Summary: Sometimes, even when you get everything you've always wished for, you still have to lie.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who doesn't belong to me. And if I did, I wouldn't be doing this to the characters.
Notes: Started out as fluff. Then it went somewhere else entirely.But obviously this was the fic in me that wanted to be written, so here you are:)
They're in some alien prison, no clue why or where, just step out of the TARDIS and wham, and it's a white room with nothing but one small bench and hardly any light, and Rose hates it.
She hates not knowing, she hates confinement, and she hates that all she can think is of Mickey telling her of his day in prison, all ten hours of it, some prank involving a bike and apples, something that went that bit wrong. Mickey had been slapped so hard by his Gran that day and now he was off in that parallel world, his perfect gingerbread house, that world where Rose didn't exist and Pete and Jackie Tyler had been better for it.
The Doctor is silent, brooding on the architecture of the cell, or on the weird smell of the place and how it's like this species of alien or another species of alien. He hasn't said much, but she can feel him shifting slightly, like he's going to say something silly, but for once she's wrong.
"You all right?" The Doctor says, leaning in close, his nose wrinkling up in that way it does when he's concerned for Rose, and only concern for Rose, concern for the universe shows on his forehead. That question is so reminiscent of one asked at another time in the mechanical organics of the TARDIS, not in the terrible up and down stark vertical lines of their prison, and which had an answer almost like a lie, but the terrible truth at the same time.
"Yeah," Rose says, leaning into him, their sides crinkling together, all fabric and warmth, "I'm all right. I'm always all right."
"Hm," the Doctor says, and Rose knows he doesn't believe her, but then he hardly ever believes her anyway, so that's okay. Then he looks at her, all seriousness in his dark brown eyes and when did they get so dark anyway, and it's such a deep look that she can't look any place else, she's drawn to him like a magnet, and his eyes seem larger, but then maybe that's because he's closer, and the pull is so strong--
And then they're kissing. She doesn't know how or who moved first or maybe they both moved at the same time or maybe the universe twisted just that bit too much and they've fallen together, but they're kissing and it's butterfly light for the first two seconds, sugary, and then it's bruising, fast and hard and dark and wet, and she presses against him desperately in this moment, his mouth fully against hers, and it's desperate and perfect and she surrenders herself totally to it, letting the sensations fall over her in a blur. He's there and it's right and it's perfect and it burns more than she ever imagined it would.
It's weird. She's sat on a cold stone bench in an alien prison, somewhere centuries and light years away from home, and suddenly it doesn't matter, nothing matters, as long as he keeps doing that.
He pulls away.
He looks semi-startled, but goofy too at the same time, like he's never even contemplated the fact that they could kiss, never mind how great that kiss was. From the look in his eyes, Rose is torn between thinking it was going to happen again, or would never happen again, and with the Doctor, she thinks the latter is more likely. This was some colossus one off.
"Huh," the Doctor says, a little lost for words, and that makes Rose feel a little weird because this is the Doctor, he always knows what to say, talking is what he's good at, he can talk his way out of any situation, and she's preparing herself for him to talk his way out of this too. "Hmm," he says, instead of the speech she's expecting.
She stills in his arms, eyes wide, frozen. He seems just as stunned.
"I wasn't planning to do that," the Doctor says eventually. "Huh."
"Sorry," Rose says, automatically.
His eyes fly to hers instantly, and he freezes just that almost imperceptible iota more. "Are you?"
Rose blinks. "Am I what?"
She pretends to contemplate the quick question. "No," she says. "I probably should be."
"Hm," the Doctor says again, infuriatingly ineloquent at the time Rose thought it would be most helpful for him to be articulate. "I probably should be too."
Her heart is thumping in her chest now, so loud she can barely hear anything else, barely remember where she is. "So what are we going to do about this," she says.
"This?" he questions, angling up one eyebrow.
"This," she says, firmly.
"Oh," the Doctor says. "This."
He kisses her this time, definitely him moving first, just his mouth moving against hers, and when he pulls away he rests his forehead against hers and says, simply, "Rose Tyler."
