The Series 3 AU with Rose continues! This is a sequel to my stories from "The Girl in the Stalking Spaceship", to "Doomsday Averted", all the way through the AU Series 3 up until "Human Nature".
Beta'd by maven13 and Anjirika.
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 ;)
Chapter 1 - The Best Offense Is "Run"
Jenny pressed the gun harder to Rose's head. "Make your decision, Mr. Smith," she ordered.
John could hardly breathe. All he wanted was to get Rose away to safety. Forget about the insanity and make sure she was safe. They could figure out what was going on later.
Far from here.
"Take me," John begged, taking half a step towards Baines. "Let her go and you can have me." Anything to keep her safe. "Kill me, if you must have blood."
Little Lucy laughed, a bubbly, childish laugh that would have fit her appearance in other circumstances. "That's still no use," she said.
"Perhaps," Baines mused, "if the human heart breaks, the Time Lord will emerge."
Suddenly, at the words "Time Lord", John felt a sort of... power. Images, like those from his dreams, filled his mind. Then it was gone almost as soon as it had started.
But the Family seemed affected as well. "It's him!" Baines shouted with a hungry light in his eyes.
Lucy pointed off to the side of the room. "The boy!" she exclaimed.
But whatever the source of the disturbance, Rose was able to use it to slip away from Jenny, stealing her gun in the process. "Drop the gun, or I will shoot," Rose told them, aiming at Baines who quickly shifted his gun towards her and away from John.
"Oh, the maid is full of fire!" the boy jeered.
"Careful, Son of Mine," Mr. Clarke warned, eyeing Rose cautiously. "This is all for you, so that you can live forever."
Rose stepped back towards John. "I said, drop it!" she told Baines.
Baines shifted his gaze back to John. John couldn't guess what he was thinking, but Baines lowered his gun.
"Doctor, get everyone out," Rose said, still holding the Family at gunpoint.
John looked at her, but was too preoccupied with her insistence on calling him "Doctor" to follow her instructions.
"John, I mean you!" She corrected herself exasperatedly. "Get everyone away from here."
John knew he was entirely out of his depth with whatever this situation was. But he still didn't want to leave her side. "I can't leave you, Rose," he said.
"You've got students out here, yeah?" Rose asked. John had seen several in the hall. "You've got a responsibility to them, to get 'em back to the school. Now, go!"
John nodded, knowing she was right. "Everybody out, now!" he called to the room at large. "Be careful, Rose," he added before turning and heading for the door. It sounded to his ears just as woefully inadequate as he himself felt in that moment.
Most of the villagers were already through the doors by the time John got there. They were quickly clearing the street, but some were heading into the village rather than away from it.
"Not the village," John called. Something told him that would be just as dangerous as staying in the hall. He grabbed the sleeve of the nearest villager he recognized. "Mr. Hicks," he instructed, "go through the village. Get everyone out, head for the woods."
The man nodded and ran off.
John turned back to the hall and noticed Timothy Latimer standing nearby, staring at him. "Latimer, get back to the school," John told him. "Tell the headmaster -"
But even as John's hand reached out towards the boy, Tim backed quickly away. "Don't touch me!" Tim shouted, eyes wide in fear. "You're as bad as them!" Then he turned and ran off towards the woods.
John stood still, shocked, as he recalled images of death and destruction from the Doctor's adventures. It was almost as if Tim had thrown the pictures at his mind, and for some reason, they filled John with guilt.
He came quickly back to himself when he heard a shout from the hall. "Get the gun!"
A moment later, Rose came running out of the doors. "Why're you still here?" she demanded, but before he could answer she had taken his hand and was pulling him off into the woods, running back towards the school.
They hardly spoke a word as they ran through the woods and that was just fine with Rose. John was with her, and they were heading back to the school and his watch. As soon as they opened it he'd be the Doctor again, and they'd be able to figure out what to do about the Family.
Chivalrously offering his life for hers was all well and good, but John only had the one, as far as Rose knew.
As they entered the school, Rose made to head up the stairs to John's rooms, but John pulled away. He picked up the class bell and started ringing it, shouting, "Take arms! Take arms!"
"John?" Rose asked warningly. "What're you doin'? We need to get your watch."
John looked away from her, obstinately ringing the bell.
One of the boys ran up to him. Rose recognized him as Hutchinson. "I say sir, what's the matter?" the student asked.
"Enemy at the door, Hutchinson," John told him gravely. "Enemy at the door. Take arms!"
"John?" Rose asked again, as Hutchinson ran off. "They're not after the school, they're after you," she told him, as he continued ringing the bell. Now was really not the time for him to start ignoring her, she thought. "And you can't fight them, unless you're the Doctor."
"Maybe one man can't fight them," he answered her, lowering the bell for a moment to glance in her direction. "But this school teaches us to stand together." He turned away and continued the alarm. "Take arms! Take arms!"
"Fine" Rose ground out. She left him there, and raced up the staircase alone. He could stay there and play John Smith. She was going to get that watch.
Unfortunately, when she finally made it to his rooms and ran to the mantelpiece, the watch was gone. "No, no, no!" Rose said to herself as she began shifting papers and books to look for it. It had been right there every time she had looked for it before. He shouldn't have moved it. That's what the perception filter was for, wasn't it? So he'd keep it safe and not open it?
