Falling For You, All Over Again by jinni
Summary: AU. Nine. Post-Doomsday. It should be impossible but nothing is ever impossible where the Doctor is concerned. Nine/Rose/Jack
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Ninth Doctor
Characters: Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler, The Doctor (9th)
Falling For You, All Over Again by jinni
Chapter 10: Chapter NineAuthor's Notes:
Previously on “As the TARDIS Turns”… oh, wait, that’s not right. Previously on “Falling For You, All Over Again”:
“An’ that’s why I want you to take me home. Take me back to Torchwood.”
Rose waited, breath caught in her throat, for the inevitable derisive look and the scornful response that she had braced herself for from the moment she realized she was actually going to ask to go back. There was already an empty ache in her chest at the thought of leaving, but it was too late to take back the words now that they had been spoken.
Not that she wanted to. This was the right choice, even if it was going to — and already did - hurt like hell.
The Doctor’s eyebrows went up. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked down his nose at her. Rose could almost see the thoughts and suspicions whirling away behind his eyes. She tensed, ready for whatever he had to say, knowing that it would all be over soon enough and she’d be away from here, him, and Jack.
Then the Doctor opened his mouth and said the one thing that Rose had never counted on.
“’M sorry?” she asked, confused. No, confused was too tame of a word for what she was feeling right at that moment, some part of her brain decided. This numb, horrified feeling of embarrassment and irritation? That was being completely stunned, Rose was almost sure of it.
“I said ‘no’,” he told her, as if it was the most reasonable thing in the world. Rose blinked at him, still too shocked at the outright denial of her request to do more than just stare and hope that he started making sense soon.
He didn’t. In fact, he just stood there and returned her stare with one of his own, looking far too much like the first Doctor she had ever traveled with for Rose’s comfort. She swallowed down a lump of something that felt a lot like pain and tried to look away, only to find that she couldn’t. Maybe it was pride that made her hold his gaze, or maybe she was just weak. If this was going to be the last time she ever saw any incarnation of the Doctor, after all, she shouldn’t miss a moment of it. Even if he’s looking at her like she grew two heads when he wasn’t looking.
That sparked a thought she’d rather not have dealt with, though, and suddenly Rose found herself tripping down memory lane, remembering when the Doctor was talking nonsense right before he regenerated. Two heads. No heads.
He’d changed right in front of her, become someone else. Someone that she loved just as much as she’d loved the first him. Maybe even more.
And now she had neither of them. Just someone that looked like her Doctor, spoke like her Doctor, even acted like him.
But he wasn’t him and sticking around here wasn’t going to do anything but break her heart. Bad enough she’d already fallen for Jack.
“You -,” Rose stopped, frowned. The entire universe seemed to have just turned itself inside out and all she could do was hang on for dear life. That was how little sense all of this made. She licked her lips, then tried again. “You keepin’ me hostage, then?”
If that was the case, then there was no greater proof in the universe that this Doctor was different from the one she had given her heart to. Her Doctor had once told her he’d never keep her involuntarily. That he didn’t do that. Never had, he’d even told her. If someone decided that they didn’t want to travel with him anymore, then that was it. They’d talked about those other companions of his once or twice, after she’d met Sarah Jane and been force fed the realization that she wasn’t the only one he’d ever cared about. He’d talked of when he’d left them or vice versa. Not once had he ever said that he’d tried to make someone stay, not let them go when they wanted to.
“Hostage?” he asked coolly. Again there was that feeling that he was looking at her hard enough to stare through to her very soul. She hoped that wasn’t the case, and was pretty sure that soul-watching wasn’t on the list of talents she’d ever heard the Doctor rattle on about anyway. Telepathy, though. That one was right there at the top. Would she even know if he was inside her head? Her other Doctor wouldn’t have done that. But he wouldn’t have refused to take her home, either. This Doctor was an entirely different breed, and Rose was at a loss for what to expect or how to cope with it. The Doctor’s lips turned up in a mocking smile. He snorted and rolled his eyes. “Hardly.”
All right. That was it.
“How d’ya figure that?” she shot back, finally getting angry. “I asked to go home.” Each word was snapped out, through teeth that fought not to clench tightly together.
“Right, heard you the first time, I did,” he said with a nod. No further explanation. Just one, sharp nod.
