Footsteps echo through the dank cellar beneath Henrik’s. Little pools of water have collected on the floor, moisture seeps through the walls, the cool humidity can literally be felt. Rose Tyler sighs and slows to a walk as she calls out, “Wilson? Wilson, I’ve got the lottery money.” There’s no response. Rose huffs; she just wants to go home, eat chips, and watch telly with Mickey until tomorrow. “Wilson, are you there?” She knocks on his office door. “I can’t hang about ‘cos they’re closin’ the shop. Wilson! Oh, come on.”
She jumps slightly as there is a clatter further down the corridor. Rose sticks her neck out and asks, “Hello? Hello, Wilson, it’s Rose. Hello? Wilson?”
This is starting to get frustrating. Rose groans as she opens the heavy door leading into the storage room for the department store. Boxes of clothes litter the floor, a few items scattered here and there. Several shop window dummies stand around in various states of dress. Even though they don’t have eyes, Rose always feels like they’re staring at her.
The door slams behind her. Rose turns and runs back, tugging on the door, but it won’t open. “You’re kidding me,” she breathes out. She hasn’t got time for this; her mum’s expecting her home for dinner soon. There are more noises from the other end of the room, behind the racks of clothes. A little louder, Rose shouts, “Is that someone muckin’ about? Who is it?”
Her eyes widen as one of the dummies turns toward her, then takes a step. She passes it off with a bitter laugh. “Yeah, you got me. Very funny.” Another one starts to move, and then another. Is this supposed to be a joke? “Right,” she says, backing up slowly and trying to keep her voice from shaking, “I’ve got the joke. Who’s idea was this? Is it Derek’s? Is it? Derek, is this you?” (No matter how many times she snogged Mickey in front of him at the pub, the guy couldn’t take a hint.)
She keeps backing away, but there are at least a dozen heading towards her now, and Rose doesn’t feel like laughing anymore. Fear begins to settle in her stomach, nagging at her like the moment before a kiss, only not in a good way. Before Rose realizes what has happened, she’s up against a wall with nowhere to go, and there are plastic dummies surrounding her. The leader raises its white arm, prepared to strike. Rose winces and squeezes her eyes shut, automatically flinching as she waits for the attack.
Could this really be the end? In the basement of Henrik’s? God, if I’m going to die here--
A warm hand grabs Rose’s chilled wrist. Surprised, she looks up into brown eyes. “Run,” her savior says, pulling her along.
As they sprint through the cellar, the man’s fingers slip through Rose’s, and she’s clinging on like he’s a lifeline and she’s drowning in an ocean. Adrenaline pumps through her, giving her the energy to keep running much longer than she could have ever dreamed without passing out.
They take refuge in the service lift, but the plastic dummies weren’t far behind them. One sticks its arm through the door as the doors begin to slide closed, and the man wrestles with the arm, giving several tugs before the arm is pulled clean off. The doors shut, and they are safe.
Rose is able to look over the man who saved her life for the first time. He’s tall, scrawny, with messy brown hair and a thin face. He’s wearing a brown pinstriped suit and Chucks under a long brown overcoat. Rose’s heart is pounding, but she is able to stammer, “You pulled ‘is arm off.”
“Yep,” he says with a pop on the p, “plastic.”
“Very clever,” Rose says drily. Of all the things to happen today... “Nice trick! Who were they then, students? Is this a student thing or what?” He looks older than her, but not too old to be a student she guesses. Maybe a professor or something even. It’s not like Rose knows much about university, seeing as she hasn’t gone and doesn’t have friends who are students.
He looks at her while fiddling with the arm and a silver thing that is a little bigger than a pen. “Why would they be students?”
She shrugs, “I don’t know.”
“Well, you said it. Why students?” He appears to be sizing her up, and Rose suddenly feels self-conscious. Her pink hoodie is incredibly worn, her jeans several years old. Her scuffed up, dirty white trainers have holes in the sides where she’s ruined them. Compared to him, she looks like a homeless person.
“‘Cos to get that many people dressed up an’ bein’ silly, they got to be students,” she reasons, feeling the need to impress this man.
He doesn’t seem very impressed with her as he says, “That makes sense. Well done.”
“They’re not students,” he says after a minute, but doesn’t offer any more explanation.
Rose brushes her disappointment off and crosses her arms. “Whoever they are, when Wilson finds ‘em, he’s goin’ to call the police.”
“Who’s Wilson?” he asks without looking up. Whatever he’s doing with that blue torch must be pretty damn important for being so rude.
He stops and looks up at her. Very matter-of-fact, he states, “Wilson’s dead.” The doors open with a ding, and he sprints through the store to a back exit, Rose struggling to catch up.
She frowns at him. “That’s just not funny. That’s sick!”
“Hold on,” he says. “Mind your eyes.”
Rose squints her eyes so she can keep him in her sights as he lifts his blue torch to the lift mechanism. Sparks fly, and her hands instinctively fly up to shield her face. “I’ve had enough of this now.” If Wilson really was dead, she didn’t want to think about it; he was her friend. “Who are you, then? Who’s that lot down there?” When he doesn’t answer, she restates, “I said, who are they?”
“They’re made of plastic. Living plastic creatures. They’re being controlled by a relay device in the roof, which would be a great big problem if I didn’t have this.” He holds up a small black device which Rose can only assume to be a bomb. “So I’m going to go up there and blow them up, and I might die in the process, but don’t worry about me. No, you go home. Go on. Go and have your lovely beans on toast. Don’t tell anyone about this, because if you do, you’ll get them killed.”
