Moving Forward by LN29 [Reviews - 106] Chapter or Story |
Come to think of it, I think this is the first time Rose has replied to "the question" (you'll know it when you see it) with a direct affirmative. In thinking back, she confirmed it with Jackie in Step by Step, and Dennel earlier in this story, but both times, it was sort of an implied affirmation, rather than a frank "yes."
And just so people know, this series will eventually become a little AU with regards to the Doctor and Rose's relationship. (I've received numerous requests to do so, and I've decided to go for it.) But we've got a ways to go before that.
Rose had awakened back in her cell, with a splitting headache. Groaning, she reached up, and could feel a hard knot on her head, extremely painful to the touch. She shook her head to clear it, and immediately wished she hadn’t. Pain shot through it.
Her memories resurfaced, and she remembered being struck with the butt of the gun. She supposed she should count herself grateful that she hadn’t been the recipient of an injury from the other end of the gun. They must still need her alive for something.
As she sat up, she became aware of new aches and pains. Upon examining herself, she discovered several bruises over her ribs, as though she’d been kicked a few times. However, nothing seemed to be broken, and she moved so that she was sitting against the wall, trying to catch her breath.
She’d taken the risk. The woman had ordered her multiple times not to speak when they were broadcasting the message. That she’d pay for it if she did…and that others would pay too. Rose could only hope that last part was a bluff, because she’d managed to shout out just one phrase. She’d had to warn the Doctor, give him some inkling of what he was walking into. He needed to know, and that had been the only way she could think to tell him that might just escape the woman’s notice.
Oh, she’d know Rose spoke when she shouldn’t have, that she’d told the Doctor something, but if Rose was fortunate, she wouldn’t guess the significance. Because Rose knew that if she had actually warned the Doctor that this trap was in relation to his torture, the woman would have killed her. Or at least nearly so.
As it was, she hoped that they wouldn’t figure it out. And that the Doctor would. But she wasn’t too worried about that. She knew that those words, those exact six words, would immediately bring to mind the ten day ordeal. And the Doctor knew her well enough, and was smart enough, that he’d make the connection. He’d figure it out. She wasn’t exactly sure what good the information would do him, but it meant that he wouldn’t be stumbling blindly into this situation. Now he was warned, and could adjust whatever plan he had accordingly.
Rose should have suspected they wanted him to trade himself for her. She’d known that she was bait, so really, she’d known all along that this was their plan. But hearing the words spoken aloud were chilling. This woman wasn’t just going to try to capture the Doctor when he tried to rescue Rose. No, she was asking him to hand himself over to her. Without even letting him know who he was handing himself over to.
The very idea of that woman getting her hands on the Doctor made Rose want to be sick. Knowing what she’d already ordered done to him…knowing what she’d done to Rose…and knowing that was only a fraction of what she’d do to the Doctor if she had him. Not just physically, but psychologically too. Rose had already seen how much this woman hated him, how much she was convinced he was a murderer. The Doctor’s self-esteem was already pretty low…Rose shuddered to think of what this woman could do to his mind if she got hold of him.
But while Rose knew that the Doctor would sacrifice himself for her any day, she had to believe that he try every other option first. Even the Doctor must realize what handing himself over to these people would mean. How catastrophic it would be for him. No, Rose couldn’t even allow herself to think about that.
She heard pounding footsteps outside, and barely had time to get to her feet, wincing in pain as she did, before the door slid open with a bang. The woman stormed in, slamming the door behind her. Her eyes were blazing, and she looked absolutely furious. She caught hold of Rose’s shoulders, pinning her to the wall of the cell.
“What did I tell you?” she shouted.
“Lots of things,” Rose managed to say.
She winced as the woman’s grip tightened, digging into her shoulders painfully.
“Don’t play games with me!” Rose couldn’t help but flinch, trying to twist out of the viselike grip. “I told you not to speak! What did you tell him?”
“I j…just told him to run,” Rose stammered, her head and ribs aching too much for her to try and suppress her fear.
“I should kill you right now,” the woman snarled.
“If you were going to do that,” Rose said softly, “you would’ve done it already.”
The woman closed her eyes, taking a deep breath as though trying to calm herself. Her grip didn’t slacken, though.
“Why did you tell him to run?”
“Because I don’t want him coming here,” Rose said truthfully.
