Rose thumped her head against the wall for what felt like the thousandth time. And for the thousandth time, she reminded herself that this probably wasn’t the wisest course of action, considering the injuries she’d already sustained to her face and head. But her frustration and fear were beginning to reach a critical level, and Rose was furious.
The woman was going to do something, that much had been clear. Something bad. Rose had been around enough enemies to recognize their mannerisms, and while this woman was a lot more unpredictable and extreme than many of them, she still had some recognizable traits. And Rose knew that look. Something very bad was going to happen, and someone was going to suffer.
And what had she said, as she’d left the cell this most recent time?
“We’re not going to kill you.”
She’d placed the emphasis on the word ‘you.’ Obviously implying that someone else was going to die. But who? Did she mean the Doctor? Or others? She’d been so furious when Rose had refused to betray Paz, Kaye, and Mishell. Were others going to suffer because of Rose’s refusal? But how could she have done anything else? She wasn’t going to betray the brave people who had shown so much kindness to her and the Doctor.
The Doctor! Rose covered her face with her hands, groaning in her frustration. He was coming for her, that much she knew. He’d sworn he always would, he’d promised her that he’d storm the town to get her back if he had to. And she couldn’t deny that she wanted to see him again more than anything. She couldn’t deny that she wanted to get out of here, before the woman snapped and hurt her more permanently than she already had.
But Rose desperately didn’t want the Doctor coming, because it was a trap. She was the bait, and this was the trap, and she knew well enough that he was walking right into it. He had no way of knowing that she was being held by anyone more than the soldiers from Calyx. What reason would he have to think otherwise? There was no actual relationship between what had been done to him those months ago, and this planet.
As far as Rose could tell, these soldiers didn’t have anything to do with the men who’d tortured the Doctor. That had been on a different planet, she knew that much, and they didn’t act the same way. The men who’d tortured the Doctor had been mercenaries, dressed in plain clothes, with brutal but casual efficiency. These soldiers from what she’d seen of them, were just that…soldiers. Military. They may take delight in attacking and killing innocent people, but they weren’t the type to spend ten days torturing someone physically and psychologically. She hoped…
“This isn’t fair!” Rose cried, kicking the wall, not that it did any good. They were coming after the Doctor…they were going to hurt people…and there was absolutely nothing Rose could do about it. She couldn’t protect herself, much less anyone else.
Rose hated it, with all her heart. Once again she was being forced to sit by while others suffered. While the Doctor was in danger. These people had forced her to sit in captivity for eight days while the Doctor was tortured nearly to death, and she hadn’t even known it was happening, much less been able to stop it. And now, once again, she was being shunted aside, kept only for her purpose as bait, serving the purpose they desired for her, with no opportunity for escape or to fight back.
This wasn’t who Rose was. Rose wanted to be doing something, needed to be doing something. The whole reason that she and the Doctor travelled was to stand up to injustice. Because they weren’t just going to sit by and let things happen. What had she told her mum and Mickey, what felt like lifetimes ago? The words came back to her as though she’d just spoken them yesterday.
“The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life…you don't just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say "no." You have the guts to do what's right when everyone else just runs away…”
Those were the very principles on which the Doctor had founded his life, and he’d taught her the same. And now, here she was, trapped, forced to sit by and just wait for something to happen, and she hated it so much.
She wished she had some way to at least warn the Doctor that this was more than just the conflict between Frax and Calyx. If there was just some way to let him know, so he wouldn’t be caught off guard…
He’d reached a good place with what had happened, she was fairly certain. He hardly ever spoke about it, and when he did, it was with a kind of genuine peace. Oh, there were rare times when he’d come into her room for no reason, waking her up in the middle of the night, shyly asking if he could stay with her for a while. Rose knew why he came, why he was frightened to be alone in the dark, but she never pushed, merely allowing him to stay with her in the dark.
So she knew that he was still haunted, even if he’d made about as much peace as they could hope for with it. But being confronted with it again might be a shock. Not to mention that he needed to be prepared. This woman was brilliant, mad, and brutal, all rolled into one. The Doctor wouldn’t be expecting someone who hated him so personally. He needed to be prepared, to know what he was walking into. But there was no way to let him know.
The Doctor wasn’t stupid, and she knew he wouldn’t just blunder into a trap. But at the same time, she knew that if he thought her life was in danger, he would put himself at any risk to save her. In his own mind, his life didn’t matter, so long as others were safe.
“But I don’t want you to!” Rose cried out, even though he couldn’t hear her.