"Doctor," she whispers back, her lips against his cheek now, her having to mouth the words into his skin, and all he can do is breathe against her, into her hair.
"But we can't do this any more," he says, his tone light and regretful.
Rose pulls away, confusion on her face, hurt welling up in her.
He glances at her for confirmation, and then frowns. "I mean right now."
She looks. There's a bunch of angry aliens looking at them through the bars.
It's later, and the bunch of angry aliens are unconscious on the floor, and the Doctor has got them out of the bars, but he's working on another door with his sonic screwdriver.
She loves watching him at work, his eyes darting over the control panel he's working on, his brow furrowed, his shoulders hunched over just that little bit.
She's confident. He kissed her in jubilation when his screwdriver worked on knocking out the aliens, something about their weak temples and electrical resonance or something, and although he's kissed her in victory before - lips light, like when she turned him back from being stone in Rome, centuries and centuries but still only weeks before now - this one lingered longer with the promise of something so much more. Tension ripples between them like a current, and she's drawn to him even worse now, it's like she has to touch him, or she'll surely die, so she reaches out a hand, and ghosts it down his arm as he works.
"Really," he says, a faint shudder rustling over his body, "don't."
Rose pulls her hand away from him, eyes questioning. "Am I distracting you?"
He turns away from the panel, his eyes twitching into some sort of a smile. "More than you'll ever know. So hands off. I've got to focus."
And it's when they're legging it over open ground, miles of grass between them and the TARDIS and the enemy chasing behind, pulse weapons whistling through the air, fireballs grazing their cheeks, but they're running, almost laughing, hand in hand as they pull away from their chasers that he screams at her to marry him, and she says yes as they hurtle into the TARDIS.
He tells her there's a ring somewhere, if she wants it.
Rose tells him she wouldn't mind, but maybe they'd better go tell her mother.
He's reluctant, but starts up the TARDIS, smiling so loudly that they don't even need to talk.
It only takes Jackie one second, which has to be some sort of record. She looks between the two of them, clocks the ring on Rose's hand, the glow on her cheeks, and she clicks her fingers. Click. Instant record.
"You," she says forcefully to the Doctor, striding up and poking him in the chest. He tries to puff his chest up and tower over her, but her fierce calculating stare makes him quail, and Rose resists the urge to giggle as Jackie continues, "you hurt her, and I'll kill you. I'll batter both of you hearts if I have to."
The Doctor doesn't seem surprised that she's figured it out, and he levels Jackie with a soft, sad look that almost breaks Rose's heart. "I will hurt her," he says, his voice soft and low and with a timbre that resonates so deeply in Rose that her heart aches with it. "It's inevitable. The only thing I know for certain in this whole universe is that in the end I will hurt her."
In his eyes, his people burn and die again, his planet falls, his civilisation is wiped out, and yet he keeps staring at Jackie, everything in him willing her to understand.
She's a mother, and she does.
"But until then," Jackie says, not finishing the sentence, the rest of it hanging in the air.
"Until then," the Doctor says, and it's all he has to say. Rose doesn't understand the silent pact that has just happened between the two people she cares about most in the universe, but they seem to be satisfied with it so Rose isn't going to kick up a fuss.
"'bout time he made an honest woman of you," Jackie sniffs, then takes another suspicious look at her daughter. "Especially if he's knocked you up. Is that what it took?"
"Mum," Rose hisses, mortified, and the Doctor looks at a chip in the wall as if it's the most interesting thing he's seen all week and Rose knows that's not the case for a fact. "We haven't even-" Her face flushes, and she gestures awkwardly. "You know."
"Haven't ya?" Jackie suppresses a laugh. "Lack of initiative these days, I don't know." She looks at the Doctor, slowly up and down, then back at Rose. "Can he even-"
Rose can't suppress the laugh as the Doctor makes a clicking sound in the back of his throat, trying to hold it in, but then Jackie laughs and he indignantly says, "Of course I can."