“And you said ‘no’,” she reminded him, trying not to get any angrier with him than she already was. She failed. Miserably. Once upon a time ago she’d thought that the Doctor was a little attractive when he acted like a lofty, know-it-all. This was not one of those times.
“Knew I couldn’t put anything past you, Rose Tyler. You’re right. I said ‘no’.”
Right, then. She was lost. And frustrated. And definitely more than a little angry. These were not the emotions that she had thought she’d be experiencing after asking to go home. Then again, maybe this was better than the sadness she had expected. She shook her head, trying to break free of her thoughts long enough to get to the bottom of whatever the Doctor was trying to pull. “And that’s not holdin’ me hostage — how?”
“Because you don’t really want to leave.”
Rose went stiff. Had he been looking through her head after all, seen the reasons that she was making this choice, and come to a conclusion with his so-called superior intellect? She tried to keep her voice calm, but knew that she failed almost immediately. “Yes, I really do.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes and shook his head. He turned away from her, so that now all she could see was the tight set of his shoulders under his leather jacket, as his hands moved over the TARDIS controls. While she didn’t know much about how to fly the TARDIS, she did know that he wasn’t actually doing anything. He just didn’t want to look at her anymore.
That hurt. God, it hurt. She hadn’t meant to make him mad or upset or… anything! She’d just wanted to get out of here and back to the closest she could ever hope to have for a normal life, someplace where she didn’t run the risk every single day of having her heart broken because her bloody head couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that these two people — Jack and the Doctor — were not hers.
She sighed. “Doctor — I should go. Back to Torchwood. Or just ‘ome, if you don’t want me workin’ at Torchwood no more.”
Anywhere but here, she didn’t say, though she thought it.
“Should go? Says who?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder at her, still with that air that she was irritating him with her request.
“Says me. An’ I’m the one that gets to make that decision, Doctor! Not you.”
Now he turned, whirling on her with eyebrows up and mouth set in a thin line. Rose had never been afraid of the Doctor, and that hadn’t changed. But he could be bloody intimidating when he wanted to be. Right now was obviously one of those times.
“You don’t get t’make decisions like this when you’re obviously not thinkin’ clearly. When you’ve got your poor little ape brain so twisted that you’re set to throw away somethin’ that you enjoy doin’.”
He made it sound so easy, like she didn’t have a problem in the world with giving up this life. Did he really think that? If so, she was doing a better job of hiding how she felt than she’d previously thought.
There was something else there as he spoke, an edge of pleading that was at complete odds with the cool flash of his eyes. The Doctor wanted her to understand what he was trying to tell her. That she shouldn’t be rash. Well, she did understand that, and maybe this was rash and something that she’d one day regret.
Didn’t make it the wrong decision for her to make right now.
“Wish it was that easy,” she told him honestly.
The Doctor shook his head. “I’ll never understand you people. Spend all your lives rushing from one bad decision to another, regrettin’ when you don’t make enough of your short little lives. But when somethin’ comes along — somethin’ better — you run an’ hide the second things get tough.”
“It’s not like that,” she yelled, the words spilling before she could stop them. Well, what was done was done, right? “You think I want t’leave? T’go back to my boring old life when this,” she swept her arm out to encompass the TARDIS, “is all I can ever see m’self enjoying? Ever? D’ya think I’d do that on a whim, Doctor, without havin’ a really good reason for it?”
The Doctor’s face softened. “No, I don’t think that at all, Rose. An’ I know that you believe you have a good reason. I jus’ don’t think that it’s good enough for what you’ll be givin’ up.” He sighed and leaned back against the console again, arms tucking up on his chest so that his hands were snug beneath his underarms. “Look — if you don’t want to talk to me, talk to Jack. You two are close, yeah?”
“Yeah,” she agreed softly, finally finding the strength to turn from the Doctor’s inquisitive gaze. He was wearing her down little by little. She touched the console, seeking the warm, comforting hum of the TARDIS.
And received rebuke instead. Her hand stilled, falling away from console as if she’d been burned. The message had been received loud and clear, though. Not only was the Doctor upset with her, but so was the TARDIS.
Maybe she wasn’t handling this as well as she could.
