Tell me if you wanna go home pt 1
started that night.
“Have I done something wrong.” The Doctor asked when Rose pointedly avoided looking at him when he entered their bedroom.
The laugh came without humor and without her wanting it too, and Rose put a hand to cover her mouth to stifle the giggles. “A bloke is a bloke regardless of the species, I guess.” She mused without as she went into the bathroom to change, closing the door part way so she could hear what he had to say.
“Oh, so I did do something wrong.” He said, sounding a little too amused for her liking. “Alright, out with it, where did I go wrong? Was it hugging Martha?”
“It has something to do with Martha, alright, but your hugging her is the least of your faults.” She said, pulling on her night top and bottoms, waiting to see if he would say anything more. When nothing came, she flung open the door, catching his smug grin. “One trip.” She said, looking him dead in the eye.
And the humor left his face. “I thought you liked her.” He argued weakly.
“I do,” Rose countered. “’Cept for the fact that she has feelings for you, ‘n’ you invited her to stay on board full time without ever asking me.”
Now the Doctor smiled and laughed without humor. “My TARDIS.”
“Where I live.” She replied.
“And now Martha does too,” he said, clearly missing the point. It made Rose want to give him a slap her mother would be proud of. “And besides, you have brought your far share of companions on board without my asking.”
“Name. One.” Rose dared, crossing her arms.
“Adam Mitchell,” The Doctor snapped back. “The bloody dolt who got a door in his head.”
“I made the suggestion, you didn’t have to bring him.” She argued. “And I was certainly not heartbroken when you dropped him off home.”
“No, of course not. You found Jack not long after.” He raised his voice a touch.
Rose’s jaw dropped at the audacity, and she shook her head. “We agreed to that mutually. He saved our lives, the world, and we haven’t seen him since the Game Station. Where, I may point out, you met flirty lil’ Lynda with a ‘Y’. Tell me Doctor, was she all lined up to join us or replace me? ‘Cause I really couldn’t tell with the way you too were makin’ eyes at each other.”
“We were hardly making eyes at each other.” He replied, his gaze narrowed as if he was trying to remember if that were true.
“Oh, right. You saved that for Madamme de Pompousass.” Rose bit back.
“Do not bring Reinette into this.” He warned, and Rose flinched as if the nerve she hit was her own.
“You left me to go after her, twice. Once for five and a half hours, and then immediately went back to bring her on board.”
His mouth went in a thin line, jaw tightened, darkness filling his eyes he as ground out, “You had Mickey.” .
“Who I never wanted with us.” Rose reminded him, watching the muscles in his jaw twitch. “Sarah Jane suggested it, and you thought it was a good idea.” She closed the distance between them, getting in his face as his eyes flashed terror. “See? You’re the one that keeps bringin’ ‘em on board. And maybe I didn’t have a say before, but I should get one now. And if you still don’t think that I should, then maybe you need to find me a version of Jack that knows me and leave me with him for a few decades.”
“You don’t mean that.” He challenged.
“Try me.” Rose snapped back.
He looked about ready to say a hundred different things and none of them good as the Oncoming Storm, the Dalek’s worst nightmare, was now turned on her. And she, the Big Bad Wolf who turned Dalek’s to dust, practically snarled at him for even trying to use that on her.
Without another word, the Doctor stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
He didn’t return the rest of the night.
Nor did he for the next couple weeks, which was fine with Rose because she meant every word. Well, almost every word. Deep down she knew that if he did leave her with Jack, she would be standing in the empty spot where the TARDIS had been screaming for him to take her back. Because as much as she didn’t want to look at him, the thought of him leaving her behind scared her to her core.
For the first time, Rose wished she had gone with her mother to the other Universe after all. At least there she would have people she could turn to, but then again there would be no Doctor to piss her off.
The cycle was utter torment.
During the day, especially in front of Martha, they remained civil. Adventures were kept perfectly tame, the most dangerous possibility coming from eating too soon before boarding a roller coaster on a theme park planet, or tripping on the stairs of a giant museum. Some days Rose went with them, the idea of staying in the TARDIS being too much to bare, but most times staying in was exactly what she did. She finished a fair amount of books, mostly classics with romantic undertones or dystopian themed modern (to her time) novels. She did laps in one of the many swimming pools, and the TARDIS even created a room where Rose could practice her under-used gymnastic skills once her wrist healed. If the Doctor ever came close to finding where she was, the TARDIS would send her a warning, flashing her a mental image of where he was and then show Rose that she hid the door. Those became more frequent with each day, and when ever Rose started to feel guilty enough to cave, the Old Girl would send her an image of the Doctor being shocked while working on the console, or running into the wall after his ship moved a door just enough out of the way that he’d miss it.
