Title - Everywhere (1/1)
He had not really expected her to come looking for him. And he had not really expected the TARDIS to let her find him if she did. So he was entirely unprepared for the door of what he thought of his tinkering room to swing open and for Rose to march inside. She sidestepped all of the half-finished mechanisms littering the room and walked up to the workbench, where he studiously kept staring through the magnifying glass and fiddling with the tiny nanometer.
“Did you want something?” he inquired, mildly. “Because this requires precision.”
She was breathing quickly; she was very plainly angry. “I know what you’re doing,” she said.
He still did not look at her. “Do you? I didn’t realize you knew anything about nanometers.”
“You’re trying to drive me away,” she said.
He did not let himself betray anything. At least, he hoped he didn’t. He kept fiddling. “Drive you away from where?” he asked.
“You’d like me to think that you’re really this thick, and you can go ahead, and you can deliberately misunderstand me all you want, but you’re trying to drive me away, and I am really wondering if I should just let you succeed.”
He didn’t say anything. He forced himself not to frown, and he kept fiddling with the nanometer, until, startling him, Rose reached out and grabbed it out of his hand and flung it across the room.
“Look at me,” she demanded, and he did, staring up at her in speechless astonishment, because she wasn’t just angry, he saw now, she was furious with him. “Sarah Jane,” she said.
“Oh, Rose, let’s not get into your ridiculous jealousy over—”
“No, it started with Sarah Jane. This little thought in your head. Because you remembered. You saw her, older, so much older than she’d been when you’d left her, and that’s when you remembered, the curse of the Time Lords, and that I would wither and die and I can’t spend the rest of your life with you. You knew this all along, of course, but it was running into Sarah Jane again that really triggered it, that really forced you to have to consider it. And so when Mickey wanted to come along, you let him. And at first I couldn’t figure out why. You hate Mickey. You’ve always hated Mickey. And having him around would make shagging a tad more difficult, by my estimation. But you wanted someone else on this TARDIS. You wanted distance. You wanted space,” she spat the words out.
He sat and looked at her. Then he ventured, “I thought you’d like having Mickey along—”
“Liar!” she shouted. “You knew I didn’t want him along, I told you I didn’t want him along.”
“Look,” he snapped, standing up now, “it isn’t my fault that you’re stringing him along and haven’t broken things off with him yet—”
“Yeah,” she said. “I know. And at first I thought that’s what this was: You were trying to punish me, and I thought maybe it was because I’d hurt you by not being as clear with Mickey as I probably should be, and I’m sorry about that, but I did not deserve Reinette.”
They regarded each other for a second, in a thick and suffocating silence. Then he said, “Nothing happened with Reinette—”
“Everything happened with Reinette. And that’s not like you. You flirt. God knows, you flirt compulsively. But not like this. Not this way. And the thing is that, at first, I thought it was her, I really did. I thought, you know, you’re a bloke, and she’s beautiful and even the cleverest creature in the universe is sometimes ruled by the contents of his pants, or something. But it wasn’t about her, not really. Reinette was all about me, and how you’re trying to drive me away. Because I’m too close for you right now. I’m too close, and you don’t want to watch me wither and die, but you’re too much of a coward to talk to me about it, and so instead you’re doing this, you’re playing this ridiculous game with me, to see how much you can hurt me before I gather enough self-respect to walk away from you. You manipulative bastard.”
The Doctor frowned. “So this is what you think, is it?”
“I don’t think it, I know it, but what I don’t know is how far you took it. Did you snog her? Did you shag her?”
“What does that matter?” demanded the Doctor, suddenly. “Is that the arbitrary line that has to be crossed? Does the rest of it mean nothing, as long as I didn’t see her naked?”
Rose exhaled slowly through her nose, then said, “Good point.” Then she turned without another word, heading for the door of the tinkering room.
“Where are you going?” asked the Doctor.
“I’m walking away,” she said, without looking back at him. And when she closed the door behind her, it was with a soft and gentle click.
The Doctor paused in the doorway of the library, and then asked, awkwardly, “Do you know where Rose is?”
Mickey looked up from his videogame. “No. What I do know is that you are in big trouble, mate.”
The Doctor sighed. “I know.”
Mickey paused the videogame and looked seriously at the Doctor. “Rose dated this bloke once, you know. He was terrible to her. I don’t think she’ll let herself go through that again, but I know one thing: I won’t let her go through that again. So I don’t care what sort of powerful alien you think you are, you hurt Rose again, I’ll be coming for you.”
