Moving Forward by LN29 [Reviews - 106] Chapter or Story |
YAY FOR CLIFFHANGERS!
I know, I know, this is a diabolical place to end it, and I apologize. Youíve all been so wonderful, and I hate to leave you all hanging like this, though this is how I always planned to end this story. I PROMISE that the third story, which will pick up where this leaves off, will be coming really soon.
Iím going to start it as soon as Christmas Break begins (less than two weeks from now). I promised my parents I wouldnít start it until then, because I have final exams next week, and I have a habit of seriously neglecting schoolwork in favor of writing these stories, and I donít really regret it. It is KILLING me to have to put this on hold, even for a short time, because I love these characters and this story, and all of you. But I do have to pass these exams. As soon as Iím done, Iíll start on the third, which Iíve tentatively titled ďThe Finish Line.Ē
But on the plus side, did you really think Iíd go through this whole story without one kiss between them?
You all are wonderful, and sometimes your reads, favorites, and reviews are what have kept me going through some rough days. Thank you so much, and I'm so glad you're enjoying these!!!
SEVERAL HOURS LATER:
The Doctor allowed the soldiers to propel him down the corridors, resisting the urge to antagonize them anymore. He didn’t have much time, and he didn’t want to give them any excuse to change their minds. Though at the same time, he admittedly doubted that they would refuse a direct order from the woman. They didn't seem to like her very much, but they obeyed her every command, and clearly feared her.
He wracked his brains for a way out of this, any way out of this, but frighteningly, he came up with nothing. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected to have happen with turning himself over. But in the past few hours, it’d become alarmingly clear to him that this situation was not one that would be resolved with a few clever words and an idea or two.
They arrived in front of a solid metal door, and one of the soldiers took off his handcuffs. The Doctor couldn’t help but stretch his arms appreciatively, though he winced as the movement tugged at the injury on his back.
“Ten minutes,” the soldier said, and the door slid open.
Taking a deep breath, the Doctor walked inside, hearing the door slam behind him.
Both girls were seated on the floor, but jumped up as he entered. He was relieved to see that both were all right, but admittedly, he only had eyes for one at this moment…
“Doctor!” Rose cried out, fear of their situation and joy at being reunited warring on her face. He reached out, and she sprang into his arms, hugging him tightly.
He couldn’t help but rejoice at the reunion, after being separated for so long.
He held her close, trying to commit every little detail to memory: her arms around him, the beat of her single human heart against his two, her scent, the sound of her voice, everything. He never wanted to let go.
“I thought…” she faltered, clinging to him even tighter. “I thought she…”
“Nope,” he said, keeping his voice as casual as he could. “Can’t get rid of me that easily, Rose Tyler.”
“I am so glad to see you,” she said.
He couldn’t even reply.
She pulled back just enough to see his face, and once again, he tried to memorize everything about her. He felt a stab of fury at the bruises on her face.
“Are you all right?” he asked, quickly beginning to check her over to make sure the injuries were as minor as they appeared.
“I’m fine,” she replied. “It’s just surface stuff.”
She did have a large lump on her head, where she’d been struck with the gun during the broadcast, but it didn’t appear to have damaged her skull, to his relief. The rest of the injuries appeared to just be bruises, though she did have a long cut on one arm, which was healing as well as could be expected. He fought back rage at what had been done, knowing it was pointless at this juncture.
He looked over at Mishell, who was standing back, letting them have their reunion. She was watching them closely, but her face was expressionless, her posture rigid. He couldn’t tell what she was thinking.
“Mishell, are you okay?”
“Fine,” she replied simply.
He could see pain in her eyes, and guilt overwhelmed him. Of course she wasn’t. She’d only recently lost the man she loved, and now she'd just seen her home destroyed, with the rest of her makeshift family in it, and was now a prisoner of someone she had nothing to do with.
The woman had a point, he reflected grimly. Everywhere and everyone he touched got hurt.
“You’re hurt too,” Rose added, fearful and concerned.
“What, this?” he asked, gesturing to his own face, which he knew was already bruised from the woman's blows. “I’ve gotten worse from a bad landing in the TARDIS.”
Rose wasn’t fooled for a moment.