Apparently the TARDIS was taking sides in this whole blow up, and it genuinely surprised Rose that it was hers she opted for. It was her that she sent the sympathetic soothing hums to at night to lull Rose asleep in the too-big bed, and as the days trailed on that made Rose feel worse. One side had to give, and soon.
The decision of who came on the seventh day of the third week of their cold war. Rose passed by the media room on her way to her new gym and glimpsed the Doctor and Martha sitting on the couch watching the Muppet Movie together. They were both all smiles, with only the bowl of popcorn between them to keep them from full on snuggling. Martha’s head was leaning heavily on his arm, and the sight of it settled things for Rose right then.
After waking up the next morning, Rose found a trans-dimensional back pack and loaded it up with her things. Favorite clothes, a photo album, her most cherished knick-knacks. The TARDIS hummed sadly, sending waves of pleas to Rose.
“I’m sorry,” She said softly, patting the blue walls of the bedroom she spent too much time alone in before throwing the pack over her shoulder and leaving the space behind.
It was a minor relief to find the console room empty, and Rose headed right over to the coordinate panel, putting in the date and time she unburied from the depths of her mind before preparing the ship to land.
“Going somewhere?” The Doctor’s voice came coldly from behind her. Rose finished turning the dial she had her hand on before she moved to the switch, turning to face him.
“Have a look for yourself.” She challenged him, hand on the lever that would take her where she wanted to go before he could change it.
He moved slowly to the coordinate panel, hands in his pockets and eyes glued to hers. It took him almost a minute to pull his eyes away from hers to see where she planned on going. Something in his posture fell.
“Game Station.” He said quietly, making no move to change it.
“Five minute after we left.” Rose acknowledged. “If Jack is there helping rebuild the Earth, than I can go help him. Better with two, yeah?”
The Doctor’s eyes flashed up to hers. “How do you know this?” He asked, gesturing to the coordinated but not touching them.
“Bad Wolf.” Rose replied. “She was an all knowing entity, after all. The moment she left my body had been … saved in my head. I’m using that to guess how long after would be safe to return to.”
“You’re leaving?” He asked, and for the first time in weeks the Doctor had no fight in his voice. Brown eyes looked into her hazel ones with defeat.
“Yes.” She said simply. “You made it clear that this is your ship. And more so that you really don’t need me. Just … somebody.”
“Rose,” He said her name with desperation, closing the distance between them so quickly she had to take a step back, relinquishing her hold on the switch. He flinched at withdraw. “Please, don’t.”
She wanted to give in so badly. Just his eyes broke her heart, let alone the way he pleaded or the quiver of his lips. But caving would do nothing. Maybe in a couple decades he would understand where she was coming from. That is if he even remembered her by then. She’d always been replaceable, he’s shown her that time and time again. Actions speak louder, her mother used to tell her, and his screamed.
Taking a deep breath to strengthen her resolve, Rose stepped forward, putting her hand on the lever once more.
A shrill alarm went off, causing both of them to wince. The Doctor turned to the monitor on the console, while Rose glanced around the room. Nothing seemed to be a matter with the TARDIS.
“Are you doing this?” Rose asked the walls, and the TARDIS sent her the equivalent of a firm head shake.
“It’s a distress signal.” The Doctor said as he reached over and changed the coordinates she had set. “We’re being called to help. Us specifically.”
“What’s going on?” Martha asked as she jogged into the console room, looking between Rose and the Doctor.
“Latest adventure, Martha Jones.” He replied with his normal enthusiasm while he made adjustments around the console. “Something exciting, possibly dangers.”
“Sounds thrilling.” Martha said with a smile as she bit her lower lip.
“Oh yes.” The Doctor said, turning toward her with a manic grin.
Rose to shook her head in annoyance as she flopped down in the jumpseat, dropping her bag at her feet. She crossed her arms, accidentally catching Martha’s eye as the companion looked up at her from the bag.
“Were … were you?” She stammered, pointing to the bag. Rose had to give it to her, Martha looked just as upset at the prospect of what that bag could mean as much as she looked hopeful.
Rose said nothing, opting to leave her replacement think what she wanted.
The Doctor flipped a switch Rose had had her hand on for the longest time, and the TARDIS shook about furiously as she was sent on her new flight path.
Rose had to grip the jumpseat with a stronger hold than she would normally have to, the TARDIS seeming to fight off the landing almost as fiercely as she protested the time they fell through in to the parallel universe. The ship hummed a grumble in Rose’s mind, dimming the lights when she settled.
“What was that?” Martha asked.
“I dunno,” The Doctor replied like he knew exactly what it was but didn’t want to believe it. “Let’s, ah, let’s go find out.” He said, turning to the doors without a look back in Rose’s direction.
She could stay inside under protest, wait for them to be done what ever adventure they were about to embark on before heading off to be with Jack. But her curiosity was too strong. Scrambling up off the seat and chasing after the Doctor and Martha, she barely caught the door before it closed, stepping outside the TARDIS to find they were greeted by two tall, blue aliens.
