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Title: Out of the Howling (part 11/12)
Authors: goldy_dollar & _thirty2flavors
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Ten II/Rose
Genre: Angst, drama
Summary: Six years after Bad Wolf Bay, Rose gets a message from another universe.
Excerpt: “No. We are not using this — this self-sacrifice reunion afterglow to sweep this under the rug, we are not. It’s not fair.”

Previous parts: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10


Hyde Park buzzed with Torchwood personnel when they arrived. Half a dozen staff manned computers; another two dozen had the Serpentine surrounded, flanked out in a defensive position throughout the park. Pete was running damage control, trying to keep civilians back and explain what was happening.

Rose wasn’t going to let the Master take them by surprise again.

Bright lights flooded into her eyes from the assembled Torchwood vehicles and Rose heard the Doctor draw in a sharp breath. His grip on her arm tightened and he leaned against her, which in this instance she suspected had more to do with staying on his feet than wanting to be closer to her.

Worry and concern for the Doctor bubbled together in her stomach with something else she didn’t want to think too closely about. She was sure if she stopped to think about everything that had happened between them, she would start screaming or crying or both. Right now the Doctor wasn't in any shape for either of those reactions.

Like she’d been doing since discovering the Doctor's plan, she pushed those feelings down and focused on what she had to do next.

“Where’s the med team?” she yelled, looking around. “He needs help.”

“A med team?” said the Doctor. “Rose, I’m fine — honestly–”

“You look terrible,” she said flatly.

His face was sunburned, the skin already dry and peeling. His hair was full of sand, his clothes were filthy. There were large, dark circles under his eyes, and it looked like he hadn't shaved in a week. He was trembling slightly from the strain of standing up.

A nurse arrived, and Rose turned away. “You stay with him,” she said. “I have to go close that gap.”

Before Rose could walk away, the Doctor seized her hand. "You shouldn't have come. It was dangerous. I told you–"

"I know what you told me," Rose hissed. "You also told me you were going back to the TARDIS, not to a dead planet that would kill you in days."

The nurse bent down to open a first aid kit, and he rummaged through it, obviously trying not to look either Rose or the Doctor in the eye.

The last place she wanted to have this conversation was in front of her friends and colleagues. But she couldn't help herself from snapping, "Was that the plan the whole time, then? Martyring yourself on some parallel Earth and hoping that I would never find out?"

The Doctor stared at the ground. "Yes."

It was the answer Rose expected. She clenched her jaw. She wanted to say more about how they were supposed to be a team, in it together, and how it was supposed to have been her choice. And the way he had done it — she wanted to tell him how badly he'd hurt her and ask if he thought it had been worth it. But this wasn't the time or place.

"I've got to get the rift closed," she said.

She stalked off, feeling the Doctor's eyes on her back. She ignored him as she made her way to the computer station, where she unstrapped her gun and set it down next to the nearest computer stand.

"Jake," she barked. "How are the readings?"

"Stabilizing," said Jake. "We're tapping into the frequency now. We should have a handle on it by morning, and the rift should be all but closed by noon tomorrow." He paused. "We might even get this weather to drop a few degrees. It's bloody boiling."

Rose came up beside him and leaned down into the computer to double-check his readings. In truth, she suspected she was looking for something to do, something to stay occupied with. The last days had been so frantic, she was almost dreading what would happen when it stopped.

"We've got this one, Rose," said Jake softly, but he wasn't looking at her.

She followed his gaze, her stomach twisting when she saw him staring at the Doctor. The med team had moved him so he was sitting on the ground, his knees drawn up to his chest. He had a large bottle of water in his hands and a damp cloth draped around his neck, and he was frowning suspiciously at the nurse, who appeared to be trying to get the Doctor to accept an IV.

"He doesn't look like he's doing very well,” said Jake, with a pointed look. “Listen, anything changes here and we'll give you a call. Until then, why don't you take him home? And I dunno... have him take a bath or something."

