deep, and though she only sees it across his face for a second, it is enough. The rest of her sentence hangs in the air as he gazes at her.
“So do,” he finishes, and this is soft, quiet, almost a plea.
Part of her believes this is her cue to go, to leave him to it, to come and find him in an hour so when he’s calmed down from whatever it is that’s bothering him. Another, more stubborn part, just wants to help. It’s this part that drives her to follow him when he turns again, trotting along the hall and down the stairs like everything is perfectly normal. In fact, aware that she is behind him like a sheep to a shepherd, that’s exactly what he pretends.
“So, where d’you want to go next? There’s this wonderful chippy on the edge of St. Galestasia — does this sauce, right, that makes you think you’re walking on air. Bit illegal, come to think of it, but still a hell of a lau— ”
“ — Doctor.”
She has followed him all the way down the steps, her feet thudding heavily on the grated metal as they descended. They are in the same room she retreated to after Gwyneth’s death, the same roaring fire, the same lush carpet, the same rugs on the wall that make the entire room look like it’s made of fabric.
He turns and looks to her, all smiles and twinkles, the warmth of the fire reflected in his smile. Rose stands at the bottom of the stairs falteringly, because though he seems like the Doctor he usually is, she knows that there’s something he isn’t telling her. Oh, there’s lots that he doesn’t tell her, that he keeps to himself — she’s not daft enough to believe that he’ll ever let her in to that. But the fact that he has let his guard down, even for just a second, shows that there is some heavy weight on his heart that is a burden a little too much than he can bear.
Just a little.
He looks at her expectantly, the smile on his face more of a lie than when he said he wouldn’t go looking at that spaceship that crashed into the Thames.
Rose walks towards him slowly, bravely, as she would a lion that isn’t sure whether to trust her. She keeps her eyes on his and with every step she takes, she can see his smile begin to fade. By the time she stands in front of him, it has completely gone and he is just standing there, staring at her, eyes slightly wider than usual, face completely drawn into solemnity.
She swallows, takes his hand. He lets her, hides the breath that has just caught in his chest by letting it out of his nose. She doesn’t notice, instead feeling the warmth of his palm with hers and leading him to the sofa. He doesn’t want to be here, doesn’t want this closeness with her to continue. He cannot allow this, yet somehow, can’t stop himself.
They sit so close together on the sofa it almost kills him not to close the final gap. He gazes at Rose softly, quietly, instead leaving this all up to her. She cannot know what goes on in his head, no matter how close they are.
He has always been close to humans. He blames his father for that, willingly — his father was weak. He had let go of everything that was important, sacrificing what was right and good by law to continue with his daft old life in his daft old ways. He had left, eventually, and his mother had been heartbroken.
The Doctor’s gaze relaxes slightly, unfocuses, and in the dancing light of the flames, if he tilts his head, he wonders Rose looks a little bit like her. He cannot remember much about his mother, only that she was one of the most beautiful women he can remember seeing and that she died when he was young.
They’re all dead now, he supposes, so perhaps it doesn’t matter. Still, even with nothing but the memory locked in his head, what is there to stop him from turning into his father’s son? Something inside him has already begun, and it’s gone so far, he’s not sure he can stop. It was bound to happen, sooner or later — all the time he spends on Earth, interacting with the people, getting close to them, needing them, using them. It’s just... he looks at Rose helplessly, hides his feelings from his face... why does it have to be her? Why is she one of the few people who can look at him like that, completely honestly and openly, and not fear him judging her?
He is superior. He knows he is — sees things, hears things, feels things that she and all the others cannot. Most he has travelled with have known it. They have even accepted it, been astounded by it, even feared it. But never questioned it. He is the Doctor, and he just is, no questions asked.
Or he was; until he met Rose. Now he is changing, can feel it even in this second. Can feel his blood mutate as it hurtles faster and faster around his body, can sense a change in himself, in the way he moves, thinks, breathes. And the reason? Oh, the reason; so many, many reasons.
They all involve Rose. And they’re all four letters long.
“Doctor,” she murmurs quietly, her lips caressing his name in such a sweet, soft tone that he thinks the word was made for only her to forge. He shivers slightly.
Then he blinks and tightens his hand instead of answering, because he feels so lost in thought that bringing himself out of the reverie is somehow more dangerous than sitting here and letting her words wash over him. She has probably come to ask him about Mickey, he reflects. She seemed a little hurt by that when they first came in again, but has said nothing about it. Perhaps this is it. He braces inwardly, preparing to protects the man’s name — well, as much as is tolerable. He proved himself, after all, and he does not want to diminish the hero he is in Rose’s eyes any more than he wants to take the stars from the sky, because it makes her happy and if she’s happy, he doesn’t have to think about her.
Except that he’ll think about her anyway, but it is better to think of her happy than hurt.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to me.”
The words snap him out of his daze and he is suddenly back again, blinking and slipping his hand reluctantly from hers.
He nods, just the once, and gives a small smile. “Okay.”
Rose gives him a disbelieving frown. Well, he can hardly blame her — it is a fairly appalling lie.
“Doctor, I mean it.” She is leaning over before he quite registers, and then her hand is on his knee, a light pressure, but definitely there and he is sure it definitely meaning something that he does not want it to mean. He looks to her, almost desperately; yet he sees nothing but worry and compassion in her eyes. She just wants to help, he realises with a touch of his own curiosity. She sees him hurting — though how, even he isn’t sure — and wants him to talk to her so that she knows why it is he feels this way.
Still, he can’t help noticing that her palm fits his knee perfectly, he fingers curling around his kneecap, her thumb and little finger framing the touch.
Silence hovers between them as Rose hesitates, their gazes locked as one but thoughts still free to roam like a wearied traveller.
She takes her breath then says what has been on her mind ever since they stepped back onto this ship.
“You saved my world, today.”
He goes to speak, but she stops him, hurrying on slightly embarrassedly, blaming the blush in her cheeks on the heat from the fire. “No, really. I mean, that was my family back there. My life. Everyone I cared enough about to get up in the morning and live for. They’d all’ve died, but you couldn’t let that happen. You’d have been willing to die to save them, no questions asked.”
He gives a laugh through his nose that is more contemplative than anything else, turning to gaze distantly into the fire.
“Maybe,” he shrugs, though he knows the answer will always be more than just ‘maybe’. “It wasn’t just your family, Rose,” he says quietly, because at the very least, he can be honest with her. He turns back, gazing at her gently in the dancing light. “The whole world would have gone, blown to smithereens. Your world, like you said. I wasn’t thinking about your family when I told Mickey to hit that button.”
She looks at him, holding his gaze a moment, before answering in a very quiet voice, “Neither was I.”
It shocks him so much for a minute that he just sits there, looking at her. She has a window to continue on, cough nervously, slide her hand from his knee — only for it to be caught again when he puts his palm over her knuckles. Rose stares at him with as much honesty as she dares, then looks down the crack between the cushions of the sofa. “What — what you did...” Her voice is faltering now and the Doctor tilts his head sympathetically, wants to say something to comfort her but knows he cannot interrupt. He squeezes her hand meaningfully. She gains the courage to look up again, her face nothing but a canvas of sincerity. She dips her her slightly, meeting his lowered gaze. “It was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen.”
He smiles at her, the sort of smile that is almost a grin but shows no teeth. He is proud of her, and he strokes the back of her hand affectionately with his thumb because she deserves to know. “I wasn’t the only one in that room, Rose.”
She gives a teasing shrug, an over exaggerated sigh. “Yeah, I s’pose Harriet deserves some of the credit, too.”
“Oi,” he chides, smirking and grinning all at once. “Don’t do that. ‘Sides, it wasn’t her idea to hide in that cupboard, was it? We’d all be dead if it wasn’t for that. I think I’ll remember it.”
“What, almost get a girl blown up then steal her idea and take all the credit? Yeah, you’re a real gentleman.”
His grin matches hers and they make to stand at the same time. “D’you think?”
She rolls her eyes, then grabs his hand playfully and yanks him behind her, up the stairs. He groans with feigned irritation, but they both soon laugh by the time they reach the third flight, neither of them quite sure why.
“Come on then, gentleman, come and help me make some dinner.”
The blood on in his face pales considerably, and now Rose has a reason to laugh, she uses it. “Calm down, calm down,” she scoffs teasingly as they round a corner going yet deeper into the TARDIS. “No domestics, all right? You can just sit and watch, make sure the drawers don’t try to eat me like they did last time.”
“Well, you did something wrong then, didn’t you?” he laughs.
“I only tried to make a piece of toast!” Rose protests, her voice a little on shrill as she yanks open the cutlery drawer.
“Rose, how many times do I have to tell you that’s not the toaster?”
“I don’t care. I don’t trust your kitchen.”
“Don’t — don’t trust my kitchen?” He stands, mortified, his grin hidden by an over acted gasp. “Well, I never; and she has the nerve to be calling me cheeky!”
“Who are you talking to?”
A pause, in which the Doctor shakes his head laughingly.
“Not you, obviously.”
“Why not? Scared?”
“Me? Scared? Oh, Rose Tyler, you have no idea what you’re letting yourself in fo— Oi! You stay away from me with that spatula!”
Their bickering, teasing banter fades through the corridors of the TARDIS, laughter that’s nothing but happiness: a welcome sound between the once dreary walls. As the ship hurtles through the vortex of time, hanging omnisciently in the atmosphere of everywhere, there are two people who each believe they have found the best company in the world.
Back to index
Chapter 6: DalekPart the Sixth — Dalek
“Oh my God; please tell me that’s just a toaster.”
Adam’s voice echoes down the corridor of the TARDIS, faint and awed as he explores the kitchen. The Doctor and Rose share a smirk before she sighs, reaching a hand to tuck some hair behind her ear.
“So... know where we’re going next?” she asks casually, though the question is heavily weighted with something the Doctor can’t work out and he raises an eyebrow.
“Don’t you think we should let him get a bit settled in, first?” he responds, jerking his head half-heartedly towards the door. “Going somewhere straight away can be a little bit much.”
Rose gives him a look, somewhere between fascination and amusement. Her tongue slides to the corner of her mouth, just visible between her open jaw. The Doctor, who has seen this look many times before, simply looks to her expectantly. “You didn’t give me time to settle in,” she says in a voice that is teasing, and he gives a cursory smile, before shrugging and gazing up the central column of the TARDIS.
“You didn’t need it,” he replies, almost like he’s talking to his ship rather than Rose.
She folds her arms. “Why not?”
“Some are better at this than others. Born with natural talent.”
“Like art?” Rose asks hopefully. The Doctor casts his eyes down to hers again, grinning.
“Sort of, yeah. Only with less people telling you you’re wrong all the time.”
They share a small chuckle before she lets out a happy sigh and gazes at the controls distantly. The Doctor, feeling the conversation very much over, wanders slightly, sliding his hand over a lever here, a button there. His smile fades quickly and he is soon thrown into the darkness of his mind again, thoughts almost overwhelming him in their magnitude. There has been so much wrong with where they’ve just come from... so much... like, for example, why his ship didn’t recognise the call of a Dalek. She’s not stupid, she’s seen them before.
“I was never much good at art.” Rose’s voice breaks through his thoughts, and part of him is glad, because he does not want to disappear into his mind again, not for a long while.
“Me neither,” he says, grinning and meeting her eye. It isn’t a grin he can feel, but she doesn’t know that. At least, he hopes she doesn’t — these days, he isn’t so sure. She seems to be getting better and better at reading him. Or perhaps he is getting worse and worse at lying to her. Perhaps it’s both.
“Yeah, if your drawing’s anything like your driving skills, a three-year-old could probably do better than you!”
He gives her a mock incredulous look and takes up her unsaid challenge before she’s even aware what she has meant. “Oi, you want to be careful.” He waves a finger at her warningly, but there is a smile in his eyes, and this time, he might just mean it. “Otherwise we’ll ‘canoodle’ or ‘spoon’, or whatever it is you — ” The Doctor pauses just a second, considering the word and enjoying the look on Rose’s face “ — humans do.”
“Well,” she shrugs, drawing out the word over the sigh. She smirks, almost smiles, and raises an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t say no.”
He shoots her a devilish grin. “I bet.” Then there is a loud crash from the corridor and both wince. Adam’s voice becomes a couple of pitches higher and then there is another bang.
The Doctor laughs while Rose gazes down the corridor with interest. “Go on,” he chuckles, gesturing with his hand and head. “Go check on your boyfriend; make sure he’s not using the tin opener for a hairdryer, or something.”
She gives him a look that’s not quite offended, not quite humorous, and the Doctor is momentarily caught off guard.
“He’s not my boyfriend.”
The Doctor, sceptical and interested, folds his arms tightly across his chest and raises an eyebrow.
Rose looks to him pleadingly. “He’s not!” she assures, with every air of a woman who is planning on making him just that. The Doctor sighs quietly — humans. They make even the simplest things so complicated.
She begins to make her way towards the door, then stops and turns, hovering slightly. The Doctor meets her gaze expectantly.
“You... you’re all right, aren’t you? I mean — you’d say? If you weren’t?”
He grins. “Yeah. Yeah, I am. I’m fantastic, and I mean that.”
She echoes his smile then nods and walks away, trundling off down the corridor to check on Adam. The Doctor’s smile fades in time with her receding footsteps. By the time she has disappeared, he is staring after the empty doorway with a face created from thunder.
Rose and Adam sit at the breakfast counter. She has made him tea, but he hasn’t touched it. He stares despondently at the wall, before something behind the bread-bin fires sparks everywhere, and suddenly, it’s not so comforting. He sighs, shaking his head. Rose looks at him sympathetically, remembering — or at least trying to — how she felt when she first came aboard the TARDIS. But in all honesty, strange as it was, she loved every bit of it. It was something in life she had always been waiting for but never really got to experience. And it feels like this has always been a part of her life.
“How d’you get used to it?” Adam asks suddenly.
She gives him a small smile. “I dunno. I just sort of... did. Like, this was my life now, and that was it. Don’t really think about it much.” She laughs, though it is a little hollow. “Don’t get the time.”
“No...” He gazes down to his tea, growing steadily colder as time passes. Then he glances up again, and he looks more tired than Rose has seen anyone to look in a very long time. More so than the Doctor, even, who has been around for a good couple of centuries. She smiles to herself — it’s still a bit weird, getting used to that. “So, spaceship, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Rose grins, pleased to have the chance to talk to someone who this isn’t normal for, partly to share, partly to pretend like she knows an awful lot more than she does. “It’s a bit weird, but you’ll get used to it.”
Adam smiles at her warmly and nods his head. “With you around, I think so.” They smile at each other, before he lets out a contemplative sigh. “Just... promise me you won’t leave me alone with him, okay?”
He is only half joking.
“You’ll have to get used to him sometime. The Doctor’s not that bad.”
“Try saying that when you’ve been on the receiving end of one of his death stares,” Adam answers, giving her a pointed look. “I mean, honestly, I don’t think he has any more of a clue about what’s going on than I do; and you don’t see me acting all high and mighty.”
Rose isn’t sure whether to laugh at Adam or with him, so settles on a mixture of the two. She catches his eye. “Says the ‘genius’.”