Rose stands in shock as he closes the door behind him, leaving her in the alleyway behind the shop. Suddenly, the door swings back open and he’s looking at her with a strange concentration. “By the way, I’m the Doctor. Who’re you?”
“Rose,” she answers, “Rose Tyler.”
He gives her a manic grin and Rose wonders if he’s insane. “Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!”
And for some reason, she does.
She doesn’t know how it happens, because it’s all so fast, but one day later she’s standing in an alley beside an old blue Aston Martin. Mickey went to go get a camera because he wanted a picture with the car, but Rose is still there with the Doctor. “Really,” she says, “what’s your name?”
“I told you,” he answers, leaning casually against the car with his hands in his pockets. “It’s the Doctor.”
“Yeah, but Doctor what?”
“Just the Doctor.”
He gives her a tiny grin that she thinks might be sarcastic, and says, “If I told you my name, I’d have to kill you.” He winks, and Rose realizes for the first time how gorgeous he is. What she wouldn’t give to run her fingers through that mess of hair... “So,” he says, and Rose unconsciously licks her lips. “Fancy coming with me?”
It isn’t what she was expecting from him, but part of her wants to say yes. “You’re a spy.”
“Covert officer,” he corrects.
“You kill people.”
His face darkens, but he can’t deny her the truth. “Only when I have to.” A bitter little laugh escapes her and she shivers. If she says no, will he kill her? Almost like he can read her mind (and she wonders if they have training for that), he quickly adds, “Not you, Rose Tyler. Never you.”
The way he says her name makes her get butterflies in her stomach. “I can’t,” she says, finally answering his question. “I’ve gotta take care o’ my mum and Mickey and I’ve got work.” Well, not since he blew it up.
He nods, but she sees the sadness in his eyes. Every movie she had seen told her that being a spy meant having a lonely and dangerous life. He just looks so sad, Rose starts having second thoughts. But it was too late. She knew that her duty was at home, much like his duty was to protect Queen and Country.
The Doctor climbs into his car and starts the ignition, affectionately patting the console. He looks out at Rose and gives a little wave. “Nice meeting you, Rose Tyler.”
She can’t say anything, but waves back. He puts the car in first gear and starts rolling away, much too slowly compared to earlier. Unlike before, he actually stops at the stop sign at the end of the road, and Rose feels like this is a pivotal moment.
The Doctor sticks his head out of the window and calls back, “Did I mention it travels in time?”
The notion is ridiculous, and Rose knows he’s just trying to make her come along, but it works. She was never happy on the Estate anyway. Having the same life as her mum was not what she wanted. Mickey was her best mate, but she didn’t want to marry him, not really.
With a smile, Rose runs to the car and jumps in the passenger seat. The Doctor speeds off, away from the Estate without a second thought.
It was a rash decision, Rose thinks, fingering the buttons on her mobile phone and trying to decide if she should call her mum to tell her where she is. She couldn’t tell her mother the truth; Jackie Tyler would never believe that Rose ran off with a man for unromantic reasons. (After the Jimmy Stone fiasco, Jackie grew incredibly hostile toward any male within ten feet of Rose, including Mickey.)
But she would worry if Rose never came home, and she didn’t deserve that. Having made up her mind, Rose scrolls through the contacts and selects her mum’s. The line rings and rings and rings, eventually picking up voicemail. Rose rolls her eyes and waits for the tone at the end of the instructional message. (Like anyone doesn’t know how to use voicemail.)
Once she is able to record a message, Rose begins to speak, “Hey Mum. Look, I’m gonna be traveling for a bit. I’ll be back soon--I got an offer I couldn’t resist, okay? I have my mobile so I’ll call you soon, yeah? Love you.”
She hangs up and tosses her phone between her hands. Rose looks around the large car park. There aren’t very many cars around, but a few are patronizing the little convenience store and two are filling up with petrol. Rose bites her lip and wonders if she’s made the right choice. She hears loud laughter from inside the shop and looks over her shoulder at the run down building. The Doctor is waving at someone inside and walking back to her with a jovial bounce in his step and a few bottles of water in his arms.
He passes one over to her and slides into the car. Rose climbs in and looks over at him. Music must be playing in his head because he’s bobbing his head like a chicken. “Alright there?” she asks, keeping an amused tone in her voice so he doesn’t leave her behind for being rude.
“Yeah!” he exclaims, suddenly urging the car forward. She jolts as he roughly switches gears, holding on to the door handle to keep steady. “Haven’t heard that song in a long time!” He turns on the radio--something new, finally, instead of driving in silence--and begins singing along with his apparent favorite song: “I’m Gonna Be.”
Rose rolls her eyes and smiles against the window. Once the song is over, the Doctor turns the volume down and takes a bypass that leads them closer to the coast. She wonders what their destination is; he wouldn’t tell her anything about his next mission, only that it was far away.
She looks over at him. He looks like he’s enjoying himself immensely, driving along coastal roads at breakneck seeds. “I don’ really know much about you,” Rose says.
He looks at her quickly before turning his attention back to the road. “What do you want to know?”
Rose crinkles her nose with her smile, glad she’s got him now. “Well, since you won’t tell me your name--”
“Because I’d have to kill you.”
“--how old are you?”
“Nine hundred and three.”
