Title: Take it Back
Betas: iluvmusicals and Ruth!
Disclaimer: If I owned Doctor Who, I would go mad with power. It's a good thing I don't.
Summary: A series of missing scenes taking place during The Impossible Planet and Satan's Pit. The Doctor and Rose struggle to say the right thing when faced with their demons.
"Okay, we're on a planet that shouldn't exist, underneath a black hole with no way out. Yeah, I've changed my mind. Start worryin' about me."
Silently, the Doctor takes Rose into his arms. She clutches half-heartedly at his back, and he knows that she's not entirely there with him. Her mind is racing with the implications of their situation. The Doctor, on the other hand, finds himself incapable of focusing on anything except for one devastating thought.
I've trapped her here.
Guilt washes over him, but without the rush of problem-solving creativity that normally accompanies it. As a rule, he would have invented a hundred different escape scenarios by this point, but this time is different. This time feels final.
Rose mumbles something into his lapel.
"Uh dummfph iphf bmmphfff."
"What? What was that? Are you speaking Old Ssskuffftoorian?" the Doctor questions, releasing Rose from his embrace.
"What's Old Ssskuffftoorian?" his companion asks, her eyebrows drawn together as her tongue trips over the unfamiliar word.
"The language of the Ssskuffftoor race. Lovely people, but the atmosphere on their planet has the density of cooking oil. Breathable, but they had to learn to speak through it. The entire language is just a series of muffled grunts. Wellll, I suppose you could say that of any language. Especially the Judoon—"
"Doctor?" comes the voice of a very patiently suffering human.
The Doctor glances down at Rose and shrewdly detects that she might not be in the mood for a lecture on universal linguistics at the present time.
"…so, not Old Ssskuffftoorian, then?" he ventures.
Rose shakes her head.
"I said, 'I take it back,'" she repeats.
He raises an eyebrow.
"Sorry? Take what back?"
"I don't want you to worry about me," she clarifies.
"Bit fickle today, aren't you?" the Doctor quips.
"Yeah, well, bein' on a planet that shouldn't exist will do that to you, I guess."
The Doctor takes a deep breath and releases it slowly before pulling Rose back into a hug.
"Sorry, no takesies backsies. I'm worried about you. Deal with it," he mutters into her hair, allowing himself to enjoy the feel of his arms around her.
The moment is short-lived, however, as Rose pushes gently on his chest until he releases her.
"I mean it," she says firmly.
The Doctor frowns, peering at her as he would a difficult puzzle.
"I signed up for this. You've shown me the universe. Every day has been a lifetime of experiences," she continues, pinning him with an unusually solemn look.
"Yes, culminating in this experience. Stuck two thousand years and several galaxies from home," he adds peevishly.
He looks away, feeling petulant but really not caring. At the sensation of her hand on his arm, he meets her eyes again.
"I don't regret a thing," she says. "If I'm stuck here, then I'm stuck. I'm used to bein' stuck. I spent the first nineteen years of my life stuck."
The Doctor makes to interject, but Rose silences him with a slight shake of her head.
"It's you I'm worried about," she reveals cautiously.
The Doctor jabs an accusatory finger into the air in front of Rose, shaking her hand free of his arm in the process.
"No. Absolutely not. Rose Tyler, I forbid you from worrying about me at a time like this," he commands.
"Since when has you forbiddin' me from doin' something ever stopped me?"
The Doctor swallows whatever he was planning on saying next and lets out an irritated huff.
"I did this to you. I won't have you fretting over my feelings."
He spits out the last word as if it is exceptionally distasteful. The smirk falls away from Rose's lips and she reaches out for him once more, this time gently grasping his hand. Their fingers interlace automatically.
"I know how much she means to you," she says softly.
She doesn't actually say 'the TARDIS,' which the Doctor appreciates. Words have power, and he's not sure he can handle hearing that particular word at this particular moment. She also used the present tense, which he appreciates even more. His ship is still alive; he can feel it.