Thin and gorgeous, she couldn’t tell if they were male or female, though they looked terribly similar.
“Ah, the Cuplas!” The Doctor said with a grin as she came to stand at his right. He was beaming, truly pleased with the race that greeted them. He put his hands in his pockets and rocked on his heels. “Don’t come across you lot all that often.”
“Nor we you, Time Lord.” They said in near perfect sync.
“Well, time war, wiped out all the others, just me left really.” He said, scratching at his side burn as he fidgeted. “You sent me a distress call?”
“Indeed,” They said, once more almost at the same time. “We need your help.”
“That’s what distress calls are for.” He retorted.
“We carry in our cargo the last vegetation of our planet that is able to produce food we are able to consume.” They said in that eerie way that started to get on Rose’s nerves. “We are transferring them to the planet Ejima where our people have been granted sanctuary.”
“Sanctuary?” Martha asked.
“Yes.” They said, nodding almost at the same time. “Our planet is dying, the sun threatening to expand and swallow it whole at any moment.”
“That’s awful,” Rose said, memories of the after math of her own planet being consumed flickering through her memories.
“Indeed,” They said.
“So if you already have the vegetation, and a planet to put it on, then why do you need us?” The Doctor asked suspiciously, taking a step forward.
The two Cuplas looked at one another, nodding once.
“Because as of right now we are stranded.” The one on the right said with the other only nodding.
The Doctor quirked and eyebrow. “Oh,” he said, drawing out the word.
“There was a sickness,” The one on the left spoke this time. “It raged through our population, and sadly it has infected the crew. Our other halves are below deck in the infirmary, but we fear they are too far gone to be saved.”
“Other halves?” Rose asked.
“The Cuplas are born in pairs.” The Doctor replied.
“Like identical twins?” Martha asked, and Rose noted how the med student seemed to be making comparisons between the two aliens in front of them.
“More than that,” The Doctor said. “They are literal copies. Same DNA structure, same identifying markers, same thoughts. One embryo always split in two, with absolutely zero differences between the children. People of Earth often wondered in the early years if twins could feel each other’s pain, hear one another’s thoughts. The Cuplas can.”
“And that is why we need your help.” Said one of them, though which one Rose didn’t know. She was taking in her surroundings, seeing down the corridor they were in. There looked to be some kind of control room at the end, a mess of wires on the floor that even Rose could tell was a bad sign.
“We have been drifting for weeks,” Said the other. “Trying to make the ship compatible with us.”
“We were born together,” The first one answered an unspoken question. “So we tried to make the ship accept that we are from the same family blood, though I believe we have done more harm than good.”
“Oh,” The Doctor groaned, “You really shouldn’t have done that.” He said as Rose stepped away, glancing around. There were doors on either side of the space, one being the obvious cargo door, the pair opposite to it in similar to lift doors.
“Why not?” Martha asked. “What was wrong with trying to fix the ship?”
“Cupla ships are poorly designed.” The Doctor said, and Rose shot a glare at him that he pointedly ignored. “Made so that they can’t be hijacked, as they need two exact biological matches to be operated. However, if they loose a pilot.”
“Then the ship can’t be controlled.” Rose said as she walked around the TARDIS, running her hand on the wooden exterior while looking at the Cuplas over her shoulder.
“Exactly.” The Doctor replied. “So you messed with the controls and now the ship is in worse shape than it was. You managed send to a distress signal to me, why didn’t you just send one to the Cuplas on Ejima?”
“Because we are also ill,” One of them said. “And with an entire crew in the infirmary they could not risk coming on board and being exposed as well.”
Her fingers hovered in the air for a moment before hitting wood again, and Rose turned her attention away from the aliens to the TARDIS. Her heart leapt into her throat before hammering it’s way down to her stomach as she stared at the gap between the TARDIS and another TARDIS parked back to back with the other.
“So you want me to fix the ship, I can understand that much. But I’m not sure what else can be done.” The Doctor admitted as Rose quietly ran around to the front of the other TARDIS. Peeking around the corner, the Doctor and the Cuplas were too occupied with each other to see what she was up to.
“We need you to pilot the ship to Ejima, and air drop the vegetation for them to retrieve. It has already been prepared for such a means of delivery.” One of them said as Rose fumbled her TARDIS key off her neck and stuck it in the lock of the second ship.
She didn’t know why she was surprised it slid in, or that the lock turned for her. It was the same ship, after all. Or at least, she assumed.
The Doctor’s laugh sounded like an echo as she opened the door. “How?” He said, his voice distant as Rose peeked inside the TARDIS interior. It was exactly the same. “Even if I repair the ship,” He continued, “you still need two pilots with the exact same bio-metric signature.”