The woman opened her eyes, her face full of suspicion.
“But you used very specific words. You didn’t just tell him to run. You said ‘one word. Just one word. Run.”
“What’s the significance of that phrase?”
“I don’t know what you mean!” Rose yelped, unable to help it, as the woman pushed her back further into the wall, practically crushing her. She could hardly breathe. “Stop it!”
“Why did you use those words?”
“It’s a code!” Rose shouted desperately, and some of the awful pressure lessened.
“What code?” the woman asked, suddenly much more calm.
Rose thought quickly. If you have to lie, mix your lies with as much truth as possible, the Doctor had once told her. That made it more convincing, and harder to pick out the lie.
“It’s…it’s a code we made up. Based on the first word he spoke to me, and the words he said to get me to trust him after his regeneration. ‘One word. Just one word. Run.’ He…” she pretended to hesitate, then forged ahead, “he wanted us to have it so that when something went wrong, we’d have a way of getting a message to the other without actually having to say it.”
“And what was the message?” the woman asked. She’d relaxed her grip a little, and Rose couldn’t help but be relieved.
“It means that there’s danger. And that he should leave me behind and get away from here.”
“Why would you ask him to do that?” the woman inquired.
“Because I don’t want you to get your hands on him. I saw what those men did to him. I was the one who got him out. I know what you ordered those men to do. I don’t want you anywhere near him.”
The woman seemed to relax slightly, though she tried not to show it. She released Rose’s shoulders and stepped away. Rose couldn’t help but reach up to rub them, wincing at the pain. She had a feeling she’d just gained a few more bruises.
“But we both know he’d never leave you behind, Rose,” the woman said, with a smirk.
“I had to try…” Rose whispered. “Had to do something…”
“And you risked your life to do it.” Her tone had once again softened, and Rose shivered at how fast her moods changed. A mark of her instability, no doubt, but it was absolutely terrifying. Rose wasn’t sure which was worse, the angry woman whose eyes blazed when she talked about the Doctor, as though she wanted to kill him, or the gentle-voiced woman who spoke as though Rose were a young child, and spoke of hating the Doctor with terrifying calmness. “You risked your life to warn him.”
“I had to.”
“Why, Rose?” It was as though she truly, honestly didn’t understand. “Why are you so loyal to him? Why are you willing to risk your life for him?”
“He’s my best friend,” Rose said firmly.
“But why?” the woman demanded. “You know what he’s done. Who he is.”
“I do know who he is. And that’s why I will never betray him.”
“But what has he done to deserve such loyalty?” Rose opened her mouth, but the woman cut her off. “This is very important, Rose, and this is your last chance. I don’t want you to be punished for his crimes. So I need you to really, really think about whether he is worth it.”
“He’s a good man?” the woman said, crossing her arms. Rose nodded firmly.
“Then I want you to answer me some questions, Rose.” Her voice was suddenly very calm, as she changed into a new mode. A new tactic. “And I don’t want long answers, no explanations or qualifications or conditions. Just answer each of my questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
“Because I want to make you think.”
Rose swallowed hard, but nodded.
The woman took a deep breath.
“Has the Doctor ever physically hurt you?” Rose stared at her in shock.
“Yes or no, Rose. And I’d warn you not to lie to me. I will know. Has he ever physically harmed you?
“No,” she said firmly.
“Has the Doctor killed in front of you?”
Light bursting out of something in the Doctor’s hand…Cybermen dissolving right in front of her eyes. A bomb striking Downing Street…killing every Slitheen inside. A blaze of moonlight turned to full power…the werewolf vanishing into the light.
Something like pleasure flickered in the woman’s eyes.
“Has he ever threatened you?”
A gun aimed right at her…she was in the line of fire, but he wasn’t backing down…
“Has he ever lied to you?”
“Now, I've just got to go and power up the Game Station. Hold on…”
“Has he knowingly put your life at risk?”
“I could save the world but lose you…”
“Yes.” Rose gritted her teeth, wishing she could say more. Wishing she could elaborate on each and every one. But the woman wouldn’t let her, pressing on relentlessly.
“Have you ever been frightened of him?”
Facing the Skasis Paradigm…seeing the hesitation on his face. With the Dalek…seeing the murder in his eyes. Unearthly power, unearthly authority.