She's saying all the right things, and yet he wants to shout at her. He wants to tell her that the last thing she should be worrying about is his wellbeing. He wants to shake her and make her realize that he has absolutely ruined her life and she should never forgive him.
But he knows that he could do all of those things and she would tell him she was worried about him just the same.
So instead of shouting or shaking her, he silently gathers her back in his arms, and this time she doesn't fight him. They stand that way for a long time.
He is absolutely terrified, and it has nothing to do with the black hole or the loss of the TARDIS. It has everything to do with the small blonde sitting across from him and the scenario that she just laid out.
Sharing a mortgage.
He, the Doctor, settling down on one single planet in a static timeline and working a nine-to-five job like a normal person. Like a human. With Rose. It's the life Rose would have had if he hadn't come along and stolen her away from her family.
Thinking of Rose's family only makes matters worse. He feels a sharp twinge in both of his hearts.
"I promised Jackie I'd always take you back home," he sighs.
"Everyone leaves home in the end," Rose says sagely.
"Not to end up stuck here," the Doctor points out.
Again, she doesn't skip a beat.
"Yeah, but stuck here with you, that's not so bad."
He can hardly believe his ears.
"Yes," she assures him firmly, giving him a brilliant smile that the Doctor can't help but return.
Her phone rings, and it's odd because they've just established that it has no signal. Rose answers a bit hesitantly, only to throw the phone across the room a second later.
"Rose?" the Doctor prompts.
Her eyes remain fixed on the phone, as if it might spring back and attack them.
"Rose, what did it say?" the Doctor asks.
"Nothing. Wrong number," she brushes him off.
"Rose—" he tries again.
"I take it back," she interjects.
The Doctor pauses, thrown by the sudden change in subject.
"What? Are we back on this again?" he asks impatiently. Then, sighing, "Fine. I'm not worried about you. Not even the eensiest, weensiest little bit. Not a smidge; not an ounce. Rose who? That's what I say. Rose Tyler? Name doesn't ring a bell. Ohhh, wait. Blonde girl? Chucked her out of the base. Always saying things only to take them back. Wears on you."
The Doctor finishes his rant with a flourish, and looks over to see Rose glowering at him.
"Are you finished?" she asks.
"Quite," the Doctor replies with a satisfied nod.
"Right then, I meant about us gettin' a mortgage together," she explains.
"Oh," the Doctor blurts out.
He knows that the appropriate response is utter relief; it would make sense, what with the mind-numbing terror he felt moments ago when she'd suggested sharing a house. Yet a part of him, the part that is rather impressed with himself and rather attached to Rose, can't help feeling a bit put out that she doesn't want him. They have, after all, essentially been living together for the last two years in the TARDIS. Now, suddenly, just because of a little thing like his no longer being able to offer her the whole of time and space she was planning to up and leave him?
"I'm embarrassed I even suggested it. I mean, I'm twenty years old. Who gets a mortgage at twenty?" she goes on.
There was the utter relief that the Doctor had been expecting a moment earlier. Funny it should come now. She didn't want to share a mortgage because she didn't want a mortgage, period. It was nothing to do with him.
"And you! Only nine hundred. You can't possibly settle down yet!"
She manages to say it without the hint of a smile, but the Doctor can't hide his grin.
"Quite right," he beams at her. "So then, Rose Tyler, what will we do once we get off this rock?"
Rose ponders this for a moment before nodding resolutely.
"You'll sonic us some money and we'll buy ourselves a proper ship," she announces.
"Oi! The TARDIS is a proper ship!" the Doctor grouses, but Rose isn't listening.
"Then we'll do what we do best," she continues.
"Tap dance?" the Doctor suggests huffily.
"Travel, get into trouble, save the world," she lists matter-of-factly.
The Doctor can't stay mad at her. Not when she's painting such a lovely vision of their future.
"And where would we go first?" he asks, a smile threatening the corners of his mouth.
She raises her eyebrows at him.
"You're the expert. I'm sure there's plenty to explore in the year…"
Her voice trails off, and she gives the Doctor a significant look. He takes his cue, sticking a finger in his mouth and then holding it up, as if testing the direction of a nonexistent breeze.
