A Teaspoon And An Open Mind: A Doctor Who Fan Fiction Archive
Tenth Doctor
Life As You Know It by avoria [Reviews - 72] Printer Chapter or Story
Author's Notes:
“No,” he interrupts. It’s soft yet forceful and Rose stops mid-sentence, astounded. She stares at him.

“What d’you mean ‘no’?” she wonders somewhat sceptically. “You just said, you can’t ignore the inevitable.”

“I know. But the answer is still no.”

Part the Second — New Earth

The tone in the TARDIS is sombre as it reappears in the time vortex. Rose takes a breath like she’s about to speak and the Doctor looks up, expectant. But she lets it out again and the air is still silent around them. The Doctor nods in acceptance and casts his eyes downward, flicking a small switch on the side of the console that turns on the landing light two floors up. It’s a bit useless, really, but he supposes it’s something to do.

He can’t stand the silence for too long, however, and looks up again to find Rose watching him.

“Are you all right?” he asks sincerely — there’s no smile to hide behind now.

“Yeah.” She shrugs. “I’m fine. And ...I guess that’s it, then.”

The Doctor tilts his head to one side. “Hmm?”

“Cassandra,” Rose explains, feeling suddenly chilled. “She’s ...well, y’know, she’s ...”

“I know.”

Rose feels the corners of her mouth pull up in a weary smile. “Was it safe, leaving her with ...her? No danger of a time paradox or anything?”

“Oh, I shouldn’t think so,” the Doctor sighs, folding his arms and considering the matter. “She’s seen enough to learn not to meddle with time.” Rose raises an eyebrow and it makes him laugh. “I say we give her the benefit of the doubt.”

“Yeah, all right,” Rose smiles back. “But if we end up having to clear up after her — again — you know who I’m coming to find.”

“The Face of Boe?” the Doctor interjects hopefully. “I’m quite looking forward to seeing him again. ‘A great secret’ ...wonder what he could mean.”

Rose smiles and wanders over to him. “Now you know how I feel when you go all ...what’s the word you used ...”

The Doctor grins cheekily. “Enigmatic?” he suggests.

“Yes,” Rose laughs. “All ‘enigmatic’.”

They smile at each other in the soft light of the TARDIS. Rose, suddenly feeling slightly bashful, puts her head to one side and watches the Doctor from the corner of her eye. He simply watches her, a thousand things going on in his head at once. Her hair falls in front of her face and he has the sudden urge to reach out and put it right again. But he doesn’t. Somehow, the time for that has passed.

“Rose... ” he says, not quite sure where he is going with this. He isn’t even sure why he said her name.

“Yes, Doctor?”

A million thoughts come to his mind at once, along with a million answers to that one question. He takes in a breath and holds it for a second or two, never once taking his eyes off her. She frowns a little and stands straight, giving him that look that tells him she doesn’t quite understand. One thought means more to him than the rest of them and he picks it out, turning it over in his mind as though it were a particularly delectable piece of toffee.

“Promise ...promise me you’ll never be like her. Cassandra.”

“What?” she asks with a snort of laughter. “I don’t think I like what you’re trying to say.”

He doesn’t let her laugh this moment off and takes her hand quickly. The light atmosphere fades and she’s watching him again, intensely, like she doesn’t know what’s going on. His eyes are large and shadowed, the irises so dark she can barely make them out from the pupils. She hopes it is just the lights of the TARDIS playing tricks with her mind.

“I mean it, Rose,” he pushes, all humour from his voice gone. “She couldn’t accept things — there always had to be a way around it. There was so little human left inside her by the end that it wasn’t worth the fight to begin with. People died because of her inability to accept the inevitable. So I’m asking you — promise me that no matter what happens you’ll accept it when the time comes. Everything ends. Even us.”

She squeezes his hand, a tad of worry flowing through her like an impurity in water. She isn’t used to seeing him be so serious like this. Somehow, in his last form, she accepted it. With this man, it’s new. And it worries her. “Where’s this coming from, Doctor?”

“I’ve seen what fear can do to people.” His voice is grave and he pulls his hand out of hers.

“Yeah,” Rose nods defiantly. “To people. Not to me.”

He lets out a sound that is a cross between an aggravated sigh and moan. He turns in one instant, dropping her hand, and stares up the central column of the TARDIS, the emerald light casting strange affects on his angular face.

“Christmas,” he says solemnly.

Rose frowns. “What?”

“Christmas,” he repeats in exactly the same tone of voice. “When we were back at Jackie’s after watching the ash. You were asleep upstairs, worn out from the day. I was standing in the window of your living room, just watching. Jackie, bless her soul, she made me a cup of tea. We watched the street together for a while, not particularly talking. Then she turned to me with that incredibly motherly look on her face. And do you know what she said to me?”

The Doctor turns and looks Rose right in the eye. His arms are folded but his face is gentle. She swallows, circulating saliva around her unnaturally dry mouth.

“What?” she asks quietly.

The Doctor turns his head and stares at the floor, like he is unable to look at her. He gives a small, bitter laugh, more like a forced exhale than anything else...

