Title: Welcome to Julsted (3/6: Follow Me)
Running for their lives again, and wasn't that typical? The goat was new, but this...this was all so familiar. Watching him up ahead, dragging her mother along, his feet barely touching the ground, Rose felt an insane urge to laugh. That tall, unfathomable man—he was made for running, and she was made for chasing after.
Rose caught the slight turn of his head as he checked that she was still behind him, and the unmistakable gleam of excitement in his thousand-year-old eyes, and the choked giggle did escape her then, in between gasps for air.
She was startled at the noise. It sounded like a sob.
"This is all your fault!" Jackie was shouting at the Doctor, continuing the litany that began with the first sighting of the monster. "Trouble! Wherever you go!"
"Oi!" he shot back aiming for annoyed but landing closer to amused, "This appears to have been going on long before I was...ah... born, so I don't see how-"
"Left!" Rose bellowed suddenly, and the Doctor, who was already in the process of veering right, nearly knocked Jackie off her feet as he hooked round.
"Careful, Jackie!" he said, almost certainly just to bait her, and went on, "Anyway, this has nothing to do with-"
"Shut up!" Rose yelled. "We're going to be eaten!"
Oh, but he was trying so hard not to look thrilled at the prospect. How fun.
Just ahead, on the right, was a sporting goods store, the front of which gleamed with floor-to-ceiling windows. The window display was decked out for Christmas, and the the red awnings were bowing under the weight of the snow.
"There!" Rose shouted, and then slower, butchering the Norwegian, "...Idrett Gods...Lager."
The Doctor actually laughed at her, and she sent him an exasperated look as they all skidded to a halt in the mud, between a sign that was presumably advertising specials, and a small potted Christmas tree. Rose rattled the door handle. Locked.
"Here," the Doctor said, reaching inside his breast pocket, and then froze.
"What?" Rose said, impatient.
"Ahhh, sonic..." the Doctor said, mostly to himself. Suddenly, he was looking rather lost. "He has my..."
From the sound of things, the monster was gaining on them, crashing down a too-narrow street. There was the not-too-distant sound of shattering glass. Rose looked away toward the noise, back at the Doctor.
"Boost me," she said.
"What?" he said, dazed, looking at his hands.
Rose gestured at the small, propped-open window above the door. "Boost me up there or we're going to die."
He looked. "You're not going to fit through-"
But the way she scowled at him then was enough to stop even him talking, and he laced his fingers together, bending so that she could step into his hands. She placed a muddy shoe in the makeshift stirrup and grabbed the edge of the window with one white-knuckled hand, climbing up the Doctor like a ladder. She jabbed a knee into his shoulder, and he groaned.
"Hurry up," Jackie hissed, and Rose hoisted herself into the window, hung awkwardly for a moment, half in and half out, and then wriggled through, falling not quite gracefully to the linoleum floor inside. Jackie and the Doctor winced sympathetically, but there really wasn't time for that, as the monster rounded onto their street and charged.
Jackie immediately began pounding on the door, and Rose pushed herself upright, throwing the bolt. Jackie wasted no time in barreling past her, but the Doctor just stood quietly in the street, staring at the oncoming beast.
"Oh, you beauty," he whispered.
"Come on!" Rose yelled, and yanked him through the door by his sleeve. She slammed the door shut, and they could see the subtle bowing of the glass as the monster bounded toward them—the surface oscillated with each footfall, in, out, in...
Jackie ducked behind a tower of gardening supplies—packets of seeds, trowels, potting soil—and squeezed her eyes shut against the thundering sound of the monster's approach.
"Stay there," Rose said to Jackie.
"Where else am I going to go?" Jackie snapped, and Rose rolled her eyes reflexively as she shoved the Doctor under the checkout counter before cramming herself in after him.
"No need to manhandle-" the Doctor said, but the monster's bulk was suddenly filling the storefront, and Rose reached out and covered his mouth with her fingertips. Her breath hitched a bit at the contact, but she looked away from his gently startled look and locked eyes with her mother across the room, placing a finger to her lips. Be quiet.
Terrified, crouching in the window behind what suddenly seemed like laughably insufficient cover, Jackie nodded. Outside, the monster snuffled, pacing. It raked a horn down the glass and they all winced at the high-pitched sound. Rose looked back at the Doctor, suddenly very aware that her fingers were still pressed against his lips, and pulled her hand back like it burned. He seemed like he was about to say something, and she leaned forward, but the monster grew impatient then, throwing its full weight against the glass with a sharp sound, like a thunderclap, like sheets of metal in the wind, and they all jumped. The glass splintered but remained intact, a web of cracks blossomed from the point of impact.