"Hmm… must be… four thousand. Give or take," he concludes.
Rose nods decisively.
"Right. Year 4000. Plenty of trouble to find, yeah?" she proposes.
He considers her question. The year 4000 wasn't without promise. Humans were in their Third Great Era of Exploration. There would be plenty of opportunities to boldly go and all that. Still…
"It wouldn't be the same. We'd be stuck in this galaxy. Traveling at the speed of light will feel positively stagnant compared to the TARDIS. And we could never make it back to Earth," he cautions.
She turns back to the black hole, showing him only her profile. From this angle, her expression is unreadable; he can only imagine what she's thinking. It seems like she stares up at the sky for an eternity, but it's probably closer to ten seconds. Still, it's long enough for the Doctor to conclude that the horrible truth had finally dawned on her: they were well and truly stranded and it was entirely his fault. Any moment now she was going to turn back to him and he would see anguish and accusation in her eyes.
Something changes in her face. It takes the Doctor a second to realize that she's smiling. Then, all at once, she's grinning directly at him.
"Who needs Earth? I've got you," she says simply.
He means to frown, but the corners of his mouth are tugged upwards by invisible strings and he finds himself returning her smile without meaning to.
"How can you be this way?" he asks, honestly bewildered.
"I'm sorry, you'll have to be more specific. How can I be what way? Charming? Witty? Fantastic?" she teases.
When he fails to tease back, she falters.
"What's wrong?" she demands.
He sighs and runs both hands roughly through his hair.
"It won't be like it was," he says softly, trying to make her understand.
She eyes him curiously.
"You're right. It won't be the same. Not without the TARDIS," she confirms.
She is looking at him intensely, but he can't read her. She doesn't seem devastated, but she isn't unaffected. Then it hits him: she's worried about him again.
"You'll sonic us money, we'll get a ship, and we'll head right back here," she proclaims decisively.
"What?" is all he can utter.
"Right back into the gravity funnel, yeah? It'll take us down into the crevasse, and we can spend as long as it takes until we find the TARDIS," she expounded.
He is gobsmacked. Of course! They can come back. Things would go back to normal. The scenario Rose presents is so alluring that he almost immediately feels the hope and anticipation swirling about his insides. He almost grabs her, giddy, and spins him around the room. But just as suddenly, his smile is gone.
"If the planet's still here, sure. If the drilling doesn't awaken anything dangerous down there," he adds, because he is still a Time Lord, and he can't help but consider every possibility.
For some reason, Rose's eyes grow impossibly wide.
"Awaken," she murmurs.
"What is it?" the Doctor asks in concern.
"The phone call. It was just a voice. It said, 'He is awake.'"
"'He is awake.' That's it?"
"Well there might have been more, but as you'll remember, I sort of chucked it across the room.
"Right. So… 'He' is awake. And he gets great mobile reception."
They both look grimly back at the terrifying sky, preferring to watch entire solar systems disappear rather than the despair in each other's eyes. Something bad was coming. Something very, very bad, and it was entirely possible that things would never go back to the way they were. The TARDIS might be lost forever.
"Even if we can't get her back… you'll be okay, won't you, Doctor?" Rose asked in a tiny voice.
He risks a quick sideways glance, but finds that her eyes are still glued to the skies. He can see her fear, and he knows its source. She understands that she'll be gone someday too. She wants to know if he'll be all right when he is entirely alone.
He can't answer her, because the answer is no. He will not be all right. Couldn't possibly be. He can't burden her with that knowledge, although he's pretty sure she knows, so he falls silent and thinks.
He is awake.
The problem solving part of his brain seems to have kicked in, and he's running through everything from the last few hours in his mind, trying to find a solution. Rose did that to him. Gave him hope. They can get out of this, and as long as there exists a solution, the two of them will find it.
"The Ood!" the Doctor exclaims.
Rose tears her gaze from the black hole and turns her baffled eyes on him.
"You said one of the Ood spoke strangely to you," the Doctor replies.
"Yeah. Something about wagin' a war against God."