Mickey pointed two fingers at his eyes, and then two fingers at the Doctor. The Doctor supposed this was meant to be threatening. It really wasn’t – it was almost laughable – and yet the sentiment made the Doctor feel like the very lowest organism to ever evolve. Mickey the Idiot had managed to never hurt Rose, and the Doctor had done it quite deliberately. So what did that make him?
He nodded curtly and went in further search of Rose, but he’d been wandering the TARDIS for a while before swallowing his pride and asking Mickey and he was not hopeful that the TARDIS was going to let him find Rose.
Except that, possibly as a reward for having swallowed his pride, the very next door he came to was the door that led to Rose’s bedroom. He hesitated, and then knocked.
Her voice came right away, very strong and clear. “Come in!”
Surprised, since she didn’t sound upset at all, the Doctor opened the door. She was…packing. That much was obvious immediately. She had suitcases and bags open all over the room and was piling stuff into them systematically. He stopped short in her doorway and stared.
“What are you doing?” he asked, even though he knew.
She glanced at him. “Packing,” she answered.
“Why?” he asked, even though he knew that answer, too.
“Because I’m going home.”
The Doctor closed his eyes briefly and cursed himself. “Don’t go,” he said.
“Stop it. This is what you wanted.”
“It isn’t what I wanted.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Alright,” he allowed, finally admitting it. “Maybe it is. But it isn’t what I want.”
Rose continued to fold clothes into a suitcase, moving a tad more jerkily. “You cheated on me. That’s what you did.”
“‘Not really,’” echoed Rose, scoffing. “Did you shag her?”
“No,” he answered, vehemently.
“Did you kiss her, though?”
“She kissed me.”
“Did you kiss her back?”
“Maybe a little.”
She looked at him in evident surprise. “My. Honesty. Too bad it’s too late.” She turned away from him, pulling more clothing out of her dresser.
“Don’t say that,” he begged her. “Rose. Please.”
“You’re right, that it isn’t some arbitrary line,” she said, speaking into her suitcase. “You’ve been pushing at me and pushing at me, and you’ll just keep on doing it, and I won’t let you. I won’t let myself let you.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, achingly, because now he could not believe he had been so stupid. “I’m sorry that I kept pushing at you, I don’t want to, I don’t want to do it anymore. Rose. I…” He swallowed thickly. “I am all alone. In the entire universe, I am all alone. All I have is you. Please. Don’t go.”
Rose did not look at him, but she stopped packing. She stared into her suitcase. And then she said, briskly, as if shaking him off, as she resumed her packing, “I can’t do this with you. I can’t…I can’t travel time and space, being worried that you’ll leave me somewhere again, all alone, with no way of getting home—”
“Rose, it was such a stupid thing for me to do.” He ventured to take a few steps into her bedroom, watching as she turned back to her dresser for more clothing. “I’ll never do it again. I swear. I promise.” He took a deep breath. “I was terrified.”
“That’s not fair,” she said. She looked at him then, her gaze accusatory. “That’s not fair. Like I’m not? You are a nine-hundred-year-old alien, the last of your kind. You’re a time traveler, and an oncoming storm, and you save the universe for a job, and I’m a nineteen-year-old shopgirl. Don’t you dare act like you have the market cornered on terror in this relationship, okay? You don’t see me running around being mean to you, do you?”
“Oh, really?” he snapped, momentarily losing his temper. “And what’s Mickey?”
She looked ready to retort, and then, abruptly, the fire seemed to fade out of her. She sank onto her bed, a jumper still clutched in her hands, unpacked for the time being. “We can’t do this to each other,” she said.
“So we won’t,” he promised, sensing some hope to cling to.
“We can’t…we can’t…If we’re going to do this, we have to go for it, we have to trust each other, we can’t…we can’t be scared.”
He ruffled his hair awkwardly, considering. “Welllllll, what if we work on that?”
She chuckled a little.
“It’s just that I can’t turn it off like a faucet,” he defended himself.
“I know.” She closed her eyes. “If you were going to do this, if you were going to hurt me, why’d you have to pick Reinette?”
“I didn’t pick her, I didn’t…I panicked. Rose, I just panicked. And I thought maybe…maybe…”
She opened her eyes and looked at him. “Maybe what?”