Rose opened her mouth to protest, and then closed it again. Jake was right. Usually the Doctor would be the one barking orders and checking the readings. That he was cooperating with the nurse, however reluctantly, told her just how badly off he was, and her chest constricted. God, if she hadn't realized what had happened — if it had taken her another day to trace his frequency and go after him...

"Thanks, Jake. But you call me the second anything comes up, yeah? We can't take any chances."

She flashed back to earlier, remembering the flash of her gun, and the noise it made when it struck the Master in the chest. Later, she reminded herself. There would be time for all of that later.

She made her way back to the Doctor. His eyes lit up when he saw her approaching, his mouth curling up in a hopeful smile. Rose felt herself instinctively smile back. Even if deep down she was furious with him, it still heartened her to know that after everything — the Master, and a dead planet, and near heat stroke — the Doctor could still smile at her like that.

"Hi," Rose said softly.

The Doctor gazed up at her. "Hello."

The nurse glanced back and forth between them, looking like he didn't quite know what to do next.

"Yes... hello," he finally said. "Ah, I've been... I should say... he is being very uncooperative."

The Doctor took a long swig of water from the near-empty bottle and shrugged. "H2O, Arthur. That's all I need. Best cure in the universe."

With some difficulty, the Doctor managed to push himself back to his feet. He wobbled for a moment, but then seemed to steady himself, sending Arthur far too smug a look for someone whose biggest feat in the last five minutes had been standing up.

Arthur was unimpressed. He addressed Rose. "Sleep will also help. And food. If he can keep it down."

The Doctor scoffed. "I've only thrown up once since turning part-human. And that was only because of the noxious gas brought in from the planet Nordaxen. Rose, tell him."

Arthur shot Rose a questioning look and she sighed. Now didn't seem like the right moment to defend a Time Lord's metacrisis' half-human biology to a member of Torchwood's medical staff.

"He'll be fine," was all she said. She turned to the Doctor. "Time to get you home."

His eyes lit up. "Back to our flat?"

He held out a hand towards her hopefully, but something about hearing him say the words "our flat" stirred up emotions that Rose thought she had been doing a good job at repressing. She hadn't forgotten how he had used that against her. Doors, and carpets, and living in a flat? Rose, that’s not me.

"Yeah," she said and she walked by him without taking his hand.

---

They passed the cab ride home in silence. The Doctor leaned up against the door, taking occasional sips from his bottle of water. Rose stared out the window, hands clasped tightly together in her lap. She felt tense, every muscle in her body wound tightly together. Her mind kept replaying images from the last few days — the Doctor, telling her he wanted to leave her, the sound of the drums in her head, the look on the Master's face when she shot him.

She sucked in a tight breath. She didn't want to think about any of this.

She glanced at the Doctor. His eyes were closed. Despite his stubbly and sunburned face, he looked relaxed, almost peaceful. Rose wondered if he had drifted off to sleep when he stirred. Without opening his eyes, he stretched an arm out across the seat between them, palm facing upwards.

It reminded her of a nervous bloke on first first date, awkwardly reaching for her hand but trying to play it cool. This was different, though. It was an invitation. He was telling her he was there if she wanted.

Slowly she reached her hand out, fingers closing around his. She thought she saw him smile, and then he squeezed her hand. She squeezed back.

They held hands all the way back to the flat. When they reached the door, Rose dropped his hand, reaching for her keys. As she flicked on the light switch, she tensed up again, her eyes immediately drawn to the kitchen. Neither of them had been home since the morning he sat across from her and lied to her about wanting to go back to the parallel universe.

“You should get some rest,” she said, moving into the flat.

"Rose."

She turned around. He was swaying slightly on his feet, one hand braced against the doorjamb. His eyes were sad, mouth drawn into a tight line.

"Those things I said," he began. "You have to know that I didn't–"

“No,” she said sharply, holding one finger aloft. “No, no, no, whatever apology or excuse you are about to make, save it, because you are going to need it later.”

The Doctor was undeterred. He reached out towards her, and Rose took a step back.

