Title: Three Days
Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC and Co. As in, not me.
Characters: Ten & Rose, some Jackie.
Summary: Directly post-Age of Steel. Rose thinks about Mickey and makes a decision regarding the Doctor.
Word Count: 1, 432
A/N: It bothers me that there’s a strange shift in the tone of series two between Age of Steel and The Idiot’s Lantern, and I’ve really wanted *something* to connect the two seemingly different parts of the season together—hence, this.
Rose spends three days flipping through old photos of Mickey, most of them from years ago, back when they were fourteen, fifteen. They stop for that year she spent with Jimmy Stone, slowing to a trickle after that.
She thinks they were happy, she and Mickey, but it feels so terribly long ago.
She lies with her head on her Mum’s lap, staring blankly at the tele, and haltingly tells her about what happened. Mum strokes her hair, and interrupts every few words, getting in a gasp or a shrill denial and as many insults against the Doctor she possibly can.
“You should stay home, sweetheart,” she starts, and then adds reluctantly. “At least for a while. You go off with him, and it’ll keep happening. And one day it’ll be you getting left behind. Do you think he’d even bother coming back to tell me if something happened to you?”
No, Rose thinks. No, that’s not his way.
So she doesn’t answer.
Rose spends three days wandering the flat in a daze, eating ice cream straight from the container, and lying on her bed staring up at the ceiling.
She wonders about little things.
Like how long it’s been since she left with the Doctor. One year? Two years? Three years? What sort of meaning does time have in a space-machine, anyway? For all she knows, she’s celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday without even knowing it.
She wonders if Mum’s lonely, living life alone in this flat. And now she doesn’t even have Mickey.
The Doctor’s taken that away from her, too.
Rose frowns and idly picks at one nail. Funny, that’s the first time she’s thought about it that way.
On the fourth day, Rose finds the Doctor in the living room, lying back on the couch, a home design magazine held up in front of his face. She smiles at the embellished way he turns a page, taking the time to lick one finger before concentrating deeply and flicking it over.
She rests her elbows on the back of the couch, knowing smirk on her face. Slowly, he lowers the magazine, taking the time to survey her properly before relaxing. Probably checking to make sure she’s not Jackie sneaking up on him in disguise.
“Thinking about re-decorating the TARDIS?” she says lightly.
The Doctor blinks at her, and then glances down at the magazine in his hands in realization.
“Given it some thoughts,” he says. “Thinking about installing an armchair, one with a footrest. I’ve always liked a good footrest. And a cup holder. Armchairs should always have a cup holder.”
Rose smiles patiently at his explanation, and twists her neck around to look at the magazine. “Doctor, you’re reading that upside down.”
“Modern deco, Rose,” he explains. “Well, strictly speaking, it’s more like post-neo-classical-modern deco. The only way to understand it is to turn it upside down.”
“Bored out of your mind, aren’t you?” Rose says.
“No, no, no, no,” the Doctor says hurriedly. “There’s lots to—been a while since I’ve studied post-classical-neowhatzits, and, anyway, you know how well Jackie and I get along. Like two peas in a pod. If one of the peas had a very loud voice that she used to berate the other pea with all the time.” The Doctor pauses, and then adds, “A little bit bored. Just a wee bit.”
He mimes a space between his thumb and forefinger, nodding appreciatively when she “hmms” in comprehension.
“Scoot,” she says, nodding at his legs. He moves over and she hops over the couch, taking the seat next to him and resting her chin on her folded hands. “So why don’t you get back in the TARDIS?”
His glasses slip slightly down his nose, and he folds the magazine up, taking an inordinate amount of time before answering her. “I suppose… I didn’t want to get going again until I knew you were ready.” The magazine crinkles under his fingers, and he doesn't look at her when he asks, “You are planning on coming, right?”
Rose doesn’t answer immediately, and the Doctor looks up, suddenly worried in earnest.