“If I had to watch someone wither and die, I’d rather watch it happen to her, not you. I’d rather…It’s why I left Sarah Jane, right? Why I’ve always left all of them. If I leave you, I can imagine you happy, forever, the way I knew you, the way you are now. You can live forever. Here.” He tapped his head.
“And I can’t live forever there if you watch me die? Is it about losing me, or is it about keeping me forever young and pretty?”
“Rose,” he said.
“Maybe we’re too different. Maybe we should never have done this. Maybe we should stop it, now.”
He thought it was possible that she was right. He had always thought this was a bad idea, this relationship, and he had certainly proven it with his actions recently, and it would probably be better for him to step away from her, to let her have a normal life with a normal bloke like Mickey instead of having to deal with the emotional wreck that he was. And he knew that it was the last thing he wanted. It was the smart thing for both of them, but he couldn’t make himself agree to it.
She noticed his silence. “Don’t you think so?” she persisted. “C’mon, you’re the one who’s been trying to get me to leave.”
He shook his head. “Don’t you see? I can’t walk away from you. That’s why I was trying to get you to do it for me.”
“Do you think we’re good for each other?”
“I think you’re very good for me. I think I’m terrible for you.”
Rose looked at him for a moment, then said, in a small voice, “Why did you have to pick her?”
“What do you mean?” he asked, quizzically.
“It’s just…it’s fine that she was beautiful, that’s fine, that’s to be expected, but did you have to pick someone so…clever? Like I don’t already feel, all the time, like I’m incredibly stupid. And then you go and pick…her.”
“I didn’t pick her. She was just…there. She was the next person we met. And she wanted me. And I was, like I said, panicking, and it was an easy way out, to upset you, to get you to go, when I knew that as long as you wanted me I would keep you here, that I could never walk away from you if I didn’t make you walk away from me first. So she was there and I let myself…But it had nothing to do with her, and it had everything to do with you. Because you’re Rose Tyler. And maybe you want me to tell you adjectives that describe you, to tell you that you’re beautiful and you’re clever, which you are, but, most importantly, you’re Rose Tyler and you’re everything and I’m a prat and I’m sorry.”
Rose didn’t say anything. She looked down at the sweater in her hands.
“Do you want me to take you home?” he asked, fear that she would say yes squeezing at his hearts, and he was such an idiot, because he had stupidly driven them right to this point.
“I don’t know,” she said, helplessly. “I don’t know. Can you give me some time?”
“Yeah. Yes,” he answered, eagerly. “Time. Tons of time. As much time as you want. What about tea? D’you want some tea? I can make you some tea.”
She shook her head, but she smiled a little as she did it. “Just some time alone.”
“Okay. Yes. Absolutely. Lots and lots and lots of time alone. Yes. Whatever you want. I’ll just…I’ll just go then.” He backed his way out of her room and closed the door behind himself and took a deep breath.
He was going to have to find something to do to keep busy, he realized.
Mickey seemed to think that Rose was going to forgive him. The Doctor wasn’t so sure. He wished he had Mickey’s confidence. Mickey kept shaking his head in disgust and muttering under his breath.
Rose found him in the tinkering room again, but this time he set aside his nanometer as soon as she walked in. He hadn’t been getting much done with it anyway. He watched solemnly as she walked over to the workbench, and he waited patiently for her to speak.
“You’re a git,” was what she finally said.
“Yes,” he agreed.
“And you hurt me. A lot.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“You can’t do it again.”
The Doctor held his breath, hardly daring to hope. “I won’t. I promise. Never.”
“If I’m going to stay, then I’m going to stay. Forever. And you have to be okay with that. You have to want me to.”
“I want you to,” he told her, fervently.
“If you’re scared, you have to tell me you’re scared, and if you panic, then you panic with me, not with anybody else, right?”
“And we need to be completely honest with each other, yeah? Totally honest.”
“Okay, then,” she said, and nodded. “Those are my rules.”
“Okay, then?” he repeated, carefully.
“Yes. You follow my rules, I’ll stay. You break my rules, I leave.”
“Oh, Rose.” He leaped up and raced around the workbench and caught her up in a tight hug.
“Are you still terrified?” she asked.
“No,” he said.
“You’re already lying.”
“I’m not.” He drew back to look at her. “I was terrified that you were going to leave. And now I’m just…Come on.” He grabbed her hand and went bounding out of the room, tugging her along.
“Where are we going?” she asked, bewildered.
“Everywhere,” he answered.