They share a laugh, before he shakes his head and gazes to his feet. There is silence again for a moment or two and Rose doesn’t like it. She has always found it so easy to strike up conversation with the Doctor, to banter with him, flirt with him — and even when there’s just silence, that works too, because neither of them seem to mind it much. Like making the effort is the embarrassing thing and being themselves is just an easier way to deal with it.
This is different, but she likes it too. In an abstract way.
Something whirs and clicks, and suddenly the lights dim. They are back in a moment, but it is enough to receive a frustrated groan from Adam, and he closes his eyes, blocking out the sound and sight of the absurdity around him.
“I’m never going to get used to this,” he sighs.
“You will — ”
“Nah.” He opens his eyes, and they are wide. “I mean. This.” He laughs piteously, waving a hand around them, then swallows audibly. “I never thought... that it’d be... I mean, I know I said I wanted... but it’s different. ‘Cause I thought it didn’t exist.It was just one of those things people say, y’know?” Adam catches her eye hopefully, but all he sees is a pretty girl and lots of confusion.
He gives up.
“I’ll be fine,” he finishes at last with a weak smile. Rose nods encouragingly, then slides off her chair.
“Listen, Ads — ” He gives her a glare that cuts her off for a moment. “Er... Adam. I’m gonna go for a bit of a wander, yeah? Get my head around... everything. You’ll be all right?” She touches his arm affectionately, and he lets a smile unfurl across his features.
“If he’s got a TV, I’ll be perfect.”
They laugh with each other, and then Rose leads him down towards one of the many living rooms and sets him up with a TV that gets not only the Earth channels, but all sorts of odd and alien things as well. She has been fascinated by watching them, but Adam just stares, and eventually, she gives up with a laugh and leaves him to his football.
Then, feeling a little like the walls of the TARDIS have closed in several times, she begins a slow walk around the corridors to find the Doctor.
So much death. So much pain. So many innocent lives that have been lost without need. His planet, his race, his family. All dead. Because of Them. Because of the stupid filth that just won’t die. Except now, when he is alone and it matters least of all.
The Doctor stands in the doorway of an empty room so lost in thought he barely registers what goes on around him. The room is small, bleak: dark walls of metal lining an empty floor. The far wall across from him is a window, the entire thing. He can see space. Stars and planets, solar systems, super novas, suns. For the moment, there are just stars drifting slowly by. The room is as dark as his mind. And still he thinks.
Rose stands a little way back in the corridor, worry in her voice and a slight frown on her face. He does not answer, does not turn, does not even make any sign of acknowledgement she is there. She steps carefully towards him until she is at his side. Still he doesn’t move. Licking her lips nervously, Rose reaches for the hand that is draped by his side, sliding hers into his comfortingly, giving it a gentle squeeze. He just stands there, staring forward, like he can’t even feel it. His hand is cold, like he’s been dead for hours.
She wants to say something, anything, but she knows it will not help. So instead she breathes audibly then leans her head on his shoulder, gazing out of the window with him to watch the stars with him.
Only, he isn’t watching stars. Not those stars. He is watching a terrifying battle play out in front of his eyes, hearing terrified screams, accusations, things no being should ever have to hear before. All races who can join, give their lives, surrender themselves into fighting the one thing that should never have been brought into existence. He cannot save them all. He cannot save any of them. Not even his family. Oh, they’re all dead. Even his enemies now. The Dalek wanted to know why they survived? He has an idea: punishment. Live on, because the universe has dared you not to.
And all that death, all those lives, all those screams — they rest on his shoulders and he is alone. Who else is going to carry that burden? He knows what that little voice in his mind tells him, when he has made the mistake of letting himself become trapped in his mind like this. It’s snide, it’s malevolent, and it’s right. Blaming him, making him think things he doesn’t want to think. Damn that voice. Damn them all.
It’s not your fault.
Just because — wait, what? That’s not right, that’s not what he hears. Not in that soft, gentle tone, not with so much honesty and love behind it that it makes his left heart race a little.
The Doctor blinks, sees the room he’s standing in, feels the doorway against his shoulder, his arm around his stomach, a hand in his, warmth by his other side, someone leaning against him. He squeezes her hand, joins their fingers, and she looks up, surprised.
He turns his head, looking down at her. He is not smiling, but there is contentment in his eyes.
“Thank you,” he says honestly, and she gives him a weak smile.
“Any time — ”
“No, I mean it.” Something changes in his eyes, and her smile fades. “Thank you. For everything.”
Then he does something he never thought he would do. He uncrosses his legs, stands straight, turns and looks her right in the eye. Then he leans forward and places a delicate kiss on her forehead, enough pressure to let her know he means it. His second hand reaches for her arm instinctively and he squeezes tenderly, before opening his eyes and stepping back again.
Rose blinks at him, completely innocent. He loves her innocence, because it means she can see the world and universe in a completely different way to him. She can look at a Dalek, for pity’s sake, and see the most beautiful thing in the world. She can look inside and see something that wants and needs help, that deserves to live, that’s alone and just looking for freedom. It’s a load of rubbish, of course, but she can see it and he can’t, which makes her the better of both of them. It makes her even more beautiful in his eyes. So, without really realising that he’s doing it, he takes both her hands and tells her so.
“You’re beautiful, Rose Tyler. Don’t you dare ever lose that.”
Shocked, she takes a moment or two to process her thoughts. The last time he said that, she had been wearing an 1860s dress and had caught him off guard. This is different. She cannot think of what to say, can just stand and look at him, eyes wide and mouth open slightly.
He grins, giving her an affectionate look. Then he drops her hands.
“Right, come on,” he laughs, turning and walking down the corridor.
Rose frowns after him. “You know where we’re going then, Doctor?”
He doesn’t answer, just keeps striding along with a mischievous gleam in his eye. Under his breath as he rounds the corner, he answers softly, ‘Oh, yeah’.
Back to index
Chapter 7: The Long Game
Author's Notes: My least favourite episode turned into not a bad post episode fic. But we never did find out what happened to Adam...
Part the Seventh — The Long Game
“S’pose that’s bye bye boyfriend, then.”
They hover in the console room together, the first awkward silence that has ever come between them. Rose sits on one the settee in the corner, swinging her legs and gazing down to the floor. The Doctor leans against one of the pillars, watching her, quiet, arms folded.
She looks up and meets his eye. He nods and says nothing.
Rose mumbles a ‘sorry’, then looks down again. Her feet stop swinging.
The Doctor frowns and blinks, hauling himself away from the pillar and looking at her intently. “Don’t be sorry,” he almost orders, and his voice is so harsh she looks up in astonishment. “Not for him. Not for that stupid ape. He’s not worth it.”
She sighs, giving a small shrug. “I gave him my phone, Doctor. And the TARDIS key. And... I was the one who wanted him on board. You didn’t. I trusted him and — ”
“And he was the one who let you down,” he finishes pointedly, folding his arms again while he walks over to her. “You can’t get everyone right all the time. Sometimes you pick up a stray one. It happens.”
“Not to you,” Rose half sulks, shaking her head and staring at the floor again.
He crouches down in front of her, dips his head so he can meet her eye. Then gently, he tells her, “Yes, to me.”
“But you weren’t the one who — ”
“I let him on board, didn’t I? I trusted him because you trusted him, Rose. It was good enough for you, so good enough for me. We’re lucky he didn’t do any real damage.”
Rose stares at him disbelievingly, a frown crossing her forehead. “No real... damage...?” she breathes. “Doctor, we almost died. The whole thing.”
He grins and straightens, looking down to her fondly. “We always almost die. And for once, it wasn’t me who saved the day. It wasn’t even you. Cathica — now there was a smart girl. She’ll be good for that place, you mark my words.”
She leans back in the chair, contemplating something. The Doctor watches her for a moment or two, and is just about to turn and find something else to do when she says something strange that catches his attention.
“You didn’t ask her to come with us.”
He blinks, momentarily caught off guard. “Er, no. I didn’t.”
Rose raises her head and looks him right in the eye. “So how d’you decide then?”
“Us,” she answers, as if that explains everything. She gives the room a cursory gesture with her hand, then it settles on herself. “Me. The people you travel with. I dunno. I sort of figured whoever helped you out got to travel with you. ‘Cause they were useful.”
The Doctor bows his head slightly and smiles to himself, partly in affection, partly in humour. Oh, she has so much to learn. And then he is startled, because perhaps she doesn’t know. Perhaps she just doesn’t realise how attached he is to her. The way he feels about her. Even though he knows it’s mutual. Then he glances at her, sees her watching him expectantly, knows he’s been backed into a corner. Because he has to give an answer, some sort of response, and by that look in her eye he knows she knows how he feels.
Because she feels it, too.
“Doctor?” she prompts, and there is a playful look in her eye.
He clears his throat, hugs his arms to himself defensively. Maybe it is time for the truth. “Rose, the people who travel with me have something. They’re special. Unique. Anyone can stand up for themselves, can help me, can save the world. It takes bravery and courage, yes. But anyone can do it, if they tap it into it.”
He pauses a moment, eyes on her.
He laughs to himself. “So, it means that I don’t pick people up willy-nilly. It’s more about how they act in the face of danger, what they say, how they handle it. It’s just got to feel right. There’s got to be some sort of force there — look, I can’t really explain it. Like I’m sort of... attracted. To you.” He thinks he is finished until he re-evaluates his words in his head and adds, “Er, y’know. A link. Sort of thing.”
He feels as though he should hang his head in shame. This conversation started out to be promising, and now he is left as a mess who can’t even form coherent sentences. Reduced from a Time Lord to a stupid ape, all thanks to a Miss Rose Tyler. He smiles at her, not quite sure if smiling is what he means to do.
She finds it funny, though. She’s trying to stifle her laughter, and though she smiles back, he’s not entirely sure whether it’s with him or at him.
“Yeah, I get it,” she says with a smirk. They laugh, a little nervously, before Rose relaxes back into the chair again. “So, this ‘feeling’, attraction... whatever. You had it with Adam, then?”
The Doctor shook his head. “No.”
“Then why did you let him on?” Rose asks with a frown, sitting up.
He hesitates and takes in a breath, meeting her eye. Dare he give the answer? He wonders if she’ll get the implications of the words already forming in his mind.
Then he says them, softly, without quite meaning to. And there’s pain behind them.
“I thought you might. Have the feeling, I mean. About him.”
Realisation dawns on her face and he has to look away, knowing she has sussed him, knowing she has heard the regret in his voice and seen the pleading in his eyes. He shouldn’t have let it get this far.
“No,” she says sternly and he looks back, ever so slightly confused. She gives him a hard look. “I didn’t, Doctor. I just felt sorry for him.”
He pauses a moment and they consider each other.
“Oh,” he says at last. Always the height of eloquence. Then, for good measure, he adds, “How about we don’t go picking people up who we feel sorry for, yeah? Could get quite crowded in here.”
Rose nods and folds her arms, drifting off into thought again. “Certainly felt like it was, with him hanging around all the time. I thought I understood him, Doctor. Thought he was just like me. That he wanted to see it all. But he was just... using us.”
“I don’t think you should give him so much credit,” the Doctor advised gently. “He had no idea what to expect when we let him on this ship. You knew what you were getting yourself in for. He just thought it was a box. No surprise he wanted to help himself to something from the universe. It’s human nature.”
Rose nods a little sadly. “Yeah. Right. S’pose that includes me then, yeah?”
He hesitates. Then he walks forward and sits next to her on the couch, making it swing with his weight. Looking to the floor rather than to Rose, he says the words he’s promised he’ll never say.
“This. What we do, every day. You take it all in your stride. I’m so proud of you for that. You’ve no idea how often I have to remind myself that you’re not like me. That we haven’t always been doing this.”
He braves a glance at Rose. She watching him, still. Then she nods. “Yeah,” she agrees quietly, her voice sounding strained, like she is on the verge of tears. The Doctor stops himself from frowning. “Yeah, it’s... it’s the same here.”
He has shifted on the sofa next to her, his whole body angled towards her. His arm, leaning along the top, is brushing hers. Their knees are touching, gently, ever so slightly. He looks into her eyes.
Her body starts to move towards him. And he looks away, tensing.
“But we’re not,” he continues, as if nothing as happened. The moment passes.
Rose blinks herself back to the present. “We’re not what?”
He looks at her again, only this time, it’s with determination. “We’re not the same. We’re different in so many ways, you actually wouldn’t believe me if I told you all of them.”
The Doctor gives a casual nod followed by a smile he doesn’t feel, then climbs to his feet and ambles over to the controls. Looking up, he gives her one of his trademark grins.
“So, where to now?” he asks breezily, like the entire conversation just hasn’t happened. “There’s a rather nice moon of Boron you might enjoy. Or there’s a service station just off the hyperspace wormhole — got a gorgeous view. Or we could hang around Earth for a bit. Forwards? Backwards? Up to you.”
“Actually, Doctor. I think I’m gonna go to bed.”
It’s the little things like that keep reminding him she’s human. He looks away, down to the controls and nods.
“Yeah. All right. I s’pose.”
She laughs, giving him a playful look. “Don’t grump! I need to catch up on my beauty sleep!”
“No argument here,” he grins, and he knows that she’d whack him one were she not half way across the room. Instead she laughs and shakes her head, then shuffles off down the corridor. He lets out a loud breath and taps his finger idly on the console. A bored Time Lord in a time machine. There must be something he can do, he thinks. His entire world does not revolve around waiting for Rose.
Still, he cannot quite stop himself gazing at the empty doorway and hoping that she’ll wake up soon. Just a matter of hours. That’s nothing. So, he sets about to do exactly that.
Rose sits quietly on her bed, her mind a mess. Thoughts collide into each other like she’s driving the wrong way up a one-way street. With a frustrated groan, she lifts a hand to her head and closes her eyes. She can’t remember the last time she slept, really. She’s not even sure how many days have gone by. Days? Is it days? Is it weeks? Months? It doesn’t feel quite so long as months, but other than that, she can’t even gauge it. And she still loves it.
Adam didn’t. He hated it. He as good as told her, and yet she still ignored him, deciding that he would get over it eventually. Instead he lied, stole, and did it all for himself. He hurt the Doctor. He hurt her. He hurt the world he lived in, and he didn’t care.
He deserved to be left behind.
She keeps having to remind herself that, so as not to feel guilty. Somehow, chucking him out like that, on the spur of the moment — it’s cruel. He has a hole in his head, for pity’s sake. No one can just ignore that. If anyone finds him, the Doctor’s right: he’ll get dissected. Alright, so he did a pretty bad thing. But nothing is worth that. He’s a genius, she remembers him saying. Not bad looking. Clever. Funny. A bit up himself, but he might lose that considering the circumstances.
Rose lets out a gasp. He’s never going to do anything with his life. He’ll be terrified of going out, even. Trying to turn the tables, to think like him, to put herself in his shoes... She’d go mad. Not only being left behind after all that, but to have to live in silence. How many people click their fingers? Not many she can think of, but still, risking it wouldn’t be worth it.
Clever and confined to living a life like an ordinary person. The Doctor sure knows how to dish out his punishments.
Not that she can blame him.