“Oi,” A thick, northern voice came from behind her, and Rose’s heart shot back up in her throat as tears sprang to her eyes. “What are you doing in my ….” His words stopped short as she spun around to face him. Big ears, leather jacket, blue eyes that were fire and ice all at once. His surprise to see her made it all the more wonderful to see him again. “Rose?” The previous Doctor asked.
“Hello,” She said, hearing the scrambling of feet coming toward them.
“Oh no,” Her current Doctor said. “No, no, no, no, this is not good. Not good at all, why would you bring us together like this?” He asked, turning to the Cupla’s who probably didn’t move.
“It was the only way.” One said. “And he agrees.”
“You agreed?” Her Doctor whirled around to his past self, glaring daggers as his previous self crossed his arms.
“Not really,” He replied curtly. “But when I didn’t see any other choice I asked for the distress call to go to the future. Figured it was the only way to get someone I’d be willing to talk to. Didn’t realize I’d get a stupid pretty boy.”
“And where is she?” The Doctor asked, tilting his head toward Rose.
At this, his previous self ducked his head, glancing at Rose but hardly holding eye contact. “Where I left her.”
“You left me?” Rose took a couple steps toward him, jaw dropped as she tried to think of when it could be for them. All the times she visited her mother and he chose to stay in the TARDIS, did he just go off without her?
“You said no.” He lifted his head, his confusion clear. “Something about taking care of your boyfriend.”
“Oh,” The newer Doctor said, lifting his chin as he put his hands in his pockets. “That’s when it is for you.”
“Can someone explain to me what’s going on?” Martha asked, stepping out from behind the pin-stripped Doctor and looked between the two Time Lords. “Who’s he?”
“I’m the ….” The older version started to say.
“Nine,” The newer Doctor interrupted. “He’s Nine. Nine, this is Martha Jones, she’s only been with us for a short while.” He said in such a way that his meaning was clear to Rose, but seemed like just a statement to Martha.
Nine nodded, smiling. “Ah.” He glanced at Rose. “And what about you, how long have you …?”
“Three years.” She said immediately. “Almost, anyway.” She added, feeling her cheeks flush.
“Always with him, or?” Nine asked, shifting slightly toward her.
Rose could only smile and shake her head, the joy and ache at the sight of him battling for dominance in her heart.
Nine nodded once, accepting this before turning to his future self. “I’ve had a chance to look at both ends, and I’ve started with that one.” He said, throwing a thumb over his shoulder. “They’re a mess, and according to the system scans the green house will start going into failure in about three hours, and we have about a half a dozen Cuplas in need of serious medical attention.”
“So we just need to get the ship fixed up in three hours.” The current Doctor said, a little aggravation in his voice. “Though the time frame may cause some problems.”
“Opposite ends, little contact, we’ve been in worse pinches.” Nine said with a shrug.
“True.” The Doctor nodded. “Alright, Rose, Martha, let’s get down to our end and see what kind of mess we have waiting for us.” He said as he turned away, and his other self went to retreat.
“Actually,” Rose said, getting everyone to stop. “I’m going to go with him.” She said, throwing a thumb toward the older version and catching both Doctors by surprise. When her current one furrowed his brow she added. “You’ll have Martha, after all.” She reminded him, causing his gaze to narrow. “And he’ll have me.”
“Rose,” The current Doctor said in a warning tone, and she glared back.
“It’s fine, Pretty Boy.” Nine said with a smirk, making her smile. “Or, what number are we assigning you?”
“Ten,” He bit out through his teeth.
“Alright, Ten, Rose can give me a hand, and you and your other companion can figure out the mess down there.”
Rose didn’t wait to hear if he could give himself an argument and promptly went to join her leather clad Doctor. Without a second thought she put her hand in the crook of his arm, catching him off guard as she stared down her pin-stripped one.
While his jaw had been tightly set before it eased up a bit. His eyes softening as he looked wistfully at them. “Be careful.” He said gently, pleading like he had in console room not long ago. He seemed to not notice Martha taking his elbow in her hand, or the worry in her eyes as she glanced between the three of them.
“I will be.” Rose said, understanding that it was more than just her safety he was worried about.
After a beat, the four of them turned in their respective directions.
The Doctor was sad. Oh he carried on in his usual manic way, dashing around the dismantled and discarded pieces of the control panel, shooting her grins as he explain what they would have to do way too fast, but Martha knew. It was there in those beautiful brown eyes, just like when he told her all about Gallifrey and the Time War. His heart was breaking, and there wasn’t a question as to why. The bag on the floor by the jumpseat had told her everything: Rose was leaving.
