Chapter: 10/19, 11/19
AUTHOR: Laura H
FANDOM: Doctor Who
CATEGORY: Angst, Romance, Ten/Rose
SPOILERS: Season 1, TCI, CiN special and kinda sorta Doomsday
Note: Double chapter tonight folks! Aren't I good to you ;)
Rose didn’t dream that night, because she didn’t sleep. Instead she lay in bed, listening to the sounds of distant traffic and the slow, steady rhythm of Mickey’s soft snoring. The orange glow of the streetlight cast random patterns across the ceiling and Rose spent the hours trying to find shapes in the chaos. Finally she accepted that sleep was out of her reach so she got up and silently dressed, slipping out of the front door as Mickey slept on.
There was a freshness to the morning air as she left the tower block, reminding her that summer was almost over. The sun wouldn’t be up for another two hours at least. Rose pulled her mobile from her pocket and called a taxi.
“What’s the name, love?” asked the woman on the other end of the phone, still cheery despite the ludicrous hour.
“It’s Tyler. I’m standing at the door of the flats so the driver won’t have to sound the horn.”
“And where are you off to?”
“Where are you going, love?”
Rose paused, cursing herself for being thrown by such an innocuous question. After a moment she gave the controller her destination. There was really only one place she could go.
Jackie Tyler awoke with a start at the sound of the thumping on her front door and looked over at the clock. 4.14am. Who the hell was that at this time in the morning?
“MUM! Are you awake?!”
Rose! Jackie flew from the bed, not bothering with her slippers or her dressing gown or the light and in the process of stumbling for the bedroom door, stood on the plug of her hairdryer.
Cursing, hopping and wiping the sleep from her eyes, eventually she made it to the front door and threw it open to find her sobbing daughter on the walkway outside her flat.
“Rose! Oh my God, what’s wrong?! What’s happened?” But Rose couldn’t speak, so Jackie pulled her gently into the flat and hugged her and let her cry. Then when her sobs had abated she led her into the living room and sat her down on the couch.
“Rose, love, tell me what’s up? Is it Mickey? Have you two had a row?”
“No, mum it’s not Mickey. He’s sleeping. He doesn’t even know I’m gone.”
Jackie stroked her little girl’s hair, not wanting to push too much for fear of setting her off again, but desperately needing to know why Rose was so upset.
“Tell me what’s wrong? Maybe your old mum can help.”
But Rose was silent and lay her head in her mother’s lap. Just when Jackie had thought she’d fallen asleep and was beginning to drift off again herself, Rose spoke.
“Mum, is there anything you’d want to do differently?”
“How’d you mean, sweetheart?”
“If someone said to you they could change everything about your life. That they could change the things that have happened to you and give you something better. Would you take it?”
“Well, depends what you mean by better.” Jackie pursed her lips, thinking. “There’s things have happened I wish hadn’t happened. Like losing your dad for instance. And there was a time before I found out I was expecting you that I was supposed to go into nursing.” Jackie smiled. “You didn’t know that about your mum, did you?”
Rose shook her head.
“I dunno, love. I s’pose I’ve not led the most exciting life but I’ve got a nice flat and my little job down the market.” She looked down at her daughter. “And I’ve got you. So if you’re asking me would I give that up for the glamorous life of an international supermodel, then no, I wouldn’t. Not for all the world.”
Rose sniffed and sat up, wiping her face on the back of her sleeve. Jackie reached out and grasped her shoulder, pulling her round so that she could look in her eyes.
“What’s all this about, love?”
“Nothing, mum, I’m sorry. I just wanted to see you, that’s all.”
“Do you want me to make your bed up? You can stay here and I’ll phone the shop. Tell them you’re not feeling well and won’t be in.”
Rose paused, as if she’d like nothing better than to do just that, but then said, “No, I’d better get back. Mickey will be up in a bit and wondering what’s happened to me.”
She stood up to leave.
Jackie hesitated not knowing whether to ask the next question, but knowing that it had to be said. No matter what the answer, she thought, I’m your mum and I’ll back you up all the way.
“Are you having second thoughts about the wedding?”
For a second Rose’s face crumpled and Jackie thought she was going to start crying again, but all she did was sigh and look down at her hands.
“Maybe I was. For a sec. But it’s ok now. It was just nerves and me being silly.”
“Did you meet someone else?”
Rose laughed at that and for a moment Jackie thought she had never seen her look so sad. Then she shook her head.