‘I don’t know what happened to you, Doctor, to make you change, and to be quite honest, I don’t want to know. But when you came here yesterday and Rose was looking after you ...I was scared. I’ve never seen you like that before. What if it happens again? What if Rose is the one who ends up having to look after you? Who’s going to look after her?

‘Up till now I’ve tried not to think about it. I know she goes with you wherever you go and, though I don’t like it, God help me if I ever tried to get in the way; but you’ve always been able to protect her in your strange little alien way. Or at least I always thought so. But now I’m not so sure. If she’s the one looking after you ...then who’s going to be there for her? Who’s going to protect my daughter, Doctor?’

Silence hangs in the air like a thundercloud as the Doctor’s explanation dies away around them. Rose, not being able to think of anything to say, looks at him and tries to form a sentence in her mind that doesn’t sound like absolute rubbish.

“I had to lie to her,” the Doctor continues, this time looking at Rose very hard. “I had to tell her that I would always be there for you and that I would always, always protect you — no matter what. I had to tell her that there was a backup system that would bring you home if the worst case should happen.”

“How was she?” Rose asks, not even daring to ask the question of what will actually happen should the worst come about.

“She seemed happy. She left with a smile. I could lie to her to keep her happy. But Rose, I can’t lie to you.”

“What’s the truth, then?” she asks without missing a beat, folding her arms across her chest defensively. The Doctor sighs and closes his eyes for a second. He rests his head in a hand, just briefly, then looks up again. She is still watching him.

“I can’t protect you forever,” he answers and his teeth are almost bared.

“You’re managing all right so far,” Rose says kindly, but he continues as though she said nothing.

“I’d fight planet after planet to save you, Rose. When things go wrong, my number one priority is to keep you safe and I’ll do anything and everything in my power to do just that. But I can’t fight forever. One of these days we’re going to come across something that’s going to get the better of us and you’ll be out of my reach. And when that happens, I don’t want to see you turn into Cassandra. I don’t want you clinging to any form of hope just because you think it’s better than acceptance. You’re better than that, and stronger than that and you have to learn to live on.”

This wave on information crashes down on her, and she takes a moment to hold back her emotions — as she has seen the Doctor do so many times. Eventually she nods and shifts from one foot to the other.

“You’re forgetting one very important thing there, Doctor,” she points out, her voice as equal in gravity as his.

He tilts his head. “What’s that?”

“That one of these days, when I’m with you, I might actually d— ”

“No,” he interrupts. It’s soft yet forceful and Rose stops mid-sentence, astounded. She stares at him.

“What d’you mean ‘no’?” she wonders somewhat sceptically. “You just said, you can’t ignore the inevitable.”

“I know. But the answer is still no.”


He takes a breath, adding to the pause between them. “Because nothing except old age is going to kill my Rose Tyler.”

The sheer weight of his words almost crushes her and the barrier she put up against her emotions begins to rattle and shake.

“How can you say that?” she asks with disbelief cracking her voice.

His eyes glitter with dark promises. “There’s nothing in this universe strong enough to stop me.”

It’s the sort of voice that scares her and makes her feel like she’s living in the wrong skin. She shouldn’t really understand what he means, but something regretful inside her knows that she does. Maybe it’s that that scares her most of all. She isn’t used to seeing what she does to him — his other form was so good at locking it away. This Doctor ...he’s different. Happier most of the time, which is strange, but the man he really is still just under the surface.

Something dawns on her.

“This isn’t about Cassandra, is it Doctor?”

“No.” He shakes his head.

“This isn’t even about you and me. It’s about fighting.”

Her wisdom astounds him still and he even smiles. It just goes to show that she really is learning something from being with him. Rose continues, unaware that he’s seeing her in a different light.

“Then I promise, Doctor, that no matter what happens, I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep fighting right up until I know it’s time to move on.”

The Doctor gives her a gentle smile. “Me, too.”

“Even if it’s for different things.”

He had started to turn back to the console, but this comment brings him reeling right back to look at her. “Excuse me?”

She smiles slightly. “It doesn’t matter.”

He shakes his head and walks towards her. “I don’t care. Tell me?”

Their eyes lock, and he can see something dancing behind hers that didn’t used to shine through quite like that. It captures him.

“You’ll find out one day, Doctor,” Rose smiles wryly. She turns on her heel and walks towards the door that leads to the rest of the TARDIS. At the last moment she turns back again and points to him.

“And I don’t want you causing a mess in here, either. Don’t break anything.”

He grins, and the atmosphere is light again. “I never break anything,” he tells her in a very matter-of-fact voice.

“Oh, that’s right. You just ‘fix’ things, yeah?”

“Cheeky,” the Doctor admonishes fondly. “I’d like to see you do better.”

“Wouldn’t you just.”

The Doctor continues to smile, then bends down to remove a slice of grille from the TARDIS floor. He un-pockets his sonic screwdriver and, whilst finding the right setting, calls, “Oh, and Rose?”

“Yes, Doctor?” she answers from the doorway, where she is leaning watching him.

Without looking up, he continues, “If we ever meet Cassandra again ...you can tell her she’s a very good kisser.”

What follows is a most incredible silence that the Doctor has never heard before. And as he hops down into the depths of his ship, leaving Rose to take whatever she wants from what he’s just said, he decides he rather likes it.
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