It’s been 5 days since Rose had last slept in an actual bed and more than 3 or 4 hours per night. She never regretted accepting Doctor’s invitation to (time)travel before, but she sure as hell was second guessing her decision now.
They were cut off from the route to the Tardis. The first day of their visiting the planet was harmonious, and Rose enjoyed the summer-like weather and serene setting of the city immensely. Her and Doctor did some people watching for a couple of hours, visited the gallery of arts where Rose “oohed” and “aahed” in all the suitable situations when the guide told them the story behind each and every piece of art (which was boring; the art was beautiful – it was the stories the guide spun that were monotonous to both Rose and Doctor’s tastes). They ducked away when a new customer went into the room with paintings and ran hand in hand, laughing like madmen.
Doctor even treated her to a visit to the local beach, where, though he didn’t recommend her to swim, he proclaimed it perfectly safe to walk down the sand shore, feet wet from the tide, her shoes in her hands as the salty water licked her heels.
It was 5 days ago. 5 days of wandering around the land that was in war. Rose didn’t know what was worse: the Doctor’s words that they absolutely could not interfere and change even the slightest detail in the natural course of history or the fact that Rose Tyler was so bloody scared that all she wanted was to abandon the planet the moment she saw the first bomb plummet into the town library, leaving nothing but lifeless soil and a pungent smell of burnt flesh in its wake.
Rose felt ashamed of her shallow selfishness and cowardice, but she couldn’t help the fear the reared its ugly head moments after she realised, they were at war. A real, destructing, killing war, that brought nothing but death and grief to the land, and emptiness where her soul was. She berated herself for her weakness, hated her mousiness and mocked herself for the lack of compassion – still, she couldn’t wish to depart from the devastated planet.
Especially if they couldn’t do a thing to help.
Especially because it was Doctor’s fault in the first place. Or Tardis’. It didn’t matter who was in fault, it only mattered when they’d be able to reunite with the magical (Rose couldn’t find a more suitable word yet) blue box with the military blizzard that darkened the sky.
Rose thought she’d gotten over her fear of bombs after the events of the so-called “hoax alien invasion” when Doctor took her home to visit her mother only to realise that the whole 12 months have passed since her disappearance.
Obviously, she hadn’t. Maybe it was because Rose had no time to panic over aliens as she was still terrified of what her mother would do to her once the dust was settled. At the moment she thought that facing aliens was less scary than facing her outraged mother, whom she hadn’t seen for 12 hours (while it was 12 months for the older woman.) She truly was scared of what she had to face back home once they returned from Downing Street. Rose would have to have a conversation with Mickey (oh Lord, the things her boyfriend went through when Rose disappeared), she had to make amends with her mother, break the news of her returning to grandmother, to suffer through the gossip and blubber of the neighbours and her relatives who can’t seem to know the concept of minding their own business. Rose had been told off and received plenty of smacks from the women of the estates during her short stay at home, and she dreaded the thought of coming back. She wasn’t afraid of the bombs back then, no, her mind was engaged elsewhere, occupied with the possibilities her new future held for her in store.
That, and the fact that Doctor was acting shady, dropping comments on the “too domestic” atmosphere, leaving the Estates without her (although he promised not to disappear without her on board), and speaking nonsense of losing her. As if. She’d be damned if she let herself be left behind or put in danger enough for Doctor to get rid of her (her adventures have only just begun; she couldn’t lose that!)
That’s why Rose was sitting, huddled in the corner, hands on her head, muttering quietly to herself, rocking back and forth, back and forth, in vain hope to gather at least some of her bearings. The girl wished to regain a little of the common sense, too: she knew Doctor wouldn’t let anything happen to her, of that she was sure, she could bet the Time Lord (still, after the couple of months of travelling with the man, his name (or was it rank? Species?) sounded foreign on her tongue and a little mental in her mind...erm, Rose went off the rails again. She could bet that Doctor (it’s easier to address him like that) would shield her from whatever was there to harm her.
Nevertheless, the girl couldn’t help the natural reaction her mind and body decided to demonstrate under the duress of stress, low levels of sugar in her blood, and little to no sleep and too much anxiety.
And let her not forget the fact that she was currently hiding in a shabby abandoned shelter with Doctor being gone to check if it was safe for them to return back to the Tardis, what with all the bombs that rampaged the scorched soil of the village that was in the area (before the air raid, that is). Rose couldn’t possibly say how much she’d be able to stave off her nervous breakdown (if she’d be able to postpone it at all), but she thanked the heavens for his leave of absence. Now, although she didn’t feel safe without his physical presence in the dusty room, she felt safe enough to fall apart without him witnessing that.
And what a spectacle Rose provided.