“Turn around,” she demanded. “Let me see your back.”
He decided it would be best to do as he was told. They didn’t have much time.
“It’s not that deep,” Rose said after a moment, and he could hear her relief, even as her voice tightened with fury at the sight. “There’s a lot of blood, but it’s not bleeding anymore.”
“Told you,” he said, turning back around.
They all looked at each other.
“What are you doing here?” It was Mishell who asked the question, but Rose’s expression showed that she was wondering the same thing.
“I…” he thought for a moment. “I’m just stopping by to see how you two are. I can’t stay long.”
“How did you get her to let you come?” Rose asked. “I didn’t think she’d do anything for you.”
He didn’t reply.
“It’s fine,” he told her.
Seven minutes left.
“I am so sorry about all this,” he said, looking from one to the other.
“It’s not your fault,” Rose insisted fiercely. “I’m the idiot who got myself captured in the first place.”
“You couldn’t have avoided it,” the Doctor said firmly, squeezing her hand. “She was bound to track us down one way or another. And Mishell, I am so, so very sorry about Pantila.”
Mishell nodded mutely, her expression shuttered, and his hearts ached for her. Words were inadequate, and they both knew it. But at the same time, Rose’s eyes were immediately filled with unfathomable pain. The Doctor froze, then turned his attention to her fully. He had to make her understand. He had to ease this one burden, even if he could fix nothing else.
“Rose, it was not your fault,” he repeated.
Her eyes filled with tears as she gazed back at him desperately.
“How can it not be?” she whispered. “If it weren’t for me…”
“You were not responsible for what she did.”
“Rose, you chose not to betray those who showed you kindness. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you. How could you have done anything else?”
She still looked unconvinced, and he took her face in his hands, looking straight into her eyes.
“It wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known. You are not to blame.” Still, a flicker of uncertainty. “Rose, please trust me. It wasn’t your fault.”
Slowly, she nodded, and he let go, immediately taking her hand again. He needed to keep her close.
“Who is she?” Mishell demanded. “Why does she hate you so much?”
The Doctor couldn’t look at her, couldn’t bear to see the look on her face as she found out what he’d done. Who he really was…
“She’s the last surviving member of a species whose planet was wiped out in the Time War.” He recognized her now, recognized her species, remembered the planet. Remembered what had happened there….
“Doctor,” Rose asked slowly. “Just, please tell me…was it really you? Who killed them?”
“Yes,” he said, forcing himself to meet her eyes. There was no condemnation there, he noticed with a start. Merely sorrow and compassion.
He looked over at Mishell, who was studying him intently. But the blame and revulsion that he both dreaded and expected were nowhere to be seen.
“It was during the Time War…and their planet was being overrun by Daleks.” Despite the fact that neither girl was vocally blaming him, he was still desperate to explain himself. “If they’d gained a foothold on that planet, it would have been an enormous detriment to us. To everyone. And they were going to exterminate the entire population, one by one.” He closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to…but it was more merciful for the people…and…”
“Doctor, stop it!” Rose said firmly, and he opened his eyes again. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me.”
“Nor me,” Mishell added, to his surprise.
“I know you,” Rose continued, giving Mishell a quick smile. “You wouldn’t have done it unless you had to.”
He swallowed his emotion, not knowing what to say.
“But it seems so personal,” Mishell said. “Like you personally wronged her.”
“Killing her entire species isn’t enough?” he asked quietly.
Mishell closed her mouth, but Rose knew him too well to be deterred by that kind of statement.
“Have you met before?” she asked, her gaze intense. Probing, searching for answers.
“Don’t,” he said, the word coming out harsher than he intended. He immediately softened his tone. “Rose…just don’t.”
She nodded slowly.
Less than five minutes.
“So what do we do now?” Rose finally asked.
“Well…” the Doctor said slowly, desperately trying to keep things as lighthearted as he could, which wasn’t easy, considering the circumstances. “On the plus side, she finally let me know what’s going to happen. And there’s good news and bad news.”
“Oh great,” Mishell groaned.
Rose didn’t take her eyes off him.
“What?” she asked quietly, taking both his hands, giving him something to hold on to. How had she known that was exactly what he needed?
