Authors: goldy_dollar and _thirty2flavors
Pairing: Ten II/Rose
Summary: Hoping to prove to the Doctor that she can handle herself, Rose strikes out on her own and ends up trapped in a room with a bomb.
A/N: Thanks to shinyopals for the beta.
Excerpt: His hands shook as he dug out his mobile. If these were Rose’s last minutes, he was going to spend them talking to her.
Episode 12 of the the_altverse following Dead Reckoning
Virtual Series Masterlist
Rose’s sweat-soaked t-shirt clung to her back as she stared at the row of prisoners. She might have had a rusted nail, a piece of twine and Michelle’s lock picking abilities--but she still had five prisoners and less than seven minutes left on the clock. She had to face the reality that it would be impossible to get them all out and to safety before the bomb went off.
For a moment, her eyes roamed over them restlessly--before stopping on Sarita. Her heart seemed to expand in her chest and it took all her willpower not to order Michelle to work on the little girl first. All of them would have families at home--people in their lives that would never forgive her if she didn’t get them out alive.
Finding her voice, Rose turned to Daniel. “How long would it take us to get out of the factory?”
Daniel looked remarkably calm, especially in comparison to Jeremy, who was pacing the room and dabbing at his forehead with his sleeve.
“Oh, maybe.... forty-five seconds to get out of the basement.” His eyes landed on the half-unconscious man. “Make that sixty if we have to carry someone.”
“And to clear the building?”
“At least a minute and a half.”
Rose nodded. Okay—okay, she could work with that. Her attention shifted to Michelle who was bent over and inspecting the chains. “Michelle?”
The other woman looked up. A sheen of sweat collected on her brow, but there was a hard, determined look in her eyes. “I’ll have to do them one at a time.” She paused. “Some will take longer than others.”
“Right,” said Rose. “Well... start with whatever is going to be easiest.”
She briefly met Rose’s eyes with something that looked like regret. But she only said, “Got it.”
Then she walked over to the unconscious man, crouching down over the lock. Without another word, she got to work on his chains. Rose couldn’t quite stop her stab of disappointment—if she was honest with herself, the middle-aged unconscious man would not have been her first choice.
Immediately the other prisoners began to shout.
“How come he gets to go first?” yelled tattoo man. “I want to speak to your supervisor about this!”
“Please, my daughter,” begged Sarita’s mum, beginning to cry again, “she’s so young, please, Ms Rose Tyler, please.”
“I’ve got two grandkids at home,” said the older woman, “they’ve got no one else in the world to look after them.”
“I’m sorry,” Rose said and her voice cracked. “I know how badly you all want to get out and I’m sorry, but this is the way it’s going to be.”
Only Sarita seemed to be holding it together. Her wide eyes were fixed on Rose, shining with a trust she had seen on the faces of many people before—people who had met the Doctor. It both unnerved and pleased her that she was now capable of inspiring the same trust in others.
The problem was, she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she let Sarita down.
“And what about us?” Jeremy suddenly demanded. His hands were shaking and his face was nearly the same colour as the cement walls. “I’ve got a daughter at home who’s going to go hungry tonight because, oh yeah, her dad’s stuck in a basement with a bomb. And I’m not even chained to a bloody wall!”
Michelle shot Jeremy a baleful look before returning to the lock. Daniel rolled his eyes at the ceiling, but then shrugged at Rose as if to say ‘he’s got a point.’
Rose looked over at the timer. Five and a half minutes.
“It’s your choice to stay, Jeremy,” she finally said, sounding tired. “I won’t stop you if you leave.”
Jeremy sunk to his knees, resting his head between his arms and breathing heavily. “I just... I don’t want to die. Not yet.”
Rose stared at him helplessly and then turned to look at Daniel. “Do you have any water left?”
“Not much.” Rose stared at him until he relented. “All right, okay, I’ll give it to him.”
Daniel unhooked his water bottle from his belt and handed it over to Jeremy who took it with both hands and gulped it down greedily. It struck Rose how dry her own throat was—she had used up the last of her water supply while they had searched the top floors of the factory. It had never really occurred to her that they would have ended up so trapped in the building.