Even thinking about Adam now sends a chilled spike of anger through her — she just can’t understand how anyone can be that selfish, that stupid. She doesn’t hate him — hate is a strong word. But is it possible to dislike someone that much and still feel sorry for them? Wish them well?
Rose collapses back onto the bed and stares up to the ceiling with a face much like the Doctor’s when he’s hiding things. She can’t stop the thoughts in her head, can’t sleep, can’t really do anything other than think about the past day and how much of it could be avoided.
Then there is a knock at her door and she jumps, sits up, blinks. He’s never come to her room before.
“Yeah?” she calls a little nervously, because you never know — something might have sneaked into the TARDIS. Some horrible man-eating monster with a taste for hunting, and googly eyes and bandy legs and slimy skin.
That knocks. Maybe not.
“It’s me,” answers the soft northern voice and she smiles. You never know.
“You can come in if you want. I’m decent.”
He opens the door, but makes no effort to come in. He stands, silhouetted, and looks at her. Rose shifts, slightly uncomfortable.
After a moment, she asks carefully, “Want something?”
She hears him take a breath, but just waits patiently. He’s obviously got something he wants to say to her.
When he finally does speak, it’s hurried, like he’s been rehearsing it but can’t quite remember what he wants to say, so is filling in the blanks.
“I just wanted to say. All this stuff, with Adam — it’s been a nightmare. He was an idiot, and I don’t want you to think that any of that has rubbed off on you, ‘cause you’re not an idiot and he was just a stupid ape anyway. Probably something to do with Van Statten feeding him that big head. And you should know — just ‘cause he said he was a ‘genius’, it doesn’t make him a better person, or anything. He has A levels. You have courage. I know what I’d choose, any day.”
He stops rather abruptly like there’s more to say but he doesn’t know how to say it. Rose smiles and gives a quiet laugh.
“Thanks Doctor. Means a lot.”
“Right.” He sniffs, holding a hand out to the door frame. Rose looks back at him with innocence and humour, making him feel all the more foolish. He hadn’t meant to come here. His feet just went for a wander, ended up here. Bloody ship and her telepathy — he’ll show her. “Er... Come find me when you’re ready to go somewhere else. Okay?”
Rose laughs, shaking her head with amusement. “Yeah. Course.”
He turns to go, then suddenly turns back. “You’re all right, aren’t you?” he asks quickly.
“I am now.” She smiles, then yawns pointedly. The Doctor gets the message, nods, and then he’s gone, closing the door behind him.
Rose frowns to herself with a faint grin, because there are some things about that man that she just can’t understand.
As she sinks into the bed a few minutes later, she slips into a dream world that shows her many things. One of them is her father. And she wakes up in tears.
Back to index
Chapter 8: Father's Day
Author's Notes: Well, it had to happen some time. Have you ever heard of a little place called Woman Wept...? Seemed to slot in here rather nicely - let's see what you all think. (FYI, for those of you looking for the-Doctor-snogs-Rose-on-weepy-planet fics, you might want to look elsewhere :-))
Part the Eighth — Father’s Day
He only just manages to get them back into the vortex before she’s crying again. It’s the quiet sob that alerts him at first, and he turns, about to ask if she wants to be left alone. Then he sees her eyes, screwed shut with pain, a hand over her mouth, silent tears streaming down her face and her entire body shaking with the effort.
He feels his own tears well up inside him, and that takes some doing. Instead of crying, he comforts her, sits beside her, takes her in his arms, pulls her into him and keeps her there, whispering soothing sounds into her hair. He is never usually good at this sort of thing. Usually finds it a little uncomfortable, because this isn’t what a Time Lord does.
Except with Rose, it’s different.
He is not a Time Lord in her eyes. She is not a human in his. She just needs comfort, and he can give that to her.
The shoulder of his jacket is well and truly soaked, and still she shows no sign of ceasing. It can’t be healthy for her, all this grief. Every now and then, when he thinks she has finally subsided and goes to pull away, she clings to him, so he holds her closer and rocks her gently, closing his eyes and trying to lose himself in the small sounds she is making.
She has never been this upset before. He doesn’t know what to do. She usually hides it away, gets over it in her own time, on her own. He can relate to that. But this... this is something else entirely. This isn’t just grief. This is heartbreak.
It breaks one of his, too. Rose cannot be in this much pain. It’s just not right.
The Doctor kisses the top of her head, lingering there, desperately trying to think of some way to get a smile back on her face. But she’s clinging to him and part of him likes that and hopes she will never let go. Part of him likes feeling needed this much. Loved this much — though, maybe he is making assumptions.
He has given so much for her today. And he would do it again, if he thought he could help. If he thought he could save her Dad. But some people are just meant to die.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t save him,” he whispers into her hair, giving her a tight but brief squeeze. This is one of her more lucid moments and she sits back slightly, hands resting on the outskirts of his back, puffy eyes staring at him through a rim of mascara.
He smiles gently when he sees her. “Hello.”
Then he looks in shock as she dissolves into helpless tears again, burying herself against his body, nuzzling into his neck. He strokes her hair a little awkwardly and hopes she doesn’t notice. Then he rests his cheek on the top of her head, closing his eyes and just waiting, letting her get all of it out.
Through her hiccups, he can make out her choked words against his neck. “He was my Daddy...”
The Doctor holds her closer, and, eyes closed, nods. “Yeah. He’s a good man.”
Rose disentangles herself from him, at last, and just sits and looks at him. The Doctor, by reaction, reaches up and rubs the damp, salty tears away from his skin. She laughs embarrassedly, then sniffs and brings a hand to her face.
She smiles, but he cannot tell if it is a smile of tears or joy. “Sorry about that.”
He grins. “’S all right. I can always get a new neck.” Then, as if thinking about something for the first time, he rummages in the breast pocket of his jacket and reveals a shiny metal key, gleaming silver in the lights of the TARDIS.
He presses it into her hand, meaningfully. “I believe this is yours.”
Rose stares at it, eyes wide, then up to the Doctor again.
“But... I... I thought, after what I did... I almost killed the world... I mean, Adam did the sa— ”
“Don’t you dare compare yourself to that little git,” the Doctor interrupts with so much fire, Rose stops mid sentence and can’t think of anything more to say. Gentler, softer, he smiles and takes her hand. “He was nothing. No one. A sneaky, devious little prat who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. What he did was selfish and stupid, and he didn’t even care.”
Rose laughs piteously, shaking her head. “But that’s the thing. Neither did I. My Dad was alive. I saved him. The whole world was gonna end around us, but he was alive. And, even in the thick of it all... I was happy, Doctor. Part of me didn’t care. ‘Cause my Dad was alive and it was all that mattered. I was happy, even though the world was ending.”
He can hear her voice shaking again, hear she is on the edge of tears, so he squeezes her hand reassuringly, makes his voice as tender as he can. Then he reaches to curl a strand of hair behind her ear, cupping her cheek delicately.
“Course you were,” he agrees softly. Then he gives a small smile. “He’s your Dad. You’d kill the whole world for him.”
Rose bites her lips inwards, squints away her tears but doesn’t break the Doctor’s eye contact. “And then... I lost you... and it hit me. An’ then it all felfh amarghhh...”
The rest of her sentence is drowned in a new onslaught of tears.
He has to take her in his arms again as another wave strikes, and this time, he’s a little more than shocked. He knows the feeling of having the entire world ending and not caring because the people you love are alive. He has had it, countless times before.
He’s just never had it felt towards him, and that’s something new. And he knows, perhaps deep down, away in the pit of his mind — for now — that he feels exactly the same way about Rose. He’d murder to keep her alive. And the fact that he’d do it in the blink of an eye startles him, scares him, because no one out there would be able to stop him.
No one except the woman in his arms.
The Doctor rubs her back soothingly, coaxing her out of her debris so that she can sit up and sniff, hiccup a little but fight away her tears. He gives her a reassuring smile.
“I must look a right mess,” she laughs, absently feeling the strands of her hair.
“It’s not the best state I’ve seen you in, no,” the Doctor agrees with a warm smile. Still beautiful, though, murmurs a small voice in the back of his mind, a voice he has grown quite accustomed to. He agrees silently, but says nothing.
Rose gives a weak smile, then wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand. “God,” she laughs through another sob. “Bet you’ve never known a woman to cry this much.”
The Doctor grins and runs his thumb over her knuckles. “Well, once. But it wasn’t a woman so much as a planet.”
She blinks at this, taking a moment or two to make sense of it in her head. “You’re telling me planets can cry?”
“Well, not exactly. In fact — ” He gives her that grin that shows he’s up to something, that he cares about her more than the world they’re on. She smiles back, though it is nowhere near so intense.
Standing up, the Doctor bounds over to the machine and hurriedly taps in some statistics. Studying the screen for a second or two, he darts around to the other side and pulls down a lever with all his strength. Then he simultaneously holds a button and spins a dial with one hand, while firing up a pump with the other. The central column begins to buzz and pulsate, the light growing stronger.
Rose watches him with fascination. She loves it when he starts controlling the TARDIS. It makes her feel like he can do anything.
He looks up, as if he’s surprised she’s still there. Then he grins excitedly. “Rose, do me a favour. Go get changed. I’ve got somewhere to take you. No monsters or aliens, I promise. Well, unless you count this one right here.” He gives a small wave and Rose laughs through her tears. “Oh, and you’ll want something warm.”
She stands a little uncertainly, still feeling the need to cry inside her, but able to push it down. She gives him a wry smile. “What are you up to?”
He catches her eye, but doesn’t answer, instead gesturing towards the door. She laughs then obeys, going off to her room to have a wash and find a change of clothes.
The Doctor is already at her door by the time she emerges from the bathroom, thick jeans and a heavy jumper now replacing her thin jacket. She gives him a weak smile, but doesn’t quite feel it. He outstretches his arm, offering his hand and she takes it, letting herself be silently led through the TARDIS. She is surprised when they don’t head in the direction of the control room, instead into another part of the time ship.
It is the room she found him in after their run-in with the Dalek. Only this time, there aren’t stars whizzing by. It’s still, above an amethyst planet.
The atmosphere swirls in different colours of purple, rich purples and deep pinks, all swirling around each other creating a marble effect. There is a parting between them and there, right down on the planet, is a land mass.
The Doctor takes Rose right up to the window and squeezes her hand gently, smiling to her. Then he points to the mass, outlines the shape with his finger.
“Look familiar to you?” he asks quietly and Rose, finding it such a strange question, stares at it for a moment. Then she recognises the shape of a woman, bent with her head draped in her hands, like the entire thing has been carved out of a stone to create the illusion of a miserable girl.
“She’s crying...” Rose says softly, entranced by the strange magic of it.
The Doctor nods, his eyes on the continent.
“Yup. The entire planet’s name has been dedicated to that. Woman Wept. Legend goes, she and her husband were gods. Well, and goddesses I s’pose. But he made the rest of the council angry and got banished to mortality, was sent away to live with the people down there. She cried so much her sobs could be heard on the wind and in the trees; in every misery there ever was. That’s why the continent is shaped that way, because she couldn’t bear to live on without him so would rather live forever as close to him as she can get.”
“That’s... beautifully sad,” she murmurs after a while, tearing her eyes away from it and gazing up to the Doctor. He is looking at her with deep eyes, not a fleck of a smile anywhere on his face.
Then, without so much as another word, he leads her away again, from the depths of his machine to the console room. He leaves her standing for a moment, watching, while he moves gently around his controls. There is nothing frantic or hurried about this; it is handled with careful precision, as if moving too fast will break the magic.
The TARDIS gives a small shudder, but Rose manages to keep her balance. Then the Doctor looks up and gives her a small smile.
“Cheer up,” he tries, though knows it is probably futile. Rose doesn’t say anything, just follows him as he heads for the doors. Just before he opens them, he turns.
“Got your key?” he asks jokingly. “Never know when we might need it.”
She smiles, then produces a chain around her neck. His eyes widen slightly as he sees the TARDIS key dangling from it, but then he nods and smiles and ushers her out into the world beyond.
There’s no wind, but it’s still cold. Shutting the door behind them, the Doctor notices that Rose is already shivering, her breath rising and dancing into the air, twisting away into the atmosphere. The door creaks and clicks shut and he gives her a soft gaze.
“Come on,” he whispers and, almost tentatively, he slides his hand down her wrist and and tenderly into hers. Their fingers lock together the way that lovers’ do, loose and comforting with a hint of something more.
They walk together, their shoes leaving footprints in the black sand. All Rose can see for miles and miles is just nothing, outstretched darkness of the beach and, to their left, what she assumes is the sea. It’s then, when she’s looking at it properly, does she stop in her tracks and gape at it, not even caring that her mouth is open enough to let the stinging air inside.
The Doctor smiles proudly to himself, then slowly begins leading her towards the waves. He points to the single moon above them. It’s pink and huge, casting a strange light down on them that is unbelievably romantic.
He leans over to whisper quietly in her ear. “Used to be a lot more red than that. And a lot warmer. But the sun went through a sort of pre super-nova transiental atomic destabilisation period and it lost all its heat. Most of the people here died out. Some survived, and they live dotted around the land masses. But there’s no one around for miles. Thousands and thousands of miles. No buildings, people, technology. Nothing. And this beach stretches a far way too. A thousand miles twenty across, if my calculations are correct. Not a glimmer of life anywhere.” He pauses a moment, letting his eyes dance across her face. They meet hers. “Except for us.”
Rose shivers and leans into him slightly as they walk. He knows she is cold; he warned her to put something warm on. He is grateful that his biological temperature gauge works differently to hers. She shivers again, her teeth chattering, and he smiles. Then slowly, carefully, he puts an arm around her. She leans into him further. He tightens his grip, holds her there. They keep walking.
She gapes up to the sea in awe, entranced by the beautiful glint off it. The waves have frozen. Right above her, as they approach, they’re just sitting here. Translucent in the strange light, pinks and purples refracting off in different directions, as well as gentle whites of the foam. They turn and walk underneath the masses of waves, like they are walking through a crystal tunnel. It is a little warmer here, but she slides an arm around the Doctor’s waist anyway. The grip on her shoulder tightens.
“The waves...” she says quietly, astounded, and has nothing more to add than that. The Doctor gives her a sideways look, then grins.
“That’s the sun as well. Remember what I was saying about its heat? And the tide’s affected by the moon, right, so when the sun went haywire, the moon lost its control too. That, combined with the thermal decrease in the atmospheric pressure, froze the water right in the middle of a thunderstorm. The storm’s gone now, has been for years — but these waves will remain here forever. They look a bit like they’re trying to attack the land. S’pose that’s artistic culture for you. Nature has rarely been more beautiful.”
“God I love it when you talk science,” Rose practically groans from his side, and he laughs, shaking his head in humour.
“Talk science? I’m not ‘talking science’. I’m explaining the metaphysical reasoning behind the sub zero temperatures of the surface and atmosphere of this planet. Though, I s’pose we have turned up at midnight — likely to be cold.”
Rose giggles, and he likes the sound. It makes a nice change from her sobs, anyway. “Still love it,” she murmurs quietly, and his thumb rubs absently on her shoulder.
They walk on in silence for a moment or two, the only people for miles around. She leans her head on the Doctor and he sighs contentedly, gazing up at the overhead passageway of ice.
