Non Reinette-bashing, non Doctor/Reinette romance, eventually a bit of Doctor/Rose romance. Mostly, I hope it's a true-to-character, fill-in-the-gaps look at the end of the episode. . . .
Thanks to who-transcripts(dot)atspace(dot)com for the episode transcript., and to lyin' for pointing out, well, a fashion discrepancy ;)
Disclaimer: Surprise, surprise, I don't own Doctor Who. Nor do I get anything from writing these stories--except wonderful, constructive reviews! Wink, wink; nudge, nudge ;)
Rose stood looking through the impervious time window at the chaos in the eighteenth century ballroom below. "I don't get it," she said. "How come they got in there?"
"They teleported," answered the Doctor, working feverishly to find a way through. "You saw them. As long as the ship and the ballroom are linked, their short-range teleports will do the trick."
Rose felt sick inside, hearing the screams, remembering her promise to Reinette on the Doctor's behalf, her complete trust in him. There had to be something they could do. "Well, we'll go in the TARDIS," she suggested.
The Doctor dismissed the idea. "We can't use the TARDIS; we're part of events now!" Right, thought Rose. Crossing timelines? Bad.
Mickey spoke up. "Well, can't we just smash through it?"
"Hyperplex this side, plate glass the other," said the Doctor. "We'd need a truck."
"We don't have a truck," Mickey replied.
"I know we don't have a truck!" yelled the Doctor, exasperated.
"Well, we've gotta try something!" said Rose. The droids had been on the other side for too long now. There was no telling what they were doing to Reinette.
"No, smash the glass, smash the time window," realized the Doctor. "There'd be no way back." He turned to look at the time window, and Rose followed his gaze.
Rose watched through the window as Reinette was brought into the ballroom and tried to take command of the situation. "Could everyone just calm down, please," she heard her say. All of the droids were there, and it didn't look like she had much time.
Rose turned to the Doctor, eerily reminded of the same man with a different face, looking at her across a cabinet room table. With all the calm and confidence she could muster, she asked, "So what're ya waitin' for? Do it," she said.
"Do what?" asked Mickey.
The Doctor didn't say anything for a moment, only looked hard at Rose.
"You promised," prompted Rose. "The Doctor's gotta keep his promises, yeah?"
Before the Doctor could reply, Arthur the horse came trotting into the room. "Oh, good boy!" said the Doctor, his face lighting up. He raced over to the animal and stroked his muzzle. "I'll bet you could tackle a bit of hyperplex, couldn't you boy?"
"What, throw the horse at the window?" asked Mickey.
"Or, ride the horse through the window," said the Doctor, mounting Arthur without looking at either of his companions.
"But you just said there'd be no way back!" shouted Mickey as the Doctor turned Arthur to line him up for the charge.
Ignoring Mickey, the Doctor looked at Rose. He opened his mouth but seemed to change his mind about what he wanted to say. "Emergency Prog—"
But she cut him off, saying, "We'll be here."
Mickey looked almost ready to stand in the Doctor's path, but Rose grabbed his arm and he backed away wisely as the Doctor kicked his mount into a gallop.
Rose watched as if in a dream as the horse's hooves smashed through the time window. For an instant, she could see the ballroom below, with Reinette on her knees surrounded by droids, and the Doctor astride Arthur suspended in the air above them. But the image winked out before the shards of hyperplex even began to hit the ship's deck. As the Doctor vanished, despite her faith and confidence in him, she felt a lump in her throat and tears began to form in her eyes.
"What happened?" asked Mickey. "Where did the time window go? How's he gonna get back?"
Rose forced herself to think things through. After a few moments' reflection, she said to Mickey, "We'll check the other windows. It might just be this one that's broken, right?"
As they walked through the ship, Rose's spirits sank lower and lower with every destroyed time window they passed. She had thought that one of them might lead to a point in Reinette's future after the Doctor had crossed over, but each portal they found was either torn, shattered, or simply blank. After searching every deck of the ship they finally made their way back to where the TARDIS was parked.
Mickey began to pace angrily, looking between the TARDIS and the broken window. "We can't fly the TARDIS without him. How's he gonna get back?" he shouted in desperation.
Rose stared out of the ship's porthole at the stars beyond, and sighed. "We're not stranded, Mickey," she said at last.