"And are you compatible with humans?" Jackie cocks her head. "Honestly, Rose, didn't you think to ask these sorts of questions before saying yes?" Rose fidgets, running her fingers through the hem of her jumper nervously. "Well, it's not a completely binding contract until you say I do, and then there's always divorce."
"Not really," the Doctor says, scratching his nose philosophically. "Divorce is punishable by death in most galaxies. One species feels it's the worst sin possible, and they punish it by wiping out the civilisation that allows it." He grins quirkily. "I've had to save a couple of planets from that particular type of alien. They're blue, red fins, if you ever see one pretend you're a Catholic, fast."
Jackie's mouth drops open.
"He's kidding," Rose says quickly to reassure her, and Jackie is mollified until Rose adds, "mostly."
It's only later, back in the TARDIS, after they've promised Jackie they'll do a proper Earth wedding, well as proper as any wedding could get seeing as technically it wouldn't be valid and they're going to have to drop off in the 53rd century to get a proper All-Time-All-Place wedding certificate anyway afterwards, that Rose does get curious.
"Humans an'- an' your kind," Rose starts.
"Gallifreyans," the Doctor says.
Rose looks at him, her nose wrinkled.
"Gallifrey," the Doctor says, his voice soft and reverent as he looks down at her, his fingers intertwined with hers, a small smile still lingering on his face. "That's where I'm from. A planet called Gallifrey." He leans back in the seat. "A magnificent place. Oh, how I wish you could have seen it in its heyday, Rose Tyler. It was magnificent. Such rich architecture, brilliant culture, haunting music... Gone now. But you would have loved it."
She smiles at him.
"Humans and Time Lords- it's only happened once, to my knowledge," the Doctor says quickly, pre-empting her question. "And she was very heavily disgraced by the council and shunned by my people. I was too, for loving Earth. They saw you as beneath us. Couldn't see how much potential the human race at all."
"You are fond of us silly apes, aren't you?" Rose says, her tone full of laughter.
"Of one in particular, too," he says, and tickles her. She swats him away. "But it doesn't matter about the council, because the council are gone. And if they were there, I would still proudly wave you in front of them." He frowns a little. "And then I would run away, very fast."
"Good plan," Rose agrees. She pauses, then puts a hand on his knee. "What happened to the Time Lord and the human?"
His face blanks. "Dead," he says, and Rose moves her hand to cover his spare hand, and just looks at him, letting him speak. She enjoys hearing whatever fragment he shares about his past. "They manned an outpost. The first outpost. They warned everyone that the Daleks were coming, the Daleks were coming to destroy us all. But they didn't get out in time to save themselves."
"But what they did, it saved you?" Rose guesses.
"Yes." The Doctor looks at her. "They had children. High risk of miscarriage. But it is possible."
Rose swallows, hard. "Right," she says, unsteadily. "It's possible. And you-"
"I mean, not right now."
"No, of course. But-"
"I mean, if it's possible."
The last is spoken at the same time as they look at each other. Rose can feel her heart thudding against her chest, so hard that she can but wonder how she's still breathing, and it's all just as intense as when they first kissed back in the alien prison cell, and it feels like it was so long ago. "I can imagine a baby that's part you and part me," Rose says, saying the words so lightly that she imagines they can be taken back if needs be. He hasn't pulled away so it's encouraging. "Maybe even more than one. Later, you know, when I'm a bit older and we've saved the universe at least fifty more times, and-"
He puts a finger on her lips, his face solemn, but his eyes are dancing, light specks in them swirling, and it teaches her hope. "I can imagine them too," he says.
The words clam up in Rose's throat for a second, and all she can do is smile at him, so she leans in and they kiss and it's gentle and slow, and searching, as if they've got this whole new territory to explore - each other - and it's going to take forever, and it's so achingly slow until the Doctor murmurs "I love you" right into her open mouth, and pulls her against him, and she shudders, and the kiss is fast and almost angry, plundering and with a heavy friction in all the right places, and Rose is dizzy.
She pulls away gasping, having to put both of her hands flat on his chest, and he takes her wrists in his, marvels at the paleness as he looks at her. "Wait," she says, and he's worried, so she continues quickly, "if we keep going at this pace, later's going to be nine months. Maybe quicker if-"
She doesn't have to finish the question. He has one of his hands around her waist, and it turns out his fighting hand is a strong and protective hand too, and she melts into it, her body fitting his.