It wasn’t long before the sobbing started, accompanied by the steady flow of big fat humiliating tears that left torrents on her days-old makeup. Ugh, another awful thing about the predicament the duo was in: the absence of modern plumbing (although she couldn’t be happier to find a primitive loo in one of the shelters room, Doctor hadn’t approved her using the water from the sink to drink or even to wash her face, and Rose complied completely. Lord knows what could be in that water, alien water, she reminded herself scornfully, and Rose didn’t want to think about that. Of germs or parasites or radiation, some radicals or genes that could rewrite her genetic code, or...or...or...
She breaks down completely. Her heart is pounding in her chest, and Rose swears she’s having a heart attack, or a stroke, she always mixes those two up, can’t tell them apart to save her life, oh dear Lord, how can she save her life if the bombs are out there, and Doctor is out there, too, and the bombs are raining mercilessly on the houses, hospitals, schools, the people, the cattle, the houses...
Rose is walking in circles. Has she finally lost her mind? Has she finally gone off the deep end, is she in a mental facility, living through a particularly nasty episode of delusions? If so, where’s the nurse with the sedative that would send her into a peaceful state of not caring about a single thing in this bloody violent world?
The tears won’t stop, the crazy staccato of her heartbeat won’t stop, and now her breathing’s all wrong, too loud and wheezy, and Rose feels light-headed, and it terrifies her.
Oh my God, is this it? Is she dying? All alone, on a planet which name she doesn’t remember, without Doctor, but with the never-ending sound of the earth shuddering and the missiles screeching, burning the air in flight?
Rose shrieks and huddles further into the corner when she feels someone touching her arms. When the arms refuse to relent, she goes mad and starts fighting, flailing her arms without control, while wailing louder and louder with each passing second, never stopping her attack on the intruder. Rose thinks she hears a disgruntled huff after she scrapes the attacker with her nails, but she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t stop until she is taken into that someone’s arms, and something strikes her familiar, though she won’t leave her efforts to squirm out of the tenacious hold. She starts crying in earnest now, why, why wouldn’t they leave her alone, where is Doctor, why can’t she take a long refreshing breath?
Rose’s palms are placed gently but firmly over someone’s chest, and she is able to feel the thrum of the heartbeat of her captor. The thrum of heartbeat that goes ba-ba-dum-dum under both of her palms that are plastered on different sides of that someone’s chest, and it feels like they own to hearts...
Rose relaxes and drops all attempts to get his arms off her, and only cries, cries and cries like there’s no end to the torrents of tears that flow down her swollen cheeks, she sniffles pitifully, groping Doctor’s jumper and clawing at his leather-armed forearms, and Rose thinks she hears her own voice whispering “scared, I’m so scared”, and her breathing pattern sounds faulty again.
Big leather-clad arms hold her gingerly now, and she feels them travelling up and down her back and her arms in fluid, soothing motions; she’s grateful for Doctor’s timely appearance now, she’s happy to feel grounded, not cornered, she’s thankful of his quiet mentorship on how to even her erratic breathing. Rose obliges and finds herself not so lightheaded now, and it’s such a relief.
“There you go, good girl.”
She is reassured by his Northern burr, and she’s satisfied with the peace that falls over the atmosphere in the setting sun of contrast to the unpeaceful situation of the planet.
It feels like weight is pulled off her chest and she is so ecstatic – she pulls Doctor’s face down and places a rough kiss on his unyielding lips.
Ever so stoic, so soldier-like.
He never gives into the impromptu kiss, but he doesn’t push her off, either. She is dissatisfied, and she pouts like a capricious girl she always hated while studying with her in the same biology class – and...
She kissed Doctor!
Mortification fills her to the brim of her being, and she suddenly feels trapped, and there are the tears all over again, and Rose is so humiliated and crushed, and her heart will surely split in two from all the fear and pain and shame; and will she be like Doctor, then, with two halves of the heart in her left and right sides of the ribcage?
Rose is pulled out of her miserable reverie by Doctor’s gentle but solid hug (he’s making it clear he won’t let her go, ever the gentleman, putting her mental and physical safety over his own comfort), and she’s so tired all of a sudden. Drained. Lost to the world under the blanket of apathy and calmness Doctor seems to radiate, lulled by the song his heartbeats, cradles in his arms.
“You’re in shock. It’s alright, you’re going to be alright. Sleep, Rose. It’ll all be better in the morning, you’ll see. We’ll find our way to the Tardis, and I’ll take care of you, I promise.”
She’s dead to the world when he apologises over and over for his driving skills, when he swears to make it up to her, to make her feel carefree and happy once again.
Rose’s mind is wholly in the dreamland when Doctor presses his lips to her forehead and rests his cheek on her hair. She doesn’t hear him saying “You brave, brave girl” affectionately under his breath, pulling her pliant body into a comfortable position for good night’s rest (as much as possible in given circumstances).
Come tomorrow, he’ll sort out the mistakes and faults he was guilty of, and he’ll do his all for his precious companion.