Then Rose breaks the silence in a voice so quiet, he wouldn’t have heard it were her mouth not by his ear. “Midnight?”
He’s startled slightly, his mind momentarily forgetting when and where they are. He stumbles. “What?”
“You said it was midnight here,” she explains with a smile in her voice. He relaxes a little and nods.
“Yeah. Best time to see the waves, ‘cause the moonlight reflects off them just perfectly.” He turns a little, points across her body to the dark beach to their right. “See?”
Rose follows the line of his finger, more to humour him than anything else. Until she sees lights shimmering on the shore, hazy mixtures of purples and pinks, glittering like the northern lights. She gasps audibly and doesn’t care. Then there’s breath by her ear, hot but subtle, and her own catches in her chest. She freezes in his arms and doesn’t turn her head, doesn’t dare to.
“Not many people get to see that,” he whispers slowly, his voice sending its own shiver all the way down Rose’s spine. The tiny hairs at the back of her neck prickle and, not being able to bear it any more, she turns her head to look at him —
— and finds him right there, about a centimetre away from her, looking just as shocked as her that she’s turned around. His breath tickles her face and their eyes search each other for a desperate answer that neither of them can give. It’s the sort of moment that could go either way, any way, any where.
But then he nods and straightens, grinning at her like the best friend that he is.
There isn’t much Rose wishes to change about the Doctor, but his reaction towards this sort of situation would definitely be one of them. This has only happened once or twice, but she is beginning to wonder if he actually realises what he’s doing when he takes her to these places, or when he looks at her like that, or when he says those words in that particular way.
These days, she guesses not, because if she were him, she would definitely have made her move by now. She has been throwing out signals all over the place. And as far as she knows, she’s been getting them back... until he goes and does something which completely defies her rules of ‘this sort of thing’ and she’s thrown right back to square one. Maybe she just has to get used to the fact that he doesn’t ‘do’ this sort of thing. He is an alien, after all. Maybe they don’t have romance where he comes from.
Deciding to test her new theory, Rose casually twirls her finger underneath his jumper, just about reaching a small sliver of skin she finds above his belt line. She chances a look up to the Doctor who smiles down to her, but other than that, she gains no reaction. No sudden gasp, no change in his walk, no tightening of his grip around her shoulder. Nothing.
She gives up, slumping against him as tiredness begins to creep up on her.
But then, just to throw her completely off balance again, he strokes her arm gently with his knuckles and sighs into her.
“Rose. Tell me about your Dad?” he asks quietly, and she’s so touched she almost bursts into tears again. Except the pain of that encounter is ebbing away, slowly, and though she’s not growing numb to it — not in the slightest — the Doctor’s input is helping her to do more than just cope, but accept.
So, leaving her hand on his waist, she lets stories unfold about her father that have been entwining within her from the moment she was old enough to think about him. Wishes, dreams, stories. All sorts. He listens quietly, holding her closer when it gets a bit too much for her, never pushing her to say things she doesn’t want to. She tells him everything. He notices.
By the time they have turned and started walking back across the beach, the tip of the sun is tickling the horizon and brighter colours are bruising the sky. Hand in hand, shoulders touching, smiles on their flushed faces, the pair of them walk with happiness in their hearts.
They finally reach the TARDIS again and, after the Doctor has slipped his key into the lock and pushed open the door, he looks at Rose for a moment or two. For a second, he raises his hand, touches his fingertips to her cheek and caresses the skin. She’s freezing, but for once, he doesn’t feel guilty.
“Feel better?” he murmurs with a smile.
Rose blinks slowly and nods, echoing his smile with a grin of her own. “Yeah. I do.” He drops his hand but stays still, looking at her.
Using all the courage this visit has given her, Rose stands on tiptoe and turns her head to the Doctor, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek for as long as she dares. He doesn’t retaliate, but out of the corner of her eye, she can see his eyes drift shut. If she’s quiet, she might be able to hear him take a breath and hold it.
She lingers for what feels like hours, but all too soon, she stands back again and grins up at him cheekily. It then turns into a gentle smile and she meets his gaze.
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Holding his eye contact, she disappears into the warmth of the TARDIS. The Doctor slowly lets out his breath and smiles, raising a hand to his cheek. He holds a smile to himself, gazing into nothing for a moment or two as he relishes the memories that will stay with him for years to come. Then he turns, follows her inside, and shuts the door.
A great groan of ancient engines start up not long afterwards and, after a moment or two, the TARDIS fades out of existence and back into the time vortex.
The only clue that anyone has even been there are the footprints that lie in the shallow sand.
Back to index
Chapter 9: Interlude: Something You Once Said
Author's Notes: A little piece to slot in between "Father's Day" and "The Empy Child". It's a possibility. And sometimes, Nine's passing comments really aren't so passing...
Interlude — Something You Once Said
She is asleep, finally, and the Doctor lets out a wearied sigh, his eyes closing with grief. He bows his head, hands braced against the controls, arms straight and back arched, and just lets himself exist for a moment. He tries to remember how he used to feel, all those months ago. Before Rose. Before the War. Before all of time and space. It is nothing and everything all at once, adjectives that seem useless and happiness that is only content when he thinks of Rose, of the War, of life.
It has been a long day. The trip to Woman Wept is supposed to have served as a cheering up visit, but he’s not entirely sure he hasn’t just made things worse. She let out a lot about her Dad, probably things that she has never told anyone else in the world.
As he gazes distantly into space, a small smile plays at his lips.
Then it is shaken away quickly and he steels himself, reminding himself that it does not matter who she tells, or why, or how. There are things in his mind that he has never told anyone else. Things that she will never know, that nobody will ever know. Things he wishes he didn’t know himself. Because he can’t change the past, yet still these images haunt him.
Damn them all.
He tries to push dark thoughts out of his mind, but this time they are persistent and he soon feels threatened. A shrouded haziness is touching the corner of his vision and he feels himself swaying slightly on his feet, gripping the controls tighter to steady himself.
His knuckles turn white. He doesn’t notice.
Then the Doctor wonders what Rose would do if she were here, remembers her hand in his when she gripped so hard he thought she was never going to let go. She would tell him not to be silly, that she was there, that it’s all right to be afraid. Oh, his Rose. She teaches him so much.
He remembers she spoke about her father openly, willingly — and he knows how difficult it is for her to open up about that. Especially after what they have just been through. She told stories, wonderful stories, that made him wish his own family were alive. Then they had been at the front door all too soon, forced to go back to the lives they lead rather than the lives they wish to have.
There is something she said that bothers him. Some passing comment that stuck with him while she spoke. Though he paid attention to her keenly, his mind kept wandering back to this one little point, and now he is alone with nothing much else to think, her voice fills his head as the memory replays itself.
“It’s a bit like riding a bike. You never forget.” The warmth of her arm around his waist is comforting, too comforting, but he cannot do anything to stop it. Instead he pushes forwards, his boots making deep footprints in the soft ground. “There’s nothing like your first bike. It always means something, y’know.”
She turns her head to look him squarely in the eye, not sure whether to laugh or agree. “You’re serious? They had bikes on your planet?”
“Yeah,” he scoffs, as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. “Course! You wouldn’t recognise it as a bike, but it was. Hell of a thing to ride, though — I’d take my chance with the TARDIS.”
“Blimey; must be bad.”
“Oi!” He laughs with her, the gentle sounds seeping into the atmosphere. For a moment or two, the wind picks up again and he holds her torso as close to his as he can. He wonders if she can feel his double heartbeat. Then he wonders if it matters.
A little time goes on — enough to make him have to back track their conversation to make sense of her comment.
“I never had a first.”
Even so, he still looks at her with that sideways glance, the sort of look that might mean something else if the laws of black and white were different. “Bike?” he offers.
Rose shivers and nods in his arm. He nods with her.
“You never learnt?”
“No, I did. But it was with Kirsty from down the road. I used her brother’s — it was mad, almost went straight into a bleeding lamppost. Bit big for a first go, but I managed.” She pauses and looks around them, feeling comfortable in his arms. He doesn’t push her, and eventually she continues, “I’ve never ridden one since.”
“Have you not?” he asks, surprised.
“Nah. Not really much call for it.” Then she is looking back at him and the world falls away. “Not with this sort of life. Not with you.”
He doesn’t quite know what else to say aside from that, but his mind is whirling already. She’s right, in a way — there is no call for bike riding in this life. Unless they end up on Gamma V, but that’s unlikely considering its coordinates and unstable atmosphere.
“Have I lost you?”
He snaps himself out of his mindset almost at once, grinning to her. “Nope, can’t get rid of me that easily. What were you saying?”
“I was saying that Mum never got the whole ‘bike’ thing. Reckon she thought it woulda been Dad’s expertise. And even then, we couldn’t afford one, anyway.”
“That’s a pity. Every girl should have a first bicycle. How old were you when you learned to ride?”
Snippets and cuttings of the memory stick themselves to the foremost part of his mind, making it difficult for him to concentrate on much else. Until finally, he has made a decision.
He moves around the TARDIS controls carefully, quietly, like a clumsy man in a china shop. He pleads with his ship that once — just this once — she can do things like he asks, quietly and quickly. She obeys. It’s about ten minutes later, after he has hunted through the storage cupboard near the back end of the second room, that he pokes his head out of the doors of the TARDIS and, without a sound, leaves one of the best presents a twelve year old girl on a council estate can ever have.
And the next time they meet, he gives her the stars. Just because he can.
Back to index
Chapter 10: The Empty Child
Author's Notes: Ok. So it took a while. A LONG while. I'm so very sorry :(
Part the Ninth — The Empty Child
There are people everywhere. People who aren’t people. People who walk, talk and act as one. Like the child. The empty child. He feels the wall behind him, feels Rose’s heartbeat rocket in fear and the Captain — Captain? he thinks. Really? — trying his best to be brave. But there is no one to help them now. There is no escape. There is just the monotonous drone of the army that never stops. Identical, all of them. How can that be? It doesn’t make sense! What sort of idiot, alien, threat would do this? There’s no point, no gain.
Despite himself, the Doctor feels fear rise within himself. There is nothing he can do. Touch them, or be touched by them, and become like them. Dead. No, worse than dead — empty. Forced to live for eternity in the mind of a scared little boy who can’t find his mummy. He has a strong feeling that regeneration will not be able to save him this time.
What about Rose? He has been in tougher fixes, but there has always been the prospect of death. This is different. This is just... wrong. What about when she wandered off earlier? What if she’d died then? What if one of these... these... people had got to her, and he’d turned up and she was —
No, he will not think these thoughts now. He blocks out the time line from his head, the possibility of Rose becoming just like them. It goes against all his laws. He won’t let it happen. She is bright, intelligent, funny — full of life. To become one in a army of zombies, all identical... well, it’s a fate worse than death. It doesn’t suit her, doesn’t fit her, doesn’t honour the wonderful person that she is. If she dies with him, he promises himself for the infinite time, it will be heroic. It will mean something. It will be saving the world. It will be together.
Words find him from long ago, of a situation not too dissimilar to this.
We’ll go down fighting, yeah? Together?
Oh, she has no idea. He’ll go down fighting just to keep her alive. He shields himself in front of her, making sure that — just in case Harkness manages to find some escape route — that they may have a chance of a escape. It’s impossible, he knows it is. There is no hope. No escape. There is a wall behind them that he can’t break through. He’s going to die in some run-down hospital and it’s suddenly far too soon to be the end.
It can’t end. Not like this. Even if he’s with Rose, even if they get to stay with each other for ever and ever and ever, this is just a curse. It’s not even life. It’s not even half life. It’s not existence, survival, promise. It’s just cells, held together miraculously with not enough human left in them to do anything about it.
When he prayed to the universe, in an abstract way, that Rose and he could stay together infinitely, this is not what he had in mind. Be careful what you wish for.
Oh, the last time lord, always in such a hurry to grow up. Left outside in the cold. Lost everyone. Now he is doomed to spend the rest of his life a child, a hysterical child whose only goal in life is to find the one person he just can’t have. The one person who brings more to his life than should ever be healthy or right for a Time Lord.
Well, once upon a time.
Now he has others. Now he has Rose.
And she’s going down with him. Oh gods, what about her life? What about everything he has promised to show her, all the places he has made a list of that she will just love? What about the rest of their ever after? What about all those times of ‘could have’ and ‘should have’? The ones he hasn’t lived yet but wish to, right now, stronger than anything else he has ever wished in his life.
The manifestation of a child, of lots of children, and there’s nothing he can do. He can’t protect Rose. He can’t even protect Jack, the stupid con-man who is more involved with this situation than he’s letting on. Perhaps more than he knows. People don’t just wake up from the dead and transfer their DNA. People don’t just mutate into gas-masks. They just don’t.
Which means that something’s going on.
And now, bloody hell, the crowds are squeezing in so tightly he’s going to have trouble breathing if he’s not careful. Then again, he’s going to have trouble doing a lot more than that once those things get a hold of him. If only he knew what to do. If only he could somehow stop them, burn them, just get rid of them. He isn’t usually a violent man — passive whenever he can be.
But right now, he just wants the victims in front of him to burn up and leave him and Rose safe. And possibly Jack too, considering her attachment to him. She’s only known him a few hours and already she’s smitten. He can sense she is, can tell from her tiniest motions and chemical reactions. If he concentrates, perhaps the ‘Captain’ feels the same way. Perhaps she’ll leave and they’ll go off and get married, and have lots of babies and kids that they can boss around, and —
Lord help him, he’s about to die and he’s jealous that Rose is going to swan off and leave him, for an American no less. What does she do to him?
Then it hits him. Children. Mothers. That’s it!
Rose would make a fantastic mother. She’s got a slight mouth on her, knows how to handle anyone who threatens her. Especially children. Got to put them in their place, so they know where they stand.
He’s thinking now, his mind fully on getting them out of here. Forget everything else, he’s tense, rigid; but thinking.
Good discipline. That’s all you need. He begs that he’s right, begs that this, somehow, works. Because if it doesn’t, they’re not exactly going to be the best last words, are they?
He braces, stares around at the army of dead coming towards him.
Then he tells them.
Back to index
Chapter 11: The Doctor Dances
Author's Notes: Hmm... I've never noticed how many of the titles start with 'The' before. Oh well, the episodes are just as good. I hope this does it justice.
Part the Tenth — The Doctor Dances
That’s all he needs. All it takes. A look. One look; one glance; one blink-and-you’d-miss-it meet of the eyes, and all the rules are set into play.
Rose — equals — off — limits.
And he’d better get used to it.
Confident he has made his point, the Doctor turns his head back and grins at his female companion. He’s seen Jack’s type before, of course he has. The universe is littered with them. And there is no chance in heaven and earth that he will let Rose get involved with that. She’s so much better than that. Deserves so much more. The beautiful, warm, laughing woman in his arms means more to him than should ever be considered right for a Time Lord, and that being said, he has a duty by his people and customs to protect her from all forms of harm.
Well, as much as she can in a life like this. He may not be able to protect her from monsters and aliens, but he can protect her from heartbreak.
He likes Jack. He’s a good guy, at heart. Decent. Caring. And, yes, handsome. But he’s not good enough for Rose.