Rose rolls her eyes. “Fine, if that’s classified too, I’ll just have to ask you...what’s your favorite color?”
He scoffs. “Favorite color? Rose Tyler, I expected more from you!” After a moment, he finishes, “Tardis blue.”
“What the hell is tardis?” asks Rose, eyebrows raised.
“The color of my car,” he says. “Very rare make, this vehicle. It’s the last one.”
“Where are you from?” she asks.
She’s only known him for seventy-two hours, but Rose can already see when she’s touched a nerve. “Gallifrey, an island off the northeast coast. It’s gone now.”
Rose is dying to know how an island can just be gone, but she’s not an idiot, and won’t press the matter since he’s clearly not interested in explaining it. If Jimmy Stone were to come up, Rose isn’t sure she’d want to discuss that either. He can have his secrets, if it means she doesn’t have to share her life story. It’s fair enough for her.
“My family is too,” he says, “so don’t ask about them either.”
“Okay,” Rose responds, a little too quickly after he finishes speaking. They drive in silence, the music from the radio buzzing in the empty air. Hours pass, and Rose wants to speak but the words are caught somewhere between her stomach and her throat. Eventually the sky starts to turn dark and they’ve reached a small town on a set of cliffs.
The Doctor parks in front of a local bed and breakfast, and hands over a credit card to the woman at the front desk. Rose can’t see it very well as it is passed, but she has a feeling it’s a government card, or maybe the Doctor is just rich and able to pay for anything he wants.
Rose doesn’t realize they’ve only been given one room until she’s standing in it. One room, with one bed. Full size, too, not even a queen for them to have space between them. It’s not like Rose hasn’t ever shared a bed with a man before, but this is just so--different. They’ve only just met, and while Rose does find the Doctor attractive, it’s not that sort of relationship.
They stare awkwardly at each other and the Doctor says, “Receptionist thinks we’re together.”
“You didn’t correct her?”
He shrugs, and Rose wonders why he is so sad. “I’m always lying. Rule one.”
Rose nods once and looks to the carpet, lower lip between her teeth. “I’m, uh, just gonna shower, then.”
“Okay,” he says, moving to sit in the armchair beside the window. Rose walks into the small bathroom and strips her clothes off as she turns on the water. She really didn’t think running away through. The only clothes she had were the ones she’d been wearing. She tried not to think about having to sleep in her dirty clothes that she’d worn since yesterday morning, but it was that or going starkers. Maybe in the morning she could convince the Doctor to take her shopping, just so she could get the essentials.
Rose hums to herself as she washes her hair. Once she’s sufficiently clean, Rose gets out of the tub and wraps herself in a towel. Before she can get dressed, there’s a knock on the door. Rose opens it, and the Doctor is standing there with his dress shirt in hand. She accepts his offer of nightclothes with a blush, then closes the door.
She puts her hair up in the towel after drying off as best she can, then slides her arms through his shirt. Rose can’t help but notice that it smells like him in a way she hadn’t ever noticed before. She couldn’t pinpoint the exact scent, but whatever it was, was good. Typically, wearing the lover’s shirt came after the sex, but maybe it was just one of those nights.
Surely he didn’t expect...nah. Even if he were, would Rose even care? Sure, she was dating Mickey, but it wasn’t like it was going anywhere. Shaking her head, Rose snaps out of her reverie, reminding herself that she has a boyfriend who deserves the best, including her fidelity.
After rolling up the sleeves a little so she had use of her hands, Rose buttons the shirt nearly all the way up so that she could maintain a little bit of modesty. It wasn’t like her chest was particularly well endowed, but some men just thought of boobs and were ready to get it on.
When Rose reappears in the bedroom, the Doctor is staring at the wall. Sitting on top of the covers, he is dressed in only a plain t-shirt and his pinstriped trousers. Rose tugs down the bottom of his long shirt and walks to the other side of the bed. She slides beneath the sheets and smiles awkwardly up at him. “Night,” she says.
He doesn’t look at her, but does say, “Goodnight.”
Rose never tried in French class, but she’s willing to give it a go now. Anything for this man who she’s run away with. It’s been two weeks, and they’re still traveling each day, stopping in hotels at night. He has a phone that she can’t even touch without his claws coming out, but it never rings. Well, not until three in the morning on Wednesday.
After her morning shower, the Doctor is quick to tell her, “We’re going to Paris. I’ve got a job. You’ll need better clothes.”
She can’t help but think he’s incredibly rude, but he has a point. He took her shopping, but she only got things that she was comfortable in. The southeast end of London was most definitely not Paris. And so with new clothes, they take Paris by storm.
They walk into the Vaillant, Paris’ most famous casino. It’s a high stakes poker game that the Doctor must win, or risk the collapse of Europe’s economy. They’re betting with money, but really the prize is a code that can unlock any door. Rose tries not to gape, but the place is magnifique.
The Doctor is fluent in French, and speaks quickly with a blonde woman in a maid uniform. “Je cherche pour Monsieur Saxon.”
“Par ici, monsieur,” she responds. A little name tag along her collar names her Astrid, and Rose suddenly feels insecure. All of the women, including the servers with their trays of champagne, are gorgeous. Dressed in a floor length red gown, Rose feels pretty for once, but knows that she doesn’t fit in.