"Communication fields. Whatever he is, he has the ability to communicate through technological fields," the Doctor says very quickly.
"Like bein' able to Om-Comm through anything with a speaker grill? Same as Jamie after the Chula nanogenes rebuilt him?" she asks, trying to keep up.
"Very similar. Every Ood has one of those translator balls; it's a communication device. But it's something more with this thing. I think it's infiltrated their telepathic field. They may be a slave race, but they're sentient beings who have had this thing in their minds. They might know what 'he' is."
It's not a solution, but it is a next step. He feels more like himself, and he thinks that she must feel it too because she's fighting back a grin.
"What do we do now?" she asks.
The Doctor smiles and offers her his arm. She takes it with an exaggerated flourish.
"I think it's time we paid a visit to the Ood."
They point themselves in the direction of Ood Habitation. And they run.
For how should man die better
than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his father
and temples of his gods
The Doctor silently curses humans and their infuriating, beautiful impulse to sacrifice themselves for others. The lines quoted by Mister Jefferson after Scooti's death repeat endlessly in his head, the backbeat of his conscious mind, as he looks discreetly over at his companion. She is so nurturing, so incessantly kind, that she would surely sacrifice herself to save another.
After Ida's announcement that the drill had reached Point Zero, Rose immediately returned to Toby's side, stroking his hair, murmuring words of comfort in his ear. She settled him down with a plate of Protein 1 (with just a dash of 3) and only when she saw him take a shaky bite did she come back to the Doctor.
Captain Zach announced that the expeditionary force would commence its journey in two hours, and the crew immediately split up to see to their duties. As the Doctor and Rose had only one responsibility (laundry) they soon found themselves once again alone in the mess hall.
They haven't spoken a word to each other since the room emptied out, and with Scooti's body floating above them, neither wants to open the roof to gaze at the black hole again. So, they've spent the last hour stretched out on their backs on two separate dinner tables, staring at the stark white ceiling.
The Doctor knows that there is a good chance that they'll never regain the TARDIS, although he's already made up his mind to accompany Ida to Point Zero in the hopes of finding it. However, there is a far more painful truth: Rose might not make it off this planet either.
He finds himself thinking of a little moon in the Yulfurian Complex of the Straula Galaxy on which the entire concept of truth is relative. It really is a tiny moon, population only thirteen thousand, and for each and every one of its inhabitants, reality is simply the perception agreed upon by the masses.
When a citizen comes up with an idea (no matter how erroneous it may be) he or she can submit it to he High Council for review. If it is deemed worthy, it can be put on a ballot for entry in the Collective Perception. If the majority votes in favor of the new idea, the concept is immediately assimilated into the Collective Perception and becomes an irrefutable fact, a new guiding tenant for the race. Truth based on majority rule.
There is only one question considered when voting occurs: How pretty is the lie? That's the exact wording the people use—pretty. Any other criteria and the tiny moon might have become a terror. The Lunar Yulfurians might have voted to believe that their race was superior, or that their religion is the one true faith. Instead, they prefer only the truths that make them happiest. The Doctor loves them for that.
The first time the Doctor visited that moon he spent nearly twenty minutes trying to convince a Lunar Yulfurian that it was, in fact, raining, only to be told repeatedly and with growing agitation that every day the Yulfurian moon was blessed with perfect weather. The inhabitants perceive every day as blessedly sunny and warm no matter the reality of the conditions.
At the time, the Doctor took in these strange quirks with a detached bemusement. Now, however, he sees the attraction of such an existence. There is a storm coming; the Doctor can feel it. It threatens his life with Rose, colors each day with a sense of desperation because he knows how delicate a human life is and how easily they might be separated.
How wonderful it must feel, he thinks now, to stand in the pouring rain and feel nothing but sunshine on your face.
"You come back safe, all right?"
It takes the Doctor a second to remember where he is. He glances at the next dinner table and sees Rose, still staring up at the blank ceiling.
"What?" he asks.
She answers him without turning her head.
"You're plannin' on goin' down to Point Zero, aren't you?"