People like Jack don’t love for life, and seeing as that’s what Rose deserves, he isn’t about to let either of them get tangled up in it. Unless Rose takes matters into her own hands, which is unlikely considering the understanding the Doctor now has with him.
He grins brightly and slides his hands to hers again, twirling her around the TARDIS in time with the music. This is so natural for him, so easy. He can just fall into these steps like it’s nothing, like it means nothing.
Except it means everything, and as they move, he wonders if he’s the only one who knows it.
Jack knows. Whatever message the Doctor may have wished to convey, that split second gaze was enough to tell him. He could see the words practically forming in the Doctor’s eyes, let alone his mouth. She’s mine.
He watches with interest as they continue around the room, laughing and giggling, but still keeping up with each other. It’s so fluent, so perfect, so meant to be, that Jack sometimes has trouble telling where one ends and the other begins. All right. Fair game. The Doctor is her... companion. He can see that now. They practically write it in the universe in every place they visit.
It hurts a little, though. In some ways, he feels as though he saw her first. All right, so their relationship is more complex than just surface level, has more to tell, has more to feel... but Jack can see just by looking at the Doctor that the stupid bastard isn’t going to do anything about it. Is he going to kiss her? No. Is he going to seduce her? No. Is he going to take her in his arms, lead her to his room, then blanket her body with his mouth till kingdom come? No.
Does he love her? Hell, yes.
The answers seem to contradict each other so much that Jack can’t take his eyes off the couple as he tries to understand. He has only ever been in love once. Understanding it never even came into the question, and he suspects it doesn’t here, either. But it won’t stop him trying. Because he is going to have to try damn hard to stop himself coming on to Rose — he can’t just turn off his attraction to her. And at the same time, he can’t understand how the Doctor seemingly can.
He is so lost in thoughts that buzz around his head that he doesn’t notice the music has faded until Rose is sidling up to him.
He grins at her. She smiles back cheekily.
“So — hows about that dance?”
Jack pauses a moment and glances over her shoulder. The Doctor is watching with folded arms, his face smug with victory. The two men have shared something, an understanding. Of sorts.
He looks back to Rose and his grin fades a little.
“Darling, I’d dance with you the whole night through. But I need to make myself at home first, don’t you think?” He nudges her in the ribs and Rose giggles, a sound he thinks he will always favour.
“He’s right,” the Doctor adds from behind them and they both turn. “Can’t have him sleeping on the floor. Why don’t you show him ‘round?”
This last question is directed at Rose and there is something in the way he meets her gaze that makes her pause and all her thoughts come to a standstill. Like he is trying to tell her something just with his eyes, and it’s entrancing trying to figure out what it is.
“Don’t trust me to find my way around myself?” Jack asks, feigning hurt in his voice.
The Doctor throws him a grin. “By all means. Just thought you might like some... company.”
“Better with three,” Jack proclaims and Rose turns to look at him, eyes wide. Her heart skips a little beat as she makes sense of the American’s words in her mind. But the Doctor is back with a reply without missing a beat, like they have rehearsed this entire conversation and now it is only for her benefit.
“Nah, not really. Trust me, it’d just get complicated. Rose?”
“Yeah?” she answers, not quite sure who to look to any more. After a lingering pause on Jack she turns back to the Doctor. He gestures towards the door.
“Show our guest around. I’ve got work to do.”
She smirks at Jack and respond, “With pleasure.”
She takes his hand and leads him to the corridor, and the American arches an eyebrow. These two could kill a man, he thinks. Rose’s hand is on his arm as she pushes him ahead of her, and for a moment he loses the contact as she glances back over her shoulder at the Doctor.
The Doctor shrugs, a wicked grin forming on his face. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” he advises cheekily.
Rose opens her mouth for a witty retort, but Jack is already pulling her down the corridor behind him in his excitement to get to know this place a little better. Their laughter dies away as they become deeper submerged in the time machine, and the Doctor stands a moment, his brain thick with thought.
So much has happened today. So many wrong things. And so many right.
His mind falls upon the glorious victory. Not one death — not a single one. He healed them all. Oh, he lives for days like these. When the happiness of him and everyone around him drowns out everything that is ever wrong with the world — with all the worlds. Everybody lives! He wants to punch the air with joviality, wants to run around the TARDIS like a nine year old and scream with joy. His heart beats rocket when he thinks of it, of all the good he’s done. It’s times like these that make it all worth it. It’s times like these where he feels like he can do anything, be anything, create anything. He is life, and life is his gift.
He grins like the devil and turns the music back on.
“Gotta be said, Doctor. That’s some dancing.”
The Doctor freezes in mid spin, then turns slowly to find Jack watching him from the doorway with an amused smirk. He grins at the other man and lowers the volume of the music.
“I’ll assume that’s a compliment. Where’s Rose?”
The American draws in a lazy sigh, uncrossing his ankles and arms and standing up straight.
“She wanted a shower. Said the events of the day were a little overwhelming and wanted to get herself clean.”
“Surprised you didn’t offer to help,” the Doctor says before he can stop himself. He isn’t even sure of his tone. Patronising? Amused? Angry? Jealous? He isn’t sure, and shakes his head as if trying to make sense of it.
“Oh, I did,” Jack answers with his wolfish grin, canines glistening in the light. “Turned me down. I’m a hurt man.”
The Doctor snorts, turning back to his controls to stop the music completely. “You’ll live.” Then under his breath, he mutters, “I have.”
“What was that?”
Jack steps towards him, all humour gone, his voice all tones of serious. The Doctor doesn’t look up, instead reaching for the sonic screwdriver in his breast pocket and crouching down.
“Did you find somewhere to sleep?” he asks conversationally, squinting at the dial on the screwdriver.
He is answered by a noise that sounds mid way between a laugh and a snort. Then there are footsteps and out of the corner of his eye he can see Jack’s shins as he leans against the controls beside him. The hum of the sonic screwdriver fills the room and within seconds, a metal panel is detached.
“Doctor...” Jack intones, his voice saying so much more than his word. The Doctor pauses and shuts off the screwdriver.
“If you’re looking for someone to entertain you, I’m busy.” He feels like he is talking to a young child — and maybe he is. Jack can’t be that much older than Rose, after all.
But then, Rose is not a child. She should be; but she isn’t.
“Where’s your good mood gone, Doctor? Think I like you much more when you smile.”
“You’re annoying me,” he responds simply, as if it’s the answer to everything. He flicks the switch of the screwdriver again and pokes it inside the panel he has just opened up. Reaching wires away with his hand, he peers in, rather like a dentist looking for cavities.
Jack sighs exaggeratedly. It gains him nothing.
“I’m surprised Rose puts up with you and your pompous attitude,” he says after a while, staring down to the back of the Doctor’s head.
The Doctor, leaning further forwards into the hole, doesn’t respond.
“Surprised she likes you at all, really. But she does, and if you’re not careful, you’re going to lose her.”
Still no answer, apart from the continued buzz from the screwdriver and rustle of wires.
Jack frowns, irritation flaring. “Doctor?”
“Have you quite finished?” the Doctor snaps suddenly, leaning back out of the control unit and standing to Jack’s height. He glares at him, and the American is momentarily taken aback by the fierceness of the gaze. But not for long.
“That depends — you gonna say anything? Or are you just gonna stand there like the fool you are and watch it all happen?”
The Doctor exhales through his nose, his shoulders falling slightly. His expression may as well be carved from marble, so cold and rigid that it is.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he answers at last, and for once, it is an honest answer. Jack’s head is full of all sort of odds and ends that don’t make sense, snags of ideas that have unravelled and are just left drifting around the debris of a man with no memory. Not that he’s had a peek. Well, not much.
“Come off it, Doc,” Jack laughs with a shrug, tilting his head backwards slightly. He looks to him intently, his voice thick with syrup. “You and me both, know, Doctor: she’s getting... restless...”
The Doctor snorts with contempt, bends to pick up the screwdriver. “She’s getting nothing of the sort.”
“Nothing from you, in any case.” The answer comes back quickly, almost bitingly, and the Doctor loses his footing for a minute. It is enough, and Jack continues. “You’ve seen her, Doctor. You know her. She’s a girl. A twenty year old girl. Youthful, bouncing, full of energy. She has needs.” He smirks relentlessly. “Perhaps you should service her.”
“Oi!” the Doctor warns sharply, because this conversation has gone too far for comfort. He hates the suggestions being made, hates that this man is reducing Rose to nothing more than a piece of meat. His eyes blaze, though he folds his arms calmly and keeps it out of his voice. “Talk about Rose like that again, and you’re out. I mean it. She doesn’t do that sort of thing, and you shouldn’t be one to encourage it.” He is pointing now, waving a finger, and he suddenly realises how domesticated that is. He coughs awkwardly, then crouches down to the panel.
Jack is not to be thwarted. He laughs in full humour, because he can’t quite believe it. “Doctor, tell me, who is it that’s been pulling the wool over your eyes? It’s exactly the sort of thing she does; you need to give her more credit. She’s firing messages left, right and centre.”
The Doctor ignores him, shaking his head adjusting a different setting. He isn’t doing work, just finding something for his hands. Because doing nothing will drive him mad one day. Then there is a comforting hand on his shoulder. He looks up into the face of a friend, a friend who is giving him a pitiful look, who is trying to understand. He never will, but the Doctor appreciates it.
“I’ll tell you now, Doctor, there are a lot of men out there who are less decent than me. They’ll go after her, and they’ll get her.”
He blinks, something of a monster tensing in his stomach, but he swallows it down. He shrugs Jack’s hand off. “So?”
“You’re kidding me. You’re telling me it doesn’t drive you mad, doesn’t just make you burn, when you think of another man touching Rose?”
“Not — my — problem.” He answers Jack in short words, and though it’s a lie of sorts, it is more truth than he’s willing to admit anywhere else right now.
“Well, it’s somebody’s problem, and it sure as hell ain’t mine,” Jack snaps back, his reserves finally failing him. The Doctor looks to him with shock, and is even more surprised to see an angry face. “You want to be careful, though; carry on like this and it’ll be everyone’s problem. It’s been a long day. I’m going to catch some shut-eye. I hope you’re less of an idiot when I wake up.”
He heads away towards the corridor with no more words, a hard gaze following him that’s rigid in shock. Jack hesitates at the door and turns his head sideways, casting the Doctor a look out of the corner of his eye and over his shoulder.
“It won’t go away,” he finishes says simply, before heaving a sigh and departing noisily into the depths of the ship.
The Doctor looks, spellbound, before murmuring into the quietness of the air around him, “You think I don’t know that?”
He has been wandering the corridors for a good ten minutes or so before he finds her in the library, tucked away in her own little corner reading a book.
Sidling up with interest, he enquires, “Any good?”
“Not really.” She shuts the book and looks up, attention fixed on him. The pages lie forgotten. “Know where we’re going next?”
The Doctor chuckles to himself and sits in a chair next to hers. “Hold your horses — I think the Captain’s gone off for a nap.”
“Obviously can’t take your dancing, then,” she teases, fingertips tapping idly on the book cover. “Unlike some of us. Given half a chance.”
An eyebrow arches to his hairline. “I’m going to choose to ignore that comment. He’s only been on board a few hours and he’s already having a bad influence on you.”
Rose leans forwards a little with a cheeky smile, her cheeks flushing ever so slightly. So what if he’s right? What with Jack being aboard, she remembers that life isn’t always about the adventure. Sometimes it’s about times like these, too.
“You love it,” she drawls, giving him a lazy smile.
“No — you just think I do.”
This catches her off guard and she sits up again with a frown. “’Scuse me?”
“Rose, things aren’t as simple as A and B around here,” he breathes through a sigh, glancing to the table.
“No, there’s a C now.”
He almost laughs. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Well then, you’d better tell me what you do mean,” she bites back, her tone not exactly civil. “Because I haven’t a clue. I haven’t a bloody clue what goes on in that head of yours.”
“No,” he agrees, eyes shooting to hers in a piercing stare. “And you’re not gonna find out.”
“Then why the hell am I even bothering?” she retorts, getting to her feet and breezing past him. She isn’t quite sure how he has managed to get her so aggravated, again, but he’s done it now and she can feel irritation cloak her already. She hates this side of him, the side that closes himself off from her and smothers whatever he can with a joke. It hurts when sometimes he lets her think he’ll let her in — then just pushes her away even further.
He doesn’t try to stop her, and she doesn’t care. She has better things to do with her time than being patronised by a moody Time Lord.
But then she is half way towards the door and he says her name.
That’s all it is. Just her name. Simple, one syllable. From the sound of his voice, he hasn’t even turned. She twists her body slowly, looking back to him. He’s still sitting there, back to her, head up and hand resting lightly on the table surface. That texture of her name is till fresh in her memory and she wonders if it is only him who has a knack for saying her name just like that.
After a moment or two of building silence, he stands slowly and faces her. He isn’t angry any more, or even vaguely annoyed. He is something else, and Rose is entranced. She takes a step towards him, without really meaning to, and he holds her gaze gently. Then he opens his mouth, pauses, and speaks.
“If you knew... half the things I’ve done...” And he sighs, looks away, stares at the light switch on the wall instead of at her.
As she watches him, Rose feels her anger ebb away. That tone in his voice is almost pleading, defeated, and she has never quite heard it before. He fascinates her, does this man — this alien. She wants to know everything about him, even if he’s not willing to share. So she takes another step, this one tentative as she pleads entry into his personal space. He accepts with a watchful eye.
“Tell me?” she requests quietly.
For a moment, it looks as though he just might. He looks scared and lost. He looks alone. It frightens her, shocks her, and she wants to reach out to take his hand and comfort him. But then the moment passes and he is back to his normal, rigid self.
He juts his chin out sincerely. “If you knew the things I’ve seen... the things I’ve done... Rose, you’d be off this ship faster than you can say goodbye. There are races — hundreds of races — that are extinct because of me. Because I’m alive. I’ve... I've done things to people that would make you cry with terror. I’ve made people do things that would make your blood burn. I’ve watched things happen that you would die to protect. You have no idea what that’s like. I’ve got the lives of billions on my shoulders — and I don’t plan on sharing that any time soon. Not with you. Not with anyone.”
Rose isn’t sure how to respond to that. He has never offered her anything like this before. She gives a shy shrug and looks at him with an open face.
“You saved the world today.”
His smile is no less wry, no less bitter, than it was before. “I always save the world. Some world. Some where.”
“Maybe. But you saved everyone, Doctor. Everyone who was dead, you brought ‘em back to life. That’s six billion people who were gonna die, and you saved the lot of them. Even the nine year old kid. You gave him a family again, even though he should have died. You even saved the Captain, just to top it all off.”
He tilts his head, warmth in his eyes. “He’s not a Captain, Rose.”
“Yeah, whatever,” she answered quickly, giving him a pointed look that tells him Captain or no, he’s still alive. “You still did it. You did the impossible. So where’s that sparkle got to, Doctor? Where’s the man who can dance for the world?”
He holds her gaze. Her soft, gentle, sweet gaze. She’s right. It doesn’t add up, it never will — but she’s right anyway, because defying her that seems like a sin. Her smile is infectious and soon he is letting it consume him, the corners touching gently at his glimmering eyes.
