To Be SureAuthor:
Characters and settings belong to the Beeb. I make no claim to them. I’m just here to have fun.Summary:
Cassandra’s left Rose’s body, but the Doctor need to check, just to be sure. . . .Comments:
This piece assumes that Rose doesn't remember the kiss at the end of Parting of the Ways
at least through the beginning of Tooth and Claw
. All indicators in the episode seem to be that she's forgotten events from the moment she looked into the Vortex until the moment she wakes up on the grating. I've often wondered if that was a side effect of her absorbing the vortex, or if the Doctor, as he took the Vortex from her, cleared the memory out of her to leave her A) as untouched by the Time War and the pain and madness of the Vortex as possible and, B) untouched by his desire because he doesn't feel worthy either of her love (well, anyone's love, even after The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
) or of the sacrifice she made on his behalf. Nothing says she didn't remember what happened later (after all, she throws it in the face of the daleks in Doomsday). For the purposes of this fic, she regains her memory later rather than sooner. See my meditation on the evolution of their relationship here
if you have any interest in my thought process about this.Thanks: pie_is_good
for the fine beta.
Do let me know what you think!
Rose leaned back against the TARDIS console and watched as the Doctor slipped inside the door. The sounds of Cassandra's party floated in behind him, people chattering, glasses clinking and, in between them all, one plaintive voice calling for help.
The Doctor shut the door. He wore what Rose had come to think of as his thundercloud brow, a dark look she recognized even on this new face. He strode up the ramp wordlessly, directly toward her. He stopped mere inches from her and looked into her eyes as if searching for something. She'd never seen his eyes so black.
"Before we go, I just want to be sure she's gone," he said. "All of her. Is that all right?"
Rose nodded. It hadn't even occurred to her that some part of Cassandra might still be hidden away inside her. The thought made her shudder.
Well, this made her shudder, too, but in a different way.
The Doctor placed his hands on either side of her head. She closed her eyes. If Cassandra's body snatching had felt like an assault, the Doctor's gentle touch, the way he seemed to pour into her mind, felt like a warm, slow tide.
"If there's anything you don't want me to see..." he almost whispered, his voice low, intimate. Or had he thought it? Rose couldn't be sure. He sounded closer than he'd been before. She parted her lips just a little, enough to ease her breathing, which had gone shallow. She gripped the edges of the console to stay upright.
"There's nothing," she whispered. "Nothing."
He moved inside her mind, then, with more certainty than he had before. It was the difference between a caress across her fingers and the firm hold of his hand around hers. Each was desirable, reassuring, but each was distinct. He knew what he was doing and she was safe with him.
She let her mind relax then. Each memory he touched, he touched with care, opening them as he might carefully push aside a curtain. That memory there--she lived it again--standing on the champion's podium, her heart racing, bowing her head as the bronze medal was placed around her neck. She felt the Doctor swell with pride.
And this memory--she was 14 at a party with mostly older friends. They'd goaded her into playing Spin the Bottle. She'd never been kissed before. She spun and the bottle stopped at Derek Brown, 16, dark-haired and gorgeous. He was sweet and careful with her for that first French kiss, and she was forever grateful. Could a thought smile? Rose felt the Doctor smiling at that memory.
And then that memory: the way the Doctor exploded in a roaring rush of golden light, and how her heart had skipped a beat at the sight of it. She'd been so shocked, so unsure, and so certain she could do nothing but be unafraid of whoever this was in the Doctor's clothes.
And then the way he took her hand.
And the way he looked at her when he did it, his large dark eyes filling her vision, seeming to see inside her, reminding her gently of his very first word to her. Her heart had filled in that moment, recognizing something in this stranger that was as familiar as her own skin. She'd been afraid of that sensation, feeling it so quickly for this person who was somehow someone she recognized and yet completely unknown.
The Doctor embraced her then, whether physically or psychically she couldn't tell, lost in this sharing of minds.