If—when she got out of this, she was going to curl up next to the Doctor and sleep for a week.
Her headset suddenly buzzed and her heart lifted. Maybe it was the Doctor. Maybe he’d thought of something.
Her eyes darted to the timer. Five minutes left.
She switched on her headset. “Hello? Tyler speaking.”
Her heart sank when Pete’s voice answered. “Rose, we’ve reached the factory and created a safe perimeter around the building. We’re evacuating any civilians in the area. Luckily for us, Bob Charila picked a low density area.”
“Yeah, lucky,” Rose said dully. “Listen, Dad—we’re going to be sending some of these people out to you soon. One of them has heat stroke or something—he’s still breathing, but he’s barely conscious. Everyone else is just dehydrated.”
“We’ll have someone on it.”
“Good, thanks.” She paused and then, dropping her voice, she said, “We’re not going to have enough time.”
It was a moment before Pete answered. “Is the Doctor....?”
“Stuck in traffic.” Thinking about the Doctor made her feel nauseous and Rose forced herself to press on. “I don’t think he knows how to stop the bomb. Not without scanning it with the sonic screwdriver first.”
Out of the corner of her eyes, she caught Michelle straightening, lock held in her hand. The unconscious man slumped on his side, head rolling onto the floor. In a flash, Michelle moved on to the older woman, working at her lock with the same steady determination she’d showed earlier.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” said the woman, “bless you, dear girl.”
Pete sounded distinctly shaken when he said, “The Doctor will think of something. You know what he’s like, Rose. He just needs some time to think it over.”
“Dad—” she whispered, her voice catching. She paused and then tried again. “That’s not what I’m worried about. When he gets here—if he gets here.... he’s going to want to come and find me, yeah? And there’s not gonna be time. Promise me you won’t let him. No matter what happens, I need to know he’s going to be okay.”
Beginning to sound choked up himself, Pete said, “Of course.” And then, “Rose, you know I’d never ask you to sacrifice innocent people, but if you can’t get them out... you have to start thinking about yourselves.”
Rose glanced at the clock. Four minutes and twenty seconds. “I know.”
“It doesn’t help anyone for you to die with them.”
“I know,” she repeated.
“Rose, I’m serious, I know what you and the Doctor are like but—”
“HA!” called Michelle. “Another one is down!”
“Dad, I’ve got to go,” Rose said hurriedly. Before he could reply, she disconnected her headset.
The chains clattered from around the old woman’s feet and ankles and despite the heat, she practically leaped up. “Oh, I could just hug you.” She looked around the cramped and sweltering basement. “Now, how soon can I get out of this place?”
Rose glanced at the timer. Just under four minutes left. She felt her hand itching at her side—with so little time left, the temptation to call the Doctor back was overwhelming. Wouldn’t it make her feel better, just a little bit, to listen to his voice?
She told herself to focus, to just think about the scene in front of her. Thinking about the Doctor made her want to take Pete’s advice—if she just abandoned them, Sarita and her mum, and the tattoo man and saved herself, well, no one could blame her, could they? They would have saved two.
But she would have left three people to die—and what sort of person did that make her? Could the Doctor love a person like that, someone who saved themselves even when they still had a chance to save others?
She took a breath. “Daniel, Jeremy—” she swung her gaze over to them. Daniel was on his feet, standing over Jeremy who was sitting with his back leaning against the wall. He was still sweating heavily, but some of the colour had returned to his face. He turned his face towards Rose when she spoke, and she was relieved to see his eyes were alert. “You two are in charge of getting these people out and to safety.”
Daniel nodded—immediately he stepped over the unconscious man. He tugged one of the man’s large arms over his shoulders and then hefted him to his feet. But Jeremy hesitated, gaze swinging from Daniel to Rose and back again.
“But...” he began.
Rose kept her voice gentle. “We need to start clearing the building,” she said. “You get these people out safely, yeah? The rest of us will be behind you.”