Astrid leads them to a long poker table where half a dozen men are seated, a few women standing behind them. The Doctor sits directly across the table from a man with dark brown hair, also dressed in a tuxedo. (Rose can’t help but think that the Doctor looks incredibly handsome tonight.) She assumes that this is the Master--the man with the code who can bring the entire world to its knees. Of course they would send the Doctor after him.
The men are sizing each other up, and Rose turns her attention to the woman standing behind the Master. She, too, is blonde and fragile. However, this woman looks completely natural here--she has been groomed for this her entire life. Rose returns her attentions to the Doctor when he says, “Master.”
“Doctor.” Rose is surprised that he is English, but really shouldn’t be. What did she expect, him to be French?
The game begins. Cards are dealt, and Rose tries to keep up. The Doctor told her that they would be playing baccarat, but Rose didn’t know it. She could hold her own in strip poker, but that probably wasn’t going to be played in such a high-end casino like this.
After a few minutes, the Master raises a hand to his shoulder and pulls the woman down to him. Rose sees the rings on their fingers and is somewhat shocked that they’re married, but even bad guys found love, she supposes. They kiss in a manner that is more appropriate for the bedroom, and certainly not in such a classy place, and Rose averts her eyes, wondering if the Doctor expects her to do the same.
She can’t help but admire his lips from time to time, and even thinks about his tongue down her throat occasionally. (Those dreams lead to awkward mornings, but she doesn’t think he suspects anything--he’s a genius, but he’s also kind of oblivious.)
They break after a while, and the Master--officially named Harold Saxon--leaves with his wife, probably to go shag in the loo. The Doctor offers Rose his arm, and she lets him lead her to the bar. The bartender raises his eyebrows in request, and Rose looks to the Doctor. At her normal pub, she would simply order a pint, but this was posh. She didn’t know what to say here.
The Doctor smiles and orders, “Deux martinis banane. Secoué non remué.”
There is a woman two seats down at the bar staring at him. Rose feels jealousy flare up in her stomach, which doesn’t make sense. He isn’t hers, she isn’t his. And yes, the Doctor is the most attractive man she’s ever seen, so naturally he would attract attention from any woman with functioning eyes. Just thinking about it makes Rose feel sick.
She hardly knows this man; how is it possible for her to start having feelings for him?
Rose directs her eyes pointedly at the woman, and the Doctor shifts his focus to her. She smiles at him, and the Doctor grins back. “Bonjour,” the Doctor says.
“Bonjour,” the woman says coyly. If there is one thing Rose has learned from her time with the Doctor, it’s understand body language. This woman is confident and determined. “Je m’appelle Reinette.”
Suddenly feeling out of place, Rose pushes back from the bar. “Goin’ to the loo,” she says, very aware of her lower class accent, wishing she was so much more. Crossing the casino, Rose pulls out her mobile and debates calling Mickey. He wouldn’t understand this; besides, he’s angry with her for leaving. Calling him would just be opening a can of worms that Rose didn’t feel like getting into.
In the restroom, Rose stares at her reflection in the mirror, hardly recognizing herself. She wears heavy eyeliner and mascara every day, but this seems artful and (dare she think it) sexy. Her roots were touched up earlier in the day, so her hair seems shiny like on the advertisements.
But she isn’t alone. Mrs. Saxon steps out of a stall and places her hands under the faucet. She gives a sweet smile to Rose, but it doesn’t seem sincere. “I think our husbands are friends,” she says lightly, her voice a tinkle in the air. Her pale hand extends toward Rose. “I’m Lucy Saxon.”
Lucy fits in here, where Rose could never belong.
“I’m Rose, but we--uh, we’re not married. Not even together.”
Lucy Saxon smiles and Rose feels like she’s going to be sick. Without another word, she leaves the restroom and heads back to where she left the Doctor. He’s pressed up against the bar, snogging Reinette. His hands are on her hips and she’s impossibly close to him, and Rose feels like she might explode of jealousy.
There’s a room key in her clutch, so she sprints to the lifts, going up to their suite, where she can cry in private. And that’s when Rose realizes that she might feel something more than just respect for the Doctor.
Sunlight floods the conservatory, shining directly on the Doctor’s face. Being the gentleman he is, he offered to take the seat in the direct sunlight, allowing Rose to look around comfortably. But she’s not comfortable, because she has spent enough time with men to know that look: the post-shag look of contentment.
Rose bites into her chocolate croissant and tries not to look at his face. She cried herself to sleep, and it hurts more than she would like to admit. Across the restaurant, Rose can see Lucy Saxon staring at her. There is something off about that woman, but Rose can’t put her finger on it yet.
The Doctor’s phone goes off, and he pulls it out of his jacket pocket to read the text. “Excuse me,” he mutters, standing and walking off. Not ten seconds after he’s gone, his seat is filled by none other than the Master.
Rose shifts uncomfortably, thankful that the restaurant is full of people. He wouldn’t attack her in front of a room of witnesses, would he? “Hello, Miss Tyler.” She doesn’t say anything in response. “Do you know who I am?”
“The Master,” she says softly, trying to keep her voice from shaking. She tells herself to be brave, that she shouldn’t be afraid of him, that the Doctor wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
“Very good,” the man grins, tearing off a piece of the Doctor’s croissant and putting it in his mouth. As he chews, he says, “Go ahead and call me Harry. Everyone else does.” Rose bites her lip out of nervous habit and digs her fingernails into her palms.
“What do you want?”
The Master--Harry Saxon--simply widens his smile and says, “Every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain.”
