Prompt: I'm standing in the dark, With my innocent hand on my heart, I've changed my plea, I've changed my plea to guilty, Because freedom is wasted on me, See how your rules spoil the game. -- Colin Meloy, I've Changed My Plea To Guilty
Author's Note: Prompt and beta by Sinecure
"You coming?" Rose asked, pausing just inside the doorway.
The Doctor jerked his eyes up to look at her, hands quickly leaving the console to fist in his pockets. "No. I ah..." He shifted nervously from foot to foot, trying to keep from looking away from her. Trying to keep from looking as guilty as he felt. "There're some repairs...routine maintenance, I need to do."
She blinked at him for a moment before turning back to the open door. He could see the Powell Estates in the background, just over her head, sunlight glinting off the rubbish bins in the alley where he'd parked. Standing still, he waited as patiently as he could while she slowly headed out the door, on her way to see Jackie and get her hair done. Or her nails. Something like that. He hadn't really paid much attention when she asked if they could drop in for a visit.
He was just about to relax when Rose pivoted on her heels, racing back up the ramp to his side. Before he could stop her, before he could even think, she'd risen up on her tiptoes and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. Grabbing onto his arms to keep herself balanced, she pulled away slightly, letting her lips hover close enough to his that he could feel her breath enter his mouth.
Then she was gone. Down the ramp and out the door in the blink of an eye, calling out over her shoulder to come on up for a cuppa when he was done.
Before the door had clicked shut, he'd turned the monitor screen to face him, watching her happily bounce through the alley. Once she'd gone through the glass doors into the council flats, he started to count.
One second, two, three, four--
He'd planned on waiting until at least three minutes had passed but he couldn't wait any longer, too afraid that if he did, he'd lose his nerve.
Flipping switches, turning knobs, setting coordinates for someplace far away, he made his way around the console. When everything else was done, his hand reached out for the dematerialization button.
He needed to get away from here. From her. Now.
The Doctor stood in the doorway, eyes sweeping over the darkened room. It was just as she'd left it earlier today, before he took her home to her mum. Clothes were strewn haphazardly across the floor, the vanity, the chair next to the vanity. She'd obviously showered before leaving, the air was heavily perfumed with the scent of her shampoo, her body wash, her.
His left heart slowed down, while his right sped up. It hurt to be here, in her room, looking at her things. Smelling her. But he took another step anyway. Then another. And another. Until he was standing at the foot of her neatly made bed.
A new flood of guilt washed over him. Guilt at what he'd done, what he'd planned for weeks without her knowledge. He'd told her once upon a time that he'd never leave her behind, not her. That she could stay with him forever, or as long of a forever as she was willing to give him. His plan was a direct violation of that promise but it couldn't be helped.
He was falling for her. Well, to be completely accurate, he ihad/i fallen for her. Months ago. A lifetime ago really. Back when he was still in his ninth body and she'd taught him something he'd never learned in all of his nine hundred years prior: that everyone deserved compassion and love. Even a mass-murdering Time Lord who always imposed his will on others.
Even a Dalek.
She'd broken down his barriers, invaded his hearts, and brought joy and happiness into his life. And hope. Hope that maybe, just maybe, he could have what he'd always denied himself.
And that simply wasn't acceptable.
Moving around to the side of the bed, he tried to focus on why it wasn't acceptable. Why he'd had to make the decision that he had. But, try as he might, he couldn't come up with one good reason. Not now. And not earlier either.
With a sigh of defeat, the Doctor lowered himself to Rose's bed, feeling it shift under his weight. Grabbing the blanket folded up neatly at the foot of the bed, he pulled it over her sleeping form, fingers lingering a little longer than they should've as he lifted the blanket up over her chest. Rose's breathing sped up just the slightest bit and he quickly yanked his hand away.
She didn't know how close he'd come to just leaving her behind today. And she never would.