Jeremy stared at her for a moment longer, perhaps seeing the lie in her face, and then he shakily pushed himself to his feet. “Got it.”
Rose inclined her head and Jeremy went over to help Daniel. Rose’s gaze drifted over the rest of the chained up prisoners before landing on Michelle.
“You can go with them,” Rose said. She swallowed. “I’m not going to order you to stay.”
Michelle bowed her head like she was considering it. Then she hefted her chin, a fierce look in her eyes. “I have time for one more,” she said, carefully shifting over until she was squatting in front of Sarita.
Rose couldn’t stop her smile. “Michelle,” she said, “whatever Pete is paying you, it’s not enough.”
Michelle turned to wink at Rose over her shoulder. “Remind him of that around Christmas time.”
But the tattooed man interrupted them. “What about me, huh?” he demanded. “Are you just going to leave me here to die, is that it?”
Rose met his gaze. “I won’t be leaving anyone.”
Michelle’s hands jumped slightly at Rose’s hands words but she quickly regained her cool, fingers swiftly working the rusted nail into the lock.
Rose turned back to the bomb.
Three minutes left.
The Doctor stared out the window in silence as the van blasted down a tight London street. The air conditioning was on at full blast while outdoors overheated mothers struggled to push baby carriages over the pavement and young men pulled their t-shirts over their heads in favour of going bare-chested. People stared as the van roared past, some of them jumping out of the way at the last minute and brandishing the finger in their direction.
From up front, Don or David or Darien turned around and shouted, “Almost there!”
The Doctor didn’t bother replying that ‘almost’ wasn’t close enough. He could practically see it in his mind, the basement with the ticking bomb inside. Rose had three minutes left and he was no closer to helping her than when she’d hung up on him.
Is this what it would come down to? After more than two years together, was this how it would end?
His hands shook as he dug out his mobile. If these were Rose’s last minutes, he was going to spend them talking to her. He dialled her number and then held his breath as he waited for her to pick up.
She answered on the first ring. “Hello?”
He breathed out, unprepared for the great wave of emotion that swept over him. He leaned heavily against the door and made an effort to stop shaking. “Hi,” he said, somehow managing to sound remarkably calm. “How are you?”
She made a noise that sounded like a chuckle. “Oh, you know, the same.” She paused and in a more contrite voice, said, “It’s good to hear your voice.” There was another pause. “I wish you were here.”
He felt his heart breaking. If only he hadn’t agreed to splitting up—if only he had gone with her to the factory while Torchwood handled St. Paul’s. If only he wasn’t stuck in traffic while his wife was only a few short miles away, counting down her last seconds.
“Just... just don’t hang up again,” he whispered. “Please.”
“Okay,” she replied and the resignation in her voice chilled him more than anything else. She took a breath and with fake cheer said, “Turns out Michelle can do medieval style chains as well as high-tech doors.”
“We’ve managed to get two people out. She’s working on the third now.”
The Doctor mentally did the math—three people left, at least a minute per lock, maybe more. And they would need at least ninety seconds to clear the building safely....
“You won’t have time for all of them,” he finally said.
“Leave,” he found himself saying urgently. “Rose, please. Just... get out of there.”
“Have you come up with a way of stopping the bomb?”
He hesitated. “No.”
“Then I can’t.”
“What good does it do?” he exploded. “You’re not helping anyone by dying with them!”
“I could still think of something... some way of stopping it.”
“You’re talking about suicide,” he nearly spat. “Just leave.”
A part of him felt guilty for yelling at her, but a larger part, a part that barely even registered the rest of the prisoners, didn’t care one bit. How could she just... just throw everything they had built together? How could she expect him to go on knowing that if he had just been a few minutes faster, he could have saved her?
“What sort of person would that make me?” she demanded, sounding agitated and on the verge of tears. “Is that the sort of woman you married—someone who leaves others behind to die?”
He closed his eyes, breaths beginning to sound like harsh pants. Was this his fault? Was a part of her still trying to prove to him she could look out for herself and handle the situation? Was she trying to punish him for trying to keep her safe?