“Rose–"

“I mean it,” she went on. Whatever calm she’d achieved in the last hour or so was rapidly disintegrating, the anger and frustration of the last few days threatening to boil over. “We are not doing this now. We are not having this discussion with you standing there, all… burnt and sandy and pitiful–"

“Rose–"

“No. We are not using this — this self-sacrifice reunion afterglow to sweep this under the rug, we are not. It’s not fair.”

She folded her arms across her chest and inhaled, retroactively aware her voice had risen in both pitch and volume with each sentence. Lips pursed, she stared the Doctor down, waiting for him to argue and hoping she’d be able to keep from crying if he did.

But instead he raised his palms in surrender.

“Okay,” he said gently, nodding. “Okay.”

Somehow the Doctor’s cooperation made her just as emotional as an argument might have done. His eyes were pleading with her. She could tell that he was itching to close the distance between them, hoping for a sign from her that his advances would be welcome.

Truthfully, she wanted nothing more than to lean into him and let him hold her for a long time. No matter how angry she was, the idea of having to spend the rest of her life without him had been unbearably painful, and the relief at knowing that hadn’t been real, that it had never been what he wanted, was almost overwhelming. A part of her wanted to skip the row entirely and pretend that everything was just like it was, that the last few days had never happened.

Closing her eyes, she sighed and let her arms fall to her sides.

“You should go get some sleep,” she said finally, trying to keep her voice even. “You need rest.”

He sounded frustrated. "I'm fine."

"You're not fine, you can barely stand!" Rose snapped. “You heard what Arthur said, now go.”

For a moment he looked as though he were about to protest, but Rose raised her eyebrows and he seemed to decide against it. With one hand on the wall, he started down the hallway toward their room not unlike a child who had been sent to bed.

At the door to their bedroom he paused and turned around, his expression tender and sad.

“Rose,” he called softly, “you know I love you, right?”

Of course, she could have said, why else would you strand yourself on a dead planet?

She wanted to say, that’s not what you told me twelve hours ago.

Instead she swallowed thickly and said neither. “Go lay down before you collapse again and hurt yourself.”

---

The Doctor slept for a very long time. When Rose checked on him it looked as though he’d fallen asleep the second his head touched the pillow.

She envied him, in a way. Her body was tired but her mind wouldn’t slow down. For an hour or two after he’d gone to bed she’d hovered around the flat, straightening things that didn’t need to be straightened, cleaning out an already skint fridge — anything to keep her mind occupied.

Eventually fatigue won out, and though the Doctor had stayed dutifully confined to his side of the bed, Rose settled herself on the sofa for a few hours of sleep. She woke, showered and went to the shop, all before the Doctor stirred.

It was nearly lunchtime when she got back, and she doubted the Doctor had ever slept so long in his short human life. She sighed and bit her lip, hesitating for a moment before she climbed onto the empty side of the bed and gave his shoulder a shake.

“Doctor. Hey.”

The Doctor mumbled something that might have been her name and failed to open his eyes.

She rolled her eyes and tried again. “Come on. You sleep any longer and you’re just gonna wake up tired.”

His brow furrowed and he looked at her skeptically. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I know, but I’ve got a lifetime of human experience telling me it’s true. Up!”

With a loud yawn but no further vocal complaint, the Doctor sat up and stretched. The bedsheet fell away, revealing a pale white chest that stood in sharp contrast to the redness on his head, neck and arms, and Rose cringed.

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m all right.” He sensed her skepticism with a smile. “Seriously, I feel much better. Could murder some breakfast though.” His smile faded. “How’s your head?”

“Feels fine,” she said briskly. “And I thought you’d be hungry. We didn’t have anything in, so I went to the shops.” She grabbed the shopping bag from behind her and plunked it in his lap. “There’s a sandwich in there, and some drinks for you, and some aloe for your skin.”

She needn’t have elaborated; the Doctor tore through the plastic bag with eagerness to rival Tony on Christmas morning, and tucked into the sandwich with far more enthusiasm than a packaged meal from Boots warranted. It was three bites before he realized what he was doing and paused, looking at her sheepishly.

