Title: Suspending Belief
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine. -sniff-
Spoilers: Erm. Pre-"Doomsday" season two.
Summary: The sight of the Doctor's pout was a powerful force, and the image of his frowning face had been more than enough to break stronger wills than hers. But not this time. She was about to be eaten. It was going to take a lot more than a pout to make that prospect seem any more agreeable.
Author's Notes: I didn't mean to write this. Really, I didn't. These guys just won't leave me be. -grin- Any and all concrit is most welcome, as I've still got no beta, no Britishness, and am still very very new. Thank you all for your time!

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Part One

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Rose had learned that the biggest trouble with traveling about time and space with aliens was their complete disregard of social niceties. Or at least that seemed to be the biggest issue while traveling about with this particular alien.

Currently, she was experiencing one of the many downsides to the Doctor's rather selective well-mannered tendencies. It wasn't that he was incapable of being polite, just that he was scrupulous about who deserved this civility. Unfortunately, most alien species didn't quite understand this discriminating process when they were met with the foul end of it.

And so it came about that Rose Tyler was hanging from a suspended wooden pole by her arms and legs in preparation for her eventual roasting.

Rose was far from pleased. Adding to her discomfort were the facts that her hair was dragging on the disgusting dungeon floor, her blood was rushing to her head and her imminent death was fast approaching on the horizon in the form of a race of fat orange creatures who found the flesh of higher life forms the most desirable throughout the universe.

No, Rose was not pleased at all.

And it was entirely the Doctor's fault.

"Did you really need to call them primitive cellulites?"

The Doctor spared her a glance as he tugged on the chain attached to his wrists, hanging him from the rafters of their dank cell. "Need is such a strange concept," he said, tilting his head contemplatively. "Does the bird need to sing? Do the children need to play?"

"Not if singing and playing results in their imprisonment and impending deaths, no," Rose responded darkly, jerking at her own bonds, the gooey but firm shackles effectively binding her wrists and ankles together. She shot the Doctor a severe look, the effect of which was likely destroyed by her, what would have been considered in any other situation, laughable position. "I don't think so."

He shrugged helplessly. "I can't help it, Rose. The truth must be told. Really, I'm doing a great service to the powers of the universe. Truth isn't supposed to be restrained or held back. It must be shouted from the heavens for the benefit of all. Think of the great strides this society will be able to take now that they're aware of their own disabilities? I just put this entire species on the path to decent table manners." He gave a definitive nod, as if he was trying to reassure himself as much as her. "Really, that's all I'm doing. Inspiring decency in others. After all, Rose, I'm a very decent bloke. It's in my nature."

"Well if it is your 'nature' to insult everything you come across that doesn't instantly suit your fancy, then I think it would do best to stop with your particular brand of decency. Your spewing of uncomplimentary, however well intending, remarks is going to get us killed in about, oh, forty minutes."

The Doctor looked insulted. "If they took my advice the wrong way that's a fault on their part, not on mine."

"You were insulting to the high nobility of Laxacorvatalla!" she snapped. "You were obnoxious, imposing, haughty, lacking all forms of tact, rude and… and…" She searched for words that would reach him, something truly offensive so that she could be certain that he was listening. "And you're still not ginger!"

The Doctor grumbled, shifting his feet and staring at his trainers. "Rub it in why don't you."

Rose quickly pushed down all feelings of guilt. The sight of the Doctor's pout was a powerful force, and the image of his frowning face had been more than enough to break stronger wills than hers.

But not this time.

She was about to be eaten. It was going to take a lot more than a pout to make that prospect seem any more agreeable.

"Given the circumstances I think I have the right! I'm strung up here like a calf waiting for the slaughter because you couldn't keep your trap shut!"

He looked up at her, glaring. "You were thinking they were filthy murderous sacks of lard too!"

"But I wasn't stupid enough to say it, was I?"

"I wasn't stupid," the Doctor muttered, looking at the floor again. "Misguided, perhaps. Shortsighted, without question. Stupid though, that's a needless and completely false accusation." He sent her a wide grin. "We both know I'm brilliant."

