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28 September 2008 @ 08:30 pm
Episode Two: Accomodations  
Episode Two: Accomodations
Disclaimer: Set after season four in the parallel universe. These characters do not belong to us.
Author's Note: A huge thank you to jjtaylor for her inspiration, hand-holding, and for masterminding this whole project, as well as for her keen beta skills. Many thanks also to hominidj and scottxwl for the betas at various stages and for their invaluable kind words and good ideas.

Accomodations


By the time the zeppelin brought them back to the Torchwood hub in London, Rose and the Doctor had fallen asleep on the observatory deck, watching the setting sun. Jackie shook them awake, and they leaned against each other in the street, still half-dreaming, while she hailed a cab. Finally, the car pulled up to the Tyler mansion, and they stumbled onto the lawn, yawning and stretching. Pete came running outside and caught up Rose and Jackie in one embrace, then extended a hand to the Doctor as well and yanked him into the circle of their bodies. For a long moment nobody spoke, and then Pete asked, in the voice of a man who is fairly certain he doesn't want to know the answer to his question, "Where's Mickey?"

"Oh! He's fine--"
"He's back home--"
"He wanted to stay--"
"But he's fine, and we're fine--"
"And it's done, it's over, it's all over and we're all right--"

And then Rose and Jackie were both speaking at once, telling Pete about how they had defeated the Daleks and saved the universe ("Again!" exclaimed Jackie. "How many times is that now, Rose?"), and how all the Doctor's companions had worked together ("And we flew the TARDIS!" "Well, some of us did"), and how Donna had regenerated a whole new Doctor--

and here Jackie broke off, and Rose lifted her chin and said, "And he's come to stay with us, this one."

Pete began to ask a question, but he was interrupted by Jackie, already starting for the house: "Where's Tony?"

Pete trotted off after her. "He's asleep, Jackie, and I've only just got him down, so don't go waking him up now." He put a hand on her shoulder. "He's fine."

Rose and the Doctor watched them go into the house, the lights going on in Tony's room despite Pete's protests, and then she turned to him. "Come on, then, let's get you inside. You look knackered."

"I'm not tired," the Doctor argued, though his dragging feet and drooping eyelids betrayed him. "I'm just... not quite used to this body, is all."

Rose gave him a long look. "Is it very different, being...? I mean, how does it feel?"

He considered her question. "Bit slower than before, I suppose. Feels like I'm moving underwater, now that I think about it. I wonder if it'll always feel that way? But don't worry, I'm an excellent swimmer." He grinned at her, as though she were the one who needed reassuring, until a giant yawn caught him off guard. "And yes, fine, you were right," he added, "I have never felt this tired before in my life."

"I'll save the grand tour for tomorrow then. Let's find you a bed." She meant to turn toward the house, but she hesitated, the moment made suddenly awkward by the mention of a bed. She looked down at their fingers, still intertwined, hoping that the darkness hid the color rising in her cheeks. They'd shared sleeping accomodations before, of course: Rose remembered the tent where they'd spent the night among the Traxen; their prison cell on Risensoritz; soft blankets spread out on the grassy shores of the Final Sea of Alphonse Five. But they'd never shared a bed. She thought of her first night in the TARDIS, brushing her teeth in her little room, listening to the Doctor banging around happily in the control room; wondering where he slept, and if he ever slept, and if he always slept alone. They'd travelled ages together since that time, and yet in some ways, the man standing before her now was just as much of a mystery as he had been then.

He squeezed her hand now, and she looked up at him. "Rose. It doesn't matter where I sleep," he said. "We don't have to decide anything tonight."

She took a deep breath. "All right. We've got plenty of guest rooms, and at least one of them has got to have a bed with sheets on it already. We'll-- We'll get you set up in there for now." It felt odd, to send him off to a different room, but odder still to ask him to spend the night with her. She couldn't imagine inviting him into her bed; the idea was too huge to think about. In that moment, it seemed as though she barely knew him.

Inside, Pete was making tea, which Rose accepted gratefully, but the Doctor declined; now that he had admitted to his exhaustion, he was barely managing to stay upright, and Rose suspected he was looking about for any flat surface where he could lie down. She brought him to one of the guest rooms -- it smelled pleasantly musty, as though someone had prepared for his arrival a long time ago -- and set off to try to find him a toothbrush. By the time she returned, he was already stretched out and snoring on top of the duvet.

She set the toothbrush down on the bedside table and sat down beside him, reaching out to smooth his hair away from his face. She let her fingers trail down his neck and linger on his chest, above his single heart; let her gaze rest on his stubbled cheek, his slackened mouth, the rise and fall of his breathing. It amazed her how he seemed to be taking this transformation so much in stride. How could he stand this half-human body? Didn't he feel trapped here? She remembered the hugeness of her rage and grief when she had first been banished to this universe; how could it be any less awful for him?

She shook her head, willing herself to stop that train of thought, and leaned over to untie his shoes. They clattered to the floor, but the Doctor didn't stir. She laid a hand again over his heart, then shifted herself so she could put her ear there instead, but she couldn't hear anything through the layers of his clothes. Still, he was warm, and he was here, undeniably here, when for so long she'd thought she'd never see him or talk to him or touch him again. Rose slid her arm around his waist, pressing herself to his side, and let the sound and rhythm of his breathing carry her off to sleep.

***

Mickey Smith wasn't the first person that Rose had ever slept with, but -- somewhat to her surprise -- he was the best. And maybe that was why she stayed with him for so long, even knowing that she didn't love him like you were supposed to love the person you were with. Mickey had been one of her best mates for approximately forever. He was a couple of years older than she was, and when she was fifteen he was finished with school and already working; it made him seem very worldly, and Rose liked listening to him talk about his job and how he was saving up to move out of his parents' flat. When she was sixteen she went to the pub with him for the first time, giggling and flirting with the bartender as he inspected her fake ID, and they both got pissed on drinks with silly names and too much vodka; and when she was seventeen he kissed her, sweetly and unexpectedly, in her living room one evening, with Big Brother on the TV and her homework spread out on the coffee table.

Mickey was such a comforting, familiar presence in her life, she barely registered the change when they went from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend. They still spent most nights hanging out with Shireen and Emma and Geoff, only now they sometimes left early so that they could have a little time alone at Mickey's place before Rose had to go home. On the day Rose turned eighteen, Jackie told her over breakfast that if she wanted to spend the night with Mickey now and then, she could. Rose knew this meant her mother considered Mickey a vast improvement over Derek, her previous boyfriend, who had once stolen a packet of Jackie's cigarettes. "He's a good boy," Jackie said now, "and he'd follow you anywhere. You should hang onto this one."

***

Rose woke to the sound of the shower in the bathroom next door. The toothbrush was gone from the table and the Doctor was gone from the bed. She lay there in the morning sunlight until she heard the shower turn off and the faucet turn on; then she sat up quickly, as if coming to a decision, grabbed her shoes, and opened the bedroom door. There was nobody in sight; she felt relieved, though she couldn't have said why. Softly, she padded barefoot down the empty hallway to her own room, and turned the corner to find her mother knocking on her door.

"Sweetheart? It's time to get up. Your dad's made coffee." When there was no reply from Rose's room, Jackie knocked again, louder, before Rose cleared her throat and Jackie saw her standing there holding her shoes. "Ohhh," Jackie said, drawing out the syllable and raising her eyebrows. Rose smacked her lightly on the shoulder, but couldn't hide a small grin.

"It's not what you think," she said, but she knew her smile didn't help to sell the truth of it.

"And why not?" Jackie asked. "What's wrong with him, then?" Rose rolled her eyes, but gave her mother a kiss on the cheek as she brushed past her into the bedroom and shut the door behind her.

At breakfast, the Doctor ate ravenously, demolishing three servings of eggs and four slices of toast before burping slightly, to his surprise, and putting down his fork. Somewhat belatedly, Rose realized she was staring at him, and focused on her own plate instead.

"So!" Pete said, with a genial smile. "What's your plan for the day, Rose? Going to work? Or does the savior of the universe get a day off?"

"I never get a day off, you know that," she said, keeping her voice light. "And I want to show off Torchwood to the Doctor, see if he has any suggestions for us." She looked at her wristphone, sighed, and stood up. "We should really be going. You don't want to be late for your first day of work, Doctor, do you?"

"Oh, absolutely not! That would be terribly bad form, wouldn't it? Let's go! What are we doing hanging around here when the world needs defending? Come on, haven't you finished yet?" Before she could stop him, he reached over and scooped up a massive forkful of eggs from her plate and shovelled them into his mouth.

"Hey!" Rose tried to look mad, but inside, she was unaccountably giddy. He could eat off my plate for the rest of my life, she thought, and it was like a bubble rising in her chest. "Well, I guess I'm finished, then. Oh, before we leave, you should get a key to the house. Dad, have we got an extra one?"

***

Rose's first day at Henrik's was fairly uneventful, apart from the fact that it was her first day at Henrik's, or indeed at any job. She knew the excitement was likely to fade quickly, but there was something thrilling about going to work, meeting her co-workers, putting in a request when Gina went on a coffee run at 11. A real job! She was just folding sweaters and showing customers to the dressing rooms right now, but soon she'd work her way up to a cashier position. Maybe she'd learn enough to open her own store one day. She could sell the clothes and jewelry that Shireen was always making, and they'd make enough money to move into a flat together, and Rose would learn to cook more than just spaghetti, and it would be just the two of them, plus Mickey, and all their friends would come round all the time. It would be perfect.

She caught her first shoplifter in her first week on the job, a thirteen-year-old girl wearing chipped nail polish and a t-shirt that read "Queen Bitch." When Rose confronted her, she tried to run, but she knocked over a lingerie display in the process, and Rose grabbed her before she could get away. "What have you got in there?" Rose asked, pointing to the oversized purse the girl was carrying.

"Nothing," she said, but she looked defeated. Rose dug into the bag and retrieved a smaller handbag, a tube of extremely red lipstick, two tank tops, and two lacy bras, size 32A. She looked over at the girl, who was chewing on her lower lip. "Are you going to call my mum?" the girl asked.

"Of course." But Rose couldn't help feeling sorry for the girl; she had a sullen attitude and bad breath, neither of which had probably won her many friends, and Rose was not particularly looking forward to talking to her mother either. Besides, she and Shireen had shoplifted a few times when they were the same age -- never anywhere as expensive as Henrik's, but at least this girl had better taste than they'd had. She sighed. "Okay, look. Maybe I don't have to call your mother. You have a choice. Either I call her and we have a nice chat, or you leave now and you never come into this store ever again. What do you think?"

The girl opted to leave, after Rose had thoroughly emptied out her purse and checked all her pockets. "Bye now! Don't come back!" Rose called cheerily as she left. For the rest of the day, she felt proud, as though by giving the girl a break, she had made a real difference in her life. Maybe she'd see the error of her ways. Maybe she'd make some friends and never shoplift again. It was a pleasant fantasy, but it was ruined only a few days later when Rose saw the girl running down the street, pursued by a security guard from the Tesco's next door.

She told the whole story to Mickey and Shireen that night, who both laughed at her. "Come on, Rose. Do you really think it would have stopped us stealing things if someone had caught us and then let us go?" Shireen asked. "No! It would have just made it better. We didn't steal lip gloss and magazines about Westlife -- shut up, Mickey -- because, I dunno, because nobody liked us. We did it because it was fun, and because we wanted to be rebels."

"Well, maybe we would have stopped if..." Rose didn't know how to finish that sentence.

"Nah, you only left off stealing when you started hanging round me more," said Mickey, looking the very picture of piety. "And when you stopped spending all your time with this young hooligan here." Shireen stuck out her tongue at him, and he grinned.

"We only stopped shoplifting because we grew up, Rose. And someday she will too."

***

The day was grey and cloudy when Rose and the Doctor left the mansion, and by the time they arrived at Torchwood it had begun to rain steadily. Jumping the curb, the Doctor landed in a puddle and splashed his trousers with dirty water. "Oh, bloody fantastic," he sighed, and Rose was startled to hear an echo of Donna in his voice.

When they got to the office, it was already buzzing with frantic energy; Rose was greeted with a shout from Alice, a tall woman with greying hair and a gruff demeanor. "Tyler! We just picked up a message from a Gravenor ship. Bad news -- sounds like there's been some kind of coup back home. Their leader's been killed. Major fighting in the ranks. They're changing course, could be on their way to Earth."

The Doctor's eyes widened; Rose glanced at him, then said calmly, "How many of them are there?"

"Just the one ship, as far as we can tell, but it's a big one. Maybe five thousand."

"We should--" the Doctor began, but she held up a hand.

"And how far away are they?"

"Just a few days, at the speed they're going."

"Rose, this is--"

"All right, I want us to hold off on contacting them until we know where they're headed, but we should start making preparations. Is the Pfeffen Shield back up yet?"

"Running around 60%. It won't be at full strength again until next week at the earliest."

"Rose." The Doctor took her arm in a tight grip. "A Gravenor warrior ship? Do you know how bad this is?"

There was a moment's silence, and then Rose pulled up her shirt to reveal a long, ragged scar across her abdomen. "Yes," she said quietly. "I know exactly how bad this is."

***

Rose had been at Torchwood for close to a year before she met Rajiv Thompson, even though she walked past his desk nearly every day. He had deep brown eyes and pictures of colorfully grotesque diseases on his cubicle walls, but it wasn't until Rose dumped half a pot of lukewarm coffee on him that she paid him any attention.

"Oh! I'm-- I'm so sorry!" She was clutching the empty coffee pot in one hand and covering her mouth with the other as the person in front of her stared in shock down the front of his shirt, once a light green. He looked up at her, and Rose was horrified to feel one corner of her mouth turning up. Hurriedly, she tried to explain, "I'm sorry, I wasn't-- I heard Jake call me-- I should have looked-- but I've been waiting for-- and you were right there-- and I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'll buy you..." She trailed off as she realized, first, that he was grinning at her, and second, that she was smiling back.

"You'll buy me what? Dinner? A drink? Better not make it coffee."

"A new shirt, I was going to say."

"Oh, but this old thing only cost me a few pounds anyway. I'd much rather milk you for more than that."

He winked at her, and she laughed nervously and looked away. Everyone in the office was listening to them; an accident like this was hard to miss, especially one that depleted their coffee supply, but now that he was flirting with her, she felt suddenly embarrassed. What was she supposed to say? Didn't everyone here know that she was trying to get back to the Doctor? Couldn't they figure out why?

She managed to put him off, but the next day he saw her eating lunch in the Torchwood cafeteria and came over to join her, uninvited but not unwelcome. They were there for over two hours, talking and laughing and making sculptures out of the remains of their meals. As it turned out, Rajiv specialized in alien diseases and parasites, which gave him plenty of opportunities to try to gross her out while she was eating. She liked that he could tease her without being mean, and that he respected her position at Torchwood without acting deferential to her. And he seemed genuinely fascinated by her stories, not just about travelling with the Doctor, but about everything she'd done with Torchwood since she'd started working there. She'd been all over the world, turned back more than a few alien threats; Earth, in this universe, was even more of an alien magnet than Earth back home, and Torchwood kept Rose very busy.

But now that she had a new friend, she didn't mind the long hours quite as much. Rajiv got on well with Mickey too, and the three of them started going out for drinks after work, one, then two, sometimes three nights a week. Often other people joined them: Jake, or Alice, or Miranda, a weapons specialist with slightly crooked teeth in a big, friendly smile, who seemed particularly interested in Mickey. One night Miranda and Mickey left together, and Rose watched Mickey put a hand on Miranda's back as she stepped into the cab. She felt a brief pang, of nostalgia more than regret; but whatever it was, it must have shown on her face, because Rajiv was looking at her curiously when she turned her attention back to their group.

Over a late dinner at the mansion the next night, Rose began pestering Mickey for details about Miranda. "Do you like her? Is she a good kisser? Could she beat you up? Do you think she's prettier than me?" She'd meant for it to be lighthearted, a joke -- after all, they were long past any attempts to rekindle their own relationship -- but she could tell that last question had struck a nerve.

After a moment, Mickey looked at her. "Yes, I like her. I like her a lot. That's all I'm gonna say about her."

Chastised, Rose mumbled, "I'm sorry," and reached for her glass.

"Rose." Mickey's voice was serious. "Are you... How long are you going to try to get back to the Doctor?"

"As long as it takes!" She heard the petulance in her tone, and winced. "I have to find him, Mickey. You know I do."

"I know how much he means to you, and I know you were happier with him than-- than I've ever seen you. But you know, you could be happy here too." When Rose didn't respond, he continued. "Look, I wasn't the one for you, and that's all right. But there are other people out there, besides the Doctor. Don't forget that."

***

The Doctor paced the floor of the conference room while Rose stood still, looking out the tenth-story window at London below.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked.

"What, about the Gravenor?" she asked. "Or do you want me to tell you about every alien race that's come calling? Every time we've had to fight for our lives?"

"Yes!" he said, impatiently, and she threw up her hands.

"There's too much to tell," she said, turning away from the window, "and anyway, it doesn't matter now."

"It matters because it happened to you," he said, his voice low. "Because you were hurt."

She met his eyes. "I've been hurt worse."

After a moment, he dropped his gaze to the table between them. "At least tell me what happened with the Gravenor."

Rose left the window and sat down at the head of the conference table. "The short version is, they came, they tried to conquer, we put up a hell of a fight, they went away. It was about four months ago. They wanted to use Earth as a breeding ground, use humans as incubators." She paused. "It was horrible. When the babies were ready, they just... ripped people apart, from the inside." She shook her head. "But we figured out a way to... to halt the incubation process, without damaging the host. Rajiv was the one -- er, you'll meet him later, he's brilliant with parasites. Anyway, we finally drove them off, but it took a long time. We lost some good people in that fight."

"And now they've come back for another go," said the Doctor.

"That's what it looks like," she agreed.

"All right, then. What's the plan?"

"Well, Plan A is, hope we're wrong. Plan B is, try to talk them into leaving again. Plan C is, put up a terrific fight. And Plan D is, die painfully. What do you think?"

He said proudly, "I think you learned from the best." She smiled, and he continued, "But I don't think talking to them is going to work. The Gravenor are relentless; it's a miracle they left last time, but they won't make the same mistake twice. Besides, if they were able to reproduce here, they probably haven't found anywhere else that works. Earth has a very specific chemical makeup that no other planet can touch, at least not until the 51st century, and that's a long way off. No, they're probably starting to get desperate, and if there's been a revolution, they're certainly feeling unstable, and maybe even scared. And nothing unites a society faster than a victory in war. They're going to want blood."

"Yes, thank you, we've already thought of all that. But we have something they're not expecting."

"Oh? And what's that?"

She stood up. "Follow me."

***

Rajiv's flat was only two Tube stops away from Torchwood, and so on nights when both he and Rose worked late, they would often finish the evening with a pint at a pub in his neighborhood. One night in February, with a bitter wind rising outside, they stayed for another drink, and another, and another. It was only a few weeks after their triumph over the Gravenor, but the battle had taken its toll; several members of their team were still in hospital, and one of them had died that day, having never recovered from her injuries. As the evening wore on, their conversation turned from memories of Letitia to their fears about the seemingly endless parade of would-be invaders always at their doorstep, to confessions of nightmares that they would one day, inevitably, make a disastrously wrong decision and endanger the lives of everyone on the planet. A slow, sad song was playing from the jukebox in the corner; they ordered another round. When they finally left the pub, noses peeking out above thickly wrapped scarves, Rajiv took Rose's gloved hand, and she didn't pull away. Neither of them spoke as he led her down the street to the doorway of his building, digging in his pockets for his keys; and then she leaned forward and kissed him.

She heard his keys fall to the ground as he took her face in his hands; she took a step backwards and he followed eagerly, pressing her up against the arched wall of the doorway. Licking along his lips, his tongue, she opened her mouth to him, letting him in, feeling the warmth and the wetness of him. He slid a knee between her legs and she moaned into his mouth.

After that first time, they began spending the night together with some regularity; and it was so simple to fall asleep next to him, to wake up with him curled around her, to forget that there was anything else in the world but the two of them in their own private universe. But each time she left his flat, she felt uneasy, as though it were only a matter of time before this sweet, fragile thing collapsed in on itself, and it would be her fault when it did.

***

In the elevator, Rose pressed a complicated sequence of buttons, and then a panel slid away from the console, revealing an old-fashioned-looking lock, into which she fitted a large iron key. The elevator dropped. When the doors opened, they were in a dimly-lit corridor that stretched away on both sides. "Where are we?" the Doctor asked.

"We're in the Torchwood dungeon." She opened a heavy wooden door. "Meet our secret weapon."

The Doctor peered into the gloom, as though his eyes were having trouble adjusting. Suddenly a face loomed out of the shadows and pressed itself against the glass between them. It was thin and angular, a pale greenish color, with slits for a nose and sharp teeth protruding from a black gash that must have served as a mouth. It had eight eyes, tiny black beads, ranged in two rows of four down each side of its head. As it studied them, turning its head this way and that, it opened its mouth and let out a high, mournful sound.

"No," the Doctor breathed.

Rose looked at him uncertainly. "Yes," she said. "It's a juvenile Gravenor. One of the babies. We killed most of them, but we kept a few to study."

"Study?" His voice was sharp. "What, are you experimenting on them? How many have you got?"

"We needed to know more about them in order to figure out how to stop them. It was the only way."

