Title: Trial Run Author: A. X. Zanier (londubh on LJ)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: N/A
Rating: FRT
Disclaimer: a) The characters and basic story ideas of Doctor Who are the property of others including, but not limited to Russell T. Davies and the BBC. Any additional characters or story ideas are mine. I make no money from this intellectual exercise. b) This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any opinions or views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the author and are used for story-telling purposes only.
Summary: Episode tag.

Trial Run

He'd dimmed the lights in the control room: a token acknowledgement of night for the humans on board. He sat on the lone seat, feet resting on the edge of the panel before him; whens and wheres flashing by on the screen. None of them had been just right... yet, but eventually one would sing out to him and then switches would be thrown, knobs twisted and their course would be set. For now, they just drifted; a step to the left of reality, slipping down the tunnel of displacement created by the time vortex that was the heart of the ship.

The sole door that led deeper into the vessel opened and Rose stepped through almost timidly, Union Jack still emblazoned on her chest.

"Is our guest settled in?" he asked, startling her and revealing his not-so-secret location.

"Yah," she answered, stuffing her hands into the front pockets of her jeans and shuffling her feet. "I warned 'im not to wander about, but..." She shrugged.

"More curiosity than a cat, that one, and three times as much trouble." He watched the screen, more choices, none suitable, flashing past. "We'll head for his era and drop him off."

Rose sucked in a breath. "Doctor," she whinged, "can't he stay?"

He shook his head. "I'm not a babysitter."

Rose snorted. "You're just jealous," she stated boldly, stepping up onto the console's platform and moving around to stand opposite him.

"Am not," he argued.

"Are too," she sassed right back, thumb tucked tight between her teeth to hide the smile that threatened to burst forth.

He crossed his arms over his chest and glowered, not wanting to be drawn into a juvenile argument. "I don't trust him."

"You don't have to," she said softly. "He'll be my responsibility."

He lifted his head. "He's not some pup I'm worried about pissing on the carpet. He's a thief and a con..."

"And a good man," she interrupted, brave and bold and slightly fearful all at the same time. Afraid of his disapproval even knowing she had the right of it.

Then she grinned; sweet and sly. "And most definitely not a 'pup'."

He rolled his eyes. "Got you wrapped right 'round his finger already, does he?"

"No," Rose snapped defensively, but when he looked at her, she ducked her head ever so slightly. "Maybe a little."

He snorted. "More'n a little, I'm betting." He focused back on the screen. Janus? Nah, the pup probably had enemies there. Rigel IV? No, too volatile. He wanted Jack off his ship not killed by a random laser blast. Trexifal? Possible, and relatively safe in that century... for humans anyway. Now if Jack had been Odian there would be trouble.

Rose had moved to stand beside him and could easily see what appeared on the screen. She could understand the images and their purpose even if the language was far beyond her limited capabilities.

She sighed. "Why not just dump him at that Time Agency of his if you want to be rid of him so badly. I imagine he could find his way from there."

Now that had potential. He dropped his feet to the floor and leaned forward, actively searching through the database for a planet with a headquarters for the Time Agency.

Rose slapped his hands away.

"Oi, it was your idea, remember?" he groused, shooting a glare her way.

"Oh, come on, give 'im a chance," Rose wheedled.

He shook his head. "Too risky. Like as not he'd try and steal the TARDIS given half a chance."

She pouted. "He would not. Please?" She took his hands into her own when he tried to resume the search manually. "Just three stops -- a trial if you like. If he can't prove himself, you can take 'im home."

He didn't like the idea all that much, wanting to get rid of the troublesome human before he had a chance to do some sort of irrevocable damage to the timestream, but it was clear that Rose felt otherwise. Perhaps... perhaps she was right. Maybe there was something more than a thief and con to the man. Something he just could not see. Humans, Rose in particular, had insights even beyond those of a Time Lord on occasion. Besides, the TARDIS kept stubbornly refusing to assist in his search for a proper place to drop the pup off.

"All right," he agreed, making sure his reluctance was audible. "But he earns his keep." He wagged a finger in emphasis.

She gave a tiny squeal of joy and bounced in place, then wrapped her arms about him in gratefulness. "Not a problem," she said as she took a step back. "I know exactly what he can do," she assured him, all smiles.

"Oh really? And what might that be?" he asked.

"Dancing lessons."