It was too much. He wouldn’t be able to survive it if he lost her, and especially not like this. What would be the point of this human life he didn’t have Rose?
“Please leave,” he begged again, a broken and desperate sound.
Up front, Don or David or Darien shifted uncomfortably and then made a show of fiddling with the radio, humming under his breath as if to imply he wasn’t paying attention to the crazy emotional man in the backseat. Oh, not at all.
Over the phone, Rose began to cry. “I’m sorry.”
He squeezed his eyes shut. He wasn’t helping her like this—the last thing she deserved was a part-human Time Lord having a complete breakdown.
He thought for a second and then said, “Rose, do you know where we’ve never been? Barcelona. About time we finally did, don’t you think?”
The abrupt change of subject seemed to get through to her and a sudden, hysterical laugh bubbled up through the phone. He tried not to think about how it might be the last time he would ever hear that sound—her laughter.
“Dogs without noses?”
“That’s the one,” he said. “Although... parallel universe, it could be anything.”
“I would have loved it,” she said. There was a pause. “Promise me you’ll still go? For me?”
Tears were beginning to blur his vision. “I will.”
“And who knows?” she continued. “Maybe you’ll even find someone else one day to go travelling with. I think I’d like that.”
“Rose—” he started in a choked voice. How could she ask him to even think about that now?
“I can’t stand to think about leaving you on your own,” she said thickly. “I never thought I’d... I was going to spend my life with you.”
“I’m sorry, I...” There was a whooshing sound and then quiet on the other side of the phone.
The Doctor jerked upright, yelling into the mobile, “Rose? Rose, are you there? Rose?”
Finally, her voice answered, “Yeah, I’m here. My knees buckled, that’s all.”
That’s all. He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Are you okay?”
“I’m sitting now,” she said dully. “Waiting.”
His heart pounded in his ears. She sounded so tired.
“Rose,” he hissed, “stop talking like that—like you’ve given up. We just need to think.” He grabbed a fistful of his hair and pulled. He needed something—anything. He wouldn’t let her go out like this. Then he scrambled upwards. “An interruption,” he breathed, “that’s what it needs. An interruption, Rose.”
Immediately he sensed a change in her. “How do you mean?”
“What disrupts a frequency? Well, sound waves of course, which is easy-peasy when you have sonic screwdriver that just happens to be very good with frequencies. But if you don’t—”
“—create an interruption,” Rose finished breathlessly. He pictured her jumping to her feet and scanning the basement for something she could use, her gaze once again alert and sharp.
Just then, the van came to a sudden stop and the Doctor was thrown back against the seat. Scrambling to hold onto his mobile, he looked around. His heart leaped in his throat. The factory.
“Rose—” he said, almost laughing. “Rose, we’re here.”
She sucked in a breath. “Doctor, no—”
He grabbed the door handle and swung the door open. He’d barely touched pavement when a group of Torchwood’s most formidable closed in around him, dressed head-to-foot in riot gear.
Frustration and anger bubbled up inside of him. He had not come this far to be stonewalled by Torchwood.
He lowered the mobile. “Out of my way,” he hissed. “I’m going into that building.”
The Torchwood agents stared back at him, their faces hard and sharp. He doubted that any of them would actually hurt him, but he had no doubt that they were physically capable of stopping him if he headed towards the building.
If he headed towards Rose.
For a second, his vision blurred as an intense burst of rage swept through him. How dare they keep him from her? Wouldn’t each and every one of them do the same thing if it was
their wife or family trapped in the building?
Then he heard Don or David or Darien opening the front door of the van. The Doctor turned on instinct—if he pushed Don-David-Darien out of the way, he could hijack the van for himself. It didn’t matter how much riot gear they were wearing—Torchwood agents wouldn’t be able to stop a moving van.
But then a familiar voice called, “Doctor!”
The Doctor snapped back down to Earth, the red haze of his vision clearing. He looked over as Pete elbowed his way through the heavily armoured Torchwood agents. Glad to have a place in which to direct his anger, the Doctor rounded on him, his eyes blazing.