She didn’t understand why, exactly. She sensed there had been some tension between Rose and the Doctor for a couple weeks, and she noticed that Rose didn’t always join them on their planetary visits, but she assumed the latter was because she had been there before. The former, well, Martha didn’t know what to make of that. Maybe there was an unspoken rule that there could be only one full time companion on board, or maybe the Doctor asked her to leave. He had been extra close to Martha lately, allowing her a hand to hold, and arm to snuggle, time spent around the TARDIS just the two of them. Maybe it was possible that the Doctor asked for space so they could see where this was going.
A girl could hope.
As she handed him wires, she observed him. He rambled with enthusiasm but those eyes made her ache.
“Where was Rose going?” She asked abruptly, immediately regretting it when his whole body tensed up.
“Going?” He asked after sucking in a breath. “Rose wasn’t going anywhere. Well, she was thinking of visiting an old friend, but nothing … nothing we have to worry about.” He said unconvincingly, though it wasn’t without effort.
“She’s going home, isn’t she?” Martha asked.
“Don’t be daft, the TARDIS is her home,” He said as he soniced wires into place.
“Well she must have some family still around,” Martha continued on, watching the Doctor as he did his best to mask how the pain in his eyes grew.
“She does,” He said. “Me.” And then as he reached for a wire, caught her eye and a flash of panic blinked over his face. “And you.”
“But now that you’ll always have me, she’s leaving? She didn’t want you to be alone, and now you won’t be, so she’s moving on?” Martha deducted.
“Nah,” He said after a pause, shaking his head loosely. “Nah, she’s just … planning a visit is all.”
Martha let he subject drop.
“So the other bloke, this Nine. He’s a Time Lord?” She asked as he finished what ever he was doing and darted for another panel.
“Yeah,” The Doctor replied, a bitter edge to his voice.
“So the Face of Boe was right, then. You aren’t alone after all. Others survived.”
The Doctor paused with a tube-like structure in his hand, turning it over and looking at as if it was the most fascinating thing in the universe. “No.” He concluded. “Nine is out of his time line. Or we’re out of ours, however you want to look at it.”
“But you can cross time streams, see other Time Lords.” Martha said with enthusiasm, a smile plastered on her face even though the Doctor turned his back to her.
“No, I can’t.” He said slowly, quietly. “What we’re in the middle of is very, very dangerous to the whole Universe. The Cuplas calling us both here was an astronomical mistake.”
“Why did they call you both?” Martha asked, her curiosity getting the better of her as she stood up. Daring to, like she had since he brought her on board permanently, she placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Do all Time Lords share the same DNA? Are you like the Cuplas and have pairs? Not identical of course, I mean. No offense to him, but he doesn’t exactly match up to you.”
The Doctor turned toward her with a cocky grin. “I do look better than him, don’t I?” He asked, straightening his tie with his chin going up. Martha giggled in spite of herself. “And sorta. We’re sorta like the Cuplas. There’s a thing Time Lords do, too complicated to get into the details since we’re on a time crunch here. But we do, in a way, have duplicates. Except, unlike the Cuplas, we don’t look alike and we can’t really be in the same room as one another without risking the Universe imploding. But we can hear each other’s thoughts.” He said, his brow knitting together. “Which makes me wonder why I can’t read his. Oh!” He said, eyes alight. “He’s blocking me out. What are they talking about that he doesn’t want me to hear?” He asked aloud, looking at Martha like she would know. Secretly she loved that look, it made her think he would turn to her for anything.
The Doctor’s eyes went wide, and he darted for the panel, hands moving inhumanly fast.
“What? What is it?” Martha asked, kneeling down beside him.
“Bloody dolt is going to tell her stuff, mess with things he shouldn’t,” The Doctor mumbled.
“You can hear him?” She asked.
“No… yes. Sorta. Hard to explain. Umm, Martha, can you be a dear and bring me over that tubing? That one right there?” He asked her.
No sooner was Martha on her feet was the Doctor on his knees at the control panel.
“Oh, you finally got your end working.” A heavy, gruff Northern accent filled the room, sounding tinney like it came from the speaker. The Doctor slapped his hand on top of something else, speaking quiet enough Martha couldn’t hear him still. A reply came through, but it was muffled.
The Doctor carried on a conversation with the Nine bloke, and a few short sentences from what Martha would guess was Rose, then he was suddenly on his feet.
“Gotta grab something from the TARDIS,” he said with a grin, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“’Kay,” Martha smiled back as she tried to wrangle the heavy tubbing.
He headed off toward his ship, and Martha watched as he walked past it, standing next to the second one, pausing at it’s corner as if he was trying to remember exactly which one was his. Had to have been bloody difficult to remember where one parked when his planet was around. After a minute he turned around, looking at his feet as he strode to his ship’s door and disappeared inside.
It was a brilliant mix of awkward and wonderful to be with him again. As he reconfigured the wiring on the controls, both manually and with his sonic, he would steal curious side ways glances at her, his smile pulling up more and more with each glance. And Rose, for the most part, probably looked like a love sick ape to the man who she knew so well but barely knew her at all.