"Nine months is later," he says persuasively, his hungry eyes grazing her face. "Gives us ooh, two hundred and fifty something days to save the universe. Gives us five days for each time. Should be plenty."
She's about to argue, until his other hand strokes her face, and she arches up to meet him again, and they're kissing again, and she needs him, she knows she needs him, and they stumble back until somehow they're against the control panels, and he's lifting her up onto the levers, but she doesn't care, as long as he keeps kissing her, and his hand flitters under her t-shirt and across her bare stomach and she cries out into his mouth, which only seems to encourage him more, as he continues to kiss her, open-mouthed, and she kisses back just as frenetically until the panel judders beneath her, and he pulls his mouth back far enough to go, "Uh oh."
Rose leaps off the panel and reluctantly yanks herself away from him, desire fogging her mind, and she has to put out one hand and support herself against one of the seats, as he starts flicking switches. "Is something wrong?" she asks, flushed. "Did I break something?"
"No," he says, "but something's in serious danger."
Rose's heart leaps. "What?" she says, urgently.
"Me," he says, "unless I take you to bed right now."
Something else in Rose leaps, and it's a good thing that he steps forwards and sweeps her up, because she can't move her legs anymore.
The bed is warm. She doesn't want to open her eyes, but there's a hand, tugging at her wrist, and the light is so achingly bright.
Her eyes snap open, and she almost screams, but shuts her mouth when she sees the Doctor hanging over her, sonic screwdriver in his hand, a grim expression on his face.
"Stay still," he says. "The aliens that grabbed us as soon as we came out of the TARDIS put us in this cocoon wire thing." He flicks his hand, and Rose comes lose and she staggers forwards and into his arms. Blinking furiously, confused beyond all measure, she tries to stand but her legs are wobbly. He helps her to a white bench nestled against the wall, and she looks around hazily.
It's a small white alien-looking lab, with two upright wire meshes that look like upright coffins with a thousand myriad wires lanced through it.
"We were in those," Rose says. "Ever since we got taken from outside the TARDIS, when we were meant to be at Roxcorrik Three." Realisation is dully throbbing through her, along with confusion. Her body is aching absolutely everywhere and she doesn't have the strength to stand.
"We were on Roxcorrik Three," the Doctor says, indignantly. "Wrong century," he adds sheepishly. He looks around the room, then starts to walk, briskly patting the walls. "The Trollips invaded Roxcorrik the century before their Silver era, and kidnapped people to put in their psychological experiments. What I presume happened to us was that they tried to tap into our wildest fantasies and hold us here, see how we'd react to our happiest idea of the universe. I got us out just in time. Ahah!" He presses the sonic screwdriver. It whirs and a door opens. "Come on."
He holds out his hand but Rose can't take it. He looks at her slowly. "We need to get out of here before they come in to reset the machines," he says. "They're due to flip it onto our deepest nightmares. Imagine going from your happiest moment to your deepest nightmare."
Rose shivers, and forcing her legs to move, follows him out.
They're back in the TARDIS, whirring away just in time. Apparently the natives saw them running, and Rose had legged it into the TARDIS just in time before the natives started to shoot.
She looks at the Doctor, at him pressing all those levers and buttons with such confidence, and her brain tries to process what has happened. Everything since walking out of the TARDIS was a complete lie. It's hard to take in all at once, especially with everything crowding in her brain, all of it had seemed so horribly vivid and real, so that her body was still responding in the same way to the Doctor, and she hated it.
He turns, sensing her stare, and looks at her in concern. "You all right? I'm sorry I landed you in that. You should go to bed. You've been through the mental wringer."
"You too," she says, trying to ignore the impulse to rebel at being ordered to bed, and definitely trying to forget his voice as he took her to bed, and they- She shakes her head to dislodge the memory that she now has to force herself to believe was fake, even though her brain and heart and body are screaming at her that it was real, that it happened.
