Faster and faster, Rose runs through the TARDIS attempting to lose herself in its winding passages and away from the Doctor's wrath. However, it seems that the farther she runs the less chance she has from hiding from him. The corridors are twisting and turning in ways that she doesn't remember and there are walls sprouting up right and left where she knows there should be doors. She fights down the panic as she realizes that his bond with the TARDIS is strengthening and without the Master's own telepathy to interfere with it, the Time Lord Victorious who has taken over her Doctor is now the one in charge.
She continues darting through the changing hallways while increasing her pace, determined to reach the console room even if she doesn't know what she's going to do once she gets there. The planet is uninhabitable for humans and its atmosphere has played havoc with her mobile. With no other way to reach the Master, she has to hope that the TARDIS will give her enough leeway to stay hidden from the Doctor until the Master returns.
After what feels like forever, Rose finally arrives at her destination. She breathes a sigh of relief when she finds the console room empty and wracks her brain to come up with something to hold him off. Almost instinctively, she heads over to the center of the room and places her hands on the console and that's when she's overcome with fear. It's not the adrenaline rush wearing off or even knowing that she's the only sane person onboard a ship that she has no control over, instead it's the undeniable comprehension that the console is cold where it should be warm, like its heart, but at this moment, there's no thought, no life, it's completely barren of anything.
She can't understand how this happened. The Master had been working with her, helping her to temper Bad Wolf so that even if it would be too much power for her to access full time, she would at least still be able to access it in times of emergencies like these.
Then without warning, her question is answered. "I take it that neither of us ever told you that there's a second console room?" She turns around and sees him casually leaning against the wall as if he were simply enjoying a chat with an old friend. And she supposes that in his mind, he is.
He pushes off from the wall as he informs her, "I've directed all of the power there." As the room begins to shake and rock around them, Rose falls to the floor and clutches the grating with her fingers as she makes her way to a coral strut in order to pull herself up.
Obviously prepared for this newest event, the Doctor seems to stroll almost casually through the console room as he pushes off from one wall to another until finally ending his jaunt next to Rose and grasping the coral strut alongside her. "Oh, and I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry, but I forgot to mention that I pre-set some coordinates to takes us into the Vortex. I would have sent us further out but it's going to take a bit of time for me to regain full control over the link again." He roughly grabs her by the chin and squeezes hard. "Thanks for that by the way."
He lets her go as soon as the quaking of the room stops. She leans against the strut linking her fingers through it silently begging for assistance and although she feels a slight hum beneath her fingers, no true answer flashes in her mind.
Rose is scared, probably more scared than she's ever been at this moment, even more than when she was being attacked by him. Because then he was still under their supervision and occasionally showed brief glimpses of wanting their help to return him to the man that he was. But now, now she is rapidly coming to understand that there is to be no help at all. "You can't just leave him there," both of them knowing who 'he' was without saying anything directly. "He'll die without the TARDIS!"
"Serves him right then, doesn't it?" he asks off-handedly while grabbing the other strut next to her and pinning her in with his arms. "Doesn't it?" he suddenly screams at her.
As terrified as she is, she holds her ground. "No," she growls out in anger, at both him and this situation, "he doesn't and you know it! So do whatever you have to do from whatever console room you need to and bring him back to me!"
He throws back his head with a manic laugh. "Like that's going to happen!" The Doctor slowly trails his gaze up and down her body while he studies her from head to toe. "Somebody's been practicing with the Vortex again." He rests his cheeks alongside hers and admonishes, "Naughty, naughty, Rose."
He nonchalantly slides one of his hands down a strut to run his fingers through her hair and gently murmurs, "I've warned you about that before Rose. You remember what happened last time when you opened my TARDIS."
"I remember," she recalls sadly before she stiffens her body in defiance as well as hardening her tone. "But there was never any danger, the Master saw to that."
Abruptly, the Doctor fists her hair in his hand making her cry out in pain. "And what else has he been seeing to Rose?" He releases her as suddenly as he grabbed her. "Not that I even need to ask," he snarls as he steps back away from her to lean against the console, "his stench is all over you."
She knows better to bite out a retort when he's like this and maintains her silence as her gaze darts around the room in search of something, anything to help her out of this predicament.
Her exploration comes to a quick end when the Doctor questions harshly, "Why are you with him, Rose? I could never understand that. Not that I had much time to try and comprehend it mind you, seeing how the two of you ganged up on me and imprisoned me on my own TARDIS."
"We had to, Doctor," she replies softly as she tries to make him see reason. "You endangered two universes and then you continued to do so even after the crash. We had to stop you," she sighs in somber resignation, "if you were in your right mind you would know that."
"Are you sure that's all it is?" he queries inquisitively. He taps his temple and states, "There was always something about you, Rose, something in the back of my mind that screamed out how much you wanted travel and adventure." He strides over to her and runs one finger down her cheek. "I didn't even need to touch you to initiate the telepathy, it radiated off you so strongly. It makes me wonder though…did it really matter who offered you a way off of the Estates, as long as they could take you away? After all, a Time Lord by any other name…" he trails off suggestively.