“He’s right here,” the Doctor says fondly. He owes her so much. Then he holds out his hand delicately towards her, palm up in invitation. “Dance, Rose Tyler?”
If she accepts, it will mean so many things. Forgiveness; acceptance; pride. If he dares to think about it, maybe even love. The glance they share lingers, but he refuses to let it intensify, refuses to let his actions mean more than they do. He simply stands, patiently, waiting for her response.
In a few seconds, her hand is in his. His face cracks into the most beautiful smile she has ever seen, and a blush creeps over her cheeks.
“That’s my girl,” the Doctor encourages quietly, looking directly into her eyes. They smile at each other.
Then music begins to play. And they dance like they are on top of the world.
Back to index
Chapter 12: Boom Town
Author's Notes: WARNING: This chapter has one excerpt of strong language. Just letting you know.
Part the Eleventh — Boom Town
She looks up hurriedly from the edge of her bed, stuffing a hand beneath the duvet and breezing a smile as she turns. She reaches to tuck the hair away from her eyes then hovers it there, watching warmly as Jack takes a couple of paces into the room.
The dim, gentle light throws shadows across his face, making his returning smile look slightly gaunt.
“We wondered where you were,” Jack explains, finding an excuse. “We were all having a good time, and then we turn around and you’re gone!”
Rose gives a cursory nod and looks back to her feet again. “I was just here. Thinking. S’all right.”
“Thinking about what?” He eyes the hand still hidden under the duvet and frowns to himself, suddenly fascinated. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” Rose sighs, but her tone implies that it’s everything. Jack approaches cautiously and sits with her on the bed, giving a sympathetic look and reaching a hand to her knee in comfort.
“You can tell me,” he pleads softly.
Rose shakes her head and closes her eyes, lips biting inwards as though she is trying not to cry.
“I Just... I keep hurting him.”
Her voice is defeated and she slumps against Jack, her entire weight falling into him. He removes his hand from her leg, instead putting it around her shoulder. Holding her close, he leans and kisses the crown of her head, then rests his chin there while his thumb draws idle patterns against her arm.
He becomes vaguely aware of her shaking and he closes his eyes, trying to drown out the noise of her tears and make it so that she doesn’t have to cry any more. Even with all the time he has spent on the TARDIS, he has barely seen Rose cry. And it scares him. She is usually so strong and so full of life that seeing her like this is enough to break any man’s heart.
“Who do you keep hurting, sweetheart?” he asks tenderly, shifting slightly on the bed to avoid pins and needles in his foot.
Rose, suddenly aware of just how much of herself she has shown to him, sniffs and pulls away. Her make up is smudged, but neither care.
She gives him a bitter smile, laughs ruefully, then wipes at her eyes.
“S’silly, really. Doesn’t matter.”
She begins to leave the comfort of his arms, but he second hand grabs hers with force. His gaze meets hers and he looks at her with honesty.
“It’s... Mickey...” Rose answers, almost breaking again just by the look he’s giving her. “I keep trying to make up for the fact I’m not there. But it doesn’t matter. ‘E still gets hurt, an’ it’s all my fault, an’ he can’t even come with us. He wanted to, a while ago, but the Doctor wouldn’t let him. Now I don’t even think he wants to anymore.”
“He might be going through a tough time,” Jack offers, for lack of anything better to say. He feels like he is just filling empty space with his words, but he presses on nonetheless. “Could be he’s just reached a point in his life that he likes. It does a lot to someone to uproot everyone they are and live this sort of life.” He chucked her gently under the chin and she smiles bashfully. “You know that.”
“Nah,” Rose counters, shaking her head again. “It’s more than that. I asked him to get my passport ‘cause I wanted to see him. But we didn’t have anything to talk about. S’like we’ve become two different people than we used to be.”
Jack nods wisely, dropping his hand to splay out on the bed behind them as he leans back. “Yeah, that sort of thing happens when you travel in time. I mean, take me — I’ve changed loads since meeting you guys. I used to be all about the con. Now I’m anything but.”
“Yeah. S’pose it’s the Doctor.”
He gives her a soft look, tilting his head. “I suppose it is.”
There is a pause and Rose looks like she has more to say. Jack waits patiently, just watching her, letting his eyes graze the contours of her body. She finally speaks, but can’t quite look at him.
“We were... gonna rent a hotel room.”
Jack’s eyebrows shoot to his forehead, but Rose flusters on without giving him a chance to comment.
“Thought it might be nice to... catch up. But I couldn’t do it, and neither could he. Even before all that stuff with Margaret. And he can’t even move on ‘cause I’ll always come back. How can I do that to him?”
“I’ll tell you how. Because it’s not your responsibility. If he wants to sit around waiting for you, that’s his choice. You’ve moved on, even if he hasn’t, and one day he’ll accept that. Maybe he’s already begun. But you can’t let his faults bring you down.”
“But... I love him,” she protests weakly, sitting slightly back on the bed. She turns to Jack with large, shadowed eyes, her mascara making it looked like she has been punched. “Or — I used to. Once.”
Jack gives her one of his most gentle smiles and reaches to brush some hair away from her cheek. Rose doesn’t protest, just watches him with innocent eyes.
“Love changes,” he murmurs gently and his eyes glitter as her beside lamp flickers. She wonders if he is speaking out of experience — there is something like a hollow memory reflected in his voice. “I don’t just mean it changes you, but what you feel for someone you love... it’s never a constant. Like time: always fluctuating as the seconds tick by. It never stays the same, and there will be days you think you’ve gone mad. Other times it’s just like the hum of the TARDIS around us. So maybe what you have with Mickey is a different kind of love to what it used to be. Maybe it’s changed now that you’ve...”
He trails off suddenly, mouth open like there is more to say. His eyes dart to hers warily and suddenly he is sitting up straight again, a grin in place of his serious expression.
It doesn’t fool Rose for a second and she sits up too, intrigued by the tone of voice he used.
“Now that I’ve what?”
His smile fades and he takes a breath, words hovering at her edges of a sigh. After what feels like the longest moment she has ever experienced in the TARDIS, Jack finishes his sentence.
“Maybe it’s changed since meeting the Doctor.”
Without waiting for a response, Jack gets to his feet. Rose follows him and grabs his arm, frowning as she forces him to look at her. Worry floods her — does Jack know? She has to make sure, because if Jack knows, then the Doctor probably knows. And then she will be in a whole new mess.
“Maybe what’s changed?” she pleads, looking up to his eyes gaze.
Jack smiles gently and tenderly removes her hand from his arm. Then he bends his head and kisses her briefly on the cheek. In her ear, he whispers softly, “I think you already know.”
Then he withdraws, circling back around the bed towards the door. Over his shoulder, he casually throws back, “It’s changed for him too, you know.”
And he’s gone.
Rose stares after him, her heart racing. Then, as if the whole TARDIS might implode if she moves too quickly, she sits on the corner of the bed again and reaches for the book she hid under the duvet when Jack found her. Turning a page, she smiles as tears come to her eyes.
Mickey always was very photogenic.
Rose jumps and turns, the fridge door closing as she lets it go. She eyes the Doctor suspiciously — what is it with the men in this ship hovering in doorways when they’re around her? He’s standing there with folded arms, shoulder leaning against the frame for support and an odd expression on his face. It matches his tone, which she can’t quite make out as angry, upset, or gentle. It is a strange combination.
Apparently she has taken too long to respond. He says her name, again, this time unfolding his arms and standing a little straighter.
Rose signifies the milk in her hand. “Want a cuppa? I was just making — ”
“A little bird told me you’ve been upset. Are you all right?”
She blinks at him a moment, then puts the milk on the counter and shakes her head bitterly. “That little bird’s gonna get his neck wrung.” She meets the Doctor’s gaze, then, folding her arms over her chest protectively. “How much’s he told you?”
“Enough for me to come find you. Want to talk about it?”
She sighs petulantly. “Not really.”
“Oh.” He seems a little taken aback at that and Rose has to hold back a frown of contempt. He doesn’t let her in on everything that goes on his mind — why should he know everything of hers?
“It’s not really anything to do with you...” she tries to explain lamely, avoiding his eye contact and gazing down to her shoes.
The reply that comes back is bitter. “Yeah, that helps. Thanks. I feel so much better.”
“It’s not really about you, is it?” she answers back, voice rising a pitch or two. She looks up and meets his gaze with a fierce stare. He’s staring right back at her.
An awkward moment hangs between them as they watch each other. Rose is reminded of Margaret, of the stares that followed her around the room when they were to send her to her death. She looks away.
“I can’t believe Jack told you,” Rose mutters, almost to herself. She is giving the toaster a hard stare, but doesn’t really care. Anything to avoid looking at him right now.
“Why? ‘Cause he’s supposed to stick to the ‘best mate’ rule?”
“Well yeah, now you mention it.” A glance out of the corner of her eye tells her he’s still angry. He is standing with arms folded tightly across his chest, his weight shifted onto his left leg.
“Tough. No secrets in the TARDIS, Rose. No secrets anywhere.”
There is a sneering, patronising challenge in his voice, and she doesn’t like it one bit. She is not a child.
“Oh yeah, who died and made you the king to the universe, then?”
The Doctor’s eyes blaze somewhat as he informs her, “My entire race.” His voice is the sort of level that is even more dangerous than a shout or scream, which Rose might have instead expected from him. She gazes at him, not sure what to say. The knife of guilt twists in her stomach as she realises the impact of the Doctor’s words, and over a few seconds, her expression changes from anger to sympathy.
His eyes glance back to hers and his face relaxes; he’s already pushing those sorts of thoughts away from his mind. But Rose can see it and she is desperate for him not to hide away this time, not to shy away from her. She tilts her head. looking at him meaningfully, then says in her softest voice, “You can trust me.”
He smiles wryly at her, holding her gaze. Maybe she deserves an explanation, after all this time. Maybe he deserves one.
“Yeah, I know. And I do. To the end of the world. But — ” Stepping forward, he puts a hand gently on her arm, just above her elbow, as he stares down into her eyes — “you don’t trust me.”
“I do!” Rose protests, looking hurt and feeling like he is rejecting her. She tries to convince him. “Doctor, you know I do. I... I’d die for you.”
He swallows, his smile shaking on his face. “Don’t say that.”
“But I mean it. I would.”
Rose feels hot tears clench in her chest and sniffs them away. This conversation has turned into something much more than it was meant.
“No,” he counters softly, his voice broken. “You wouldn’t. You’d die for a man you think you know. A man you think you love. But you won’t and don’t — because that man doesn’t exist, Rose Tyler. He might exist up here — ” and he taps her temple gently with his fingers, before drawing back and putting the hand over his hearts — “but he’s not in here. He’s not the man you see.”
“What?” Rose doesn’t believe him, but her voice is gentle. “How can you say that?”
“Cos.” He shrugs like it’s meaningless. “It’s true.”
She looks up to him with large, innocent eyes, and in that one moment, he adores her. “I don’t understand. I can see you. Feel you — how can you tell me that’s not real?”
“I’m a lie,” he says shortly, like it explains everything. The Doctor drops his hand, but does not cease his hold on her gaze. She looks right back, an air of defiance about her. He feels her hand delicately on his wrist, but cannot look away to check it’s really there.
“You’re not,” she tells him firmly.
He doesn’t even smile now. “I am. Everything I stand for, everything you see around you — it’s all lie. And the sooner you learn to accept that, the better.”
“Give me a reason.” Her challenge is well meant, and though her eyes haven’t exactly grown cold, the Doctor can sense that edgy tone in her voice that makes him want to cower. He hates making Rose angry. “’Cause I can’t see one, Doctor, and I don’t think you can either.”
He shakes himself away from her grip and steps away, steps back, making his space his own. He manages to hold her eye contact just long enough to inform her, “There are things in this world that aren’t meant for you, Rose Tyler. And I’m one of them.”
“I don’t... understand.”
The look of melancholy in his eyes intensifies, before he glances to the floor. “No,” the Doctor agrees sadly in a quiet voice. “You wouldn’t. No one does.”
Images of Margaret flash into his mind and he is suddenly back in that restaurant, the silence drowning him as he watches her. He can see the words form on her lips before she has even said them. Only a killer would know that. He damns the truth in that sentence, and even now, it hurts. He has spent his whole life killing, relentlessly. He would do it again, given half the chance. Maybe the next time he’ll be merciful. Or maybe he will make them scream like the rest.
The memory fades, and he shivers, the unpleasant tingle down his spine a reminder of who he has betrayed. He only remembers Rose is there when she speaks.
She echoes words Jack has already said to her this evening, but these are pleading and gentle. She sees him already frozen, like he has turned to marble. He is cold. She wants to go over to him and tell him that it will be all right — but there are some things he just has to do on his own, and this process is one of them. So, patiently, she waits. She will wait an entire universe for her Doctor.
The jacket rustles as he folds his arms over his chest, tucking his hands under his armpits with his thumbs resting in the crooks. He gives the floor a very hard stare, his jaw square, his lips tight, and his eyes flirt with anger as he betrays to Rose just some of the secrets that he has been hiding from the whole world. Except that he isn’t really talking to her, and they both know it.
“I had their lives in my hands...” he begins slowly, uncertainly, like he has been silent for so many years and isn’t sure how to speak. “...And I destroyed ‘em. They trusted me to save them, and I didn’t.”
“You mean you couldn’t,” Rose says quietly, edging towards him. She has her own ideas of the Time War and its effects, particularly on the Doctor, and the guilt that he lays down on himself won’t help him.
But then he looks up and she freezes. His eyes are swirling, pleading with her — she has no choice but to listen. His mouth moves, but she isn’t sure if he is aware he is talking. His eyes look so hollow she feels her own begin to sting with tears that aren’t hers, tears she doesn’t deserve but will willingly cry for the Doctor if he seemingly cannot.
“No. I mean I didn’t. I could have; but I didn’t. They were waiting for the call of retreat... it was useless... fire everywhere. The type that rips through the seams of time. Destroys races. Corrupts.” He isn’t talking to her anymore, and she knows that, watches in faint horror as he stares emptily through her. He is a hollow shell of the man who was standing in a kitchen just a few minutes ago. “That’s why your World Wars were so close together — because we were all at war. No escape. Ever wonder about that? Want to know why? Ask the man who lit the match; who made the universe burn. Ask me. I made it happen, the lot of it, and then I didn’t even save the people I made it happen for. All the races who fought by our side suffered when I didn’t give that command. They waited for it, but it never came.”
Rose swallows, her throat itching with tears. “...Why?”
“Because. I’m a coward. I’m a fucking coward — and I thought we could win. I thought I had it in the bag and that it would pass over me with no consequence. They... screamed...” His eyes shine for a moment and he pauses mid sentence, mouth open and breath half way out of his lungs. He is remembering, seeing it played out right in front of his eyes. “They screamed for me... begged me to call them back. Begged me for mercy. I thought they were weak, so I kept going. We could have won another way. Lots of other ways. I told them I’d save them if they trusted me. I was so sure I was right.” For a moment, he becomes whole again and Rose sees her Doctor looking back at her as he finishes. “They all died — all of them — because I didn’t save them. They trusted me with their lives, and I threw them away like it didn’t matter. The brave die; and the cowards survive. I’ve learned since then. But it won’t bring them back. They’ve gone further than even I can reach. And now, I have to carry on. Because no one else will. There’s no one else left.”
