Title: They Lost (1/1)
Genre: ANGST, tragedy.
Spoilers: None; set series two.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is © of the BBC.
Warning(s): AU. Character death.
Summary: "We'll be alright," she says as sure as she can, "you and me. We're always alright."
A/N: Yes, I know, it's the typical – the Doctor and Rose are trapped in a prison cell, ready to be killed scenario. But I think it's also a bit different, I think... (That isn't necessarily a good thing – you have been warned.) I wasn't sure whether or not to post it, and I'm still iffy... maybe the better thing would have been to keep it to myself, but ah well. I'll take the plunge. *gulps* Those who hate angst should look away now.
"Well, this isn't so bad, is it?" The Doctor's arms cross against his chest as he surveys the prison they are currently locked in. "The lighting's pretty poor, but at least there's a bed. Most cells don't stretch that far you know, Rose."
"Hmm," Rose mutters, wrapping her arms around her knees as she sits on the small single mattress in the corner. "Be sure to say that when they ask how our stay was, won't you? That'll be just before they kill us, of course."
"Will do," he replies, and Rose is sure that, knowing him, he probably means it. She feels the weight of the bed shift slightly as he sits down next to her, his gaze skirting around the cell for ways of escape. "You know, I always wonder if ever we'll be locked in a prison cell without my coat being taken off me. It'd be so much easier for all involved if I had my sonic screwdriver to skip this part."
"Yeah. Well, I always wonder if we'll ever be thrown into a cell with an actual working toilet for a change," Rose says, thinking of the chamber pot sitting innocently in the corner. Then she frowns. "You know what, skip that, actually I wonder if we'll ever be not thrown in jail for a change."
"It wasn't my fault, Rose," says the Doctor calmly.
"I never said it was."
"I'm just sayin' it would be nice if, for once, you didn't insult royalty. It rarely gets us anywhere."
"It's not my fault he couldn't take a bit of constructive criticism." The Doctor pouts, his eyes skirting away from her as he stands back up, gaze searching ways out of their predicament.
"Calling his way of running a country idiotic and ridiculous is hardly what you might call constructive, " Rose says, rolling her eyes.
"Fine, fine," the Doctor sighs. "It's my fault we're to be sentenced to death this evening. Happy? Now be quiet while I think of an escape." His hands move to the walls, feeling along the concrete. He stops every few meters to give a small knock, his tongue poking between his lips. Rose watches silently for a while, chin resting on her knees.
"Found anything yet?" she asks after several minutes.
The Doctor scrunches up his nose after licking the concrete a few times. "Yeah, these walls don't taste half as good as those on Talgon-Eight."
"Sorry," Rose murmurs, annoyance wrapped around her words. "I should have rephrased – I meant, have you found anything useful yet?"
The Doctor looks up at her, a frown bridging his brow. "Are you being deliberately short today, or is it just that time of the month?" He stares at her; his gaze burning through her like an x-ray. "Rose," he says, seeming to notice something he hadn't before, "something bothering you? I mean, besides being locked in a prison cell on the planet Smok'alin, thanks to your rather dashing – though slightly stupid – alien best friend, with the possible consequence of being hung later this evening."
"No," she says with a roll of her eyes, "apart from all that, I'm dandy." She looks up at him. "Shouldn't you be coming up with a master plan to get out of here right about now?" He looks ready to say something else but she quickly speaks again. "Come on, you're wasting time. I don't much fancy a noose around my neck, and the bag they'll put on our head will ruin my hair."
Grudgingly, the Doctor turns around. "Right you are," he murmurs.
His hands and tongue move back to the walls.
Two and a half hours later, and the Doctor is about as nearer to finding an escape out of the rotten cell as the dead spider-like-insect Rose found by their mattress an hour ago is. The Doctor is pacing now, his brow furrowed and head bent. Rose has tried to ask what he's thinking on several occasions but has merely been shush ed at in reply. She has also tried to help, making her own examination of the room, but found as much to help them as the Doctor.