Maybe he'd taken it with him, Rose thought, after searching every level surface in the room. If he was supposed to keep it safe, maybe he hadn't wanted to leave it while he was in town. She ran back down the corridor. But why hadn't he pulled out the watch when she'd first mentioned it at the dance, she wondered. Maybe he was just too confused...
She found him, not far from the entrance where she had left him. He was giving directions to the boys amidst sandbags and guns and ammunition. When he noticed her, he directed her back out of the room. "Rose, it's not safe. Wait in my rooms -"
"Where's the watch, John?" she interrupted, trying to keep her voice calm to keep her own panic at bay. The Family were here, they needed the Doctor back, now.
John gripped her arms and sighed, closing his eyes briefly. "There's no time for this, Rose," he said. He looked urgently at her. "Mr. Philips has already been murdered and they're preparing to advance on the school."
"I'm sorry," Rose said, and she meant it. "But that's why we need the watch," she insisted. "Have you got it? 'Cause if you don't, we need to get outta here and back to the TARDIS. Scan for alien tech or somethin'."
"I need," John corrected her, "to stay here with my students. And you need to stay in the safety of the school. This is a defensible position -"
"Defensible?" Rose said, looking around at the students. "They're just boys -" she tried to tell him, but John was in full schoolteacher mode, more than she'd ever seen him.
"They are cadets, Rose," he told her, "trained to defend the King and all his properties."
Couldn't he see he was deluding himself, Rose thought. "They're just scared boys," she repeated. "They can't win, and they shouldn't have to fight this battle. The Doctor wouldn't -"
"I am Not. That. Man!" John shouted at her.
He seemed just as shocked as Rose at his outburst, and stepped back from her, breathing heavily. Rose wondered what it was that made him so vehement. Was it as simple as clinging to what he thought was the truth? Or did he really not want to become the Doctor as he had come to know him?
"I must do my duty," he said, quietly. "I don't have the luxury of living in a dream world."
He didn't know how wrong he was, Rose thought. He was about to return to the fight, when Rose asked, "Right then, tell me 'bout Nottingham."
"Sorry?" he asked, turning back to her, confusion clear in his face.
Rose hated to do this, but she couldn't see any other way to convince him, not as long as he had the John Smith persona to hide behind. "'S where you said we grew up, so tell me about it," she insisted.
She could tell she had caught him well off his guard. He answered hesitantly. "Well, it lies on the River Leen, its southern boundary following the course of the River Trent which flows from Stoke to the Humber."
That's original, she thought. "Where'd we live?" Rose asked, prompting him further.
"Broadmoor Street, adjacent to Hotley Terrace in the district of Radford Parade," John rattled off.
She shook her head. "You sound like an encyclopedia," she told him. "Where'd you play as a kid, 'fore I showed up? All those secret little places that aren't in any atlases or history books? Rememember all those wonderful little moments from your childhood that only you would know?" She had to break through. Show him that it was just a facade. "Tell me, John," she asked, when he failed to answer. "Try and tell me."
"There was... the Arboretum," he stuttered, "and, and..." Rose watched as his face fell, and she could see he had come up empty. Abruptly he stepped towards her, obviously hurt by her implications. "How can you think that I'm not real?" he asked quietly but insistently. "When I kissed you, was that a lie?"
"No," Rose answered. And that was what was breaking her heart.
"But this Doctor," John continued, "he sounds like some... some romantic lost prince. Would you rather that?" he asked her desperately. "Am I not enough?"
"But you are him," Rose whispered, wishing he could just see it. Here he was, asking her to love him for himself, but that was all she was doing to begin with.
He looked at her, his face unreadable, but then said, "I've got to go," and turned away.
"Those boys out there - they're children," Rose called, and he stopped, listening with his back towards her. She had to stop him somehow, Rose realized, even if it meant playing along with his stubborn delusion. "John Smith wouldn't want them to fight, never mind the Doctor," she said, forcefully. "The John Smith I was gettin' to know again? He knows it's wrong, doesn't he?" she demanded.
He turned and stepped towards her then, but halted as the headmaster called for him. "What choice to I have?" he asked, brokenly. He reached for her, kissing her quickly but desperately before moving off to head back to the defense.
Rose watched him go, torn as to what she should try next. John didn't have a choice. His programming told him his duty lay with the school. And what could she do? She couldn't very well overpower him and drag him back to the TARDIS. And if she left him here alone, what would that accomplish? She didn't know that she could run any kind of scan, not with the TARDIS shut down and unable to help her. She had been hoping that seeing the ship would help snap John out of his fantasy...
Rose covered her ears as gunfire echoed through the school, and her mind was made up. She ran towards the sound, determined at least to try and keep John alive through this mess. If they could keep the Family at bay, maybe they could still make it to the TARDIS later.
But before she had even reached him, she heard his voice, ordering the retreat.
Boys streamed by her and then John himself appeared. "I'll not see this happen. Not anymore," he said, apologetically. "They've killed the headmaster."
She could see the guilt plainly in his face as she reached for his hand. "Let's get the boys out," she told him.
He nodded and gripped her hand tightly as they moved back through the school, enforcing the evacuation.
To be continued.