“You always did think you were a hero,” a voice says from behind Rose. It’s the Doctor, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. Rose instantly relaxes under his warmth, even if he did shag someone else (not that it should matter).
“Theta!” the Master says jovially, rising from the Doctor’s chair.
“Koschei,” the Doctor returns, unwilling to smile. “Stop sending pretty things my way. I try to be a gentleman, but it is hard to say no to people I can use to my benefit.”
“Is that what you think?”
“Oh, I know.”
“I do hope you were nice to Reinette. She was Lucy’s roommate when the dear wife studied abroad.”
“I was the perfect gentleman.”
“Did you let her come first? How sweet. I like to win the race, personally.” The Doctor is silent, but his fingers tense on Rose’s shoulder. She flushes and stares at the napkin in her lap, wishing she could be anywhere but here. “That’s a pretty one you’ve got there. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your wife.”
“Gallifrey is gone.”
Now it is the Master’s turn to be silent. “What?”
The Doctor sneers, “It burned. Surely you know that.”
“How did it feel?” asks the Master. “Did the heavens open and the angels sing their songs of triumph? Did you weep in glory? That must have been phenomenal.”
Rose thinks her shoulder might be bruised from where the Doctor is gripping her so tightly. Without another word, he slides his hand under her arm and pulls her up, throwing some cash on the table, and leads her from the restaurant. He is silent all through their walk to the lift and up to their room.
He storms out to the veranda, and Rose tries to keep out of his way. It seems that he might explode in anger. After a few minutes, she hears him call her name. Rose walks out onto the balcony and leans against the railing. Wind whips through her hair, catching on her lip gloss.
More silence passes, but he finally says, “We grew up together. Harold Saxon was my best friend and worst enemy. Both children of Gallifrey, of prominent households with prestigious lineage. We both joined the Citadel, but he went rogue later on. My family, my people, were power hungry, corrupt, anarchists. I was assigned to their case. I tried to fix it, to convince them to listen to reason and to the government, but they wouldn’t have it. They were superior,” he says, his voice full of disdain. Rose puts a hand on top of his, silently telling him that she’s there for him. “I got the order to take them out. They were dangerous radicals. The entire island burned. They all died.”
Afraid to speak, Rose waits for a cue but none comes. “And...your wife?”
His face reveals nothing, his voice is passive, but Rose can see it in his eyes. “It was mutually beneficial for our families. I loved her, but not like she loved me. We had a son. They’re both gone. They’re all gone.”
He looked so young to have lost so much, had a family and then lost it. Rose uses her free hand to wipe away tears from her cheeks. She can’t even imagine. She doesn’t know what to say to him.
So she says nothing at all.
He wins the game spectacularly. His arm is around Rose’s waist, pulling her tightly against him as they leave the Casino for their hotel room. In the morning, they’ll head back to good old London town, and take her home (if that’s what she wants).
But he’s not naive enough to believe that the threat has been neutralized. Saxon still has the code, is willing to flaunt it as the Master, and now he has the motivation to attack. The Doctor just didn’t expect it to be so soon.
He shoves Rose against the wall, covering her body with his own as a shot goes off in the distance. The gun comes out of its clever hiding spot (God, how he hates these things), and he fires back, forcing Rose behind him. She screams and clings to his jacket, squeezing her eyes shut.
There is a small alcove with an ice machine to their left, so the Doctor pushes her into it, prepared to defend her while also completing his mission. The Master shoots at him again, but the Doctor is unfazed. Lucy Saxon is nowhere to be seen, but that hardly matters. The Master is his job, and he will be destroyed.
It is just the two of them, but they were the best in their classes. If ever there was a match for the Doctor, it is the Master. He winces in pain as a bullet whizzes by his arm, barely grazing the skin beneath his layers of clothing.
The Doctor approaches the Master, dropping his gun and kicking it away. The Master has to stop and reload, most of his bullets lodged in the cream walls. The Doctor takes this opportunity to swat the gun out of the Master’s hand, wrestling it away from a point of danger. They fight with fists and minds, until the Master is on the floor, writhing as he tries to catch his breath from the blow the Doctor administered beneath his belt.
Calmly, like he were picking up a dropped pen, the Doctor gets his gun and aims it at the Master’s head. A single shot, and the threat could be neutralized. Pocketing his gun, the Doctor pulls out his mobile phone and calls the Agency. While it rings, he senses motion behind him. Without looking back, the Doctor reaches for his pistol and shoots.
Rose is waiting in the corridor, staring at the Master’s bloody body. The Doctor says to his boss on the line, “The job is done.” He hangs up and takes Rose’s elbow, pulling her along. She keeps looking behind her at the man’s body. “No second chances,” the Doctor says to her. “I’m that sort of man.”
It frightens her more than she’s willing to admit.
A hand clamps down over Rose’s mouth. She tries to scream, but the sound is muffled. The attack came out of nowhere; she was just waiting for the Doctor to come back to the Tardis! Rose flails and claws at her attacker, but he is much stronger than she. She is dragged, kicking and screaming, from the car and to the pavement. The concrete scratches at her legs where her dress rides up.
She is pulled up into the back of a black Range Rover (stereotypical, she would later think), and forcibly buckled in. Her kidnappers wear black masks; she cannot see their faces. In the distance, Rose can see the Doctor walking, then running and shouting for her.
If she never sees him again--no, he would come for her; he promised he would.