“You’re not going to be killed,” he reassured them. The woman’s jeers and taunts rang in his ears, hours of implied or direct threats against the people he cared about, but he forced himself not to think about them. All that mattered was the end result. “I’ve made sure of that.”
Rose and Mishell exchanged a look.
“If that’s the good news,” Rose sighed, “I hate to hear the bad news.”
He looked from one to the other, and could barely get the words out.
“She’s not going to let you go.”
Mishell let out a breath, and Rose’s grip tightened on his hands. She took a deep breath, looking determined.
“Then what is going to happen to us?”
“You’re going to be taken somewhere,” he informed them. “A prison, I think.”
He felt ill at the thought of either of them in prison, felt like screaming at the mere mention of it. But at least they’d be alive.
“To keep you away from me. But you won’t be harmed, I swear.”
Rose seemed to sense that there wasn’t much time, for despite the fact that she must have a thousand questions, she pressed on.
“And the TARDIS?” she asked. “She has her too, you know.”
He couldn’t help but feel pleased that Rose had remembered that his ship was also a captive.
“I know. But she can’t get in,” he said. He wasn’t going to risk mentioning the key out loud. If he knew that woman at all, she would be listening in on this conversation. “And she doesn’t really value the TARDIS. But she also doesn’t want me anywhere near her. So I think she’s just going to abandon her somewhere.”
He felt rage on behalf of his ship, fury at the thought of her being discarded like garbage. But at least the TARDIS would be out of the woman’s hands. He could always go back for his ship if…when...he got away.
Rose swallowed hard, and he knew she’d been intentionally avoiding the most obvious question, clearly afraid of the answer.
“What about you?” she whispered.
His hearts pounded in his ears, and he forced himself to be as calm as he could.
“Rose, I’m sorry,” he said.
“Doctor, what about you?!” she demanded.
“What is she going to do with you?” Mishell asked, stepping to Rose's side.
“She’s taking me with her,” he finally admitted.
“NO!” Rose gasped in horror.
“It’s the only way she’ll let you live,” he told her quietly.
“Oh, Doctor,” she cried, moving to hug him again.
He could feel her trembling as he held her, and then realized he was as well.
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured her. “Really. Don’t worry about me.” He hadn’t even wanted to mention it, but there hadn’t really been any way of avoiding the topic.
He pulled away from Rose, taking her hand, and reaching out to take Mishell’s hand in his other. He looked from one to the other, knowing in his hearts that it might be a long time before he saw either of them again.
“We’re almost out of time,” he said. Rose looked like she was struggling to hold back tears. “I don’t want you to worry about me. I’ll be fine, and I will come and get you out.”
Mishell looked skeptical, and one look at Rose told him that she knew as well as he did what was awaiting him in the future. And that he might not be able to escape. But for all of their sakes, she pretended he was stating an absolute fact.
“I need both of you to take care of yourselves. You’re going to have to be strong, and I am so, so sorry. I didn’t want this to happen.”
“It’s not your fault!” Rose said firmly, and Mishell nodded agreement.
“Promise me that you’ll take care of yourselves,” he said, his voice going fierce with emotion.
“This is going to be hard, and I wish more than anything in the world that you didn’t have to do this. If I can find any way to get you out, I swear that I will do it. I will never stop fighting for you. But you two are going to have to keep yourselves safe. Keep strong. Keep fighting. Promise me you will.”
“Promise,” Mishell said.
He looked at Rose, who was still struggling to hold back emotion.
“Promise,” she whispered.
He hated to leave them like this, hated it more than anything in the world.
“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Mishell demanded.
“No,” the Doctor shook his head. “Not here. I’ve tried everything.”
He turned to fully face Mishell.
“Mishell, I am so sorry I got you into this.”
“You didn’t get me into this,” Mishell replied. “I got me into this. And don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”
He hugged her tightly.
Then he turned to Rose. Wordlessly, Mishell moved to the other side of the cell, to give them what privacy she could.
“Don’t cry,” he urged Rose, reaching up to wipe away a tear that had escaped. “Don’t let them see you cry, okay?”
She mustered a smile.