And then, unbidden and unwanted, was the memory of Cassandra using her body to kiss the Doctor, to run her fingers through his hair and devour him. Her cheeks burned with the memory of being inside herself, crowded into one corner by Cassandra, screaming at her to stop, to not ruin it, to not do the one thing Rose had wanted to do for such a long time.
Rose slammed a mental door on that memory, too awful, too revealing to share.
The Doctor withdrew suddenly, and the warmth Rose felt, the heat of his body so close to hers was gone.
She opened her eyes at a loss for breath, slightly dizzy. She held onto the console, unsure of her footing. Even the soft TARDIS light was too bright for her, and she blinked until her eyes adjusted.
She heard it before she saw it, the Doctor about a yard away from her, around the curve of the console, turning squeaky wheels and pulling levers without even a glance at Rose. She shivered.
"Doctor?" she said, uncertain what had just happened. She rubbed her arms to warm herself up.
"She's gone," he said flatly. He didn't look at her.
"That's good, yeah?" she said. She took a small step toward him.
As though there were a physical barrier between them, she couldn't step any closer.
"That's good," he said. He moved away from her, another two steps around the console, and peered into the screen while making some sort of adjustment at the controls. The time rotor began to pump, and the floor grating vibrated as the TARDIS fell into the vortex.
"Doctor, look at me," Rose said in a small voice. After what had just happened between them, somehow more intimate than a kiss, she wasn't having him retreat now.
He stayed focused on the screen.
"Doctor," she repeated, more insistent. He dropped his hands.
He did look at her then, his dark eyes haunted, vulnerable.
She took another two steps closer. The barrier disintegrated somehow; whether the sensation was real or imagined, she was grateful for it.
"Why'd you pull away?"
"Cassandra's gone." He shoved his hands in his pants pockets.
Rose recognized his attempt to cover up. She closed the space between them step by step, never taking her eyes off the Doctor, afraid he'd bolt if she moved too quickly or looked away.
She realized, suddenly, that they stood at the edge of cliff together. She suspected why he'd stepped back; she’d shut the door so quickly, afraid he'd seen her desire exposed to the light. Now was the time to confront it, one way or the other. No secrets, right? And no fear. She swallowed once to loosen up her tightening throat.
When she stood just inches from him, he took his hands out of his pockets. His gaze never left hers. She took his hand, just the way he'd taken hers so long ago.
"Why'd you pull away?" she asked again.
"You shut me out. You didn't want me," he said, plain and honest and quiet, his chin lifted a little defensively, waiting for whatever blow she was going to inflict.
She squeezed his hand and felt the corner of her mouth rise in the tiniest of smiles; she couldn't help it. He'd misunderstood, but his words told her so much more.
"But I do," she said.
His eyes lit up.
"You do? Why did you...?"
She kept his gaze though it took all her courage, and knew without doubt that her cheeks were reddening.
"Cassandra was kissing you, and I . . . " She couldn't finish saying it. She wasn't even sure what she was going to say: that she'd wanted to kiss him? That she was angry at Cassandra for doing it first? That she was afraid of the Doctor's reaction?
The Doctor reached out and took Rose's other hand. He stepped a little closer. His voice now firm and deep and certain, he said, "You didn't know what I would think."
He smiled, his face warming, his eyes crinkling with delight.
"Here's what I think."
He bent his head and kissed her, a slow, thorough kiss that started with just a small pressure, lips against lips, then a nip at her lower lip, and another. He parted his lips then, and slid his tongue gently into her mouth, and she returned it, exploring him in the way he explored her, taking her time, trying to slow the trembling that had overcome her, the rapid beating of her heart.
He withdrew just enough to look into her eyes. Her breath was shallow again, with him so close and the tingle of their kiss fresh on her lips.
"Don't ever think of Cassandra's kiss as our first,” he said. “This was. And here's our second.” He released one of her hands, put his hand on the small of her back, and drew her gently against him.
She couldn't summon words. He bent to kiss her again.