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:
“Rose,” he whispers, in an unbelievably soft tone that he knows sends a shudder down her spine even when she’s trying to be angry with him. “Look at me.”

She does so, and her eyes are so cold he almost winces.

Part the Fourth — School Reunion

“So, Mickey-boy, where d’you want to go first?”

Mickey grins excitedly as though he were ten years old — this is obviously some sort of big deal for him.

“Oh. My. God. Aliens and spaceships and stuff. And I’m part of it! Rose, how fantastic is this?”

“Yeah — it’s the greatest thing in the world.”

Mickey is either too stupid or too excited to notice the sarcasm (let alone be deterred by it), but the Doctor does. He glances over to Rose, who is sitting on one of the seats attached to the looming pillars of the TARDIS, staring at the wall. Her body language oozes tension from every inch, like blood from a wound, and the Doctor suspects he needs to clear the air. He has a horrible feeling he has done something wrong.

“Er, Mickey,” he commands in the sort of voice that sounds like he’s thinking on the spot, “be a good boy and make yourself some lunch, will you? You must be starving.”

Mickey stops bouncing on the spot and stares at him incredulously.

“What?” He looks from the Doctor to Rose and back again, his face confused and questioning.

“Mickey! It’s not hard!” The Doctor doesn’t mean to snap, but already the third presence is diminishing space in the TARDIS. “Go down the corridor, make a left, and then a right, into the kitchen and raid the fridge. There should be sarnies in there, if I remember correctly. It’s the best you could do considering I’ve just stopped the entire universe from being rewritten.”

Mickey stares at him, a little like a fish out of water.

“Right,” he stutters eventually, seeing no joke in the Doctor’s eyes. “So. I’ll just get on with that, then, shall I?”

The Doctor just looks at him and Mickey turns angrily, storming out of the room and muttering something along the lines of, ‘I bet not even the tin dog had to put up with this’ under his breath.

As soon as Mickey is safely out of earshot, he turns and faces Rose, who is very obviously not looking at him. She hasn’t said a word. Carefully, his eyes on her, he makes his way towards her and crouches down. He takes her hands and she doesn’t pull away; she doesn’t react at all, which is somehow worse.

“Rose,” he whispers, in an unbelievably soft tone that he knows sends a shudder down her spine even when she’s trying to be angry with him. “Look at me.”

She does so, and her eyes are so cold he almost winces.

“What’s wrong?”

Letting out a heavy sigh she takes her hands from his. “You wouldn’t understand.”

She stands and walks past him towards the exit. He fixes her back with a hard stare then says her name in the sort of stern tone that cannot be ignored. She sighs, then turns and folds her arms, her face dark. He does so hate it when they fight.

“What’s the problem?” he asks again, this time much less sympathetic.

There have been a rather lot of angry people in his console room in a rather small space of time and he hates it when he feels trapped between these walls.

“Sarah Jane,” Rose supplies at last, looking coldly at him.

The Doctor blinks, not sure if he heard her correctly. “What?”

“She was just like me once upon a time, wasn’t she? It was ‘the Doctor and Sarah Jane’.”

He folds his arms defensively, not sure he’s liking where this is going, and locks her eyes in a hard stare.

“Yes. It was,” he tells her bluntly and can see a flicker of surprised hurt cross her face. He adds, a little softer, “It was a long time ago.”

“Right, well, there we go then.”

She turns away, and the Doctor raises his eyes to the heavens.

“Oh, Rose,” he groans with aggravation, feeling at the end of his tether. “The people I travel with are all unique, special and different in their own ways. You can’t expect me to pretend they’re not.”

Rose laughs bitterly. She turns around, looking at him with anger flashing in her eyes, and she shakes her head laughingly.

“It’s like they say, Doctor,” she tells him coldly, shrugging her shoulders. “‘You’re unique, just like everyone else’. That’s me, yeah? Just someone else to add to your collection.”

“Rose, you’re being ridiculous!” The Doctor throws his hands into the air: when did she get so childish?

“Oh!” she shouts back, anger flaring in her voice. “So now I’m being ridiculous, am I? Nice to know my opinion’s valued.”

The Doctor wipes his palms down his face, groaning into his hands. He really does not want to be having this conversation. It’s one of those fights that can go round and round and do no more, yet he can’t seem to find a way out of it.

“Where has this come from?” he asks labouredly, dropping his hands to his side. He fixes Rose with a stony expression. “Hmm? You can’t have honestly thought you were the first person I’ve travelled with.”