She knows. Of course she does. She's Rose. She doesn't sound cross or sad, just resigned.
"Yes," he confirms.
"I want you back safe," she repeats.
He gives her a cheeky smile, which she doesn't see since she isn't looking.
"When have I ever not?" he answers her glibly.
At that, she turns towards him, shifting her body so that she's lying on her side.
"I mean it, Doctor," she says, her tone almost reprimanding. "You're all I've got now."
Her tone is straightforward and unblinking. She's not self-pitying; she is merely stating fact. Her phrasing has his mind spinning.
But I need my ship! It's all I've got—literally the only thing!
Had he really said those words to the captain today? Rose is his touchstone. Without her, he'd be clawing the walls by now. How many moments today alone had he been ready to give into the guilt and hopelessness of their situation only to have her pull him back up?
Life without the TARDIS would be devastating because she is his last piece of home. She allows him to be a Time Lord. She makes his life exciting and dangerous and free. But Rose…
Life without Rose would be devastating because he—well, he is quite fond of her. In quite a meaningful and forever sort of a way. She takes his pain away. She makes all of the excitement and danger and freedom worthwhile because he gets to see her experience it too. He can share it all with her. He can share a life with her.
Even without the TARDIS they could do that, make their own adventures, like she said. But without Rose… He can't think of one place he'd want to visit, a room in the TARDIS that wouldn't remind him of her, a single face he'd want to see.
"I take it back," he blurts out.
She frowns at him.
He sits up abruptly, planting his feet on the chair in front of him. She mirrors his actions warily.
"When I told Zach that the TARDIS was literally the only thing I have left, I was wrong. I take it back."
The words come tumbling out of him rapidly in his haste to fix his earlier oversight. Her body jerks back a centimeter or two in surprise. Apparently this was not the response she was expecting.
"I wasn't offended," she offers plainly.
He smiles at her.
"Of course you weren't. You're wonderful like that. But just so you know, I take it back," he says softly.
She seems a bit confused by his sudden sincerity because the hint of her earlier frown won't quite leave her face.
"We'll find the TARDIS. We will," she assures him.
He smile fades a bit, but the hint of it stays on his lips just like her frown.
"We might not," he says reasonably.
She shakes her head.
"Don't say that," she snaps.
His words have upset her. She looks away, agitation clear in the jerky way that she starts picking at her fingernails. She always does this when she's anxious.
Well, of course she's anxious, the Doctor realizes with a jolt. She asked him earlier if he would survive without the TARDIS and he didn't give her an answer. How else would she react now that he's reminding her that they might never recover his ship?
It's a grim future to envision, but if she can invent livable scenarios, surely he can too. He could travel with Rose the human way until the inevitable happens to her fragile human form. Then, of course, regeneration is an option but not a requirement. He could just… let himself go. Live one truly great life with her and then just stop.
It sounds beautiful and terrifying and sad all at the same time, and he thinks that this must be how humans think about all of their serious relationships. Mortality is a terrible thing, but it certainly makes sharing a life more meaningful.
He realizes that she's looking at him again, biting her lip in that fretful way. He hoists himself up off the table and makes his way over to hers. She budges over a bit and he steps up and seats himself next to her.
"I will survive without the TARDIS, Rose," he says. "Because she's not the only thing I have. I have you."
Her teeth stop worrying her lip, but she doesn't say anything in response. She just stares at him. For a horrible moment he's sure that he misread the situation.
"I mean, not that I have you," he stammers. "Of course I don't have you—"
"I'm yours," she cuts him off.
Coming from someone else, such a statement might sound fawning and submissive, but this was Rose Tyler and she manages to make it sound like a command. It's as if she's challenging the Doctor to contradict her. He wouldn't dare.
"You have me. For as long as you want me," she continues.
He inhales sharply and as he does his body moves forward as if attracted by a strong magnet. His hands hover inches from her cheeks before coming to rest on either side of her face, his fingers following the curve of her neck to rest just under her ears. Her eyes flutter shut and he brings his forehead forward until it rests against hers.
"Forever," he breathes.