"But I've been through it before," the Doctor says. "That's why it couldn't follow through completely with me. I know how exhausting this can be. You need to sleep."
"So do you," Rose says stubbornly. "I'm sure I can wait a minute while you lock the TARDIS up so we don't crash or anything."
He turns away from her, not sighing, but still sulking slightly.
"So what did you 'dream' of," she says, her voice highlighting the word 'dream'.
"Uh," the Doctor says, fiddling with one set of controls, "you know. The return of my planet. Time lords a-plenty for every planet. The usual fare. You?"
He doesn't turn back to look at her, which Rose knows is a sign he doesn't really care. "Oh, you know," she says lightly, "world peace."
His back stiffens slightly, and she freezes. "You're lying," he says simply.
"I beg your pardon?" Rose tries to say lightly, but he turns around, and then she's scared, so scared, because he's angry, she's seen him angry before, but she's never had that anger directed at her like this before and it's scary, so scary that her eyes sting from it.
"You're lying. I know it because I was lying too. I was tied into your construct," the Doctor says, his voice harsh.
Rose tries to stare back, but she's too upset, and she looks away, feeling so terribly ashamed and exposed, and tears lance through her, and she shakes, until she manages to grab at some of her composure. "You're lying," she says.
The Doctor makes a small sound in the back of his throat, all ready to protest, but now Rose knows she's right, so she looks back at him, scandalised.
"You're lying," she repeats. "It wasn't me. It couldn't fully be me. Because if it was my perfect fantasy, then my dad would have been there." She steps forwards, passion building up inside her as she knows, she -knows- how right she is. "But he wasn't. So it wasn't my fantasy."
"But it couldn't be mine," the Doctor says, a little too fast. "Because I couldn't-"
He turns away.
"You couldn't love me?" Rose says, forcing the words out, feeling sick.
"No, I mean, yes, I mean-" the Doctor says, and her heart sinks, and he sees it, so he steps forwards, but then flinches, as if being too close to her is painful, and he pauses where is he. "I mean, I couldn't make that decision not to care that you'd die." He smiles bitterly. "There isn't a choice for me to love you or not."
His face is open and honest.
Rose snorts, she can't help herself, "So what was it? Whose fantasy was it?"
"Maybe," the Doctor says, in only a slightly wavering voice, "it was a compromise of fantasies."
"Oh," Rose says, and her voice is small.
"All the best bits that their programming could salvage from both of us," the Doctor says.
"So, vaguely based on something we both wanted," Rose says.
"Yeah, that's about the crunch of it," the Doctor says.
"But you said there isn't a choice for you to love me or not," Rose says. "So why would you-" She feels sick.
"There isn't a choice," the Doctor repeats. "I just do. But it's something time will erase, given enough of it."
"Oh," Rose says, her voice still small. "So what do we do? Ignore this until it goes away?"
There's a small silence.
"All right then," Rose says, and the Doctor looks up, his eyes squinting at her in surprise, and her voice is surprisingly calm given how ripped up she feels inside, "we'll give it a go. It didn't happen, it was just a crazy dream, based on hormones. In time, we'll be fine." She looks at him, hard. "No dropping me off home because it's awkward, that's the coward's route. We can get through this."
"You promise?" the Doctor says, and he's so vulnerable that it steels Rose's resolve that they can.
"I promise," she says, and excuses herself to go to bed.
She stares at the bed.
Memories overwhelm her that are so real her knees tremble.
She dumps all the clothes out of the laundry basket near the door and curls up in them on a heap and cries until she falls asleep.
She'll be okay, she knows it. She and the Doctor will travel and save the universe another fifty times, and laugh and cry and cheat death together, and they'll never mention this again, but Rose doesn't care.
This life is wonderful, and she knows exactly what her nightmare would have been - a life without him, without the Doctor in it. If he can't deal with them, then there would be no them, just them apart, the Doctor and Rose, Rose and the Doctor. If he wants to pretend that's all it is, then that's all it is.
So she doesn't care.
However hard it is, however much she loves him, she'll live this lie.