"What, you tellin' me you can fly us home?" he asked incredulously. "I thought you said it was, like, forbidden to pry it open like last time."
"We can't do that," she said. "But he'll be back." She tried to make the words convincing, both for Mickey and herself.
"I dunno," she admitted.
Mickey threw his arms up and muttered something indecipherable with his back to her.
"I dunno how he'll do it," said Rose more forcefully, standing in front of the broken window, "but he will." Mickey looked ready to scream, but she continued, "And the TARDIS can take us home if she has to. There's an emergency program."
"Yeah? Well, let's use it, then," said Mickey, taking her hand and moving to pull her towards the TARDIS.
"We can't," said Rose, slipping her hand from his. "Not yet."
"How long're we gonna wait?" he asked.
"As long as we can," answered Rose. "You can wait in the TARDIS if you want," she said, turning back to the window. "I'll be here." Rose slid down to the floor, leaning against the control panel to find a more comfortable position for her vigil.
"Right," said Mickey, heading back into the ship. "I'll be in my room. Call me when you're done starin' at the wall."
Rose listened to Mickey's retreating footsteps as he crossed the TARDIS' metal grating. Soon, all was again silent, save the background noise of the ship's warp engines. She almost followed him, wanting to wait in the familiar surroundings of the TARDIS, but she stayed put, keeping as much distance as she could between herself and the switch that would send them back home--as if she'd ever be at home again anywhere outside of the TARDIS.
Rose took deep, calming breaths, refusing to despair. The Doctor was resourceful. He wasn't the only person who could travel through time, there were Time Agents, like Jack, right? He could find one of them. Or, maybe he could get a ride from himself. He'd mentioned it before, running into a past or future regeneration. He was always visiting earth, so he was bound to be relatively close to another incarnation's visit. The past Doctor would just need to wipe the memories. Or maybe he could fix the time windows from his side. Not all of them had fallen apart like the mirror. Maybe they were just temporarily disconnected.
How long could they wait here? The TARDIS could provide for them, assuming being cut off from the Doctor didn't have any ill effects like after his regeneration. So, it would come down to as long as Mickey could stand it. The Doctor wouldn't expect them to stay here indefinitely. If he did find a ride through time and space, he'd look for them at the Powell Estates, maybe even before he came back here.
But if he didn't find any help, and if he did still manage to get back here through the time windows, what then? If she let Mickey use Emergency Program One, the Doctor'd come back to an abandoned spaceship three thousand years in Rose's future. Would he try to open up time portals to London 2007 rather than 1700's Versailles? She laughed as she imagined the Doctor stepping out of her bedroom closet when she was seven. Or popping out of a dumpster at sixteen. "Oh, sorry Rose, you're not quite the Rose I was looking for." Better not to find out. She'd wait here as long as she could, here with his TARDIS, no matter how grumpy Mickey got.
Of course, thinking about the time windows led to the question, why Reinette, anyway? What made repair droids on a fifty-first century spaceship think they had to get a hold of the thirty-seven-year-old brain of Madame de Pompadour? That was the craziest thing. Granted, she was brilliant. If Rose had thought she had the market cornered on primitive humans taking the Doctor's world in stride, she knew better now. "But you and I both know, don't we, Rose? The Doctor is worth the monsters." Rose knew. Madame de Pompadour knew. Sarah Jane Smith, Cleopatra--
No. She wasn't going down this path. So, he'd met people in his travels, some of whom became his companions. He'd had a long life, he was entitled. But where were the others? No sign of Cleopatra. Sarah Jane had stayed behind--willingly this time. Reinette wasn't going anywhere; she had her place in history to fulfill. Rose was the one traveling with him now. She was the one who'd come back to him after he'd sent her away to safety.
She remembered their conversation of only a couple of days ago. "You just leave us behind. Is that what you're going to do to me?" she'd asked, more hurt that she wanted to admit.
"No. Not to you," he'd said.
She was special to him. And whether he'd invited Mickey along for her sake or out of some attempt to distance himself from her, she'd show him. He would find his way back to her, and she'd never ever leave him.
Rose heard Mickey's footsteps returning. "Rose," he practically whined. "It's been almost an hour."
She didn't answer, except to lie down with her hands behind her head, and one leg crossed over the other.
As he stalked away, Rose closed her eyes and tried to sleep.
To be continued.