At this she loses a little of her fire. Folding her arms, she shrugs and looks to one side, as though she knows she’s lost an argument but is trying not to admit it.

At her reaction, the Doctor nods. “Ohh, so that’s it,” he says with a low voice, no trace of humour or joviality at all now. She’s pushed him and now she’s going to deal with the consequences. “You thought you were the only woman I’ve ever cared about. And now you’ve found out you’re not; no wonder you’re feeling so insecure. Wake up to realisation, Rose. I have a past that doesn’t involve you and nothing is going to change that.”

His bitter words hang in the air between them like a storm and when Rose finally looks at him, he’s not sure what he sees in her eyes. It’s either anger or hurt — or both. She opens her mouth a little, but swallows, seemingly fighting with a lot of thoughts going on in her mind.

The Doctor isn’t proud of what he’s just said, but he isn’t going to take them back either. Rose needs to learn that she isn’t unique to him — if he can convince her she’s no different from the others, he stands a chance of protecting her. Of protecting himself.

“What about Sarah Jane, then?”

The Doctor sighs, beaten. “What about her?”

“She was like me, once. She was ...with you. She travelled, she helped you. Then you just turn around and get rid of her. You dumped her back on Earth like she was nothing, didn’t even say goodbye. She thought you were coming back, Doctor. She waited for you ...but you never came.”

The Doctor watches, keeping his face unreadable, as Rose walks towards him while she talks. That look on her face is one he never wants to see again, not towards him. It’s almost a look of disgust; he feels a sudden surge of anger. He thought he had finally managed to get through to her, on the street outside the café, but clearly he hasn’t. This whole conversation revolves around her inability to understand. He stares at her, his eyes flashing with electric anger as he grinds out his response. “I never go back.”

Rose snorts bitterly. “No. Course you don’t. ‘Cause you’re the wonderful Doctor, and you think you’re above it all — ”

“I am above it all!” he shouts harshly, eyes blazing now. She has managed to push one or two of his buttons and he doesn’t like that he has lost control so easily. With a deep breath he tries to steady himself. “There’s no other authority. I’m the only one left with any real power in this universe. My ship. My rules.” Then, softer, he adds, “I thought you knew that, Rose.”

“So ...” She dips her head, looks to the floor. He wonders why she can’t look at him and tries to look sympathetic. “That’s what you’re gonna do to me, then. Leave me behind without looking back.”

She does look up now, and he is momentarily caught off guard. There are shining tears in her eyes and it suddenly hits him like a bolt of lightning. She’s not angry; she’s scared. He wants to comfort her so much in these few seconds that it’s almost unbearable. He walks slowly towards her, frowning a little.

“I told you Rose,” he says softly upon reaching her. “That’s not what I’m going to do to you. You can stay with me for as long as you like. I’m not going to leave you behind.”

“Yeah, but ...I bet you said the same thing to Sarah Jane.”

And he takes her hand. She looks at him, startled.

“No,” he whispers, eyes and face gentle, like they were when he was trying to convince her he was still the Doctor. “The alternatives don’t bear thinking about ...but I’ll never leave you, Rose. I promise. I give you my word.”

She sniffs, blinking away unbidden tears.

“Doctor... ”

He pulls her comfortingly into his arms, folding her into himself and holding on tight. She buries herself in his warmth and he’s happy to stand here, eyes fixed on the floor, while he comforts her. He isn’t sure quite why she needs comforting — perhaps seeing Sarah Jane has had a bigger impact on her than he first thought. Perhaps she just needs confirmation that she’s not like all the others and ...part of him regrets contradicting himself, but for the sake of making her happy, it’s worth it.

A loud cough from the other side of the room alerts them to Mickey’s presence. They jump away from each other as though they have been caught snogging behind the bike-shed at school during lesson time.

“Not interrupting anything, am I?” Mickey snarls, glaring at them.

“Mickey!” the Doctor enthuses with a wide grin. “We were ...we were just talking about you.”

“Yeah, I bet,” he mutters darkly, a deep tone of sarcasm slashing his voice.

The Doctor frowns, trying to hide his awkward air. “Did you find those sandwiches?”

“Wasn’t hungry,” Mickey says quickly, walking into the room and not looking at him. “Rose, can I talk to you?”

She briefly makes eye contact with the Doctor, who inclines his head upwards just slightly. He then turns away, apparently finding the metal panelling around the console very interesting. Remembering the feel of Rose in his arms, closer than she’s ever really been before in this body, he realises that the distraction of Mickey isn’t working as well as he hoped. What he hoped to gain from letting the young man on board was an escape for Rose, a distraction for them both that would allow him to focus on what he actually travelled the universe to do. Instead he’s spending his time making sure his companion is as happy as she can possibly be.