“Sorry,” he said around a mouthful of rye. He set the sandwich down and swallowed. “Thank you.”

Rose stared at him in amusement. “It’s just a sandwich.”

The Doctor smiled sadly. “I wasn’t talking about the sandwich.”

Rose sat back on her ankles, looking away. She knew they had to talk sometime, that they’d have to if things were ever going to get back to normal, but still the notion was unappealing. She didn’t want to dig up all the feelings she’d managed to keep at bay, she didn’t want to cry again, she didn’t want to forgive the Doctor but neither did she want to be angry with him anymore either–

“All those things I said, Rose, I didn’t mean any of them.”

She felt him shift closer to her underneath the covers and resolutely looked away, shaking her head and snorting bitterly.

“Yeah, well, you’re a pretty convincing liar.”

"Rose, you have to know," he continued, voice soft. "All I wanted was to save your life."

"Yeah, I worked that out for myself," Rose said sharply. "Thanks for consulting me, by way the way. Instead of going ahead and making the decision for me like you've always done."

He sighed and scratched at the stubble collecting at his chin. Finally he said, "I'm not going to apologize for saving your life."

"But that's not all you did, is it?" Rose said. "You said you’d grow old with me, and then you sat there, and–and–"

"I know, I know," he said. He put a hand on her arm and she pulled her arm away. "Rose, I am so sorry for that. I am. But I needed you to believe me. I knew the Master would have to go inside your head again, and I couldn't take the risk that he would find out what I was planning. Besides–" he leaned down, trying to catch her eye. "If I hadn't, would you have let me go through with it?"

“Of course not!” She sent him a fierce scowl. “You knew I would never let you trade your life for mine, so you lied! You manipulated me!"

The Doctor was undeterred, his own voice getting firmer. "I watched him torture you for days. You were dying quickly and horribly and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn't let that happen. Not to you; not to your family."

“My choice,” Rose barrelled on, slapping one hand against her collarbone. “That's what you promised."

“You would have chosen wrong,” he snapped.

Excuse me?”

“You would have let yourself die. Your family would have been devastated, I would have been devastated, the Master would still be here on this planet ready to wreak havoc at any moment — and for what? What would possibly have been gained from letting you die?”

Rose stared hard out their bedroom window, fighting back angry tears. She knew he had a point; nobody would have benefitted if she’d stubbornly insisted on dying. But for the Doctor to make that choice on her behalf — for him to take it upon himself to offer his life in exchange for hers…

“You should have been honest,” she said finally, her voice shaking. “You didn’t have to make me feel so… so worthless, and it didn’t have to be a bloody suicide mission.”

“I wasn’t going to lead him to the TARDIS, and I wasn’t going to let you die. There were no people on that planet, no one for him to hurt.” The uncompromising tone in his voice gave way to something softer, more uncertain. “I didn’t know what else to do. What would you have done, Rose? If you were in my position, what would you have done?”

“That’s just it, isn’t it? I’m always the one getting left behind or — or sent away, I’m not the one making grand plans for self-sacrifice.”

Both the Doctor’s expression and voice were incredulous. “Do you want to be?”

“No, of course not! That’s not the point!” She buried her face in her hands and let out a frustrated growl, shaking her head. “God, you are infuriating sometimes.”

For a moment the Doctor was silent. When he spoke again, his voice was gentle.

“I would never have done it if I didn’t believe it was the only way to save your life,” he said quietly. “But I am very sorry that I hurt you to do that.”

Rose sighed, lifting her face from her hands and looking over at him. The Doctor was leaning towards her, his eyes wide, his hand close to her leg but not touching it. She could hear the uncertainty starting to edge into his voice, the worry that he wasn’t going to be able to make it up to her. He hadn’t accounted for this when he’d put this plan into motion.

“I believe you,” she admitted. “But you’re always sorry about something, aren’t you?”

The Doctor had no answer to that; he looked down at his lap and pulled back his hand. The dejection emanating from him tugged at something deep inside her, and she almost reached out to take his hand.

Instead she pushed herself off the bed. “I’m going to make myself something to eat. You could use a shower.”



