Importance

By Panny

Mickey Smith jumped as Rose stomped into the TARDIS control room, the Doctor hot on her heels.

"Just tell me!"

"It's nothing!"

Mickey sighed. Rose had been in a huff for a good week at least, even since they went on that space ship with France in the windows, however that worked. All of his attempts to cheer her up had been shot down and now it seemed the Doctor had given it a go. To be honest Mickey'd have thought the big-bad all-knowing Time Lord could have kept it from becoming a row, but judging by the volume of their voices, he hadn't.

"Rose, it's obvious something's wrong, so tell me!"

Rose started pacing the room in circles, turning every few seconds to glare in the direction of the Doctor. He merely stood near where they'd first come in, arms crossed, looking for all the world like he couldn't believe she was doing this. Probably going on in his head about domestics, Mickey thought.

Finally Rose stopped pacing and turned towards the Doctor. She eyed him wearily for a moment, her furrowed brow relaxing for a bit before giving in and answering him, her tone a bit softer but still harsh. "Look, I know I'm not that important to you, but I at least thought-"

"What are you talking about?" The Doctor cut her off, his tone biting. He gave her a look of concern and sadness, with a bit of annoyance layered on top. Rose huffed, her voice rising. Mickey watched as she spoke, her face growing more aggravated while the Doctor's grew more morose.

"Look, I get it okay. You're a big, important Time Lord and you have all these responsibilities to the universe. I know I'm not the first and I'm not the last. But I at least thought that I mattered a little. That even if I wasn't the most important thing, I still factored in to the equation. But now it's obvious that-"

"I never ask twice!"

Rose jumped, her mouth hanging open from stopping mid sentence. He hadn't exactly yelled full on, but the Doctor's voice was far louder than it had been when this whole thing started. Mickey could see why it made her stop.

"I hardly ever ask anyone to come with me. They usually just end up here. I asked you. Twice."

"Doctor..." The anger on her face was almost immediately replaced with a look of guilt.

"I let you choose where to go... I've told you about my planet. The war... I nearly let the Slitheen take the Earth because I couldn't be the one to hurt you. I took you to see your father when I knew it was a bad idea. Then, when you messed that up I let you try again! I released a Dalek for you! Brought along that twit Adam because you asked. Brought Jack along too. I've been to your mothers, more times than I can count. I take you home whenever you want. Even agreed to stay there at Christmas for the longest three weeks of my life, and I've been stuck in a perpetual time loop, so that's saying something. Nearly killed myself dozens of times to save you. Actually did get killed once. Why would you ever think that you're not-"

"You left me!" A silence filled the room and her voice dropped to a hushed whisper, adding almost as an afterthought. "Left us..."

They both stared silently, Mickey standing awkwardly to the side, afraid to move and draw attention to himself. He thought he could see Rose crying, but it was hard to tell in the strange lighting of the room. For a while the only sound was the low hum of the TARDIS, until finally the Doctor spoke.

"What?"

"Back on the ship." She told him plainly. "You just took off and left us there."

"...Rose, what was I supposed to do? She was-"

"Yeah, I know she was in trouble. Not all of France. Not the timeline of the Earth. Her. And that's okay, I get it, but... You could have taken a second to make sure we'd be okay. That we knew what to do... You didn't even look back."

"If I did that, I wouldn't have gone." He took a few steps towards Rose, closing the gap between them and resting his palms on her shoulders. She flinched at the contact, then looked up to face him while he spoke.

"You're right. I do have responsibilities. No matter what, I had to go. I had to fix things."

"But-"

"I knew you'd be alright. The TARDIS would've taken you home. You can take care of yourself, even if you've got Mickey the Idiot to drag along."

Rose smiled weakly while Mickey fought the urge to protest the Doctor's insults.

"No matter what I would have gotten back to you, but I couldn't take you with me. Two hundred years isn't all that long for me, but you... You'd never see home again. It was worth the wait to not put you through that."

"Two hundred years." Rose sniffed. "Two hundred years that I would have missed out on."

"Roseā€¦" He stopped himself from continuing. There was no point in pointing out that she couldn't have experienced the whole two hundred years anyway. Sixty, maybe eighty years at best. Rose speaking stopped him from dwelling on the thought.

"You keep trying to protect me without asking what I want. Even if the TARDIS took us home and you were already there waiting for us. Even if for me you were only gone a few minutes... I'd know that you were alone for two hundred years." She sniffed. "I couldn't take that."

The Doctor opened his mouth to speak but Rose cut him off.

"I'm not stupid. I know that if I went with you you'd still end up alone in the end but..." Her voice wavered and it looked like she was about to cry.

The Doctor stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Rose, resting his chin on her head. "Thank you."

They remained that way for a while. Rose was obviously crying, her back shaking from quiet sobs. Mickey could just barely make out the sound of the Doctor's voice. "Always looking out for me, even when I'm trying to protect you."

When they pulled away they smiled at each other. No trace of their earlier arguing remained. They'd reached an understanding and all was right with the world. Somewhat bitterly Mickey wished he'd been so lucky when Rose fought with him. Still, with the domestics out of the way, it was finally time for a new adventure. As if sensing his thoughts, the Doctor turned to him.

"So Mickey, where to next?"