She gripped his hands.
“Doctor, when are we going to see each other again?”
“I don’t know, Rose,” he admitted. “And I am so sorry. I really messed this one up.”
“I’ve got to admit,” she said, her voice shaking a little. “I’ve seen better rescue operations.”
“Oh really?” he inquired, trying to coax a smile out of her.
“Well, once you’ve been plucked out of the event horizon of a black hole by a knight in shining spacegear,” she said, “everything else sort of pales in comparison.”
They both laughed, though neither of their hearts were in it.
They looked at each other.
“Don’t let her break you,” Rose whispered. “Please. It's your turn to promise. You have to promise me.”
He didn’t make promises lightly, and she knew it.
“I promise,” he replied.
There was so much he wanted to say to her, but he didn’t have the time or the words. She looked like she was struggling to say something too, but she couldn’t quite manage it.
Acting completely on impulse, but at the same time knowing that it was so, so right, he leaned forward and kissed her. He felt her surprise, but then she responded, reaching up to put her arms around him as he held her close.
"Real?" she breathed, pulling back just enough to speak. He immediately understood.
"Real," he whispered, closing the distance between them again. Trying to say everything he couldn’t find the words for with that one action. Everything he felt, everything he wanted. To give her something to hold onto in the days to come. To give himself something to hold onto.
He finally forced himself to pull away, and met her eyes. They were swimming with dozens of emotions, and he couldn’t detect any one specific one.
“This isn’t the end, Rose,” he said. He could hear movement outside the door, and knew that time was up. “I swear it. This isn’t goodbye, and it isn’t the end.”
She nodded, and he saw new resolve dawning in her eyes.
“See you soon,” she said.
“You bet,” he replied.
The door opened, and the Doctor turned to face the soldiers.
“Hi,” he greeted them as cheerfully as he could, for both girls’ sakes. “If it isn’t my private escort.”
One of the soldiers stepped into the cell, and used his weapon to separate Rose and Mishell from the Doctor. The Doctor didn’t protest, merely allowed them to cuff his hands behind his back again, though he couldn't resist pulling on his arms, momentarily keeping them just too far apart to handcuff. It wouldn't do any good, the soldier overpowered him the next second, but it was a small sign of rebellion.
“Take care of yourselves,” he called over his shoulder, trying to get a last look at the two of them as he was escorted out of the cell. “And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”
This earned him a smile from Rose, and it was this last image that he vowed to keep in his mind.
The door slid shut behind him, shutting him off from Rose and Mishell.
Walking away from that cell was the hardest thing he’d ever done. He desperately tried to think of a way out that didn’t involve Rose or Mishell being killed, but he couldn’t think of anything. It was so infuriating. He’d escaped from some of the most complex prisons and labyrinths and whatnot in the universe, and here he was, trapped by a pair of handcuffs and a couple of soldiers with guns. He might be able to overpower his guards, it was true. He was stronger than most people gave him credit for, though he knew that the woman had warned these men about him. But even if he managed to break their grip on him, if he tried to run now, he’d only get himself shot. Probably not fatally, but a shot to the leg or arm didn’t sound appealing right now either. And it would probably result in Rose or Mishell being killed.
And besides…he’d made a deal.
He had to focus on the fact that wherever Rose and Mishell were being taken, they were going to be alive. Where there was life, there was hope.
And he was going to live as well. Granted, he knew his quality of life was not exactly going to be optimal. The Doctor could be optimistic when he wanted to be, but he wasn't going to deceive himself. His life was about to become very difficult. But at the same time, it was better than death. He was going to have to remember that, he knew, in days to come. If the past was any indication, there would soon come a day when he would welcome death. Pray for it. But he buried the knowledge deep in his mind, trying to keep it as protected as he could...the knowledge that life was always preferable. Always. While he was alive, he stood a chance of gaining the upper hand.
He knew his only chance stood in keeping himself alive and sane enough, for long enough, to fight back. She was going to do her best to break him, and while the Doctor had a strong mind, and 900 (give or take. He would stick to his plausible deniability to the end) years of experience, he also knew that this woman had a lifetime of hatred to vent, an inordinate amount of power to weild, vast resources and contacts, and a mind that was warped beyond reason. A deadly combination.