“Oh, God,” Rose chokes quietly, bringing a hand to her mouth and blinking away her tears. Her throat feels like something is forcing its way up and she closes her eyes for just a moment. Searing pain ripples across her lashes as she holds her cry in.
The Doctor laughs bitterly. “Far, far from it.”
She cannot take it any more. Opening her eyes and steeling herself, for him, Rose walks over and gathers him in her arms, winding her hands behind his neck and holding him close to her. He is reluctant at first, surprised by her sudden assault — but she persists and within seconds, his arms are around her, his hands splayed on her back and his face buried in her neck.
They hold each other for long moments, the Doctor not caring to admit he does this willingly and Rose too bowled over by his admittance to do much else. Then they are gazing at each other, bodies close and eyes locked on one another.
The Doctor frowns pityingly and removes his hand from her back, cupping her cheek roughly and tracing her eyelid with his thumb.
“Don’t cry,” he murmurs quietly, regret and pleading in his voice. “Not for me. Don’t ever cry — my Rose Tyler.”
He dips his head towards her and places soft lips on her eyelashes, removing all traces of tears as he drifts delicately across from one to the other. Her arms wrap around him tighter, looking for the comfort that he should be seeking as she fades into his hold. He finds his own comfort in a chaste kiss on her mouth, a touch of lips as he whispers breath across her jaw. Then he withdraws, kisses her on the tip of her nose, once on her forehead, and releases her, content in the knowledge she has calmed.
Rose lets him go, lets him slip away from her grip, and opens her eyes. She feels a little flushed, embarrassed by her tears and touched by the Doctor’s attempts at showing her he cares. He gives a small nod, like he is agreeing to a business proposition, then meets her eye for just a second before disappearing out of the kitchen. She stands for a moment, spell-bound, the ghost of him imprinted in her mind. She sees him smiling, sees him taking her hand. Then she sees him fade to the distant realms of memory, his story coming to the front most part and making her want to cry with worry.
If he hurts this much from sharing this little, she wonders how he copes with it when he’s alone.
She doesn’t know that these days, her name is the constant rhythm in the beating of his hearts.
Back to index
Chapter 13: Interlude - Caution to the Wind
Author's Notes: The recording of an image we're all too familiar with...
Interlude — Caution to the Wind
“This is Emergency Programme One. Rose, you have to listen. We’re in grave danger, and there’s no way out, so just take a couple of minutes and you’ll be... oh... sod this for a laugh.”
The Doctor sighs irritably and flicks off the recording switch on the side of the console. He shakes his head with scorn and closes his eyes, trying to clear his head. He has been planning this for weeks. Months, even. Ever since that run in with the Dalek, all that time ago. He knew then that he couldn’t stand to lose Rose. Not in any circumstances the universe will throw at him, anyway. Ever since, he has tried — and failed — to put some time away and come up with this message. But every time, the words are wrong; the emotions seem lifeless; the explanations are never enough. How can a two minute recording portray how he feels? How is he supposed to warn her about what he’s doing when he can’t even bring himself to do it? How can he say goodbye when he can’t let go?
He won’t deny that he’s been happy for an excuse to walk away and leave it for another day.
Complications from every side have stopped him doing this; but they haven’t stopped him caring about her. Far from it, in fact. His hands are so slick with sweat even at the thought of losing her, his palms almost slip on the console. He absently reaches and chucks a bolt over to the corner of the room, listens as it clangs to the floor. Then he hesitates, stalling again, as he stares to the recording device. Why is this so difficult? It’s just a warning, an explanation, and how many of those does he dish out in a day?
Except that this is more than just another explanation. This is goodbye.
Goodbye? He asks himself pityingly. Since when does ‘the Doctor’ do goodbye?
I know, answers another, less reasonable, part of himself. Since that Rose Tyler girl. I told you she was trouble, didn’t I? But did you listen to me? Nope!
Now he’s in more trouble than he could ever have asked for or dreamed of — and he loves it.
The Doctor, with another sigh, lets his hand hover over the ‘record’ switch again. In his mind he tries to sort out what he needs to tell her — what she’ll need to know if sending her home with the TARDIS ever comes about. But all he can think about is what he wants to tell her, all the words, emotions and explanations that occupy his head whenever she’s around be damned. They are none of them enough for what she deserves, anyway; but he can’t pretend he doesn’t feel things towards her that haven’t been felt by him in a very long time.
Maybe he should practise again. A trial run. It might loosen him up enough to try something more real, something with foundation.
“Rose...” he begins a little nervously, like she is in the room, watching him. He checks over his shoulder just in case, before shaking his head and starting again. “Rose. This is Emergency Programme One. If you’re watching this, it means it’s all over for me. The end. Game over. It’s not gonna be that way for you. I promised your mother I’d protect you and I get the feeling I’d burn in hell for disobeying her.” He laughs bitterly at the image in his mind before continuing. “Anyway, what I mean, Rose... The TARDIS is taking you home. I can’t even begin to explain how I feel towards this, towards losing you. Because if you’re seeing this, it means I’ve given you up. And nothing apart from the end of the universe could make me do that to you. It seems a too unfair way to do this, but I’ve got no other choice. Thinking about it now, standing here, imagining I’ll never see you again... It just — it feels... wrong.
“D’you remember when we met, Rose? All that time ago? The first time I took your hand? You were scared — so scared. But I took your fingers in mine and told you to run. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a normal life. Believe it or not, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. S’pose it’s safe to say that... you’re my taxi home. At two in the morning. You’re my street corner. Y’know,” he laughs upon reflection, completely taken with memory now, “I’ve never heard such a cack-handed attempt at an explanation as in that lift afterwards. You were so innocent. And I... Oh, Rose. You just don’t get it. Even now, when you’re asleep in your room down the corridor — after all this time... you still don’t understand.
“There’s too much at stake in this world to contemplate losing you. You’re so much better than that. You’ve shown me so much, and don’t go getting all cocky with me, I’m still the genius ‘round here. But I can’t imagine how different my life would be without you. You daft ape. I just... I wish there was a way that I could...” He lets out a drawn breath, letting the sentence go and shaking his head with contempt. “We’re so different, you and I. But you’re beautiful. And fantastic. And the best friend a bloke could ever ask for. So I s’pose it’s not completely surprising if I... if I say...”
His hearts are thumping rapidly against his ribcage, almost suffocating his quick breathing. He isn’t even on record, yet he feels like everything around him is being monitored. How can he tell her he loves her? How can he just pass off the way Rose makes him feel in a recorded message, in those simple words? How are human words supposed to convey how he feels towards her? He isn’t even sure how to explain in his own language, let alone hers. He just... loves; it’s as simple as that. He loves the universe and everything in the universe, which just happens to include Rose. You can’t live this life with someone and not end up loving them. He’s loved her since the Gelth. No, since the courage in her eyes as she watched her world burn and still took his hand. No. No, not even then.
He has loved her since she gave up her life and swung on a chain to save his. Ever since then, he has just fallen deeper, a continuous spiral in all directions.
“Oh, Rose,” the Doctor murmurs with despair, sound muffled through his palms as he buries his head in his hands. “Where do I begin? Where the hell do I begin?”
And suddenly, his head snaps up in realisation. His wide eyes blink for a moment or two and he lowers his hands. She saved his life. She has been saving him ever since. This programme is about returning the favour: nothing more. She doesn’t need to know what goes on in his mind when he thinks of letting go of her — that is for another day. She needs his support, his love, the freedom from him that she’ll deserve when the time comes. The freedom to live. It is the least he can do after everything she has done for him.
Without a second thought, he turns to the console and hits the switch. Then, with a steadying breath, he looks forward and begins to speak. There are no breaks in his voice now — he knows exactly what he needs to say.
“This is Emergency Programme One. Rose, listen to me. This is important...”
Back to index
Chapter 14: Bad Wolf
Author's Notes: So, the penultimate to the last episode. Let's see how it shapes up... Comments would be love :)
Part the Twelfth — Bad Wolf
The communications controller shatters as it hurls towards the floor. The Doctor, hands braced against the controls of this wretched machine, bows his head so low he is almost touching it. His shoulders shake with the effort of just keeping himself standing. Rose. They’ve got Rose. She wasn’t destroyed by the disintegrator beam — but she may as well have been. He wouldn’t wish her fate on anyone. They’ve got her and they may well be killing her, right now, and he’s just standing here. No way out.
A hungry silence consumes them all as they look upon the Doctor. The programmers exchange looks, unsure of what to do. They don’t know of Daleks. They don’t even know what’s going on. Jack has an idea, but only the Doctor knows how to fix it.
The friend watches with a growing coil of pain in his stomach. The Doctor is a broken man. He has never seen him cry before, and having to stand back and watch now is like watching the universe fall to pieces, tear by tear. The silence is strung together by the terrifying sound of gentle sobs that makes the hairs on the back of Jack’s neck tingle.
But then the Doctor stands and turns, and he is surprised to see a triumphant grin on his face. He is not crying, but laughing. Jack, catching the expression, chuckles a little without knowing why. Then he is infected too, and both of the men collapse into helpless giggles. The Doctor strides over, shaking his head with the absurdity of it all. The American slings a loose but comforting arm around his shoulder, and the Doctor laughs harder. The sound rises up and fills the entire room, every corner of atmosphere it can reach. The rest of the workers look on, unnerved.
“Oh, it’s stupid,” the Doctor breathes at last, reaching to his eye to wipe away a stray tear.
Jack grins at him, bumps his shoulder a little and drops his arm. “What’s stupid?”
“This.” The Doctor makes a wide gesture with his arm, sweeping it around to convey the room. “All this. It’s just daft. And those things, they can’t win. They just can’t win! Fantastic!”
The Doctor is already striding over to Archive Six. One of the programmers, the one who tried to stop Jack before, looks as though she is about to protest — but then Jack glares at her, his smile completely faded, and she backs off. There is no more argument as they make their way back to the TARDIS, back to where they belong, without another word.
The Doctor doesn’t care. He is beyond caring, seeing only darkness in front of him and darkness behind and — trapped in the very middle of it — Rose. Golden Rose, lighting the way. His hearts ache that little bit more when he thinks of how far away she is from him. But not for long.
The smile he gives lights up the entire room when he sees the TARDIS standing proudly before him. He approaches cautiously, as though she will lash out at him if he’s not careful. With an almost tentative hand, he strokes the wall of the blue police box gently, smiling up at her.
With a fond voice, he asks, “What have they done to you?”
Jack, who is fumbling with the key in the lock, stops a moment and looks over his shoulder. The two men share an understanding gaze.
“We’ll get her back,” Jack tries to reassure his friend, key still pressed firmly into the lock.
The Doctor smiles lazily. “I know.”
“I swear, Doctor, if they hurt her — ”
“Doesn’t matter,” he cuts across. Jack looks startled. The Doctor is still smiling, but it is dangerous and fierce: the smile of a madman.
“What d’you mean it ‘doesn’t matter’?” the American echoes in disbelief.
He gets a shrug in return.
“Just that. It doesn’t matter what they do to her.”
Jack stares. “How can you say that? After everything we’ve been through? Everything she means to us?” His voice rises a couple of decibels, anger evident. The Doctor rolls his eyes and elbows the man out of the way, completing the turn of the key and pushing the door open with his shoulder.
“It doesn’t matter what they do — ” he explains, striding over to the console with the air of a man who has murder in his mind “ — because they’ve already lost. They’ve already done the one thing that could kill them, the worst possible thing they could do. They can hurt her and it won’t matter. They can kill her, and it won’t matter. They can tear the stars out from the sky and it just won’t matter.”
He turns and faces the dumbstruck American, his grin sparkling. Jack still stands in the doorway, mouth open in appalled disbelief.
It’s the look on the Doctor’s face that makes him ask his question. “Why?”
And suddenly the grin fades. Suddenly there is thick, swirling darkness behind those lazuli eyes and who he is — who the Doctor really is — is suddenly standing before him. And he’s terrified.
“Because,” the man answers is a voice that would make the sky tremble, “I am the Oncoming Storm. The Bringer of Darkness. The Destroyer of Worlds. And nobody takes my Rose Tyler. I have the power to change the universe. I can make them burn until there’s nothing left to scream. I can make them wish they’d never dared to take her from me. And I’ll do it — they’ve taken her from me once. They’re not going to do it again.” He suddenly changes again, the grin returned, his demeanour relaxed. He almost laughs as he continues, “So, if you’re ready, mind getting out of that doorway? There’s a bit of a draught. Help me hook up the extrapolater and we can be on our way.”
Jack walks forward, feeling in somewhat of a daze. The door clicks shut as he approaches the Doctor with confusion written in the frown on his brow.
“Hook up the extrapolater? You still have that piece of junk?”
“Not junk,” the Doctor counters merrily, bending down and producing it from under the console. He chucks it to the startled American. “Rig it up, it’ll make a nice little forcefield. So come on, we’ve got a date.”
“And we’re going... where, exactly?” Jack asks uncertainly, staring at the piece of metal in his hand.
The Doctor sighs like he has explained this countless times before. “You. Me. Rose. Now.”
“But... she’s in the middle of a Dalek fleet.”
“Well observed. Would you rather help or stand there pointing out the obvious?”
Jack feels a sudden energy bloom from inside him, feels excited like he never has before. He grins like the devious con man he once used to be and winks rakishly, crouching down and producing wires that he can hook up to the extrapolater.
The Doctor cranks down a lever, using his whole body strength behind it. He grins into the golden light, knowing that there’s not a thing those damn Space Dustbins can do to stop him. Not any more. There isn’t even any question.
The two men work frantically as the TARDIS begins to shake and rattle with the journey from the Game Station. The Doctor stares up the central column and something like pleading flickers across his face.
“Hold on, Rose,” he murmurs quietly while the TARDIS gives another almighty lurch. “I’m coming.”
Back to index
Chapter 15: The Parting of the Ways
Author's Notes: Well, here it is folks. The last of season one. I re-read this a few times and wondered if it was quite right, but there's really not much I could do to change it. And, seeing as I wrote it after watching POTW and reading through the transcripts (as well as the shooting scripts), I must have written it how I felt was the best way. So, without much further ado, here it is - and rest safe in the knowledge that I'll be back in a little while with excerpts from season 2 (which, may I add, has a slightly changed writing style in that it's less about the angst and more about what's actually going on). For now, however, here's what you've all been waiting for...
Part the Thirteenth — The Parting of the Ways
She wakes, her head a dizzy mess of dreams. There is no up or down, no right or wrong, no life or death — that sounds like a nursery rhyme from once upon a time, she thinks. Colours she has never seen before, strange feelings, travel... Now she has a headache, too, and that hurts. The light from a breath cannot light her way.
Shaking slightly, Rose recognises the TARDIS. She is safe, at least, even if nothing inside her makes sense.
“...What happened?” she asks uncertainly, not even sure if she’s asking anyone, or why. She knows it is her voice that asks it, but it doesn’t feel like her. It feels tainted and impure, someone else’s voice that she has stolen and used for herself. She glances to the Doctor and frowns. Was he... always there? Just standing there, like that?