“Big thing, Cybermen. Nasty creatures. Not as bad as the Daleks, though, eh? And we came out against those, didn’t we? Or, I should say, you did—and remind me to tell you about that some time.” The Doctor trails off into silence, and then clears his throat, starting more seriously, “I’m sorry about Mickey, Rose. Honest I am.”
“That’s alright,” she says. “Wasn’t your fault.”
“Could’ve included him more,” the Doctor says. “Should know better at nine-hundred years. No one likes being taken for granted.”
“It wasn’t just you, Doctor,” Rose whispers, staring down at her hands. “I didn’t want him to come along. I think I… think I didn’t much like the idea of having to share you with anybody else.”
The Doctor chuckles, but it’s a gentle laugh. “Yeah?”
The knotting in her stomach begins to unravel and she dares to look up, relieved to find that his eyes are warm. “Yes.”
She can’t quite read what he’s thinking, but he reaches out one hand, and she takes it.
“We had fun, didn’t we?” he says, tilting his head back slightly to look at her. “Just you and me.”
He doesn’t have to add what she’s thinking. Before Sarah Jane. Reinette. Mickey. It’s felt different with the Doctor, this last little while. Felt like… felt like she wasn’t as important.
But there’s something like a promise in his eyes, and it makes her feel better than she has in a long while.
“We can still have fun, Doctor, don’t you reckon?”
“Oh, I think so,” the Doctor says, breaking out into a wide grin. He unceremoniously dumps the magazine onto the floor and opens his arms to pull her in for a tight hug.
It’s a familiar hug, and it makes her wonder, not for the first time, what the Doctor would do if she pulled back enough to kiss him. Just a quick kiss.
He releases her just as oxygen becomes an issue. Rose forces a smile to dispel her wandering thoughts, knowing a kiss isn’t worth the risk.
There’s only the slightest hint of apprehension in the Doctor’s tone when he says, “So… you are coming, then?”
She ducks her head, feeling absurdly happy—still sad that Mickey is gone, but happy, truly happy. “Under one condition.”
The hope in the Doctor’s eyes dulls slightly. “What… sort of condition?”
“I get to pick where we go next,” Rose says, leaning back against the couch and attempting to look nonchalant. “How about Mars? I’ve always wanted to go to Mars.”
“Oh, but Mars is so pedestrian,” the Doctor says. “Of all the planets in time and space, and you want to go to the closest one. Humans.”
“Oi,” Rose says. “If you’re gonna be like that I’ll just—I’ll just…”
The Doctor raises his eyebrows.
“I’ll tell my mum you chew with your mouth open!” Rose finally manages, which good and well shuts him up.
“Fine, then, Mars,” the Doctor says with a roll of his eyes. “Plain old Mars.”
“Better not let plain old Martians hear you talking that way,” Rose says. “Probably end up in jail again.”
“Wasn’t so bad the last time,” the Doctor says. “Do you remember how we charmed the—”
“—the warden out of his keys for a pair of earrings!” Rose finishes, laughing. “Never would’ve thought a tiny piece of metal could be so useful.”
The Doctor fiddles with one ear, “Maybe I should get an earring. What do you say? On one ear, hmm? That’s the style nowadays, isn’t it? Just yesterday, saw a bloke cycling past, and he fit an entire ring into one lob—oh, it was disgusting. Almost lost my dinner—course, your mum cooked, which could’ve been part of it, and—what?”
“Let’s go,” Rose says. “Right now. Don’t think I can even wait another second.”
“I—alright,” the Doctor says, bounding up, looking positively more cheerful than she’s seen him in days. “Say goodbye to Jackie first, though, eh? Doesn’t like it when we run off without saying goodbye. Bound to chase after me with a broom next time we pop in.”
Rose nods, repressing the tiny part of her that says it would be easier if she just left. Always hurts her, killing that tiny bit of hope in her mum’s eyes. But her future’s with the Doctor, isn’t it? Even Mickey saw that. One day her mum will see it, too. It doesn’t matter what happens—that isn’t ever going to change.