It had never occurred to her that, despite him having a time machine, that he went anywhere between the moment he first left and the moment he returned to ask once again. And here she was, in that time frame, a younger version of herself already regretting turning down this incredible alien because Mickey made her feel terrible.
“How long has it been?” She asked, breaking the comfortable silence that had been around them. “You know, since you last saw me?”
“A couple months.” He said without thinking it over. “How long was it before I came back?” He asked.
“Can’t tell ya that.” She replied cheekily, getting him to crack that first real, beautiful smile since seeing her. Oh she missed that smile. Less manic, more goofy, blue eyes lighting up in a different way than the brown ones do.
“I’m going to have to forget everything anyway, so you might as well say.” He replied, extending a hand toward her.
She placed the part she was holding in his hand. “Forget?” She questioned.
“I’m crossing my own time line,” he said as he twisted the piece she handed him roughly on to a thing that looked kinda like a circuit board. “When this is all over I’ll step in the TARDIS and make myself forget. I imagine he’s either remembering bits and pieces of all this right now, or he’ll remember it all at once when he steps into his.”
“So he doesn’t remember us having this conversation?”
“Not yet.” He said with that goofy grin. “And Pretty Boy is probably beating his head trying to remember it all.”
Rose laughed. “Alright,” she said, nodding. “You came back about ten seconds later.” She replied.
He fumbled the pieces in his hands, looking at her with a gapping mouth. “So we didn’t just stumble on to each other again?” He asked.
She shook her head. “You disappeared, and I regretted it instantly. You came back and I ran for you.”
“What about Rickey?” He asked, and Rose wondered for a moment if there was jealousy mixed with that curiosity.
She thought of the history, how much she hurt her ex-boyfriend, how often she left him behind for the Doctor, how he came with them only to choose to leave. “I left him.” She said simply.
The Doctor seemed to think on this, though he made no comment. “You’ve got little hands,” he said, gesturing toward them. “Come hold a wire in place for me.” He ducked down under the control panel as Rose slid off of it. Scooting underneath, she wondered if this is what would be like to do repairs on the TARDIS with him, other him, if she didn’t help Jack that is.
“So what have you done the couple months since I last saw you?” She asked as he began sonicing wires in place, enjoying the way his rough, calloused fingers brushed against hers more than she should.
“Oh, you know, nothing good.” He said, glancing at her. She held his eye, watching his face fall the same way it always did before he told her something that made him hurt.
“Don’t you dare tell her,” Ten’s voice cracked over an intercom.
The Doctor reached up and palming the console before seeming to find what he was looking for as a chirp sounded near Rose’s ear. “Oh, you finally got your end working.” He said in such a mocking way that Rose had to laugh.
“Yeah, I did. Didn’t realize the Cupla ships were entirely bio-signature rigged. They’ve made quite the mess of the wiring and the readers.” Ten said. “And since you’ve blocked off your mind from me for some reason, this is the only why I can tell you to not say a word.”
“I didn’t want to have my mind filled with hair products and ridiculous shoes while I tried to hurry this along and get out of here.” Nine retorted. “And if the coms weren’t working, and my mental block is working efficiently than how did you know I was going to say anything?” He asked, and Rose bit her lip to contain the laugh. Nine did a double take in her direction, grinning like it was the best thing he’d ever seen.
“Because memories are starting to come back,” Ten said quietly after a beat. “Now, I need to step away to get something from my TARDIS. Don’t do anything stupid in the meantime.”
“What ever you say, Pretty Boy.” The Doctor replied, moving his hand away from the communicator. “How can you still be around if that’s what I become?” He asked her, and Rose laughed like an infatuated school girl. “Oh, of course, you like the Pretty Boy look.” He teased, though Rose could see the rejection in his eyes.
“It’s not bad,” She admitted, her heart catching as his smile disappeared. “I’ve missed this you, though.” She said, brushing her fingers along his jacket. Oh how she missed him, the way the his leather jacket felt against her cheek, the burly arms that would wrap around her protectively or in joyous triumph.
“Not much to miss,” he said, his tone that sharp, insulting undertone that usually came when he called humans apes.
“I asked if you could change back when you regenerated.” She said, catching his attention. She looked up at the wire she held against the circuit board type thing above their heads. “I thought you were abducted or something at first, and when ya finally convinced me it was you I ….” She glanced over to see his Adam’s apple bob.
“How long were you gone for?” He asked accusingly.
“Gone?” She asked, confused.
“After I regenerated.” He clarified.
“Never left.” She replied, and he hesitantly looked over at her. “Same man, different body.” She said, her free hand reaching up to the one holding the sonic, wrapping her fingers around it. “I learned that quickly.”
He held her eye, searching for something as he turned and propped himself up on his elbow. “What did I say to make you come with me?”
