Since Krop Tor, the Doctor had been doing his level best to avoid danger for a bit. Though she wouldn't talk about it, he knew Rose was terrified of the Beast's predictions for her, that she would be forced to leave her home for good.
He wondered if the TARDIS was what she considered home. He really, really hoped so.
So he took her to spa planets and natural preserve planets and he finally managed to get to Woman Wept (had it really been two years since he last attempted that? Since the TARDIS rerouted him to London and Downing Street and the Slitheen?) They actually managed to go a full week without running for their lives.
It was boring him to death. Rose, too, he was pretty sure.
But he still wasn't ready to put Rose back in the way of danger, to risk losing her. Because he had heard the Beast, too, and while he had done his best to assure the others that the Beast was just playing on basic fears, he couldn't help but think of Ida. 'But…how did it know about my father?' she had asked. The Beast may have been playing on their fears, but it had also known things it had no business knowing.
And so the Doctor did what he always did: he ran. He ran and he dragged Rose with him, because, damn it, he wasn't going to lose her. Not yet. Not until he absolutely had to, in order to start this whole damn circular paradox again.
He still remembered her face when he'd first met her; the shock, the joy, the pain…and when he'd left her that first time, the longing she'd had when she stared at the TARDIS.
He wasn't going to leave her without a home. Not if he could help it.
A small, traitorous voice in the back of his head reminded him he would eventually have to lose her if he wanted to find the younger her and ensure the whole cycle played out again, and there was no guarantee that he would find her again after he lost the younger one to his own younger self.
He ignored it.
Woman Wept was as beautiful as he remembered from the last time he'd been there, about two centuries previous. The frozen waves towered above them as they stepped out of the TARDIS into the frozen air. Rose exhaled in wonder, her breath creating a small puff of fog in front of her face to further punctuate her reaction. The Doctor watched her quietly, a small smile on his face as she stepped further from the TARDIS and out onto the ice.
She'd found a red coat somewhere in the wardrobe; it went almost down to her knees, and made her stand out starkly from the frozen grey, white, and pale green landscape. Like a drop of blood, or the petals of her name sake. 'Or,' the Doctor thought to himself with a bit of a grin, 'like Little Red Riding Hood.' He wondered if that makes him the lumberjack.
Of course that would lead to all sorts of metaphorical implications involving him being her ultimate demise, since she was also the Big Bad Wolf in this tale. Odd, that she was somehow both the protagonist and the antagonist in his little assignment of characters. That would mean that he—the Doctor, here in the role of the lumberjack—was destined both to save her and to kill her, which was just ludicrous; how could he ever hurt her, ever do something that would lead to her death? She was his Rose; she was a big, strong, tough girl who could take care of herself and him, and there's no way he'd ever be able to bring himself to harm in the first place, since he lo—
"Oi!" The girl in question called to him from a considerable distance away. The Doctor blinked and shook off his morbid musings before quickly hurrying to catch up to her. She eyed with equal parts wariness and concern. "You alright, Doctor?" She asked, peering up at him. "You kind of checked out for a bit there."
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Always fine!" He grinned, tugging at his ear nervously.
Rose didn't seem to buy it, and she kept looking at him, waiting.
The Doctor fidgeted for a moment before grabbing her hand and pulling her further into the icy landscape. "Well, come on then, Red Riding Hood," he grinned, shoving all morbid (and completely useless) thoughts aside (where had that tangent even come from?) "Let's explore!"
"Red Riding Hood?" Rose asked from just behind him, sounding a bit more amused than he thought the situation warranted.
"Yep," he popped the p. "'Cos of the cloak," he added.
Rose snickered behind him, and the Doctor glanced at her. "Nothing, nothing," she waved him off. "You'll understand someday," she added, sorrow crossing her features for a moment.
The Doctor led her all over the field of frozen waves that day. They oohed and ahhed over the various shapes of the waves, and even turned a few into their own personal slides. All in all, it was one of their better days in this 'no danger holiday' the Doctor was taking them on.
Later, when they were back in the TARDIS and Rose had dozed off on the jump seat, the Doctor piloted them into the vortex, then turned to consider her.
She'd taken the red coat off and was now using it as a pillow. The Doctor moved a bit closer to her, and, hesitantly, brushed a bit of hair from her face. Rose rarely slept, and he'd never seen her asleep before, either. She looked…peaceful—happy, even. It was a strange contrast to when she was awake. Sure, Rose was usually a decentlyS happy woman, but there was always something…else, when she looked at him. A sort of…sadness, almost guilt, in her eyes that made him wonder just what her past was like. But here, now, asleep, her features were smooth and relaxed, a small smile playing at the corner of her mouth. It was a good look for her.
The Doctor brushed a hand through her hair once more, and moved back to the console before his hands decided to do more (like tangle in her hair, brush her cheeks, trace the veins in her arms…all manner of things that were extremely inappropriate especially when she was sleeping. And his friend. Just his friend.)
If she was going to be Red Riding Hood, fine. He'd play the role of the lumberjack and keep her safe if it killed him.
I honestly didn't mean for this to happen. I sat down to write Army of Ghosts and the next thing you know the Doctor's dragging them off on vacations and considering the metaphorical implications of a coat in an almost Augusts Waters worthy moment and now we're here.
I guess consider it a piece of fluff to make up for the impending angst? Oh, and foreshadowing. Definitely got to play with the foreshadowing a bit here.
Thanks to everyone who followed, favorited, and reviewed! The votes were pretty evenly split for whether this should be divided into two stories or kept as one, but I think I'm just going to keep it all together; easier to organize that way.
And if anyone's interested, I keep all the chapters in one document just so I can see how big this story's getting. As it stands, it's 418 pages, double spaced. Easily the longest thing I've ever written, which makes me a little sad, since I have attempted original pieces and have never gotten anywhere near this length. Ah, well, practice is practice, right?
Long author's note is long. Thanks for reading!
Until next time!