Finally, he sighs and comes to sit beside Rose. "I think we're going to have to come up with a new tactic," he says. "A new plan."
"Yeah?" Rose prompts.
"Yeah," he says thoughtfully. "When they come to collect us, we'll have to escape then. It's quite puzzling, but apparently this prison cell is escape proof. Puzzling, I mean, considering the dimness of the aliens on this planet."
"How long 'til they come to collect us, d'you think?"
"A bit less than five hours," he says. "Plenty of time to come up with a good plan."
"So what d'you suggest?" Rose asks. "A distraction, some complements, and plenty of running?"
The Doctor lays back on the mattress, hand pillowing the back of his head. "Worked for us plenty before."
"Good," she nods. "These lot are a bit dim, like you said, so they'll probably only be one or two guards come to get us, yeah? The same ones who brought us here. So as long as they don't cuff us first... I think we should be free to give them the slip."
The Doctor smirks at her. "You sound like a criminal from one of those really bad 20th century American films." He watches her for a few moments as she leans against the cell wall, her cheek touching the concrete. "You seem confident," he then says quietly.
"I am," she replies determinately.
There is a pause. "Really?" he asks.
She looks down at him; she's trying to seem sure, but something unsettlingly uneasy swirls within her brown eyes. He stares at her for a long moment.
"We'll be alright," she says as sure as she can, "you and me. We're always alright."
He stares at her steadily, sadly. "Will we?"
She opens her mouth, but nothing comes out so she closes it; she has no answer. Not really. A bit like him.
He brakes their gaze and they spend a few minutes in a small silence, broken only by the dripping of a broken water pipe and the scuttling of spiders.
"Would you regenerate?" she asks eventually.
He looks up at her, expression wavering between totally shuttered and totally blank. When it comes to the Doctor, Rose has learned, those could actually be two very different things.
"We'll be alright Rose," he says, as if it is suddenly decided. "I'll make sure we escape."
"But if we don't..." she insists, her head shaking.
There is a pause, and he looks down. "We'll be hanged," he states, his voice hoarse.
She nods, her teeth biting at her lip. "You'd regenerate, yeah?" There is an pause before he nods. "So if we don't get out of this," she says slowly. "You'd... be okay, wouldn't you?"
He frowns slowly, then shakes his head. "I'd never be okay again."
"But you'd regenerate," Rose insists. "You'd be alright. You'd survive ."
"Yes," he says quietly. "But you wouldn't."
"You'll have to tell my mum." She whispers it through the dimness, but it brakes the silence like a scream.
"What?" he says after a brief pause, but she is certain he heard her. They are laying on the mattress, side by side, waiting.
"My mum. If you regenerate, you'll have to go tell her I'm dead." She frowns then. "Might be a bit difficult, 'course. She wouldn't know it was you, with your new face, and you'd have to convince her somehow –"
"Why are you telling me this Rose?" the Doctor interrupts. "No one's dying today."
"It's just a what-if scenario. Gotta look at all the possibilities, haven't you?" She smiles faintly, weakly, and it has disappeared before it's fully formed.
"I thought you were confident in the plan," he says quietly, his eyes staring up at the ceiling.
"I am. But it's always best to have a plan B, isn't it?"
"That isn't a plan B, Rose. That's arrangements for your..." He tries to go on, but he doesn't seem to be able to say it out loud.
She turns slowly to face him, watching the the outline of his face and tracing in her mind the slow hills of his mouth and nose. The shadows in the lines of his face, the meeting of his lips and the irises of his eyes seem more pronounced, darker than usual.
"For my death," she finishes for him.
He turns to face her then, his eyes dark and wide, his lips forming a grim line. "We're not talking about this."
"Why?" Rose swallows. "I just wanted to – to make sure..."
"Stop it," he growls. "It's already bad enough. Don't make it worse." His tone begins to show some of the vulnerability he is feeling towards the last few words.