Her eyes pop back open, and without a moment's pause she answers him.
Her response is a lie, of course, but it's such a pretty lie that the Doctor can't bear to contradict it.
She's speaking again.
"And unlike the TARDIS, I won't go chucking myself down into the abyss of an impossible planet, which is more than I can say for y—"
He can't say when exactly he decided to kiss her, but his lips are on hers before he has a chance to second-guess himself. Rose seems frozen for a second or two, but then her hands are buried in his hair and her lips are moving against his and he silently congratulates himself on his good decision.
They break away from each other to breathe, but their lips hover only centimeters apart and for only a few seconds. His eyes fall shut as he pushes forward again. This time his lips are slightly parted and so are hers. He feels her tongue tease the inside of his lower lip and he finds himself seized by an urgent need to taste her. His own tongue pushes past her lips and he swears for an instant he sees stars. She makes an encouraging noise somewhere between a gasp and a moan, and he smiles into her lips.
"You think you're so impressive," she murmurs.
Her words vibrate against his mouth, and it only makes him grin harder.
"I am so impressive," he murmurs back.
He releases her face without breaking the kiss and slides his hands down her sides to rest just below her ribs. He's touched her here before, but never with this dizzying sense of need that threatens to burst from him in delirious giggles or perhaps a throaty moan. He hasn't felt this out of control in, oh, ages, but he can't bring himself to feel bothered by it.
She lets out another encouraging little hum of pleasure and all he can think is, 'Closer' and 'Now.' He tugs her forward until their hips touch and their chests are pressed up against one another, and she inhales sharply through her nose before clutching at his hair even more desperately.
The speakers crackle to life.
"All nonessential Oods to be confined," the captain's voice booms across the mess hall.
Rose's hands loosen their hold on his hair, but she doesn't let go entirely. She does pull back enough to allow her eyes to focus on his face.
"Promise me you'll come back safe," she demands.
He doesn't smile this time.
"Forever," he reminds her.
This seems to satisfy her, because she very nearly growls in response. He doesn't resist when her hands tighten around his hair again and she pulls his mouth back to hers. He laughs into the kiss and she nips at his lip in retaliation. It feels so brilliant that for the first time in a very long time, the Doctor's mind stays entirely in the present. He thinks only of the tingling sensations he can feel in every place their bodies are touching.
"You'd better go," she mutters into the kiss.
She rakes her fingernails across his scalp and he can't think at all.
"Mmm—where?" he manages to mumble quite a few seconds later.
She sighs and pulls back.
"I'm thinkin' you might need a spacesuit if you're plannin' to go with Ida," she wisely points out.
"Right. Yes. That would be advisable," he stutters, blinking a few times as he comes back to reality.
Rose laughs and tugs him from the table by his hands.
A few minutes later they've located a narrow cupboard containing several orange spacesuits. Rose helps him slip a suit on over his pinstripes, and he openly shudders when her hands run up his legs and chest in the process.
They don't kiss again, but the Doctor gives her a tender hug before approaching Zach. It's easy convincing the captain to let him join the expeditionary force, and when the Doctor turns around Rose is still there, reminding him to come back in one piece.
"I'll see you later," he says.
There's a lot promised in that simple statement, and the Doctor means every word of it.
"Not if I see you first," she replies, her voice trailing off into a giggle.
She kisses his helmet, and he grins. When she pulls away, she looks very solemn and scared, but he doesn't share her fear. He knows that nothing in the universe can keep him from Rose. Not anymore. TARDIS or no, they're going to be all right.
She runs through the doors and across the console room towards him, and he finds himself running to meet her. He grabs her around the middle and hoists her into the air. Her arms come around his neck and she pulls him close. He feels like his cheeks might split from the strain of his grin, but he can't bring himself to worry, not with her in his arms. He swings her back and forth and hears her little giggles of delight.
"I take it back!" she shouts.
"What now?" he groans, although his grin is still firmly in place.
She clutches at him, pulling his face closer to hers. He feels her breath stirring up the tiny hairs on his sideburns.