Two days have passed in this tiny bedroom with no windows and a securely locked door. Rose paces, bangs her fists on the walls, tries to kick down the door, but it’s no use; she’s trapped. Surely the Doctor would rescue her, he had to. They took her mobile, so her mum would never know what happened to her. Rose winces as she bumps her bruised hip against the cold bed frame.
The door into the room opens, and in walks that woman--the one with the black hair, black clothes, and black eyepatch. She makes Rose feel so small and tiny. “When are you gonna let me go?” asks Rose, trying to make her voice seem strong and demanding, instead of revealing her fear.
“When we get what we want,” answers the woman. “Now, you know what we want from you.”
“I don’t know,” Rose huffs, turning her head to the side and closing her eyes.
The woman grabs Rose’s chin and jerks her head back. Rose looks up in surprise. “What is his name?”
“The Doctor.” Hopefully they won’t grow tired of her snarky comments.
“That is a title, given to him by the very people who put him in his position. We need his name.”
“I don’t know it,” Rose says truthfully. Why do they think she would know?
“Then explain this,” the woman says, holding up a mobile phone. With the quick press of a button, a recording of the Doctor’s voice begins to play. Rose thinks she might die of gladness to hear his voice, even if it isn’t really him.
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let Rose Tyler go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
“If you give us the information we need, we will not harm Miss Tyler.” That was the woman’s snide voice.
It is a moment before he says, “Don’t worry. I will be seeing you soon enough. But in case Rose can hear this, and even if she can’t, tell her...tell her--oh, she knows.”
“I’ll be sure to pass along the message.”
Rose hears the Doctor’s intake of breath that meant an argument was about to come her way, but the woman cuts off the sound just before Rose can hear his voice. “I might contact him, if you agree to give us the information we seek.”
“I don’t know his name!” Rose shouts, spreading her fingers and open palms to display her honesty.
“You know the Doctor,” the woman says, lips curling. “You understand him. You can predict his actions.”
Rose gives a bitter laugh. “I think you can, too, mate. He told you ‘imself. He’s gonna find you, an’ he’s gonna kill ya. So let me go. Besides, even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you!”
The woman opens the phone once more and after a few taps of her fingernail against the keys, the sound of ringing can be heard through the phone’s speaker. It doesn’t take very long--only three rings--before the call is answered, and the Doctor’s voice says, “Madame Kovarian.”
“Your precious flower is here, Doctor,” the woman--Kovarian--says. “Say hello.”
“Doctor!” Rose says, jumping to her feet like it could bring her closer to him. “Doctor, I’m here!”
“I am coming to get you, Rose.”
“I know,” she breathes, tears prickling at her eyes. For having gone through nineteen years of life without him, two days seems like a hell of a long time.
Madame Kovarian sneers. “Oh, you’re just adorable. I expect a wedding invitation soon.”
“Let her go, Kovarian.”
“Now, Doctor,” she tsks, “you will do as we say or your companion here will be...how should I say it? Exterminated.”
His response doesn’t seem to surprise Kovarian, but it doesn’t seem to faze her either. “What do you mean by that?” asks the dark woman, staring at Rose through her single dark eye.
“I mean no.”
“But she will be destroyed.”
“No,” the Doctor says simply. There is a ding in the background, and Rose knows that it’s the Tardis telling him something important. The car’s computer is one of the most genius inventions Rose has ever seen in her life, almost like the car could think for itself. Only the best spy in the world would have that sort of technology. “Because this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to rescue her. I’m going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of your secret base, and then I’m going to save the country, and then, just to finish off, I’m going to personally kill every single one of your agents for having imprisoned Rose Tyler.”
Rose smiles, because they’re going to be alright.
She squeezes his hand, fingers laced through his, hands perfectly entwined. He has his gun aimed to the sky, his madness raging fierce in his eyes. Rose has never seen him so passionate, so dangerous, so beautiful. It is frightening, but also makes her realize how fortunate she is to know him. Meeting the Doctor was the best thing to ever happen to her.
He is shouting at the large forum of people--workers of the Silence, a terrorist group bent on bringing down the government, starting with Britain’s greatest weapon: the Doctor. “--because I AM TALKING!” The chattering ceases, and Rose’s attention is drawn back up to him. “Come on! Look at me. No plan, no back up, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else. I don’t have anything to lose! So if you’re sitting up there in your silly little control booth, with all your silly little guns, and you’ve got any plans on bringing down the British government, just remembering who’s standing in your way. I only have one thing to say to you,” he pauses for dramatic effect, and even Rose is hanging onto his every word, “go to hell!”
A shot rings out, and Rose flinches, but the Doctor wraps a supporting arm around her and she knows that it was his gun. The lights go out and he only says one thing.
She sits cross-legged on the bed, shivering even though she isn’t cold. They ran, and never stopped, and now they’re in a hotel. Rose hasn’t been able to speak a word; the Doctor doesn’t make her. She’s bruised and tired and sad and afraid, but he will protect her. Of that she knows for certain.
The shower water turns off, the rings of the curtain scrape against the rod. A few minutes later, the shower door opens, and the Doctor walks out, dressed in only his pinstriped trousers and blue Oxford with the sleeves rolled up. Rose shifts her eyes to look at the clock. How can it only be a few minutes before midnight?