Rose puts her hand on the left side of his chest. "Sorry," she whispers. Then she meets his eye. "We'll get out. We'll get away."
He smiles; it is forced, but it still feels good to see it on him. "Of course we will."
"Sometimes," says Rose as she traces her finger over the Doctor's lapel, "I... forget."
"Forget? Forget what exactly?" His voice is soft and rough at the same time, thrumming and tickling her as it is with his Adams apple right by her ear. "How desperately handsome and clever I can be at times, all the time?" She can't seem him, but she knows he is smiling.
She giggles. "No," she says steadily. "You remind me of that much too often for me to ever forget it."
"Quite right," he agrees, laughing, and there is a pause. He waits, patiently, for her to continue.
Rose swallows before going on. "I forget... how... alien you are sometimes."
The Doctor is very still for a long few moments, the fast beating hearts the only reaction she feels against him. "Well," he says eventually. "I suppose that can be easy to forget at times. I'm not very alien looking to you after all, am I?"
"No," Rose agrees.
"And I look a bit human... even when I don't act it."
"Yeah," she nods.
"I can pass for human easily."
"And, you know, it's okay, because.... there are, actually, times, occasionally, when... when I look at you sometimes, and... I do. I forget, too." The air is suddenly thick with anticipation, tension and something close to fear, yet not quite.
Then he laughs, laughs at the strain. It tickles against her hair. "Silly, that, isn't it? How can anyone forget who they are?"
There is a pronounced pause. Rose can almost hear the ticking away of the seconds. "I think I have," she says. "I think I forgot who I was a long time ago."
The Doctor's head shifts and she knows he is looking down at her. "You're not so different from what you were."
Rose frowns, suddenly torn between being angry with him for thinking that and being relieved with him for thinking that. "Aren't I?" she asks, because she doesn't really think he is being truly honest.
"Well," he stretches the word. "You don't look that different."
Rose laughs. "Course, Doctor. Once again I'm flawed by your logic. Still got the same skin I always have; same clothes, same hair – "
"You've had that cut."
"True," she admits. "But it's still the same... just shorter. Same eyes, nose, ears, lips –"
"– knack for trouble, guarantee for going wandering off –"
"Hey!" Rose admonishes playfully, "I thought this was just what I looked like!"
"Same cheek, same annoying habits..."
"Same silly alien," she says, and looks into his face with a smile. Her fingers go forth to whisper against his hair.
"Same?" he questions with a frown, and she knows he is thinking of big ears and leather jackets.
"Same," she determines. "Or the same but different." Then she laughs. "Bit like me."
He frowns slightly, and his hand touches hers where she is stroking his hair. "I think I like you same but different. I like you as you are. It's not so bad really."
She stares at him for a moment, before suddenly grinning hugely. "You're not so bad yourself," she says. He grins back at her, cheeks meeting his ears.
"Not so bad," he repeats, and he seems happy enough with that.
Things are getting difficult. Neither of them are laying down anymore, and Rose is restless. She sits on the bed, tapping her fingers against the cell walls, head nodding up and down to nothing.
The Doctor, however, is not moving at all. It's reached the point where Rose is actually becoming a little worried. He's sitting on the end of the bed, staring straight ahead; his face is so blank, it looks empty. He's been that way for at least twenty minutes, almost as if he has either gone somewhere else, somewhere inside himself, or possibly he is thinking very hard of an escape. Rose really hopes it's the latter.
"Doctor?" she says cautiously for what must be the tenth time.
Finally, she goes to kneel beside him.
"Doctor, talk to me." She pauses. "Are you alright?"
It is on a rare occasion she sees him so vulnerable and shuttered at the same time, but apparently this is one of those times. She's never really seen it in this body before.
She sighs. "Doctor, if you don't start talking to me soon, I'm gonna.... I'll... I'll make you."