She ginned. “Coulda said anything,” She admitted. “Coulda told me you left something behind and needed it back, and I would have ran into the TARDIS and never looked back. Just like I did.”
“How’s it going down there?” The current Doctor’s voice cracked over the intercom, his voice far from friendly. Rose and Nine jumped back from each other, and he humbled for the button again.
“Almost have the biometric comparison panel back up and running.” The Doctor replied, his deep voice going deeper. “How about you, Pretty Boy?”
“Making headway there, Big Ears.” He snapped back.
“Good,” The Doctor replied back curtly. “Maybe you’d make more if you weren’t on the intercom every five minutes.”
“Oi, he’s rude.” Martha’s voice came in more faintly. Ten asked her if she was doing alright with some part that Rose didn’t catch the name of, making Nine scoffed. Rose furrowed her brow but he just shook his head at her.
“Right so, uh, Rose.” Ten said nervously. “How are you doing down there? ‘Cause you’re more than welcome to join us.”
“’S fine, I’m fine.” She said, trying to keep her voice neutral as she took the wire Nine handed her and held it where he pointed to so he could sonic it. “You don’t need me.”
There was a pause. “’Course I do.” He said so quietly it was barely heard over the intercom.
“Nah, you have Martha.” She replied without a thought. “Been getting along fine the last few weeks without me at your side, you can get through another day.” Or a few decades, Rose thought bitterly, swallowing back the urge to saw anything more. She felt The ninth Doctor’s eyes on her for the longest time, burrowing into her as if trying to read her mind without touching her.
“Rose,” Ten said, sighing heavily. “Can we talk? Alone? Please?”
“We have a ship to fix.” She countered.
“We have something to fix, but it’s not the ship. Can you please come see me?”
She snorted a laugh. “I thought you said alone?”
“By the TARDISes.” He said, the chirp of disconnect sounding throughout the room.
She really didn’t want to go, knowing her side of things had not changed. But she found herself letting go of the now attached wire and pulling herself up from underneath the control panel anyway.
“Thought you said you never left?” The Doctor asked, his northern accent accusatory.
She looked down to where he laid half under the console and focusing a little too hard on what was in front of him.
“I didn’t leave,” Rose said. “Doesn’t mean I’m not going to.” His eyes flickered to hers before she turned away, and Rose swore she caught that same look of utter fear that her other Doctor had when he saw the coordinates she put in the TARDIS earlier.
She moved far slower than she probably should have considering they had a deadline before things started going sour, only made worse when she glimpsed him standing at the TARDIS already, hands in his pockets and looking past her.
She glanced over he shoulder, seeing her first Doctor fiddling with something.
“Yeah?” She asked, crossing her arms as she stopped in front of her current Doctor.
“I don’t want to fight.” He said with a heavy sigh. She tensed, a half a dozen different things she could say coming to mind, all pointing to how it was his fault they were in the first place. “I still … that is to say that I don’t think I did anything wrong. I mean, you like Martha, you get along with her.”
“It’s not the point,” She snapped back quietly.
“Then what is?” He asked. “Honestly, is this all because I made a split second decision? Because she was brilliant, and helpful, and helped you? Are you really ready to leave me over something so small?”
“It’s not small,” Rose snapped, quieter than she needed to. She felt like she was being watched, and as she glanced around the Doctor in front of her she swore she saw Martha turn her gaze away. “We were dropping her off home. The end of the line, her last trip. Leave you alone with her for a minute and she’s getting a TARDIS key.” She went to meet his eye, so she could reiterate how much it hurt, only to find he didn’t seem to be paying attention to her. “I’m going back to other you.” She said, shaking her head. “At least that way my last few hours with you will be pleasant.”
“Rose,” He grabbed her wrist, yanking her back to him. “Please don’t say that, please, please, please don’t say that.” He begged, wrapping his arms tightly around her. He wasn’t crying, but with the way his voice cracked, the tremble going through his body he may as well have been.
She instinctively put a hand on his back, but that was all she would allow herself to do. His nose was buried in her hair, soft whispers caressing the strands, words lost in the muffle of his lips so close to her, and Rose’s resolve was breaking.
Taking a deep breath, she pulled herself away, keeping her hand extended to warn him off from trying to take her in his arms again. “Get your half up and running, yeah?” She said before turning away. She couldn’t look at him, not this him, not the one who hurt her so often and had never had to face the consequences.
Rolling her shoulders, taking a few deep breaths, she rejoined Nine who glanced up at her and out to the hall before returning his attention to the piece of ship in his hand.
“So what do I do to piss you off enough you want to leave?” He asked, startling her with the gruffness of his voice. “’Cause anyone who stays through a regeneration as terrible as that one must have more patience than I deserve.”