He shrugs in return, barely casting her a glance.
“Don’t you remember?” he asks, and she can’t tell if he is incredulous or curious. Or both.
“It’s like...” She fumbles for words — memories — anything. A voice inside her head would do. She wonders if she can hear it. Maybe. Peaceful and serene, it surrounds her if she listens. “...there was this singing.”
She remembers something that isn’t her memory, from years ago. A lullaby to get her to sleep, to somehow let all the troubles of the world drift away into nothing and leave everything unharmed. It reminds her that everything is all right. How can she remember and not know? Memories begin to thicken. There was... want. Need. She needed to... see... something. The words of the song drift back, but distant, like they are being sung over rifts and cracks in space. Like they aren’t hers but somehow connect to everything. Her mind fills with golden light — of a dream from a thousand years ago.
...I see the moon...
...and the moon sees me...
...The moon sees the somebody I'd like to see...
...God bless the moon...
...and God bless me...
...God bless the somebody I'd like to see...
He looks up and gives a wry smile.
“That’s right — I sang a song and the Daleks ran away.”
Maybe humour is not a strong point so near to regeneration, he thinks. Probably for the best. He couldn’t bear it if Rose were left with a man who couldn’t take life like this seriously. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her stand, but he pretends to concentrate on the controls in front of him as the TARDIS drifts through the vortex. She is crying — practically screaming — inside his head. Her insides have been damaged, tainted, torn out, and he knows it is his fault. Maybe next time he will take better care of her and not take her for granted. Maybe next time he will manage to do things right.
He thinks of Jack and that is his fault, too. Jack... the best conman, flirt and friend a rogue Time Lord could ever ask for. He never did get the ending he deserved. And sweet little Lynda-with-a-Y... he will never see her smile again, never get to tell her what a wonderful spark of humanity she was. He made the world she died for. It makes him sick.
I want to see you become like me... We are the same... The Great Exterminator... Coward or Killer...
Maybe this is deserved, then. Maybe the filth are right.
“I was at home...” She is shaky on her feet, unsure of herself, and the Doctor has to try hard not to focus on her. He knows that if he does, he will rush to her side, and that will spell complications on all sides. She doesn’t need that from him. “No, I was in the TARDIS. There was this light and...” Oh Rassilon. He knew it was too good to be true; he can feel every molecule of blood as it passes through his system. It burns — it all burns. And he along with it. He can see it, even in his hand. “...I can’t remember anything else.”
He remembers everything, sees everything, feels everything. It all feels like death. He knows how this is going to end, even without his second sight. And it hurts all the more because Rose deserves so much better.
“Rose Tyler.” He laughs her name bitterly, giving a smile that is not in the least bit humorous. She can still see the humour in it, though, bless her. He loves her a little bit more for that. “I was gonna take you so many places. Barcelona! Not the city Barcelona,” he explain hurriedly, noting her expression. He knows this will now help in the end, but right now, he has to keep talking because words are all he can give her. They are all he has. If there is silence then everything will drown him. “The planet — you’d love it. Fantastic place, they’ve got dogs with no noses; imagine how many times a day you end up saying that joke. And it’s still funny!”
He grins stupidly, his brain not even in contact with his mouth any more. He doesn’t want to be going on about noseless dogs and random planets. He wants to tell her that Barcelona is the planet of dreams, and that he wants to take her there because she deserves it. He wants to say that she is the best, that he will kiss every last bit of time vortex out of her and still go back for more. Except that she can’t even remember the last touch they’ll ever share, the last kiss, the last connection. So what’s the point? He knows this is for the best, one way or another; but it still hurts. His hearts hurt. He can only look at her longingly, knowing it is just a matter of time.
She frowns, confused, the tune of the beautiful song dying away. He is going on about Barcelona and bad jokes, for some reason, and it doesn’t make sense. Nothing make sense. Where was she? Mickey... her Mum... why can’t she remember?
“Then...” she asks carefully, letting none of her troubles show to the Doctor. Maybe she will tell him, one day, but he is acting strange now and it seems like he needs her help. She eyes him almost suspiciously. He seems different, somehow. Changed. Like he knows something she doesn’t. “Why can’t we go?”
“Maybe you will,” he shrugs off-handedly. “And maybe I will. But not like this.”
He sounds like he is taking her home, she realises, and panic floods her. That stupid Emergency Programme springs into her mind: Emergency Programme One means I’m facing an enemy who should never get their hands on this machine... Is this what happens, then? Is this what he’s going to do? She’s done something wrong. She came back, somehow, and has given the TARDIS to the aliens and now he’s taking her home. She won’t let him — it’s not fair!
Except... she thinks again, confused. She knows that isn’t it. Everything about him is all wrong. He’s not angry. He doesn’t seem to be anything. She can’t tell what he is. He’s holding something back from her, and that scares her even more. It terrifies her to the end of the Earth — what’s going on that he can’t tell her about? She has never seen him act like this before. She doesn’t know what to trust within herself — even instinct is telling her to run and never look back. She’ll never run without him by her side, she knows, so why is she even thinking it?
The Doctor is looking at her in that way, that absolutely perfect way that makes her wonder if he can see right into her mind. She gives a look, half a smile and a half a frown.
She responds, “You’re not making any sense!” It’s not like him to keep on like this. They must be in flight, away from... somewhere. The Daleks. There were... No, she can’t even remember that. Just bright light everywhere. Light that was warmth. And now... everything’s all right again. If the danger is gone, can’t they go? She feels sore, like she has been up for hours.
“I might never make sense again.” He grins still, his eyes now completely on her. She stands back a little, startled by what she sees in them. “I might have two heads! Or no head; imagine me with no head.” He points in feigned admonishment. “And don’t say that’s an improvement.”
Rose watches in interest and snorts weakly at his lame joke, unsure as to how to react further. Whatever he’s going on about, she’s going to make sure he takes a long lie down. God knows how long he’s been up on his feet, and maybe he has taken something to the head. He sounds as though he’s planning on... well, she doesn’t know. He sounds as though he’s raving. She takes a step towards him, the decision to take care of him now firmly set in her mind. Everything else can wait. He needs her help.
The Doctor looks down to his body a moment, wincing as another wave of pain strikes. He fights through it, for her sake. “But it’s a bit dodgy, this process,” he explains desperately, looking up again and trying to make her understand with just his eyes. He is pleading silently — she doesn’t get it. “You never know what you’re gonna end up with— ”
He has to bite away his own sentence with a yelp, and he convulses, every muscle in his body tensing as energy that doesn’t belong in him bubbles beneath his skin. He sucks in a breath through gritted teeth and holds out a hand towards Rose, stopping her from coming any closer. It is over in a few seconds and he can see again, the twinge of pain relaxed.
“Doctor!” Rose starts to step towards him, but he stops her.
“Stand back,” he commands, bracing himself as another minor contraction ripples through him.
She is worried and he knows it, but he can’t let her get too close. She cannot come into contact with him when he is in this process. One wrong moment and it could all fall apart. He winces again, clutching his stomach desperately. It won’t do any good, but he has to close his hands around something, if only to stop himself from falling to the ground. Everything about this is wrong. It was never supposed to be this way. And yet... even through all the circumstances, maybe it is for the best. Maybe, finally, he can feel at peace. The Time War is over, thanks to Rose. Beautiful Rose. Perhaps it is fate that she will never stop saving him.
“Doctor,” she stares, eyes wide, as he bends over his body, emitting a small cry of pain. Fear sweeps through her like a dark cloud at night, shrouding the moon of serenity, “tell me what’s going on.”
He looks up and she almost cries out herself at the expression on his face. He looks lost and alone. Pleading. Desperate. She wants to go to him, so very much, but something almost physical is holding her back. He shouldn’t be alone.
He seems to hesitate for a split second, meeting her eye.
“I absorbed all the energy from the Time Vortex and no one’s meant to do that!” He has the nerve to grin, but it is empty and shallow. It soon fades, like her belief that this will all be all right. Because it isn’t all right. Something is very, very wrong. The Time Vortex... isn’t that the TARDIS? Didn’t he say something, a while ago? Weren’t they connected? Isn’t she the one who tried to get his ship open? So why... why is he saying...?
She doesn’t care if her mouth is open as she watches him, or if she feels the beginnings of tears in her eyes. He is hurting. Something is hurting him and she cannot see it, can only wish that it would leave them alone so that she could go to him, take his hand, and have him lead her away from something she thinks is teetering on the brink of sanity.
Suddenly his smile is gone and he screws up his eyes in pain. When he opens them again, even all ghostly efforts at tranquillity are gone. She is just left with a sinking feeling her stomach as the Doctor swallows and tilts his head slightly, his body at a strange angle as he holds himself away from her.
He sighs and his eyes glisten as he explains. “Every cell in my body is dying.”
And now she stares, eyes hurting, limbs hurting, heart, head and memories all hurting with the sheer weight of his words. “But... can’t you do something?” she blurts out, desperate, pleading. He can’t be serious. He can’t leave her. Not now. Not after everything they’ve been through. How is she supposed to move on if she doesn’t have him to wake up to in the mornings? What of those winter eyes? Of that manic smile? What of his words, his dialect, his accent? He can’t take those from her, not now. Not after everything. It’s just not fair.
And she’ll die before she lets that happen.
“Every cell in my body is dying.”
There is no other way to tell her except the truth. He can see she is hurt — he can pretty well feel it, on top of his own. She looks like she’s on the edge of tears. Maybe he deserves it. He looks at her for as long as he can, stands and waits for the news to sink in. It isn’t fair to expect so much from her so soon, but things are the way they are and it’s out of his power to change it now.
“But...” She stumbles over her words, loud and impatient. She wants from him what he can’t give. “Can’t you do something?”
He gives her a reassuring smile and a half-hearted shrug. “Yeah. I’m doing it now.” She won’t understand regeneration. Perhaps she never will. But even if —
And suddenly his thought process his cut off, just for a second, when a spike of pain travels right the way through him. Through a grimace, the Doctor continues, relentless. He has to keep speaking. She has to know it’s all right. “Time Lords have got this little trick,” he explains, shaking his head slightly. Already he isn’t making enough sense, isn’t giving her what she deserves. “It’s... sort of a way of cheating death. Except...”
Another bolt of pain shoots through him and tingles in his fingertips. But he doesn’t care. He’s beyond caring now, beyond the quickening spasms and erratic breaths. With all the fight he has left, all the memories of what he and Rose have been through and everything they could be, he lets himself look upon her in a new light. In the light he wishes he could see her ever day of his life. Golden. Glowing. Love. He looks into her eyes.
“...It means I’m gonna change.” He tries to smile, but it just turns bitter as he contemplates everything he has lost. He shakes his head instead. “And... I’m not gonna see you again.”
Rose watches in horror, every word of his hitting like he has sliced a knife into her skin. The blade cuts deeper and thicker, her blood pounding to the wound. Her heart aches. She doesn’t understand. He still isn’t making sense — but she’s rooted to the spot, unable to move. She can just watch as he cowers in front of her, fighting so much there is sweat on his brow.
She doesn’t know what it is he’s fighting. He is trying to tell her, but she just can’t take it in. She lost him once... why does he make it sound like she is losing him again? Why is he holding himself away from her, back from her? Why is that look in his eyes so different from what she usually sees there?
“Not like this.” He stands a little straighter now, triumphant. Like he is accepting something. Rose feels her face contort as she sniffs back the pounding rhythm in her chest, the great wave of sorrow that has risen and writhes like Neptune himself. He is still watching her, the whole world meaning nothing. “Not with this daft old face. And before I go...”
“Don’t say that,” Rose says quickly, not even caring her voice is broken. This is her Doctor. He is standing there in front of her and he is talking like he’s never going to see her again. Part of her knows it’s true. But she won’t believe it. She can’t believe it. Not the man she loves. Not the man she would die for. He — can’t — just — leave.
But he pushes on, relentless. Because that’s the sort of man he is. And it breaks her heart when she wonders why this feels like goodbye.
“Rose,” he tells her gently, willing her to back down. She does so and he gives a small nod. “Before I go...” He hesitates a moment, the pain suddenly subsiding completely. No aches. No restraints. Just nothing. He knows this is the end. “I just want to tell you...”
Tell her what? She’s his best friend. She’s the world to him. She’s his everything and his reason to destroy the world. She’s his reason to destroy himself. He’s given his life for her, and he’d do it again. So many things, so little time. Fancy that, a Time Lord running out of the one thing he never has. Well, it had to happen sooner or later.
“You were fantastic,” he proclaims, with every meaning of it. A tear splashes down Rose cheek and he can almost feel it on his own. He smiles with pride. “Absolutely fantastic. And d’you know what?”
She shakes her head, not even hiding any more. He breathes out, finally, acceptance flowing through him even as his blood begins to cease. With his last ounce of strength, he looks directly into her eye and grins. His last grin. Just for her.
“So was I.”
It’s in this second, this split nanosecond when the world seems to have stopped around them, that she knows. Her life, in his hands, has come to an end. And he isn’t going to be waiting for her on the other side. He searches her with his eyes and she understands. She understands everything. Understands that this has ended before it’s even begun. That time wasted has punished them both. That words unsaid don’t matter now. That no matter how much she cries, he won’t be coming back. That she can spend the rest of her life running, but it won’t be his hand in hers that leads the way. That time is up.
She has lost him. Before they’ve even begun.
He staggers backwards, his entire body suddenly hit with the full force of fire. Flames lick and burn at his skin. There’s pain. So much pain. Light, golden and bright, but this is different. This hurts. Eyes closed, he can feel every muscle prickle and tingle with the flames that incinerate them. In his mind he can see her. She’s waiting for him, calling to him, saying his name — his real name — over and over again. She surrounds him. She breathes him, lives him, loves him, and he’s given his life, and it’s over, and the pain hits climax and then... then...
Then it fades. It drifts away... somewhere. Gone. He doesn’t know where. At this moment, doesn’t really care, either. He’s alive. Ooh. Aliiiiive. That’s an... odd feeling. So near death. And yet so far. That’s a good thing, he decides.
His eyes spring open. He blinks a few times, shakes his head. Then, with a small shrug, continues from where he was rudely interrupted.
“Right then. There we are. Hello! Okay — Ooh...”
This voice feels weird. Different. Squeaky. Wait, squeaky? What sort of man is squeaky and... wait, that’s new, too. He runs his tongue around his teeth, staring forwards suddenly into nothing.
“Hrm... new teeth. That’s weird...”
Then suddenly, remembering himself, he looks up again and sees Rose. She looks terrified. Well, maybe he can give her that one. It’s not like she wouldn’t be terrified, she doesn’t have a damn clue what’s going on, does she? Silly thing. She can be such a daft young thing.
He’s really going to have to get used to this thought process. It’s... well, bizarre, really. Sort of... chirpy. Strange. Still, he has to press on. There’s time enough for adjustments later.
“So where was I? Oh, that’s right — ” And he grins the grin he knows she has always loved. Thank the worlds for his Rose Tyler. He’s not sure what he’d do without her, really.
The word is mute in her mind, like she has listened to it underwater. There is no sun, sea, wind, air. There’s nothing. He’s left her. He’s dead.
Her whole world falls apart.
Back to index