“No, mum, there’s no one else. Like I said, me being silly.”
They both walked to the front door, Rose refusing Jackie’s repeated requests that she stay for a cuppa and a chat.
As Rose opened the front door, Jackie was struck by a sudden impulse and she reached out and grabbed her daughter’s arm.
“Rose, what I said about my life and not changing anything…”
“That’s my life, sweetheart. Those were my choices. But if there’s something better out there for you. If there’s something else you need to do…” Jackie swallowed against the lump that had risen in her chest. “… if there’s something else you need to do, love, then you bloody well do it. This is your life and I want the world for you. I’d give you the universe if I could.”
Rose pressed her lips together and then pulled her mum into a fierce hug.
“Goodbye, mum,” she whispered into her shoulder and something about her voice made Jackie hug tighter.
Then she was gone, disappearing down the stairwell and into the street.
Rose had walked home after that, taking her time, relishing the morning’s coolness. When she reached her block of flats she’d stood outside the lift and thought about things for a while, before pressing the call button. It was only once she was inside and the lift was in motion that she realised she’d pushed the button for the wrong floor.
“15th Floor,” the disembodied voice said in soothing tones. Rose stepped from the lift and made her way to the stairs. The sign there caught her eye.
Struck by the feeling that she didn’t want to go back to the flat right now, Rose pulled open the door and made her way up to the top of the building. The city lay before her. London, in all it’s beautiful pre-dawn glory. She could see everything from up here; the Eye, the Post Office Tower, Canary Wharf and she watched the lights going out as the sun emerged over the edge of the Earth. For a moment she felt like a queen with the world at her feet, but then her phone rang and it was Mickey asking where she was.
I went for milk she told him, I’ll be home in a minute and then she hung up, taking one last glance around the city before descending the stairs to their flat. When she got in both of them ignored the fact that she was empty handed and there were four pints of the stuff in the fridge.
“Are you going to work today?” he asked, his voice quiet as if he knew something was happening but didn’t want to ask what.
Rose nodded, but didn’t speak, not trusting the sound of her voice.
And so the day went. She caught the bus to work, spent the her lunch break listening to Sheila, who’d snapped out of her weird mood and was now yammering on about the mystery man who had visited the shop yesterday. Rose bit her lip and tried not to think of him looking for her.
“I wonder if he’ll come back,” said Sheila, twirling her hair, but Rose knew that what he was doing now was waiting.
The afternoon came and went and Rose drifted through it, thinking about everything and nothing, knowing that the closer the hour hand came to five the closer she was to having to make the decision. She wished that she could smash the clock and stop time for just a little while. But there was no pretending anymore. Things were different now and it was up to her what happened next.
“I’m getting married,” she told herself, “that’s what happens next.”
Five o’clock arrived and Rose gathered her things to go home. She walked out of the front door to find Mickey leaning against the railing waiting for her.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to give you a lift home,” he replied, his face unreadable. “I’ve got Tony’s car parked round the corner.”
“I could’ve got the bus.”
They looked at each other and London at rush hour did nothing to fill the silence that stretched between them.
“What are you doing, Rose?” he asked, sounding so confused that Rose wanted to hug him and tell him that nothing was wrong. But she didn’t because she knew it wouldn’t be fair.
“Let’s go home,” she said instead and followed him to the silver Renault Clio that sat in the side street next to the shop.
They drove in silence for a while until Rose felt the need to fill the space between them with something mundane and ordinary.
“Do you want to stop at Sainsbury’s and get something in for dinner?”
“No need,” replied Mickey, still staring at the road. “I went to the chip shop. Didn’t think either of us would feel like cooking tonight.” He gestured behind him with his thumb and Rose looked at the white carrier bag that sat there, newsprint just visible through it’s thin surface. She’d been preoccupied before and hadn’t smelled the familiar aroma, but now it seemed to fill the small car.
There it was. Her life mapped out in front of her in fish and chips and little wooden two pronged forks.
“Stop the car!”
“Stop the car, Mickey!”
“I don’t believe this!” He swung the steering wheel round and came to an abrupt stop, halfway on the kerb, prompting loud blasts from neighbouring car horns. Finally he turned to look at her. “Do you want to tell me what the hell’s going on?”
“I’m sorry, Mickey. But I have to get out.”