She didn’t want him putting himself at risk for her, and she certainly didn’t want him suffering or dying for her. The very idea made her want to be sick.
If he were here, he’d be telling her to stay calm. To stay alive. He’d reassure her that he was coming for her, and that she shouldn’t be scared. But that was easy for him to say when he wasn’t the one languishing for hours on end in a barren cell, punctuated only by visits from the most terrifying woman Rose had ever encountered.
But there was nothing she could do except wait and hope. Rose wasn’t very good at waiting patiently, but she forced herself to keep calm, and wait for the woman’s inevitable return.
As always, Rose had no real sense of how much time had passed, but finally, after what must have been hours, footsteps sounded outside. In what felt like it was already starting to become routine, Rose got to her feet, pulling her sleeve down over her bandaged arm so that it was hidden. She had used the bandages the woman had provided, but that didn’t mean she was going to give her the satisfaction of knowing that, if she could help it.
The woman entered, and the fact that she was still in the same clothes told Rose that it was still the same day.
“Hello, Rose,” she said. Rose glimpsed several soldiers standing in the corridor outside, but to her surprise, they didn’t close the door. Instead, they stood in a row, blocking the way out of the cell.
Rose forced herself to look away and focus on the woman, who advanced across the cell.
“Hi,” Rose said shortly.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’ve had better days.”
Rose wished the woman would drop the congenial act. It was obvious that Rose was nothing more than an object to her. A means to an end. At best, Rose knew, she was thought of as a small child caught up in a parent’s crimes. At worst, she was utterly disposable. Either way, the woman had already proven how violent she was, and Rose just wanted her to stop pretending.
“Look,” Rose said. “What’s the point of all this? Why do you keep coming in here?”
“Because I want you to be reasonable.”
“If you truly think I’m as innocent a victim as you say,” Rose pointed out, “why are you keeping me here? Why are you doing this to me?”
“Because we need you, Rose. You’re the key.”
“I’m not going to help you.”
“I know,” the woman nodded. “We’re past that. We don’t need that information anymore. It’s too late.”
Rose’s heart pounded, and she clenched her fists. What did she mean by ‘too late?’
“What did you do?”
“Only what you forced me to, Rose Tyler.” The woman’s gaze was cold. Rose noted that she once again had her knife in its sheath. “And I deeply regret it.”
“What?! What did you do?”
“You’ll find out, in time,” she shrugged. “But meanwhile, we’ve got work to do.”
At a gesture from the woman, the soldiers stepped into the cell, still carefully blocking the exit. There was no way for Rose to get past them.
“Her hands,” the woman ordered. One of the soldiers quickly stepped forward, yanking her arms behind her back and cuffing them.
“What are you doing?” Rose demanded.
“Silence,” she said.
She scrutinized Rose, taking hold of her face and turning it from side to side. Rose wished she could back away, but the soldier who’d cuffed her was still standing behind her. So she stood her ground, furiously submitting to the woman’s scrutiny.
“Surface damage,” she concluded. “Visible enough, but not that bad, right Rose?” Rose refused to reply. “Still…it needs a little more.”
Even if Rose had anticipated it, she would have been unable to avoid the blow from the woman’s clenched fist. Her head snapped back as she gasped in pain and shock. She could feel her nose begin to bleed from where she’d been struck, but with her hands cuffed behind her, there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
“What was that for?” she demanded, determined not to show weakness, even as her heart pounded in her ears.
“Like I said,” the woman said. “Surface damage. You’ll survive, so stop fussing.”
“I’m not fussing,” Rose snapped. “I’m just not happy about being beaten up.”
The woman smiled as though Rose were a particularly amusing plaything, or a young child who’d just said something foolish and adorable. Rose squirmed, hating to be looked at like that.
“One more thing,” the woman added. She pushed up Rose’s sleeve, exposing the bandage on her arm. She didn’t comment on Rose’s use of the materials she’d provided, which Rose was grateful for. “There we go.”
“Come on,” the woman gestured to the soldiers. “Bring her.”
“Where?” Rose demanded.
No one bothered to answer, and the soldier behind her pushed her forward. Rose couldn’t deny she was desperate to get out of this cell, and considering the abundance of guns and other weapons surrounding her, she knew she should do as she was told.
So she allowed herself to be propelled out of the cell, and down a corridor. The woman led the way, and the other soldiers followed behind. Rose took a deep breath, relieved to find that her nose had stopped bleeding. She tried to calm her pounding heart. She needed to keep a clear head, and needed to stay in control.
She just wished she knew where they were going…
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