Chapter 12

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ibishtar
Oct. 23rd, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
Is it OK if I comment on chapter 12 as well? I was just really excited to read the ending and I can't keep it in.
Spoilers for chapter 12 under the cut:
[Spoiler (click to open)]
It was a good idea to have the conversation between the Doctor and Rose in several stages like this, there was a lot to cover. Even at the beginning of Chapter 12, reading Rose's feelings gave me some doubt that things would end happily, because could it really be possible to get from there to that in just one chapter? Turns out it was, and in a believable way thanks to good writing!
I really appreciated the conversation between Jackie and Rose. I could hear Jackie's dialogue in Camille Corduri's voice so clearly. I wondered if part of Jackie's emotion when she's asking Rose how she'd feel if she knew the Doctor had died to save her is partly fuelled by her remembering, even if just subconsciously, the events of Father's Day, kissing Pete goodbye as he set off to deliberately step in front of that car. She mentions Pete right after she says that.
I mentioned in Chapter 10 that the more debatable of the choices the Doctor made was to make Rose think he didn't love her, with the mindset that it might help her move on more easily, and I was especially curious to know what Rose would say on the subject.
"You can’t just flip a switch and stop loving someone because they don’t love you."
Seems so obvious when put that way.
Nevertheless, I found the Doctor's response to that really touching. It did make me think (like Rose, brilliantly, brought up right afterwards) that he's all those things too, but he'd be much worse off in that position. Especially without a TARDIS or centuries of life to put events behind him. Perhaps Rose is trying to encourage him, because she's seen an alternate timeline where, even with those advantages, he died the day he lost her. Maybe he would find within himself the resilience to move on in that scenario, as ordinary humans do in real life, but I reckon spaceships filled with tourists would be better off keeping their distance for a while.

In conclusion, it was a great read, that kept me emotionally invested, on the edge of my seat, and made me think deeply about the characters in new way. Well done!
goldy_dollar
Oct. 29th, 2014 02:23 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks! This comment was excellent. YOU MAKE POSTING FOR ALL THE TUMBLEWEEDS ON LJ WORTH IT.

I really appreciated the conversation between Jackie and Rose. I could hear Jackie's dialogue in Camille Corduri's voice so clearly. I wondered if part of Jackie's emotion when she's asking Rose how she'd feel if she knew the Doctor had died to save her is partly fuelled by her remembering, even if just subconsciously, the events of Father's Day, kissing Pete goodbye as he set off to deliberately step in front of that car. She mentions Pete right after she says that.

Thanks! Jackie is basically the best so I'm so glad you think that we wrote her well. I can't say that we deliberately had that scene from Father's Day in mind when writing the scene, but I like that point! Jackie's POV on Cloen/Rose is fun, though, because she knows them better than basically anyone else in Pete's World so gets to occasionally call them out on the fact that they can be stupidly self-absorbed about each other. I think she's also being a little selfish though, in that of course she would want Rose's life to be saved no matter the cost.

I mentioned in Chapter 10 that the more debatable of the choices the Doctor made was to make Rose think he didn't love her, with the mindset that it might help her move on more easily, and I was especially curious to know what Rose would say on the subject.

Definitely debatable choice, although I think the Doctor's motivations were always good. Kali and I talked about how Rose would probably make a similar choice, though, if the situations were reversed. Like if she felt like the only way to save his life was to make him believe she only ever loved original Ten, I'm pretty sure she would do it.

It did make me think (like Rose, brilliantly, brought up right afterwards) that he's all those things too, but he'd be much worse off in that position. Especially without a TARDIS or centuries of life to put events behind him.

yup.

Maybe he would find within himself the resilience to move on in that scenario, as ordinary humans do in real life, but I reckon spaceships filled with tourists would be better off keeping their distance for a while.

loool well you know how we feel about that.

In conclusion, it was a great read, that kept me emotionally invested, on the edge of my seat, and made me think deeply about the characters in new way. Well done!

Thanks so much, we really appreciated your comments!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )