"I won't see you hurt, Rose," he says, firmly.
It's an argument she's been dreading since the moment she even made mention of helping Sam out. She almost wished she hadn't oped for the trip for her birthday after the date with Dean. Then at least she'd be there... not out here. "Then don't look?"
The look he gives her is mild irritation, though his blood is boiling just below the surface. "It's not that easy," he says, flipping a few switches on the console. "Besides...I promised Jackie I'd keep you safe."
It has been a while since she's even heard that excuse being used, and honestly her mother is on the other side of the rift, so far away that even the Doctor can't have gotten word to her either way. It is downright frustrating to know she had worked at Torchwood for years while he was off with whatever, and she was saving people.. all on her own and now, now it is 'out of the question'. "Right, cause you know all the other things we've done for complete strangers... and I can't go help with this for people I know?"
The Doctor spins around and points a finger in her direction. "If it puts you in the middle of a war? No. Even if you weren't hurt...Rose, wars change people. I know that better than anyone." Not anyone, he thinks at the last moment. No, there were others who lost as much if not more than he did. But Rose is so young. She can't possibly understand.
"You know what changes people Doctor? Being left behind," the words slip from her quicker than she realizes, but now that they're out there she's not about to take away their meaning.
His chest tightens and he lowers his accusatory finger. She knows how to talk like a slap, Rose Tyler does. "It's not the same," he refutes. "You wouldn't understand."
"I don't care if I wouldn't understand, and honestly I'm tired of that being your reason. Maybe I should have to understand."
"If I can spare you from understanding, then I will!"
"I'm not yours to spare," she intones to him. Her jaw is set almost as if she can't even believe what she's hearing.
"Yes but you're my..." The words come out and he doesn't know how to finish the sentence. Responsibility? Companion? Best friend? There has to be a word that means that and more. The only word he can think of though is 'Saleswoman' and that's certainly not correct. He takes a breath and shakes his head. "It doesn't matter. I can spare you, so I will."
"What Companion? Travel Mate? Come off with it!" Her hand flails up from her side, urging his words onward. But she knows they might not actually come. "You think this is your choice to make now? You've made all the choices and," Despite all her resolve, all the anger she can feel in her that this choice is being made for her, she can't help but realize that it's more that this hurts... that people could die and it's going to hurt. "Sometimes... the choices are wrong." All the venom from her words slip away so quickly she's not even sure why she was that upset in the place, "It's just wrong..."
Her anger drains, but his is fueled. All the boiling beneath his surface starts to come out. "You think I'm just going to willingly fly you into a war where you can be hurt, tortured, die? I won't let that happen to you, Rose!"
"I want to do this though, these are my friends... I'd do the same for you," Rose can nearly feel the lump building in the back of her throat. The only thing she can even think to do is draw her lips inward, the bottom one being rubbed with her teeth, trying not to chew nervously. It's hard to argue with him, and even more difficult to make him understand what she's even thinking.
"I'd never ask you to!"
"Doesn't what I want matter?"
"You don't know what you're asking!"
Every time he repeats it she's gets a bit more frustrated with the never ending reply that she doesn't understand, she'll never understand. All the words that force a feeling on her, that force a choice away from her. At the end of it all her features sober, expressing just how serious she is about this, "Maybe I'm not asking."
The Doctor lets out a rueful laugh, just verging on exceptionally patronizing. "You can't make me take you. This isn't a democracy."
"Then take me home," she replies coldly. It's not even what she expected to come out of her mouth, but there it is. Home. If she can just get to London, she'll find her own way... find something she can do herself. Without him.
Rose's words hit the Doctor like a bucket of cold water. The anger is out and he feels his veins turning to ice. Go home. Of course she wants to go home, he's stupid for thinking otherwise. Not fun anymore, Doctor. Be my own Romana. This is me getting out. He pushes them too far. And now, well, of course she wants out.
But he's not backing down. He won't let her die for this.
He takes a breath. "If that's what you want."
His reply isn't even what she wanted to hear, and it nearly breaks her heart that he's so willing to just let her go, "It's not what I want... but you can't make me not help my friends... you can't put your foot down like that and expect me not to want leave... God..." All the resolve she thought she'd been building up this entire time is slowly crumbling around her because this... this hurts too much. She can feel her chin nearly trembling with the doubt she feels all too soon. "All I do is watch you save people, you go out there and you make a difference and here I want to do that."
She's been that person before, she knows it's in her and all she wants is to show him that she's not the same girl he offered his hand to all that time ago. He's changed... he's not the same and maybe she still thinks he sees that girl lost in the department store. Her head tilts and she can feel her hair falling in front of her face, "I want to do this, for people I know, people I love and I can't even be allowed to do that?" She's not quite sure when it started but the emotions have been building up for so long now that when she first feels that sting of tears it's already too late. "Like you have to give me permission?" They streak down across her cheeks and she tries not to look so damn helpless, because she knows she isn't but as the tears fall she knows she's failing completely at proving her point, "You say I don't understand what I'm asking, but do you even see what you're asking me to do?"
He shakes his head and turns back to the console. London, Earth, 2006...or was it 2007? It doesn't matter, either works. He keeps his eyes locked on the console, locked on the switches and the buttons he can't quite make himself push.
"I won't. I can't, Rose---Too many people I loved died in the Time War." He turns a little and looks over at her. "Do you even understand what will happen if we get caught in say something like an explosion? You will die and I will just regenerate. You are asking me to give you up, and I won't. I can't."
He turns back to the console. The TARDIS in his mind is conflicted and upset, he can feel the hull of the ship quivering with his emotion. "I'd rather have you live somewhere else and be alive than know I've lost you forever," he says.
The way he says the words, she has to believe that he's said them before. That the excuse he just laid out to her was one that came that naturally to him. Which makes her wonder when had he ever said that, but of course it has to be in reference to her, "That what you tell people who'd ask?" The question flies from her because suddenly what he's gone off telling other people about where she had gone too... where she'd been stuck feels more important than the fight. "That you left me there because at least I was alive?"
His response is immediate and cold. "I'd ask them if they really wanted you to be there. If they were truly your friends? They'd say 'no'."
Now she's not even sure what she wants anymore, she's confused and hurt and all she wants is one thing that she can decide for herself, one choice that she can make. The only choice she has left is the worst one to make. Pressing the back of her hand to her forehead she feels the slight fever from her body being so worked up. All she's trying to do is just keep herself from crying again but she's barely holding on as she tells him, "Just... take me home. I don't want to go to Darenville or wherever..." No more trips to places where he saves people she's never known. She almost wonders if she can ask him again, but instead she gives up. "Just... I want to go home."
He explodes angrily at those words. She wants to go? She can go! "Fine! Fine! You want home? I can take you home. Powell Estate, early 21st century. You can just go home and you know! Pick up a job in the shop or Jack'll give you a job at Torchwood." He throws the parking brake down and flips more switches, sending the TARDIS hurtling through the Time Vortex towards Earth.
The anger isn't something she's all too familiar with, she's seen it. Seen the uncaring way he can shut himself off from emotions because when the choice is there to make he has to make it. She's just never seen it from this end. It's never been directed to her, and she can't even remember to breathe. It's as if everything inside of her has just halted completely, that the anger he's showing her is meant to still her and all she can do is wait for her breath to return, but instead she's greeted with such fear of him actually leaving her again that she can't help but break down. It hits her, and it's nearly enough to topple her to the ground. Sobbing and pulling in deep breaths just to give herself air and to stop herself from making so much noise she leans back against the railing behind her. Her hand lifts to her mouth, still pulling in air, still gasping at nothing as she sobs.
The Doctor has faced many things and he's survived many more but this? A crying person---no, no, Rose crying, that's something he doesn't know how to handle. The steam evaporates and he's left staring at her, helpless and uncertain what to do. Should he hold her? Should he...apologize? He can't agree, he won't take her to war. He won't.
Through her tears she can see him looking at her, and he's not allowed to see her this way, it's not fair that she's the one that breaks. It's not fair that she's the one that is the mess when the fight is done, because she knows she's stronger than this. Twisting her body around she turns her back to him, the railing pressing into her waist now gives her something to feel. She pushes hard against it, wishing she'd just disappear, as if the thoughts running in her head could be simply heard by the TARDIS and she'd know... and she'd help her vanish if the TARDIS could hear her begging silently through her tears.
The Doctor hesitates. He takes a deep, uncertain breath and steps towards her. He reaches a hand out to her shoulder, pauses, then lets it rest there. "Rose, I..." What should he say? What would make her stop crying?
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
He's not even close enough for her to turn into but she doesn't care. Her arms reach out and it pulls herself against him. Standing there, being what he always is for her. Steady. Constant. Wrapping her arms around him she knows she's still crying but now it doesn't seem to bother her as much. Now she knows that maybe crying is okay to do. Though the crying does make it a lot harder to understand her, between sobbing breaths, "It's not your fault.. I just don't want them to... I want to do something... can't just stand...."
He's taken a little off-guard by her holding him so tightly and so suddenly. But his arms wrap around her shoulders and it's as if they've always belonged there. He strokes her back in a slow pattern, hoping that, above all things, it will calm.
"I know. I know," he says. "And you hate not knowing. Hate feeling like you're left behind because you've done something wrong. Hate feeling like you could contribute but you can't. I do know." He knows because he's felt it before. He's felt it from the TARDIS, his eternally-waiting companion. Felt it when Susan and Romana went out onto the front lines. He hates that emotion, but he won't...he can't...
The argument doesn't even seem to matter to her at the moment, even though she knows the argument is exactly what mattered the most to her moments ago. She knows she's stubborn, knows that she puts her foot down and that it wobbles for a moment when she's deciding which way to give in. Giving in this time hurts though, it means that she's going to just stand there and let people she cares about fight without her at their side. But she knows, deep down she knows why he won't let it happen, "I shouldn't have asked... I just..."
Her cheek shifts against his sleeve as she sniffles in an effort not to wipe snot on his jacket, but she's pretty sure it's already gotten it's fair share of tears and such. "I don't need to go home, but... can we just not go anywhere." If she's going to have to stay away she at least wants to know that she's not out helping someone else. There can't be anything more important to save than what she's leaving behind. "Can we just stay someplace.... 'til it's..." She almost doesn't even want to say the word, because over means that something will have to happen for it to be over, and what ever that is going to be scares her. She still has to finish her thought, "Til it's over?" She swallows hard pressing her forehead against the Doctor's chest staring at the dark fabric of his tie instead of thinking about how truthful that word sounds to her.
It's an agreement, at least. And she's calming. He nods. "Anywhere you'd like."
The word anywhere seems to hold so much more meaning when it's said by a Time Lord. Mickey'd say it and she'd pick a spot just at the edge of town, or someplace they'd need to stop for petrol on the way so they'd avoid being stranded. With a Time Lord saying Anywhere... it really meant Anywhere, and without even really thinking it over too long Rose knows where she wants to go. Leaning away from him a bit she brushed her thumb against dried tears a bit, "Gallifrey, I want to understand..."
There are a lot of places he expects to hear from her. Eye of Orion. Fifteenth broken moon of the Medusa Cascade. Somewhere that she's never been before, but not Gallifrey. His hearts thud in his chest and his face develops an embarrassing deer-in-headlights look. "That's crossing timestreams, Rose," he says. "It's dangerous."
She's heard that word thrown around so much it almost feels like it has no meaning at all. Dangerous feels like a default warning to her, "So is war."
It is. He knows this. It's a choice. Take her back to Gallifrey or take her to this war. He can compromise. He can...avoid himself, be careful. Firmly, he says, "I won't go back to when it's destroyed. Don't make me live through that again." He thinks about that time, those days. He won't. He can't, he just can't do it again.
Hearing the pain in his voice her brow furrows a bit. Rose pulls her hand from behind him letting her fingers brush carefully against his cheek. To even think that she'd make him do something like that, "I wouldn't ask you to. I... want to know who the Doctor is. Will you let me see that?"
Who the Doctor is. It's such a loaded topic and she probably doesn't even realize that. She can't see the world inside his mind, what parts of him were changed or altered before the War. During...but there is a way for her to see it.
"You don't...I mean...Gallifrey isn't who I am. What's here---" he points to his own temple, "---that's it." He doesn't often connect, and he never ever shares. Only with Reinette and even that was an accident. A beautiful, confusing accident. He looks down at Rose, his best friend and so much more. Nodding inwardly, he offers: "Do you want me to show you that?"
Rose is actually sort of used to not understanding just what the Doctor means when he says something, but there's something in his look, in the way he asks of she wants to be shown that feels like so much more than she's asking for now. It feels like more than just Gallifrey, and despite the small amount of curiosity she knows she's not ready for that, "I really don't think I'd understand that.. but I could see the beginning." The beginning feels right, it almost in a way feels fair. The Doctor saw a young Rose Tyler held in her father's arms, saw her family. Hell he'd met her mother and survived that more than once, "Like you saw mine... before Dad was gone. I could know that for now."
He's immediately disappointed. He's never offered, and she refused. That's the human mind for him; he'll never be able to predict them. He covers it up quickly and nods nonchalantly. "Yeah, yeah, I can...we can do that. Sometime while I was in the Academy, I think. Easy enough to avoid me then, we'll just go straight for the classes, I was never there."
The sound of her own laughter nearly lights up her own features, it feeling like far too long since she's done it. Maybe he's joking with her on purpose, but she doesn't really mind now, "Right, get to be called the Doctor, know all that stuff," looking up at him she raises an eyebrow in question, "...and never went to class?"
The Doctor makes a face. "Hated school. Ridiculous institution. Waste of my time, that's what I would've told you." That is what he told everyone else, and he had the low marks to prove it. The Master always did do so much better in classes than he did. Always had the highest marks, the best projects. The Doctor always worked on pranks for them, never on papers.
Oh, but it's wonderful to see Rose Tyler laughing.
It's nearly come full circle for her now, the wave of emotions that she should be used to by now traveling with him. Still each high is balanced with a low and as she smiles warmly up at his reply she knows it feels like it's been far too long since she's smiled like this, "Well I'll be sure to get you some stickers to pass out, maybe even leaflets or something." Despite the tone in the console room changing, despite the light hearted comments and jokes she knows they've left the fight behind them, but that doesn't mean the battle won't continue on without them. "We should stay bit though... Sam said the sixteenth." The date echoes in her mind and she wonders what Dean is doing to prepare for the what if, and for a moment she almost envies him knowing the date. Glancing back at him she nods almost once more agreeing with his refusal to let her fight, "I know you want me safe... I won't go... but I'd still like to help if I can. Close as to the date as you'll be okay with."
There's a ridiculous amount of irony in this situation, he realizes. "I'm taking you from your home to be safe on the one that I ran away from," he muses. He cups the side of her face gently and can still feel the wet from where she'd been crying. Tears he made, just as she now wears a smile he also gave her. He wonders if it's not war, but him that he should be protecting her from.
There are always moments like these, and she's never really taken the moment needed to realize it, but this time it feels like something more. It feels like the start of something and even though she wants to fight, even though she wants to help her friends she understands that she can't and she still finds it in her to appreciate that he cares enough to stop her from making a mistake. When she breathes in deep she can feel him still close to herself, and when she exhales that same breath she still holds herself close to him, her hands clasping against her own wrists at his back.
He thinks about expressing emotion. About showing her what she means to him. Doing something utterly human and right like...he has no idea what. He takes a breath and his own cowardice kicks in. "Thank you," he says, instead.
Maybe things have changed between them, because they've never had this sort of fight. All the mistakes and times that he's done something that's made her mad... she's been away. It's almost funny to think that she's circumvented his plan of sending her away by asking to go somewhere else. She can still feel his hand cradling her jaw and even that seems to edge toward something she's positive is a change. She's looking into those soulful eyes of his trying to figure him out, which is something she knows she's not the best at. But she knows that he's still there for her so she moves in closer still. She'll never leave. Her words are softly spoken to him with a deep furrow of her brow, "I am sorry, for before." Her mouth shuts drawing her mouth into a tight line for a moment before pulling the bottom one inward a bit, then nearly breathes the truth out to him, "This means a lot to me you know."
"I know." And he does. He's colder and more jaded than he was in his youth, but he's still half human, he can still comprehend her range of emotions. Of emotional needs. "I just want you safe."
He gently brushes her cheekbone with his thumb. "I can't lose everything I care about."
There is that draw of her bottom lip inward at his admission, and she feels her stomach tense inward a bit, pulling in a breath, "You won't lose me. I'd never let it happen again."
And again, that desire to show something more. He glances down at her lips, then looks away. Foolish, of course. "Good."
The very fact that they're still standing there, her arms wrapped around his waist and his hand against her cheek nearly begs for something to happen to spoil the moment, for the TARDIS to lurch to the left, or for something to blink on the console that's never turned on before. But nothing happens, and she's almost wondering if instead for once he's going to let something happen. "Took me far too long to get here, and I'd hate to test if I could find my way back to you. Once was more than enough." She knows it was twice, and her mind reminds her of just how far she really would go to find him, but a part of her still keeps the memory of the first Doctor she'd known in a different part of her. The same man, but to her... still so different.
"Well, you know. The TARDIS is very fond of you. I'd probably set a course for Barcelona and wind up on your doorstep. Sentimental old thing, she is." The TARDIS wants Rose safe as well, he can feel that in his mind. She doesn't approve of him leaving her away from safety, but...she understands wanting Rose safe.
It's avoidance at it's best and she doesn't even mind because this is natural, and despite the closeness and the soft voices, it's something she can accept and trust easily. Her smile curves up into a knowing smirk, nearly tempting him to admit something more, "Well at least I've her on my side, though I might've cheated a'bit."
"Not the way the TARDIS sees it. I can tell."
"She knew you were important to me," and even though she knows what she did was in the past, he's still there for her, "...still are."
"And she knows what you mean to me." The TARDIS does. She feels every emotion; every desire and love. Though now, right now? The TARDIS is being absolutely no help when it comes to what, exactly, he should say to her.
It's not exactly what she was expecting to hear, but the words set her chest to tighten at the sound of them. She hates that she reacts so easily to even the slightest confession that he cares about her, and her attempt at brushing it off barely convinces herself, "At least someone does."
The Doctor takes a breath. They're close now, and he doesn't know how long before something will break this spell. "Rose."
She's heard this tone before, and it sets her chest tighter once more, and she's not even sure she could stop it from feeling like she couldn't breath if she wanted to, "Doctor?"
Slowly and sincerely with every ounce of emotion he has in him he says, "I'm so glad I met you."
If she's disappointed in his words she prays it doesn't show as she still smiles up at him, nodding in agreement, "Me too." She knows they've been too close for too long, and if she just pulls away now she'll realize just what she didn't get from all of this. Instead she presses up onto her toes in her Converse and presses a chaste kiss to his cheek. She's done it before and she's fairly sure she'll do it again. A tiny flutter in her stomach dissipates as she eases back down to rest fully on the soles of her sensible shoes to smile up at him.
For the first time since their fight, he smiles. Genuinely. "We're all right, then? You and I?" There's no harm in confirmation.
It's nearly amazing to see him smile back at her, a real smile too. She's memorized almost all of them too, and she knows that one is just hers. Pulling her arms away from his waist and stepping away from him she returns the smile with the one she knows is just for him as well, "Forever."
OOC: Scene completed with the absolutely amazing banished_dame heart-wrenchingly until an ungodly hour last night while the muses went nuts. Enjoy!