“Why?! What’s gone wrong since yesterday, Rose?! You come home from work two hours late. You won’t speak to me or tell me where you’ve been and then you sneak out of the flat first thing and we both know it wasn’t for milk. So what happened after I left you at the restaurant?”
Rose listened to him speak, watching his mouth move and his sad eyes darting to and fro across her face and realised that she didn’t love him any less than she had yesterday. He was still her Mickey who looked after her and let her look after him. Still the same Mickey whom she’d known for as long as she could remember and who she knew would love her for as long as she wanted. Nothing had changed about that. And yet everything was different. The fact that she loved him just made her heart break that little bit more at what she was about to say.
“I’m sorry, Mickey, but no matter how I do this you get hurt.” She paused, wanting to take his hand, but thinking that if she touched him her resolve would falter. “This isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing. I don’t know what else is out there for me and there’s a big risk that I’m either getting myself into a lot of trouble or making a huge fool of myself. But I have to go and find out.”
There was more she could say to him. She could tell him that she still loved him and that she hoped she would see him again, but the words would be for her benefit, not his and she owed him more than that.
So, with one last look at the carrier bag on the back seat, she got out of the car and as she walked down the street, Rose wondered if she would ever smell fish and chips again.
“It’s over.” The figure bowed his head in defeat and reached over to switch off the monitor, calling a halt to their project, but the hand of his colleague stayed him.
“It’s never over,” he said and pulled a blank disc from his pocket.
As the hours went by the Doctor could think of nothing but Rose and the choice she had to make. Time after time he resisted the urge to use the TARDIS to find her and plead with her to come with him. He refused to contemplate what would happen if she didn’t show. He was on the verge of losing her again and this time he didn’t know if he could continue alone, with the memories that now filled his head.
And so to renew his focus and prevent melancholy from setting in he focused on the task at hand. After all, none of this would matter if he couldn’t put things back exactly the way they were before. And that meant going home.
Walking over to the console he flicked a few switches, forcing himself to concentrate. His back was to the door when he heard it creak open. The Doctor swallowed and closed his eyes, but didn’t turn around.
“Well?” she said. “I’m here.” Her voice sounded almost challenging and the Doctor found himself at a loss to know what to say next. The moment was fragile, he felt, and he was scared to move or speak for fear it would send her running again.
He turned to face her.
“I’m glad you came back,” he said softly.
“Did you think I wouldn’t?”
“You never were predictable,” he said and she frowned making him wish he hadn’t.
Rose shrugged and folded her arms. “I didn’t know if I should bring anything. I mean I don’t… I don’t know…” She looked up at him, enquiring and for a second he thought of Christmas Day. “Should I have brought anything?”
The Doctor shook his head.
“This is crazy,” she laughed dryly. “I mean I don’t even know your name, do I?”
Her brow puckered at that but she didn’t answer.
“So that place… that room back there. That was my room was it? I mean, I slept there?”
“Yes you did. When you were with me. When we were travelling together.”
“Well then how come I can’t remember any of that? I’m just getting these feelings…every time I see you there’s this ache that I get.” Her voice held a tremor now and her eyes shone. “And I don’t know what it means. How come I think I know you when I can’t even remember your name?”
“Think, Rose. Think hard. You know me, don’t you! You know my name!” He was fighting to keep the edge from his voice now. He wanted her to remember. Surely there was a place inside her that still held his memory. Surely everything hadn’t been wiped. “Who am I, Rose?!
Tell me my name!”
“I don’t know! I don’t know who you are!” she cried. “You’re just some stranger and I’m an idiot to even be here. You show me a few things and I drop my life and come running! What the bloody hell’s that all about?! I don’t even know what it is you want from me!!” Tears were flowing freely down her face and all he wanted to do was pull her into his arms and let her bury her head into his shoulder, but that wasn’t what was needed right now. She had to remember! Please let her remember!
“No! Don’t use my name! Don’t say my name! I don‘t know you! I don‘t…” But the sentence was left unfinished as she covered her face with her hands and sobbed in anger and confusion.
“Rose, do you know who I am?”
She shook her head, almost imperceptibly, but remained hidden behind her hands.
“Rose,” he whispered and walked towards her, gently taking her hands in his, “do you know who I am?”
When she replied her voice was quiet. “Yes,” she said and looked up at him. “You’re the Doctor.” She smiled and he thought that maybe, at last, the rain had cleared.
He was unaware of the storm that was still to come.