She tore her gaze away from his smile, knowing what his grin could do to her. "I'm beginning to have my doubts."

There was a small, accusing silence.

"Is your faith in me that shaken?"

Rose glanced back at him at the hurt in his tone, noticed the pained expression in his eyes, the overt concern in his gaze.

"Don't you trust me?"

"Of course," she said without hesitation. She sent him a smile. "Always."

Her grin was met with one of his own.

Rose did trust the Doctor, unquestioningly, even when her common sense told her she shouldn't. He had comforting effect, managed to convey a soothing reassurance that everything would be all right, even when they both knew that it wouldn't. All she needed was to look at his smiling face, see him bouncing around the console of the TARDIS, watch him dishevel his wild hair in excitement or bring the sonic screwdriver thoughtfully to his mouth, to feel the security of a home that was millions of miles, years, away. In the midst of danger he had the ability to make her feel safe, as if it only took her hand clasped in his to make all threats, uncertainties and hazards vanish.

Logically, she knew it didn't make any sense. She hadn't been safe since she ran on board the TARDIS those two-odd years ago, and as brilliant as the Doctor was, he couldn't save her from all of the perils of the universe, despite how protected he made her feel.

Of course that was another matter all together.

How the Doctor made her feel.

Not that it was a topic of vast significance. After all, he was a 900 year-old alien, the last of his kind, and she was a twenty year-old shopgirl from London. One didn't have to be a genius to discover the improbabilities in the equation.

Ultimately, Rose decided, her feelings were not a matter that warranted a great deal of thinking upon, especially not given the current state of affairs. At present, there were far more pressing issues to deal with. Like how to avoid becoming the centerpiece at diner.

Shaking herself, Rose craned her neck to look at the Doctor once more. "I trust you, but if you'd like me to think of you as clever again you'd best get us out of here. Soon. I don't want to be the afternoon snack of the Laxacorvatallanites, thanks."

"Laxacorvatallaions," the Doctor corrected cheerfully.

Rose gave her head a small shake. "Whatever. The point is that it's high time you came up with an escape plan, Doctor."

"Right. Escape. I can do that." He nodded his head firmly. "I'm good with escapes. All the running and hopping, I'm the master of that." He eyed his sticky restraints and frowned. "Of course, I'm dangling from the ceiling, so the running and hopping might be a bit difficult, which could make escaping rather troublesome as well…"

Rose resisted the urge to wince at his less than reassuring words.

The Doctor obviously noticed her flinch, quickly ridding himself of his discouraged tone. "Well, I like challenges." He gave a small cough and perked up considerably. "On to business then!"

Since beginning her adventures with the Doctor, her companion had tried to impress upon her the values of the infinite suspension of belief. Rules were made to be broken, improbabilities were meant to be defied and the impossible was perfectly viable in the right set of circumstances. And try as she might to take part in this grand ideology, Rose still found herself, during desperate times, grounded to the hard facts of reality.

A half-hour after the Doctor's initial proclamation, Rose was well aware that she was experiencing just such a time. There was only a matter of minutes left before the Laxacorvatallaions came for them and the Doctor hadn't torn his fierce stare from his restraints, no obvious progress having been made for his efforts, despite the intensity of his gaze.

"Doctor, you won't intimidate the chains into falling off."

His eyes remained locked on the shackles, glaring at them. "We don't know that."

She let out a small smile despite herself.

He had that effect on her; able to make her happy even when faced with her impending death. Which wasn't something she could say about most blokes. She got the impression that it had to mean something significant.

"We're doomed, aren't we?"

The Doctor unfocused his stare from his bindings and turned his attention to her. "Doomed?" He scoffed. "No! I wouldn't say 'doomed.' We're…" He gnawed on a lip in consideration, face lighting up after several moments. "Disaster prone. In an unfortunate and possibly life-ending situation. We're having a small issue disembarking from this latest great adventure. We're-"

She interrupted him, a grave look on her face. "Doctor."