But it wasn’t like she could do what the Doctor wanted and talk with Jack. Not when a good portion of the confusion she was feeling had to do with the Captain and how she felt about him. That really only left the Doctor as her confidant, and how many times had her other Doctor scoffed at talk like this as being too domestic.
Lose-lose situation all around.
“I can’t talk t’him,” she said softly.
“Why not? Spend all your time talkin’ to him since I rescued th’ two of you,” he chided her, though his voice lacked any malice. In fact, there was a little smile on his lips when he looked at her that could almost be called ‘fond’. “Sleepin’ in your bed right now, isn’t he?”
Rose blushed, rising automatically to defend what really was nothing more than close friendship. “It’s not like that.”
At least, she had meant for it to be a defense.
The Doctor’s smile was wide and sudden, and Rose knew that she’d given something away with her hurried denial. She opened her mouth to say something else, to change the topic, but shut it quickly again. There wasn’t anything that she could say now.
“Is that what all of this was about?” he asked, stilling smiling that manic grin.
She’d never liked being teased about this sort of thing, and having the Doctor be the one dishing it out didn’t make her feel any better. Rose huffed a sigh and leveled a mocking glare at the Doctor. “Isn’t this conversation too domestic for you, Doctor?” she said with what she hoped was enough scorn to make him see that he didn’t really want to have this talk with her.
Futile hope, that. His grin didn’t fade in the least, if anything it grew, as he latched onto what he had to believe was proof that he’d figured out the problem that was about to send her home. From that angle, Rose supposed that she could understand his willingness to have this talk. He hadn’t wanted her to leave, had wanted to know why she was acting the way she was.
And now he knew.
“Nah, s’not domestic at all. Just me, bein’ concerned with the welfare of my companions. That all right?”
Saying ‘no’ probably wasn’t an option. Under his grinning, knowing gaze, she cracked. This time when she leaned against the console, the TARDIS was a glowing hum in her mind. She shut her eyes for a long minute, but knew there was no use. He’d still be there, waiting, when she opened her eyes again.
“Fine,” she sighed explosively. “Yeah, I like Jack. Bein’ here, bein’ around the two of you — it’s hard for me. You asked if I loved my Doctor — yeah, I did. An’ I loved Jack, too. Both of ‘em.”
“Ah,” the Doctor nodded. “So you think that by runnin’ away you’ll save yourself some hurt? Not let yourself get attached again, right? Easier that way, ‘m sure.”
The interior of the TARDIS, for all that it was much bigger on the inside, suddenly didn’t seem nearly big enough to hide her from the embarrassment of the knowing, sympathetic look in the Doctor’s eyes.
“What about Jack, tho’?” he continued, arching an eyebrow.
“Wha’ about him?” Just when she thought she’d figured out how this conversation was going to go — more heartache for her — the Doctor pulled out a question that made absolutely no sense. Not to her, anyway.
The Doctor’s answer was only a shrug for the longest of moments. Long enough for Rose to wonder if he was going to answer her at all. And then he spoke, walking slowly towards her, and the world spun topsy-turvy again. “He cares about you. Didn’t think I needed t’tell you that much, and yet here I am. Statin’ the obvious once again. Think maybe you fried somethin’ up here,” he tapped once on her forehead, “being out in the sun like that for so long?”
“That’s not nice.”
“Wasn’t meant t’be.”
Rose stared straight ahead, her eyes fixed on the grey of the jumper beneath the Doctor’s jacket. She wondered if it was scratchy just like the one that the other him used to wear, that she’d laid her cheek against and cried into once or twice. A part of her wanted that more than anything right at that moment. For the Doctor to take her in his arms and hold her, crush her to him and make her feel like the world really would be better.
“Don’t be afraid to care, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said when he finally spoke again. “Take it from me — s’ no way to live your life.”
She didn’t know what was more shocking: the Doctor’s words; the fact that he cared enough to say something that profound to her, someone he barely knew; or…
…or the hug that came almost immediately after. The one that left her sobbing into his chest for everything she’d lost, everything that had happened in the last few days, and everything that she was afraid to let herself feel.
“No more talk of leaving.”
Rose nodded, not pulling away yet. The shirt really was just as scratchy as her other Doctor’s had been.
“Yeah, no more.”
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