The Doctor doesn’t even look at her as he settles into their shared bed, lying on top of the covers, as is his tradition. Something to do with privacy and modesty. Rose thinks they’re beyond that. Rose doesn’t move, even as he turns the light off. She sits in the silent dark, wondering if she’ll ever be able to sleep again.
Time passes slowly, and Rose wishes she could sit in this moment forever, as much as she wishes morning would come. It seems like an eternity crawls by, but really only must be a few minutes, but Rose feels the Doctor shift to his side, probably facing her.
Her voice cuts through the silence like a knife as she whispers, “I was so afraid.”
At first, the Doctor says nothing. His steady breathing seems carefully regulated and somewhat forced, but he is otherwise silent. That is, until she looks over her shoulder with her dark adjusted eyes. He is watching her carefully, and then his hand creeps on top of hers, tracing his fingers over the back of her hand.
“I thought I would lose you.”
She doesn’t know what he could possibly say in response to that, but it certainly isn’t, “I could never leave you, Rose Tyler.”
It has only been three months since she met him, but she knows him better than she has ever known anyone in her life. The distance between them grows shorter, but he hesitates, and she takes the leap.
His lips are soft, his stubble scratchy against the palm of her hand. Rose pulls away, wondering if she made a mistake judging by his non-reaction, but it is only for half a second, for the Doctor suddenly leans forward and takes her into his arms. He holds her as close as he can, moving his lips against hers. When he traces his tongue along her lower lip, Rose parts instinctively, allowing him to lead the kiss.
Rose must stop for air, but as they study each other’s eyes in the moments of heavy breathing, Rose knows that there is no turning back from this moment. Their kisses turn frantic and needing, battling tongues and hands, making promises and changing futures.
Soon, her shirt is off, and his follows to the floor. His lips press against her jaw, her neck, her collarbone, down to her breasts, where he spends more time. Rose gasps out because Mickey could never do that to her. Teeth graze, tongue soothes, and then his hands are drifting closer to where she wants them.
This is about her, Rose thinks, wondering if she should turn the tables. Even if she tried, she wouldn’t succeed--a consequence of loving the right man. When things progress, and he moves in her, Rose knows she could never be happier.
She always wanted to see the stars, but he is the first to really show them to her.
In the morning, they lay in the sunlight, wishing this moment would last for all of eternity. Rose’s back presses against the Doctor’ chest, and she can feel his heartbeat. When he speaks, the vibrations in his chest tickle. “How long are you going to stay with me?”
Rose smiles as she turns her head and presses her lips to his. A long moment passes, and she whispers, “Forever.”
The Doctor winces as he hears a gun cocked. He may know how to use a gun, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it. He was so thick, blinded by whatever he felt for Rose Tyler. Not love, he was incapable of love. To love, he would need to have a heart. That was stripped of him the moment his wife and son died, the moment he took his oaths for Queen and Country.
He was a soldier, a man who thrived on danger, who had lost everything dear to him.
They would not take Rose Tyler.
In less than two seconds, the Doctor has three plans to get out of this situation.
One, and the least likely, run. It’s what he’s best at, and for good reason. But that would require leaving Rose and he can’t do that.
Two, shoot Lucy Saxon. Again, less than likely, because there are three henchmen with guns on him, and two trained on Rose, and if he were to shoot their leader, they were certainly going to retaliate, and he couldn’t risk harming Rose. If he were shot, that would be nothing (he’s suffered worse), but Rose must never be harmed.
Three, bargain. He’s good at talking, and very persuasive, especially when someone he ‘insert-substitute-for-love-here-since-he’s-a-robot-incapable-of-feelings’ is threatened. He could offer up himself in exchange for Rose’s freedom and safety. This option would most likely work, as she’s only a civilian and doesn’t know any of his secrets--secrets that would topple the mainframe of modern society.
He sifts through these solutions, not likely any one of them more than the others. But then a phone starts to ring, and the palpable tension dissipates like a fog. Lucy grins at him as she slides her fingers down her neckline, retrieving her mobile phone from between her breasts. Long red fingernails tap the screen, clicking against the glass. “Hello?” asks she, looking at the empty spot on her fourth finger where her wedding ring used to be. “I thought I told you to wait for me to call you...Yes, sir…Yes...I’m with him now. He killed my husband, and I want answers…Fine,” she huffs, hanging up with a ferocious mash of her thumb against the phone’s screen.
She walks up to the Doctor and stands up as straight as she can, looking him directly in the eyes. “This isn’t over, Doctor. I owe you for killing my husband. I owe you.”
“I’m still not going to give you what you want.”
Lucy Saxon smiles, and it sickens him. “Oh, I think you will,” she giggles, and holds her own gun against Rose’s head. “Even if it isn’t now, I’ll take her as collateral until you do tell me. After all, would we not do anything for the one we love?”
“Let her go,” the Doctor growls. “I swear, if you harm her in any way, I will tear this city apart to find you and kill you.”
“Then give me your name.”
There is a long moment of silence where the Doctor considers his options. But now the gun is directly aimed at Rose’s brain, where it would be impossible for her to survive being shot. He takes his eyes away from Lucy, looking to Rose. Her eyes are full of tears, and he can tell she’s chewing on the inside of her lip to keep from crying. She’s afraid, but willing to die so that he can live. He would never forgive himself if she died for him.
Returning his attention to Lucy, the Doctor calmly says, “Let Rose go. Let her go, and I will tell you anything you want.”