He shakes his head, trying to block the two of them out.


Rose steps over to her almost-not-quite-ex-boyfriend, unsure whether she is angry at him for interrupting her time with the Doctor, or angry at the Doctor for letting him on board in the first place.

Mickey opens his mouth, looking at her intently; then he suddenly seems to have a better idea. He turns towards where the Doctor is standing.

“Mate,” he says tersely, “no offence, but me and Rose are trying to have a private conversation. How about you shove off for a few minutes, yeah?”

Rose, gobsmacked and appalled, stares at him. “Mickey!”

“No, Rose, he’s got a point,” the Doctor responds quietly, surprising her. “I’ll ...be in the library.”

With that he saunters smoothly off, seemingly very aware that he has left a heavy atmosphere behind him.

“What did you go and do that for?” Rose hisses vehemently, eyes blazing. “This is his home, you’ve no right to order him about like that.”

“Oh, but when he orders me to go and make lunch, that’s okay?”

She shrugs. “That’s different.”

“Like hell it is, Rose. You just don’t want to have to talk to me. Look, even now, you can’t even look at me.”

He’s right. She is staring at the floor, finding it impossibly difficult to look him in the eye. However, at his challenge she looks straight at him and is surprised by the obvious anger he is harbouring.

“What do you want me to say?” she asks boldly.

Mickey shakes his head. “I don’t want you to say anything. ‘Cause for once in your life, you’re gonna be quiet and I’m gonna do the talking. And you’re gonna listen to me.”

She opens her mouth, but he glares and she shuts is obediently. He nods.

“I’m not the Doctor,” he says. Rose looks bewildered, but he continues. “I don’t have a time-and-space ship, or a sonic screwdriver, or a tin dog, or nine hundred years behind me. I know I’m not half as impressive as him and I can’t whiz you all over the place just to take you on a date.”

She looks like she is about to protest, but Mickey holds a hand up.

“I’m not done, yet. I don’t have all those things he’s got. But I tell you what I have got. I’ve got the decency to be honest with you. I’m not gonna sit at home waiting to pick up the pieces from what he does to you, ‘cause let’s face it Rose, one day he’s gonna hurt you and you’re not gonna know what to do. But I’m not gonna be sitting around waiting for it to happen. I’m better than that. You treat me like dirt ‘cause you think I’m not better, and that I don’t understand how you’re feeling; but I am and I do. That’s why I’m here, Rose. I’m sick of being just the tin dog and ...and you need to know you can’t treat me like I don’t exist. Not any more.”

He finishes with a high air, his head up and eyes looking defiantly into hers. Rose doesn’t know what to say. She feels tears burn the back of her throat for realising how much she has hurt Mickey — everything he’s said is true. And she hates herself a little bit for it.

“Mickey,” she sniffs, her eyes glittering like tiger’s eye in the TARDIS light. “I’m so sorry ...”

She slides forwards into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him so that he knows she is sorry — because she is. It isn’t fair how she treats him and up until now she has tried to ignore her actions and find excuses for them.

Mickey pats her back awkwardly. Then, as though giving in, he wraps his arms around her properly and closes his eyes, at the same time putting inward barriers up against her. He’s not stupid enough to think that she really means it, or that she’s not thinking about the Doctor. But he thinks that maybe — just once - he’s allowed to be selfish for a change.

“It’s okay, Rose,” he says quietly while he hugs her. “We’ll be okay.”

She does nothing but tighten her arms around him.


A shadow lurks in the doorway that neither of them see. From the darkness of the corridor the Doctor looks on, his face an unreadable canvas of emotion. He tells himself silently that this is for the best, that Mickey and Rose deserve each other like this and that he’s happy to see them sorting things out. He tries not to feel guilty for the fact that he might have been the reason they broke up in the first place.

Perhaps Mickey, is a good distraction, he decides. He brings a void between himself and Rose and keeps Rose happy. Perhaps, now, things will start to change. A growling need somewhere inside him asks for a distraction for himself and he smiles slightly. His eyes fall on the figure of Rose, such beauty and warmth in one person. It’s all about distractions, really.

She was his distraction from the Time War; Mickey is her distraction from him; and his distraction from her? He has time yet to find one, he muses wryly.

He ignores the rather animal part of him that says distractions can only keep him from the inevitable for so long.
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