She laughed, blushing and hiding her face. “’S nothing.” She said with a shake of her head.
“Nothing?” He repeated. “Didn’t look like nothing.” That caught her attention, and she shot her head up to see he was looking at some sort of metal box, moving it around in his hands but did nothing with it.
“You were watching?” She asked, not at all upset over it.
His ears turned red as he set the box down and strode with purpose to the control panel. “Oi, pretty boy.” He called over the communicator.
A few seconds passed, and the intercom chirped. “Yes?” Ten said with a tense voice that surprised Rose.
“We’ve only got another hour and half left before the greenhouse gives out, and we’re about an hour flight away from the planet. How are you coming along?”
“I didn’t have a head start like you did,” He growled back.
“But look how much we’ve got done.” Rose heard Martha in the background. “Not bad for someone with no mechanical experience.” She added.
“Yeah, but we still need to reconnect the steering to the link, no to mention the engine syncronizer and ….”
“Got it, you and teacher’s pet over there still have a ways to go.” Nine cut him off. “I’ve only got a couple more things to do here on my end. If you need help ….”
“Yeah, got it. Thank you.” Ten replied, cutting out the communication.
The Doctor looked at her with that goofy grin. “Too bad for him, I was going to send you.”
“Good thing he cut ya off, then, yeah?” Rose laughed, feeling oddly nervous as he inched closer to her, picking up that box along the way. He leaned against the panel next to her, taking his sonic to the inside where there was a mess of wires. He seemed to pay more attention to Rose than the device, and she really didn’t care.
She remembered that look, vaguely. She couldn’t recall the exact times he gave it to her, but she always remembered the anxious excitement that came with it. The same one that came over her now.
“So,” he said, breaking the silence. “My future looks interesting.”
“Does it?” She asked, smirking despite the odd wave of embarrassment.
“It does.” He replied with a grin.
“In what way?” She asked, the corner of her mouth pulling up.
“I go back for you.” He said, getting down on his knees as she hopped up on the control panel. He craned his head, twisting his body to attach whatever he had in his hand underneath. “That’s surprise enough, but to see that I … if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I’d never believe I would be so desperate to keep a human with me.”
“Can’t be that desperate.” She replied, watching him inspect his work, sonic where he seemed to think it was needed. “Don’t even ask what I think about bringing someone else on board with us.”
“’S my ship.” This Doctor scoffed.
She glared. “When I was with you? Yeah, was. But since then so much has changed.” He glanced up at her, waiting expectantly. “You really aren’t going to remember any of this?”
“I don’t have a choice but to forget.” He said with a slight lift of his shoulders.
She chewed her lip. “I do something to save you. Something dangerous. I nearly kills me, and it … it forces you to regenerate. But it also sorta did something to me.” She said. The Doctor came out from under the control panel, standing abruptly in front of her with a fierce protectiveness.
“What did you do?” He asked.
She reached out and stroked the supple leather of his lapels. “All I’ll say is you’re not the only one the Dalek’s fear anymore.” She smirked. “But what I took on extended my life.”
“How does this tie in to the new companion?” He asked with a teasing grin.
“I’ve lost everything.” Rose said, watching the way her finger tips traced the stitching on his jacket. “My family, my friends, my home. I chose you over all that. And I’d do it again, but … I need space.”
“Because of the suck up?” He asked, sounding about ready to mock her.
“Because this isn’t the first time that he’s done something to hurt me the way he did. And while you and I have had our rows, you’ve never done anything that made me want to leave you.”
“What has he done?” He asked gruffly.
“Nothing serious. He’s just … you’re just …” She held his eye, placing her palms over his hearts. When he put his hands over hers, eyes softening, she took a deep breath. “He’s flirty. Has been from the moment he … and it has never just been with me. Which, I suppose I shouldn’t … but there was one time he left me and Mickey on a Space ship for six hours to flaunt about with a French mistress.”
“No,” He grumbled, hands moving to her wrists. “I bring along Rickey?” He asked with disbelief.
Rose shook her head, managing a chuckle. “Trust me, I didn’t want him along any more than you do right now.” She sobered. “But that’s the thing, that’s why he and I …,” She sighed. “Martha, the one who’s with him now. One trip, ‘s all it was supposed to be. A thank you for helping us. Few weeks ago I walk in on him giving her a key and telling her she can stay as long as she wants. Never asked, not once. And since then …,” She smiled sadly. “I thought I was special. He just keeps proving to me that I’m not.”
“I don’t know you.” The Doctor said quite honestly, rough thumbs tracing the inside of her wrist. “Not really. I spent a day with you, asked you to come with me, and you said no. Yet in the last two months there hasn’t been a single day when I haven’t asked myself why. You know what that tells me, Rose Tyler?” He asked, and she shook her head. “Tells me that you are special, more than I care to admit. More than I’ll probably ever care to admit.”