But he'd promised Rose he wouldn't let her break him. And he had to hold onto that promise.
He was half led, half dragged through the entire base. They passed the large room where he’d first been brought, and continued the rest of the way through the place, finally arriving at a door which led to the outside. Several more soldiers stood at various strategic positions around the door, to ensure he had no opportunity to take action.
He stepped outside, breathing in the fresh air, and tried to calm his pounding hearts. He couldn’t deny that he was frightened. Rose and Mishell were alive, and that was what mattered most. But he also knew that this was going to be bad.
He was dragged across the clearing, to the large ship he and Mishell had spotted earlier. The woman’s ship.
She was standing at the base of it, arms folded, looking extraordinarily and infuriatingly triumphant.
The soldiers flung him to the ground and stepped away, thought not before one of them delivered a cursory kick to his ribs. Grimacing in pain, he pulled himself up to his knees.
“Well?” she asked, looking down at him. “Was it worth it?”
“Every minute,” he replied, any and all lightheartedness gone from his voice. No pretenses here. She was his enemy, and he wasn’t going to banter with her anymore. Not after what she’d done to Pantila. Not after what she’d threatened to do to his friends.
“And what about your end of the deal?” she inquired.
“I’m not struggling, am I?” he asked. And he wasn’t.
She crouched down so that she was on eye level with him.
“How did they react?” she inquired. He closed his mouth, refusing to answer, even when her hand went to the hilt of her knife. “I’ll bet Rose was heartbroken to hear it. She’s obsessively loyal to you, you know. It’s pathetic, what you’ve turned her into. You should thank me for letting her live.”
Something snapped inside him.
“If you hurt her,” he snarled, unable to keep the words back. The hours of enduring her threats, plus the anguish of being forcibly seperated from Rose like this, finally manifesting themselves in a rage and words that startled him, but that he utterly meant. “I will kill you.”
The woman merely smiled at him.
“We've been over this, Doctor. All you’re doing right now is proving me right.”
She reached into a pocket and pulled out a large syringe. He caught his breath, forcing himself not to flinch at the sight, remembering previous injections, previous chemicals, which had stripped him of his final defense.
“Don’t panic,” she said. “I’m not disabling your regeneration. Yet.”
She uncapped the syringe and carefully pulled out a small bottle of liquid. She showed it to him.
“You see, we’ve got a long journey ahead of us. And while your agreement to go quietly is appreciated, the word of a killer and coward means nothing. You lie and manipulate like other creatures breathe air. And I don’t want any incidents on the way.”
Now he recognized the liquid as a powerful sedative.
“And before you comment, you should know that my boys gained a lot of information about you during your stay with them, so yes, we are aware of the difference in your metabolism.” She inserted the needle into the bottle, and carefully filled the syringe with a dose that he knew would be large enough to knock him out for a significant portion of time. “And we have compensated accordingly.”
“How proactive of you,” he forced himself to reply.
Forcing himself not to show fear.
She smirked and moved closer to him. One of the soldiers stepped forward to hold him in place, and another pushed up his sleeve, exposing his arm. She reached towards him, and he had no way of avoiding the needle. Thus, he didn’t even try to.
He felt the prick of the needle piercing his skin, and he inhaled sharply as a rush of warmth and pain shot through his arm, indicating the sedative had been injected into his bloodstream, his double hearts carrying it through his system twice as fast.
It was powerful and fast acting. Almost immediately, he could feel his body shutting down: heartbeats slowing, terrifying numbness sweeping over him, his limbs turning to leaden weights. The soldier let go, and he slumped forward helplessly, hating his weakness but unable to prevent it. But he refused to take his eyes off the woman. He would stare her down until the last possible moment.
She leaned over him, and his darkening vision could just make out the triumphant and malicious expression on her face. He tried to fight the sedative, but he could feel himself slipping. He was so tired, and while he knew that sleep was bad, he couldn't resist it.
Her voice sounded as though it came from far away, but her words penetrated his rapidly clouding mind like a white-hot blade.
“Oh, Doctor,” she whispered. “We’re going to have fun…”
And then the world went black.