"How many have you got?" he repeated.

"We had a dozen," she said. "Now we're down to just two."

He was silent a moment, then turned on her and gripped her shoulders. "No. Not you, Rose. How could you do this? These are innocent creatures, and you're-- you're torturing them."

"Innocent? They killed people the moment they were born!"

"That's not their fault! They had no control over where they were born."

She stared at him. "I don't get it. Just a few minutes ago, you told me they were relentless killers. Now you want to protect them?"

"I want you to defend yourselves, yes. But not like this. Not by conducting experiments on children! I thought you'd understand that. Oh, but Torchwood, it's the same in every universe. You're too busy saving your own skins to care about anything else. Victory at any cost, that's all that matters."

"Doctor, that's not fair. We're trying to save ourselves with as little killing as possible. That's the plan. We want to meet with the Gravenor leader and trick them into single combat with Edgar here. If Edgar wins, then he'll take over the ship, and we can easily manipulate him into leaving; we've been conditioning him to respond to our commands. With him in charge, we can send the Gravenor away without any more lives being lost."

The Doctor gave her a long look. "This isn't you, Rose."

She refused to break his gaze. "Maybe it is now."

***

It was an ordinary Friday afternoon in late April when Jake came to find Rose in her office, where she was studying a report from the Royal Greenwich Observatory on an unusually high number of irregularities in their observations: spots of complete blankness in the sky. She looked up when he came in. "Jake, have you seen this? The stars are--"

"Rose, you need to come see the cannon. We think it's started to work."

"What? The dimensional cannon? But-- oh my god. Oh my god." She dropped the report and ran out of the room, Jake following behind her. On her computer screen, a message from Rajiv popped up: Want to catch a movie tomorrow?

The dimensional cannon was humming faintly, a soft noise that somehow seemed to take up all the space in the room. Rose put a hand on it in wonder, and then snatched it away; the cannon was hot to the touch. She looked at Jake. "How...?"

"We don't know. It just started making that noise, and the readings are completely different from anything we've seen from it before."

"Have you tested it?"

"Not yet. We wanted to wait for you."

They tested it with an apple first, sending it through and bringing it back after a few seconds. It was a puddle of goo when it returned, but the attempt was still more successful than anything they'd tried since the cannon was first invented, and Rose found there were tears running down her face. It's working, she thought in amazement. I'm going to find the Doctor after all.

She didn't speak to Rajiv for the rest of the day, guiltily ignoring his IMs, and going home early to avoid seeing him after work. They'd never talked about their relationship, preferring not to expose it to too much scrutiny, and she had been grateful to him for not asking anything more of her. But she knew she owed him an explanation, and so the next day she called him and asked him to meet her at a pub near the Thames they both liked. As soon as they sat down, he asked, "What's going on?"

She cleared her throat; she'd rehearsed this part. "It's the dimensional cannon. It's started working. There's still some adjustments to be made before it's safe for us to use, but it's almost ready." From the look on his face, she knew he understood what that meant, but she had to say it out loud. "I'm going to find the Doctor. I'm going to return to him."

"I see." He sounded resigned, and it surprised her; somehow she'd expected him to be angry. She pressed on:

"Rajiv, I'm sorry. I... This is what I've been waiting for, ever since I came here. All I've wanted... And it's been wonderful, with you. Really. If things were different... But I have to get back to him."

"Look, I get it," he said. "You don't owe me anything. This was just... just friends, having some fun together. All right? It never meant anything."

"No, but--" She wanted to say, It did mean something, but she couldn't bring herself to do it.

He waited for a moment, but she didn't say anything else. Finally he said, "Was that all? Because I've got to go, actually." She nodded mutely, and he slid out of the booth, grabbed his jacket, and walked out the door, leaving his drink untouched.

On Monday, he was polite but distant with her, and at the end of the day they went their separate ways. It was the same on Tuesday, and every day that week. Rose ate lunch with Mickey in the cafeteria, or with Jake in the lab where they were working on the cannon, and in the evenings she went out with the same group of people from work, except that Rajiv always had other plans, and Miranda had left Torchwood -- and Mickey -- after nearly being killed in the Gravenor invasion, and so in practice it was often just her and Mickey once again; and by the next week they were in the midst of another crisis, with the stars going out and the walls of all the dimensions collapsing, and so in the end it wasn't very hard to stop thinking about Rajiv after all.