She sighs again. "Doctor," she touches his arm, "Doctor, please . Tell me what you're thinking about. If anything."
Finally, finally , in a movement so sudden she almost jumps he looks up at her and blinks. "What?"
She laughs in relief because he looks so confused. "You! You zoned out for almost half an hour!"
"I did? Sorry," he says with a frown, looking away, "I was thinking."
"Well, that'd explain the burning smell then," she says with a wry smile.
It's actually a moment before he gets it. "Oi! I think my own thinking abilities far outwit your own."
She shrugs. "You'd think."
He smiles for a second. But then the frown is back and the moment's lost.
"What were you thinking about?" she asks after a silence.
"Life," he replies quietly, eyes far away. "The universe. Escape. Regeneration. Companions. You. Enemies. Hope.... Death."
Rose laughs nervously. "Quite a party going on in there then," she says, tapping his head. He doesn't even smile. She sighs. "Doctor, what's the matter? And none of that 'I'm always alright' crap, either. Just say it. Tell me."
He doesn't reply.
"Doctor, come on. We're stuck in this cell for god knows how much longer – we have time to kill."
The reaction she gets is not at all what she was anticipating. His head whips around to face her so quickly, she's not sure he even moved. His eyes are suddenly burning into her; they're angry and afraid and hurting and searing all at once.
"Don't," he finally says, his voice so quiet she almost misses it. "Don't say that. Because you don't understand, do you? Humans – you're constantly talking of killing time – time to kill, time to waste – but that's nothing. That's not what's happening. You don't kill time – time kills you. Slowly. Quietly. So quiet, so slow, you can't even tell it's happening until you start to see the scars. But then you do see – you know it when it happens. To you or to a loved one – someone's time runs out. It's not so slow anymore..." he looks away, "and there's bugger all you can do about it."
She stares at him, saying nothing for a while. "Doctor," she finally says quietly, desperately, "Doctor, I'm not going anywhere." He looks at her, frowns. "I won't die today. And... I'll make sure it's a long time before I do. I will. I swear it." She grabs each of his cheeks in her palms, forcing him to look at her. "I promise I won't die if I can help it."
She doesn't add, of course, that the only exception for that rule would be if she needs to sacrifice herself in some way to keep him alive. He probably wouldn't appreciate it if she told him now.
The Doctor's eyes skit down to the bed, away from her eyes. "You can't keep that promise, Rose."
"I can try!" she insists stubbornly. She sees him laugh huskily, watches as it turns bitter, and brings her arms around his chest. "I will," she whispers over and over again into his ear. "I promise."
He hugs her back, tighter, and they fall back onto the mattress, tangled in each other's arms. The Doctor's heartbeats are quick and his breaths are heavy.
They quieten eventually, but she still won't let go, and neither will he.
She holds him for a very long time.
"How long now, d'you think?"
"Twenty, thirty minutes maybe."
Rose bites on her lip, nerves twisting her stomach. "That's not very long."
"No," he agrees.
She frowns thoughtfully for a moment, unconsciously running her hand over the Doctor's lapel and resting her head against his chest. "Doctor, can I tell you something?"
"I..." she sighs. "I love this, you know," she says earnestly, "I love... travelling with you."
"Yes," he says slowly. "You've said that before."
"I know, but I wanted to let you know again, let you know that it's not just the beautiful stuff you take me that I love. But the stuff like this, too. As long as I'm with you... I love it. All of it."
"Right," he says, and to her disappointment it sounds rather flat. "And you just thought to say that now, because... it's the right time, is it?"
She frowns. "Yeah."
"And has nothing to do with the possibility of being hung, I'm sure," he says, sounding a little angry.
She sighs and looks away. "You're being stupid."
He snorts. "Of course I am. I'm the one being stupid –!"
"You are!" she retorts angrily. "I'm just... well, we've been in here for hours. I was just making conversation." She turns her head away stubbornly.
It hurts. It always hurts with him. But then, this is what she gets, she thinks to herself, for falling in love with the man who showed her the end of the world.