“Has he insulted you? Demeaned you?”
“I picked another stupid ape.”
“Has he ever abandoned you?”
A white horse leaping through a time window...
The woman stared at her.
“That doesn’t sound like a good man to me, Rose.”
Maybe the woman had expected to sow some sort of doubt with that little question and answer session. But Rose crossed her arms, facing the woman furiously.
“Your questions are unfair. Absolutely unfair. You ask about all of the bad things he’s done, and none of the good!”
“So just because a murderer has done good deeds, his crimes should be pardoned?”
“You’re not looking at the whole picture. You think you know him, but you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
Rose stepped forward, for once being the one who advanced.
“He is the best man I have ever known.”
“He is a murderer!” the woman snapped, her voice full of loathing.
“Why do you hate him so much?!” Rose cried, desperate to know.
“Because I know what he can do.”
The woman’s tone was almost beseeching, and it startled Rose. She held out her hands in a gesture that almost looked imploring.
“He killed my people, Rose.”
Rose had suspected something like this, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt to hear it.
“All of them. Every single one. My entire planet…three billion people…an entire species, just wiped out.” Her voice was tight with emotion. “Just like that. And he did that to them.”
“How do you know it was him?” Rose demanded.
“Trust me, Rose, I know. Indisputably.”
“Was this during the Time War?” she asked.
“Some war,” the woman shrugged bitterly. “I don’t know…my people weren’t involved.”
“The entire universe was at stake in that War,” Rose told her. “I’m not…not saying that what happened to your people was right, but if the Daleks had won that War, the entire universe would have been lost. Time itself was at stake!”
“Three billion people!” the woman shouted, shaking with emotion. “And they were just collateral damage! Just one skirmish. They were nothing to him. Just a means to an end.”
If circumstances had been different, if it had been a different person, Rose might have felt more sorry for her. But every time she tried to, all she could see was the Doctor, beaten and broken on a cold stone floor. Nothing gave a person the right to do that. Nothing.
“That doesn’t give you the right to torture him to death!”
“It gives me every right!” the woman shouted. “Every right in the world.”
“No,” Rose shook her head. “It doesn’t. Repaying violence with violence is never the answer.”
“Don’t even try, Rose,” the woman sneered, instantly condescending. “He’s a murderer, a monster, and he will suffer for his crimes. And if you don’t acknowledge that, if you don’t accept that, you’re going to suffer too.”
She stepped towards Rose.
“Think about what he’s done. What he’s done to you. He is not a good man, Rose. Not a safe man. Don’t let him take you down with him.”
Rose took a deep breath. She knew that she might be condemning herself to death or torture with what she was about to say. Might be condemning herself to a life imprisoned like this. But given the alternative…there was no other option.
“You listen to me,” Rose said, her voice firm and strong. Even the woman seemed to sense the finality of these words, and she watched Rose carefully, waiting for her to speak. “I know that the Doctor is not an innocent man. I know that there are things that he’s done that will haunt him for the rest of his life. I know that you were terribly hurt, and I’m sorry about that. And I know the Doctor is too. I know that he’s not perfect, and that maybe my life would be safer if he wasn’t around. And I know that you think I’m some foolish kid. That he’s tricked me, or brainwashed me, or something. But I also know this.”
One more step forward, closing the gap between them.
“He is my best friend. The greatest man I have ever known. The bravest, the kindest, and the strongest man I’ve ever known. And I will stand by his side no matter what the cost. I will never turn my back on him, and I will never leave him.”
The woman went suddenly still, something subtle changing in her face.
“You love him,” she said quietly.
“Yes,” Rose said, without hesitation. Startling herself with her frank admission, especially to the woman, but unwilling to change it for the world.
“You really love him.”
The woman slowly nodded.
“All right, then,” she said. She turned her back on Rose, heading for the door. “We’re done here.”
Rose, trembling all over from adrenaline and emotion, didn’t know what to say.
“I tried,” the woman sighed. “I did try.”
She banged on the door, and it slid open. The woman turned to look at Rose. Any pity or kindness was gone from her face and eyes, and Rose got the impression that they were gone for good. Rose had proven herself beyond “redemption,” and thus, was now merely an object. A means by which to get to the Doctor.
“Better get some sleep, Rose,” the woman said coolly. “We’ve got a big day tomorrow.”