“You call your men off,” he said. “You call them off right now.”
“Doctor, I understand how you feel—”
“Oh, I doubt that. Should we put Jackie in that building and test that theory?”
Pete continued unabated. “That timer just hit sixty seconds—the chances of even you getting there in time are extremely low.”
“I don’t care,” the Doctor said, “I am not going to stand out here while my wife is trapped inside a building with an alien bomb!”
Pete looked apologetic, but he held his ground. “Who do you think the orders come from?”
The Doctor stared at him, angry and helpless. Then he pressed his mobile back to his ear. “Rose,” he said in a low and deadly voice, “Rose, call them off.”
“No,” she whispered.
“Rose,” he turned around, leaning heavily against the van and bowing his head. “Please.”
“And what good would it do?” she said desperately. “Don’t make me responsible for ending your life, too.”
“I can help you!” he said into the phone.
“Not with forty-five seconds left on the clock!” she said, sounding on the verge of hysteria. “You wouldn’t even make it to me in time.”
The van was burning to the touch and for the first time, he registered the hot sun beating down on him. He felt unsteady on his feet and the world seemed to fade in and out around him.
“I can try,” he whispered.
“Too bad,” Rose said. “‘Cos I’m not going to let you.”
His eyes caught on something then. It was Michelle—she was running from the building, a small dark-haired girl clutching her hand. Torchwood medics ran out to meet them, one of them scooping the girl up in his arms.
For a second, the Doctor considered raging at Rose—why couldn’t she have gone with them? Why did she have to be so... so... noble that she sent everyone else out and not herself?
But then Rose said, with some excitement, “My gun, Doctor. I still have my gun.”
“What?” he whispered, lips dry and chapped. Time seemed to be going in slow motion and something heavy and painful pushed down on his chest.
“What if I shot it? That would be an interruption, yeah? A big one.”
“I don’t... maybe.” He paused, willing himself to focus. “It could also detonate it.”
“It’s not like I have a lot of other options at the moment, do I?”
“No,” the Doctor admitted. “It would certainly touch it—but then, it’s also one hell of an interruption.” Even as he spoke, the Doctor sensed the seconds ticking down in his head. Twenty-five. Twenty-four. “Do it.”
“Okay,” said Rose, and the defeated, tired tone was gone from her voice. Instead she sounded brave and determined and hopeful—all the things he loved so much about her.
He closed his eyes, his head beginning to pound. “Rose, I love you.” So much.
“I love you, too,” she responded. “These last few years, I wouldn’t change a thing, yeah?”
Then, without another word, he heard her gun click and then fire. He kept his gaze on the building as the shot rang out. He held his breath through the ensuing crash, waiting for the bomb to explode. On the other side of the phone, he heard Rose breathing sharply in and out.
He waited until the timer was to have run out. And still nothing happened.
He waited another ten seconds after that and then, when he couldn’t stand it anymore, he said, “Rose!”
“It worked!” came the joyous response. “I hit it and it stopped—it stopped!”
The relief that swept through him was so powerful that the Doctor clutched the van to stay on his feet. But then he grinned, whooping into the phone.
“Oh, Rose, you are clever.”
“Couldn’t have done it without you,” she said, and then she added, “I love you. I love you so much.”
He gave another laugh. Around him, Torchwood looked bemused but relieved—Pete most of all.
“Too close,” Pete muttered. “Far too close.”
Addressing both Rose and Torchwood, the Doctor said, “We’ve still got some hostages to free, hmm?” he pulled the sonic screwdriver out of his pocket. “Time for me to head in, eh?”
“Yes, please!” Rose crowed in his ear. Pete nodded at the Torchwood agents and they moved out of his way.
“Rob, follow him in,” Pete said. Off the Doctor’s look, he added, “Just a precaution.”
At the moment, the Doctor didn’t care. All he wanted was to hold Rose again and not let her go for a very, very long time. Still grinning, he turned to head into the factory, Rob at his heels.
He’d taken two steps forward when the top floor of the factory exploded, throwing him backwards and off his feet.
Next: Chapter Three