The monster pressed its face to the glass and breathed big mushrooming patches of steam on the window, and Rose was suddenly realizing she had a matter of seconds to figure out what to do once it was inside, but then it turned, staring off down the street as though something had caught its attention. And before anyone realized what was happening, it was gone.
There was a silence then, and they imagined the sounds of it returning, but it never did, and the Doctor looked out from under the desk. Rose and Jackie waited tensely and he stood. He went to the door.
"It's gone," he said.
It was full dark outside, and Rose wasn't sure, as she came to stand behind him, if he was peering out into the streets, searching, or just staring at his own reflection.
Rose left Jackie filling a basket in the camping section and quietly went to find the Doctor. She found him leaning on the front counter and just stopped, watching him. He looked older, sadder, she realized. But then, so did she.
He was slowly turning a spinner of reading glasses, one pair already on. He took them off and tried on another pair. Square rimmed with a subtle tortoise shell pattern. He studied himself in the small mirror at the top of the display, tight lipped.
"Go with those, definitely," Rose said, and he jumped. He whipped the glasses off, but after a moment's hesitation, tucked them away in his jacket.
Rose saw that he'd removed the back panel of the cash register and pulled out various bits and bobs, dumping them in one of his many bags of liberated consumer electronics. The longer they stayed the larger the pile seemed to be getting. Rose didn't comment.
"Jackie find what she was looking for?" he said.
"She's digging through a pile of freeze-dried meals with names like "storfekjøtt stroganof" as we speak..."
The corners of his mouth quirked upwards. "Sounds like you're in for a treat, as you grew up on her cooking."
Rose ducked her head to hide a smile. "Quite right."
An awkward silence, and suddenly Rose was fishing through her pockets. "Here," she said, tossing something to the Doctor, who caught it reflexively. A bright, blue-handled Phillips head screwdriver. He looked up blankly.
"Until you can build a new one," Rose said, suddenly self-conscious. "You'll have to make due. Like the rest of us humans."
The Doctor swallowed hard, his expression unreadable, and slipped the screwdriver into his breast pocket. "Thanks."
Rose blustered on. "Come on, let's go collect mum before she wanders off."
She turned without waiting for an answer, and he followed, reaching up to touch the screwdriver through his jacket, hand over his single heart.
They came upon Jackie, kneeling among a forest of winter coats, loading a portable propane stove and kettle into a large canvas backpack. She sat back to survey an impossible pile of camp meals.
"Blimey," Rose said, "Not optimistic about us getting rescued, then, are you?
Jackie gave her that particular look that mothers reserve for daughters and began tossing all of the packets of food into her bag. The Doctor, staying out of this one, drifted off a ways and began rifling through the jackets. He pulled out something long and brown, held it up, and after a moment of consideration, put it back.
Jackie watched Rose watching him. Interrupted. "Rose, shift that tent. Just there. See if you can lift it."
Following Jackie's gesture, Rose laid eyes on an enormous collapsed tent.
"We're not sleeping in a tent, mum," she said, exasperated. "There's a bloody inn three streets over."
The Doctor glanced at her, amused.
"All right!" Jackie said, cinching the bag shut with unnecessary force. "There's no need to be like that! I'm just trying to help."
Jackie stood, brushing herself off. Gentler, now. "Was it always like this? All those years with him?"
The Doctor had shrugged into a black wool jacket, and as he turned the collar up experimentally, he looked at Rose. She glanced back briefly, and there was a warmth in her eyes that he recognized from that other time, that other life.
"Yeah, pretty much," she said.
Rose reached down to grab the backpack and heft it onto one shoulder.
"And you still went back," Jackie said. "You left your family-"
"Yes," Rose said, ending the conversation. The Doctor absently did up his buttons, thinking about Jackie waiting for Rose while they went running off across the universe. He owed her. A lifetime's worth of fear and goodbyes...and Rose was always too happy to go skipping off after him.
"Come on, let's-" Rose said, but the resounding sound of breaking glass at the front of the store cut her short, and for a moment they all froze. The Doctor and Rose whirled to look at each other, and she caught his intention in his wide, slightly mad eyes...
Too late. He was already running toward the storefront.
"Ohhh, give me a break," Rose growled, ripping the backpack off and shoving it into Jackie's arms. "Take this, out the back. Run straight to the inn and we'll meet you there."
Jackie shook her head, trying to hand the bag back. "I'm not leaving you."
"Oh God, please don't argue with me," Rose said, looking toward where he'd disappeared. "Out the back mum, please!"
Jackie gave her daughter one last, agonized look and ran out the back exit, tripping the alarm, and Rose charged after the Doctor, terrified, her heart in her throat. She couldn't lose him, not now, not like this, not again.