"I wasn't talking to you; I was talking to the TARDIS," she whispers.
Then, suddenly, she's shouting again.
"You bloody beautiful thing, you! You are a proper ship! You're the properest ship in the whole universe!"
He told her that the Devil lied. Then he regaled her with a lovely censored version of his adventures with the monster in the pit to impress her. To see her eyes light up.
But she had asked him directly about the beast's prediction, and he called the creature a liar. The Devil who knew everything about Gallifrey and Mister Jefferson's wife, and even the fact that Toby Zed had never slept with a girl. The Devil had a pretty good track record of speaking the truth.
If she knew the truth—if she knew that the Doctor could feel it, the storm heading their way—would she stay with him? She sounded so tiny and afraid when she repeated the monster's words to him, seeking reassurance.
She's too young to die—twenty, the same age as Scooti. He's being selfish, sheltering her from the truth. But he's not really sheltering her in the end, is he? He's exposing her to untold dangers. If he really… cares about her, in that meaningful, forever sort of way, then shouldn't he worry about her safety more than his own need to have her with him?
"I take it back," he says.
He doesn't realize that he's said it aloud until he hears her response.
She's smiling at him again, and she's beautiful. He sighs.
"It said you would die in battle."
Her smile falters, but only for a split second.
"And you said it lied," she reminds him.
He shakes his head.
"I can't promise you that you'll be safe with me," he tells her.
"Is this what you're takin' back? You're saying I will die in battle?" she balks.
"No. You won't die in battle. Because I'm going to bring you home," he says decisively.
Her eyes widen.
"Doctor!" Rose exclaims.
"You'll be safe there. You're not safe with me," he says, shaking his head.
"Take it back again."
She pokes a finger into his sternum with more force than is strictly necessary to emphasize her point.
"Rose—" he starts.
"Double take it back, or un-take it back! Whatever you have to do, because I'm not gonna die and I'm not goin' home!" she shouts over him.
"I can't lose you!" he yells, unable to contain himself any longer.
"You won't!" she shouts back.
He whirls on her then, and she takes a step back from the console.
"That's not true! Don't make promises you can't keep," he warns.
She throws her hands up into the air, apparently fed up with him.
"You weren't worried about what that thing said when we were on Krop Tor. Now, all of a sudden it's an all-knowing, mystical being?"
"That's not it," the Doctor denies.
"Guess what, Doctor? You were cleverer than it was! I bet that beast, whatever it was, didn't expect you to kill it by smashin' some pottery in its cave, but here we are!" Rose grandly proclaims, spreading her arms wide.
"Hey! Could you make it sound any less impressive? I destroyed the Devil himself!" the Doctor protests.
Rose's mouth snaps shut, and for a moment she falls silent.
"The Devil?" she says finally.
The Doctor inhales sharply when he realizes what he's said.
"Well, probably not. It looked sort of… horn-y. That is to say, it had horns. Sort of like a devil. Not that there really are devils," he stammers.
Rose stumbles back until her feet knock into the captain's chair and she plops back into it.
"The Devil himself said I'm gonna die in battle," she mutters.
The Doctor can't stand to see the defeat in her eyes. It's so unlike her, and he'd do anything to take it away. He places one hand on either of her armrests and crouches so that they're eye to eye.
"I un-take it back. You're never going to die. I won't let you," he states resolutely.
She gives him a weak smile.
"Don't make promises you can't keep," she tells him.
He has nothing to say to that, so he kisses her. She takes more than a few seconds to kiss him back, but when she does it's with a sort of panicked desperation that doesn't suit her at all. He feels her tears making tracks down his cheeks, or maybe they're his own tears. Their faces are pressed too close together to tell.
"So what's so great about this place, then?" Rose asks as she fumbles with a large purple golf umbrella.
"The Yulfurian moon is like no other place in the universe, Rose," the Doctor declares.
"Well, it's certainly wetter than any other place—oh!"
She finally manages to open the umbrella. Unfortunately, she opens it into a passing Yulfurian. The umbrella expands, pushing a tiny orange man to the ground in front of them.