He sighs beside her and his hand moves back around her waist bringing closer. "I'm know," he says quietly, and she nods even she's not entirely sure what he means exactly. "I love it, too," he says softly. "All of it."
"Good," she says quietly. "Because I'll make sure I'll be travelling with you for a long, long time."
The door opens suddenly, bringing in a cool breeze and making Rose jump in the peace she had been sharing in the Doctor's arms. A large eclipse stands at the door, blocking out any light. They look up, and see not one or two guards standing in the doorway, but five of them. The Doctor tenses beside Rose, and slowly they unravel themselves to stand up.
"You will come with us now," one of them says calmly. "It's time."
Rose swallows. This is something they had not anticipated. Two guards might have been a little difficult to get away from, but five? This is not good at all.
"Wow, five of you," says the Doctor as they reach the door. "Anyone would think you didn't trust us."
The don't reply, don't even acknowledge him. They simply grip them both by the arm and begin to pull them down a long, narrow corridor. The walls are a dark black, reminding Rose of starless nights.
She looks up at the Doctor. Their time in the cell was nothing to what he looks now; he looks like nothing she's ever seen before. Fear; crippled anger; self loathing – they radiate from his eyes, searing into her. It scares her more than she can say.
A man, young and expressionless, leads her up the wooden steps. The boards creek; her fists clench. The noose sways gently, innocently, in the breeze. Her breath hitches and she tries to take a step back, stopped by the man gripping her arm. Panic seizes her.
No, not now.
("I won't die today. And... I'll make sure it's a long time before I do. I will. I swear it." She grabs each of his cheeks in her palms, forcing him to look at her. "I promise I won't die if I can help it.")
Tears break free. It can't be the end. She promised.
She gets a glimpse of the sky, of the crowd, of the Doctor being led towards the scaffolding, waiting. As their eyes lock for the last time she sees his face is the most terrified she has ever seen it. She tries to tell him all she can with a look (I'm sorry. It's not your fault. Wouldn't have missed it for anything. I love you) , but before she can a bag is placed over her head. Darkness surrounds her as she is led forward and feels the rope as it slips around her neck.
("Come on, you're wasting time. I don't much fancy a noose around my neck, and the bag they'll put on our head will ruin my hair." )
It feels like she's falling; falling through the darkness. She feels a dampness in her eyes, run onto her cheeks. She chokes back a large lump that has formed in her throat. Her entire body is shaking. Her mouth opens, and she thinks of the Doctor.
I love you, she thinks and suddenly knows it really is the end.
Her breath hitches and she whispers. "Doctor, I love you." It gives her strength. Louder; "I love you." She takes a last breath and shouts, "Doctor, I love you! I love you! Doc–"
"Rose, ROSE! " Utter devastation, desperation, rips through his throat like torn paper as he stares up at the scaffolding where a lone figure stands on the trapdoor, rope around her neck. He pulls desperately against the restraints of the burly arms gripping him back. "No –! Let me go! Let go – Please –! No – ROSE!"
It all hurts, and Rasilon, please no, it can't end like this! Because of him. Because of his silly, stupid, worthless mistake. This isn't fair. She can't – not now. She promised – she promised!
No, no, no, no! No, please, Rose! No!!
His thoughts whiz through his head, loud and screaming, until they tear from his throat in a loud strangled sob.
He struggles. He screams. He shouts. Then he listens. He frowns, his ears prick. Did she just say –? Did he hear that right? Did –?
She drops like a pebble in a pond, stopping abruptly with a crack like breaking wood. She sways gently, rocking back and forth in the wind. The only sound is the creaking of the wood and the rope.
He stops suddenly, numb. Empty. The fight leaves him.
He falls to the ground and breaks. He doesn't struggle as they lead him to his death. It's over. She's gone.
A/N: And now I feel so crappy, I may have to write a sequel and fix it. *sighs*