***

The atmosphere in the main Torchwood office was tense when Rose and the Doctor returned from the dungeon. They had been tracking the Gravenor ship for the last few hours, trying to determine its course, but it was moving so erratically it was difficult to make any sense out of its path. Rose tried to focus on the display screen, but she was distracted, thinking about her argument with the Doctor. Weren't they doing the right thing? It could be so hard to tell sometimes, but Rajiv had understood what they were trying to accomplish; Mickey had understood it. The Doctor might not approve, but he also hadn't been there with them when the Gravenor had attacked. He hadn't seen the bodies of those who had been used as hosts, bellies split open, faces frozen in obscene grimaces of horror. What right did he have to tell her what to do?

She was startled out of her thoughts by a collective intake of breath from everyone in the room. She looked at the screen in confusion, not sure what she was seeing. "Er-- where did the ship go?" she asked.

Alice turned to her, shocked, and said, "It just... disappeared!"

Rose squinted at the screen again. "It's gone? But how?"

Jake spoke up beside her. "There was a revolution on board, right? Maybe one side sabotaged the ship?"

"Blew it up, you mean?" Alice asked.

For a moment nobody spoke, and then somebody started clapping, and somebody else started cheering, and soon the room was full of whistling and stamping and yelling. Relief washed through Rose, and she looked at the Doctor, trying to catch his eye; but he wouldn't look at her. Instead, he pushed through the crowd to the door, and Rose let him go.

Later, after the cheers had subsided, and everyone had more or less returned to their work, she went to look for him, checking every room she could think of. She found him sitting in the lobby, watching the people going by on the street outside. "Can I join you?" she asked, and he moved over on the couch without a word. They sat in silence for a few minutes, until she said, "So it looks like we don't need to keep Edgar and Jane around anymore."

"Outlived their usefulness, have they?" he said, his tone flat. "I suppose you'll just kill them now."

"No!" she said, horrified. "How can you say that?"

"Because it's what you do. What Torchwood does."

"Doctor. Listen to me," she said. "We've done some things that you don't like, and I'm sorry that upsets you. We did what we thought was necessary, and I won't apologize for that. But I want to make it right, as much as I can. So I'm asking your advice. What do you think we should do with them now?"

He considered her question. "Well, you can't keep them where they are," he said. "They need sunlight and fresh air. You can't release them, of course; they're far too dangerous. Would a zoo take them? It's still a cage, but at least there'd be someone to care for them."

She nodded decisively. "All right, we'll try to place them in a zoo. I'll make some calls."

He turned to look at her, studying her face. "You're a different person now," he said finally, as though it surprised him.

"And so are you," she said. "But I'm still Rose Tyler." She held out her hand. "Pleased to meet you."

He took her hand, and a smile spread slowly across his face. "Lovely to meet you, Rose," he said. "I'm the Doctor."
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Scott: Leelascottxwl on September 29th, 2008 10:26 am (UTC)
Fucking brilliant. Perfect ending!
kate!: dw: holding handsgreendreaming on October 16th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
Thanks! And thanks for helping me work out the ending, too; I think it really helped to talk over the story with you. I'm so glad you liked it!
J.J.: rose and the blue box (smercy)jjtaylor on October 1st, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
*flails*

I love it so much. Such a fantastic look at Rose at work and in relationships, and at who she's become. Wonderful!
kate!: dw: holding handsgreendreaming on October 16th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
Yay, thanks! I'm so glad you liked it! It was really fun to write, too. :D
pale but interestingnovembersmith on October 6th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
So, uh, I just got into Doctor Who and have been stalking around the internet looking for a way to soothe the pain that was the Season Four finale, and holy crap, I totally found it. I'm incredibly excited to read the rest of this. I love your Doctor and your Rose, subtly different--grown up, almost, the way she never really was in Season Two.

...also, I sort of think the baby Gravenor is adorable. In a bloodthirsty way. I see where the Doctor is coming from--it's just a baby, you know? That's been such a theme in the show... innocence and making choices, drawing the line and taking responsibility for drawing it. It's awesome that you guys went there, took that and used it to explore this new universe and ugh, in a second I'll be rambling about how sexy your continuity is, so I'll just stop. In conclusion: AWESOME.
kate!: dw: holding handsgreendreaming on October 16th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, thank you! I'm really pleased that you liked it so much.

...also, I sort of think the baby Gravenor is adorable. In a bloodthirsty way.

Hee, totally!