He looked at her anxiously, no doubt noting her serious expression as he heaved a sigh. "I don't know what to do, Rose." He went limp in his bonds, head hanging dejectedly between his arms. "I'm so sorry."

She felt her heart drop in her chest. That phrase, coming from the Doctor, was not to be taken lightly. It implied more than a difficult situation; it implied helplessness and a lack of hope. It meant the end.

And Rose wasn't ready for that. Not yet.

She shook her head adamantly, willing him to look at her. "None of that, Doctor."

He didn't appear to hear her, shoulders remaining slumped and gaze downcast. "I did this, I brought you here. I'm responsible for what's going to happen." He raised his face to look at her, eyes sad. "For killing you."

Rose frowned, making a move to speak only to be cut-off.

"No, Rose. I never should have taken you with me. Never should have asked you to stay at Christmas. You would be at home now with your beans and chips if I hadn't come back for you, if I had just left well enough alone." His stare was filled with remorse as he caught her eyes in his own. "You'd be with your mum, working in a shop somewhere, a million miles away from these primitive cellulites and safe." His eyes were still locked to hers, burning through her. "I'm so sorry for taking that, your life, away from you."

There was silence for several moments as they stared at one another, neither willing to break the intensity.

Until Rose thought it best to set the Doctor to rights.

"No."

His brow furrowed. "What was that?"

"No," she repeated resolutely.

The Doctor eyed her curiously.

"I told you once that I wouldn't have traded my time with you for the world. I meant it then and I still mean it now." She adopted a stern tone. "You aren't allowed to take this time away from me, aren't allowed to act as if it shouldn't have happened." She stared at him severely. "You've got that, Doctor?"

He lost the confused expression, instead gazing at her with what might have been admiration.

"It's not your right, it's mine, and if I had to do it all over again I'd still want to end up right back here, with you, tied to this damn pole and about to be desert for a bunch of filthy murderous sacks of lard." She grinned widely. "So shut it, right?"

The Doctor returned her smile, looking at her with wonder. "I'm so glad I met you."

Rose beamed back, still dangling from the pole, prepared to be carted away to her death, and yet overjoyed just to be around this man, the last of the Time Lords. This alien who had shown her a better life than she had ever dared to imagine.

She would die a thousand deaths so long as it meant she had died having known him.

"Me too."

He glanced up at the ceiling, giving his chains a futile tug before looking helplessly back to her, something strange and unfamiliar in his gaze. "I just wish that it didn't have to end this way."

Rose frowned. "In what way, Doctor?"

In that instant two hulking orange globs of flesh with fat stubs for legs and long, thin arms (Laxacorvatallaions) entered the cell, making their way to Rose's pole.

"No! Rose!" the Doctor yelled, renewing his struggle against his shackles. "Get your hands off of her!"

The two aliens laughed, the orangeier of the two smirking as he said, "Sure, we'll get our hands off her. At least until we've broiled the syrupiness out of her." He sneered. "Then she'll be too delicious to resist."

The Doctor gave another violent jerk to the bonds, rage overtaking his every feature.

Rose's eyes widened in alarm and concern. He couldn't be angry. The Doctor never thought as clearly when distracted, and if he was to have any hope of escape he needed to focus all of his attentions on getting himself free, not on plotting revenge.

"Doctor!"

He turned to her, expression softening as it rested on her face.

"It's all right," she said, glancing around in surprise when the aliens grabbed either end of her pole.

And suddenly she was being moved, the exit was fast approaching and she found she had too little time to say all that needed to be said.

She quickly returned her attention back to the Doctor, her eyes clinging to the sight of him. "Not for the world, Doctor!" she yelled as they left the cell. "Not for any of them!"

With that one of her captors slammed the door shut, ending the connection between Rose and her Doctor, before continuing down the long hallway. And it was only then, with cold hard steel separating them and the distance between swiftly growing, that Rose was afraid.