Her hands clench around the struts to keep her from lunging at him and she bites down on her tongue to stop herself from spitting out a reply. "Why would you choose him when you have me?" he requests again.
He takes a few steps back from her just to spin around with his arms stretching out from his sides as if he was offering her a precious gift. "You don't need him, Rose! I'm the one with the TARDIS; I can give you all of time and space, everything that you want!"
Rose shakes her head gently in a mixture of denial and disbelief. How could he believe that about her, believe that she's more flash than substance? Is that what he's always thought about her? "But that's just it, Doctor, don't you see? The adventure and travel, that never mattered, not really. He shares everything with me; he doesn't hold anything back, not with secrets and not with his heart! Do you understand now? The Master doesn't keep me in the dark, Doctor; he keeps me by his side! And he doesn't just give me what I want; he gives me what I need.
"You love me, Rose Tyler," he insists desperately, "I know that you do!"
"I do love you, Doctor, I always will…but," she bites her lip and steels herself for his response, "I love him more."
He straightens up to his full height, his jaw tightening while he contemplates her words. "I see," he notes as he advances towards her. "You know, I've always thought you to be an extremely clever girl, Rose, and I'm sure that right about now that you're starting to realize how very, very, wrong that answer was."
"Not to me," she whispers, "no matter what the cost."
His smile grows more and more insidious as he moves closer to her and purrs, "Well then, let's just see what price that you're willing to pay."
It's at that moment that the slight hum of the coral changes more into a pulse, a pulse straight from the heart of the TARDIS, and Rose knows that it's time to make her move.
When he draws nearer, her eyes glow gold for just the merest increment of a second but it's enough to throw him off his guard and stumble back into the console where the TARDIS releases a shower of sparks in effort to give Rose a chance to escape. She bolts from the strut and as he reaches out to recapture her, she spins around in a roundhouse kick sending him flying to the ground.
She speeds out of the room, the passageways and doors all opening to her at a moment's notice until the corridors change and form into one long hallway directing her to one room in particular, one that she runs into as fast as her legs will carry her.
His footsteps echo down the corridor as he runs after her and the threat of the Time Lord Victorious looms ever closer. Once he realizes that there is nowhere left for Rose to run, the sound of his footsteps slows to a jog and then to a leisurely pace.
She surveys the room merely to find it empty and knows that the only thing to protect her from the Doctor is herself. The TARDIS has done everything that she can; the rest is up to Rose.
"Hello, Rose Tyler," he taunts from the doorway. "Long time no see!"
They move about the room as if in a dance, he advances and she retreats, each one never taking their eyes off the other, always watching the other for the barest indication of movement that will set off a new chase or entrapment.
That's why she's caught completely unaware when out of the blue, he halts in his tracks as it finally dawns on him exactly which room he's in. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, filling his lungs with the scent of a long forgotten memory from long ago, the smell of roses. He's in the Zero Room.
"Ahhh," he sighs in utter bliss, "I remember this room." He breathes in the air again and remembers, "I had to use it back in my Fifth regeneration, things went a bit wonky back then, you know how it is."
"It's incredibly peaceful," he muses fondly until he meets her worried gaze. "Well," he adds while tugging on his ear, "at least for some."
He steadily stalks toward her, giving her plenty of time to run and is slightly taken aback when she refuses to move from her position. He notices her stance is calm and relaxed and wonders what insane notion his Rose has up her sleeve now. She is his after all, he claimed her long ago whether she knew it or not, and again when he broke through the void to bring her back home with him. And she can't possibly be contemplating another escape plan because that's just never going to happen in this or any other of his lifetimes, he'll never let her go.
"Why are you smiling like that, Rose?" he asks out of mild curiosity. She retains her silence but only smiles more serenely, even offers him a hint of tongue poking out between her teeth simply to bewitch and befuddle him further. "Aren't you scared?" he inquires in a low tone designed to make her shiver in fear but oddly enough only causes her grin to widen. "Don't you know that I'm about to take what's mine?"
"Good thing that I don't belong to you then," she answers without hesitation or a trace of fear.
That did it. He moves to pounce on her and end this ridiculous cat and mouse game once and for all. And he would have done, if he wasn't so busy writhing and screaming in agony as he stood twisting before her unable to regain his bearings, eventually dropping harmlessly to the floor.
Satisfied that he was definitely out for the count, Rose lifts her gaze to find the Master glowering at the Doctor with a gaze so heated that it wouldn't surprise her if it left holes in him. "Gotcha," he hisses out of spite. Then he scans Rose for any injury. "Are you okay?" he demands as he removes the Vortex Manipulator off of his wrist."
"Yeah," she replies smoothly as she crosses her arms over her chest and arches an eyebrow at him. "I was just wondering what took you so long."