"Hello, Miss!" the orange man says cheerfully from his new seat at their feet.
Rose shoves the umbrella into the Doctor's hands and kneels down next to the man.
"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there," she gasps, offering him her hand.
"Sorry for what, Miss?" the Yulfurian asks, getting to his feet without her assistance.
"For knocking you over," Rose replies, righting herself again before giving the Doctor a bewildered glance.
"You didn't knock me over, Miss," the man contradicts her, looking just as bewildered as Rose.
"Oh, no. Did you hit your head? Doctor, I think this man has a concussion," she tells him.
The Doctor gives her a broad smile.
"No, he doesn't," he replies. Then, turning to the Yulfurian, "Good morning, kind sir. Did you start your day with a rousing jog?"
"I did indeed, Sir!" the man replies, delighted.
The Doctor nods.
"Then there is no possible way you could have knocked him over, Rose," he informs her.
"What?" Rose asks, her bewilderment growing by the second.
"Quite right," the little man confirms. "Good day, Miss. Sir."
With a tip of his top hat, he's off once more. Rose stares after him.
"What just happened?" she mutters.
The Doctor grins.
"The Lunar Yulfurians believe that if they start their morning with a brisk jog, their day will be free of inconveniences and irritations."
"That's all well and good, but I'm pretty sure that gettin' knocked on your bum by some random human girl counts as an irritation," she notes.
The Doctor nods again.
"Exactly. Which is why it didn't happen."
Rose frowns again.
"You've lost me."
"You must not have started your day with a jog," the Doctor teases.
"As a matter of fact, I didn't," she says, gently elbowing him in the ribs.
He gives an exaggerated yelp, and she rolls her eyes. At her admonition, he finally gives in.
"Truth is subjective to the Yulfurians. It is simply what they choose to believe. It's how they live their lives. It's how they deal with what comes."
Rose is giving him another skeptical look, but then something behind him catches her eye.
"Are those people playing football?"
She gestures to a muddy field half an inch deep in water, where, indeed, two teams of Yulfurians are competing in a match.
"Something close to it. Yulfurians call it by another name," the Doctor explains.
Rose raises her eyebrows.
"It's pourin' rain," she says pointedly.
"No, it's not," the Doctor counters.
He sets the umbrella on the ground, and Rose squeals but doesn't reach for it. Within seconds their hair is plastered to their faces. She looks at him like he's mad.
"Every day, the Yulfurian moon is blessed with perfect weather," the Doctor proclaims.
Rose stares up at him, knowing that he wants her to understand something important. They stand in the rain, which is now falling so hard that they can barely keep their eyes open.
All around them, the Lunar Yulfurians look blissfully unaffected. The football match rages on. A small orange girl runs gleefully through the muddy field with her dog-like pet, neither stopping to wipe the mud from their faces. A couple a few yards away continue a little picnic, not seeming to care that their sandwiches are completely soggy and their blanket is covered in muck. The rain is crashing down on them, and these people are just living their lives, happy as can be.
Every day the Yulfurian moon is blessed with perfect weather. Rose can almost believe it, looking around.
"Okay," she says at last.
The Doctor tilts his head to the side, eyeing her appraisingly.
"Yeah?" he prompts.
She smiles, pushing her blonde locks away from her face.
"Yeah," she laughs.
Her hands fall back to her sides with a loud, wet plop, which only makes her laugh harder. The Doctor joins her and soon they're leaning into each other, gasping between giggles. Rose feels her foot begin to slip against the wet earth, and an instant later both she and the Doctor slide to the muddy ground. Her hand finds his and their fingers lace together.
She understands now why he brought her here.
"I take it back. The weather is perfect," she relents.
His mad grin is gone, replaced by a subtler smile. He brings his free hand up to her face, stroking her cheek affectionately, leaving a watery trail of mud.
"You're never going to die. I won't let you," he says.
"Okay," she replies.
It's a lie, of course, but it's such a pretty lie that, for now, they both choose to believe it. The Doctor and Rose lie back in the mud and enjoy the feeling of sunshine on their faces.