With a grin of triumph, Lucy backs away from Rose, who flees into the Doctor’s arms. As bravely as he can (of course keeping his face and posture passive), he pushes her away, towards the car. He digs through his pockets and pulls out the keys, tossing them to her. Without taking his eyes off Lucy, he says, “Get away from here, Rose. Go back to your family.”
“No,” she presses, but he won’t look at her. If he does, he’ll break down and she could be harmed. “I’m not leaving you.”
“I’m telling you now, Rose,” he says as menacingly as he can, needing her to leave, “go away.”
“I made my choice a long time ago,” she shouts, “and I’m never gonna leave you.”
He is angry with her, and she knows it. Yet he can’t bring himself to try and send her away again. She is too stubborn, just like him. He sets his jaw and clenches his teeth, determined to not say anything he might regret. Nothing he could say would change her mind. Instead, he steps up to Lucy Saxon and peers down at her. “If you want my name, you’re going to have to pay the consequences.”
Her smile is forced and hideous to him. She is a beautiful woman, but her choice in men tainted that image a bit, her personality ruining the rest. Lucy trails a cold finger down his cheek, and he catches her wrist in his hand, squeezing tightly enough that he hopes it bruises.
Taking a deep breath, the Doctor leans down and whispers into Lucy’s ear. Her smile grows, and she backs away to her armada of vehicles. Just before climbing into the passenger seat of one, she says, “Shoot them.”
The Doctor whips out his pistol with his impossibly fast reflexes, taking out three of the five men remaining before they can even think about pulling back the trigger. Two bullets are near misses, and he takes out one more. The last man standing is left in the dust of Lucy Saxon’s vehicle, but is quick to grab Rose and hold her at gunpoint.
“Who do you work for?” asks the Doctor.
“Oi, mate, I’m the one with the hostage.”
“Who do you work for?” the Doctor repeats, becoming an oncoming storm that would put history’s worst tsunami to shame.
But he can’t answer, because Rose jams her elbow into the man’s ribcage, surprising him into releasing her. She throws a fist into his jaw, and kicking his stomach when he hits the ground. He drops the gun, and Rose picks it up, pointing it at his head. She looks to the Doctor and smiles--they’ve done it again, saved the world. The stuff of legend.
And then there’s a gunshot cracking through the air.
The Doctor looks around frantically, because it wasn’t he who shot the gun. One of the first men he downed was grimacing as his pistol-holding hand shook. The Doctor puts a bullet in the man’s brain, then shoots the man who Rose had disarmed.
Then he realizes that if he wasn’t shot, what happened?
It hits him too late, he understands, turning on the spot to see Rose crumpled on the ground, clutching her side. The Doctor drops to his knees, feeling dread creep up into his better judgement. If she dies, no one on this God-forsaken planet would be safe from his fury.
“Doctor,” Rose hisses, biting down on her lip, tears squeezing out from under her eyelids. He takes one of her hands in his, and uses the other to press down on her side to try and staunch the bleeding. It won’t work; that fucking bastard shot Rose in the pelvis, bursting her femoral artery. She doesn’t have much time left.
He can read on her face that she knows it, too.
“I’m sorry, Rose,” he says, tears springing to his eyes, but dammit he does not cry. “I’m so sorry.”
“‘s okay,” she lies, gritting her teeth against the pain. “I’ll see my dad, yeah? And your family. I’ll take care of your baby boy, okay?” That is the breaking point for the Doctor. He chokes on his tears, pressing his lips to her forehead, then to her lips, lingering. “What’re you goin’ to do?”
He tries to be brave for her, because he knows she only has minutes and it’s going to kill him. “Oh, I’ve got the Tardis. Same old life, defending the country.”
“On your own?” He nods, and it hurts to think that he’ll be alone again, but not as much as it hurts to know that he’ll be alone again because he couldn’t do anything to save her. She tries to speak, but can’t get the words out. “I--I...I love you.”
The tears threaten to fall, but he will not let them. He has to be strong for her. “Quite right, too,” he says, and he sees the heartbreak in her eyes. He was never one to speak his feelings, but this is different. She is the one woman who has ever made a difference in his life. “And I suppose,” he says, feeling an ache in his chest, “if it’s my last chance to say it...Rose Tyler--”
But he doesn’t get the chance to finish his sentence, because Rose’s eyes stilled as she breathed her last. Finally, the tears fall as he presses his forehead to hers, swiping his fingers gently over her eyelids to close them. A scream erupts from his throat, as he struggles to grasp the fact that she’s gone.
He was wrong. It is possible to love and feel heartbreak without a heart.
The day is warm, but there is a chill in the air of the threat of winter. Sun peeks through the autumn leaves, and the Doctor stalks his prey. The man--codenamed Rassilon--sits on a marble bench in the middle of the half-walled garden maze. Confident and calculatingly cruel, the Doctor pulls out his mobile phone and presses the green button to dial.
He hears the phone ring in the distance and the man answers the call. “Hello?”
Not another second passes before the Doctor sends a shot in the man’s direction, the bullet lodging in his arm. Killing him right off the bat would be no fun, and certainly wouldn’t put Rose’s memory to rest. His strides are long and calm as he crosses the garden, kicking through the topiary walls of the maze. Pocketing the phone, the Doctor steps in front of the man. Looking down at Rassilon’s face, it is clear that he doesn’t know who his attacker is.
An unsettling grin spreads across his face. “Hello, I’m the Doctor,” he says. “Basically, run.”