Title: Time to Kill (1/4)
Pairings/Characters: Ten/Rose, others
Genre: Romance, angst, fluff, sci fi.
Spoilers: None; set series two.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is © of the BBC.
Summary: The ageing of organisms and the cruelness of men. The Doctor and Rose are begining to learn not everything can be fixed at the right time.
Chapter Excerpt: His voice raw, and with barely contained croaky fear, he whispered into her ear, "Stay perfectly still. Don't move or speak unless I tell you to."
A/N: This was going to be a one shot. I really wanted it to be a one shot, the darn thing. But it wouldn't agree. And expanded into something of a four shot instead.
Time to Kill
Disappointment, so trenchant she can taste it, is radiating from the Doctor in waves, and Rose suddenly feels nothing more than the urge to run right back the way she came. His eyes don't linger on her; they're back on the TARDIS control console in a matter of seconds, and she can't really blame him. His shoulders slump, and he is staring down at the TARDIS screen in utter dismay. He looks away, hands rubbing against his forehead and twitching at the bridge of his nose.
Breath caught in her throat, and already knowing the answer, Rose asks quietly, "Did... did we make it in time?"
He looks at her and silently shakes his head. His gaze lasts barely a second before he turns back to the console. Rose nods numbly, her head drooping. She'd known before she even set foot in the TARDIS; had seen it, almost been caught in the middle of it. But now, hearing it confirmed, she feels the realisation and self-recrimination stab her in the chest and twist through her heart like a knife.
This is her fault. There are lives out there, possibly dozens, lost because of her, either dead or driven insane. Because of her. Guilt wraps itself around her tightly, the knowledge of the deaths her stupid, clumsy self has caused eating up at her. She cannot bare to even look at the Doctor. He had promised them all, each one on that planet they had just left, that they would all live. That no one else would die.
He has broken that promise because of her.
Her and the Doctor had been hoping for a holiday when it began. They were visiting the quiet town of Balaquire on the planet of Fawn, where the Doctor told Rose that the waves of their orange sea sang melodies along the beaches and the shops held merchandise envied deeply by several thousand galaxies. Only, their holiday didn't come, and they were to discover the severe time dysfunctions that had cascaded the town every six days for the last two years.
Rose had never witnessed anything like it before.
They had arrived within about six minutes of the disruption and the streets were eerily quiet, the few individuals outside either staring up at the orange sky or closing their eyes tightly, arms wrapped around their bodies like armour. The people on this planet all looked human enough – with olive skin and cocoa eyes – though there was a distinctly alien look about them all, as if their features were slightly disjointed.
A woman stood in the doorway of a bakery, her expression frozen in fear as she stared up at the sky, eyes sparkling with barely contained tears.
A young boy of hardly eight-years-old was sat on the pavement only meters from where Rose was stood, his body rocking gently back and forth, looking anxiously about the street.
A man was stood with his eyes closed under an old oak tree near the bakery, his hand on his chest as he mumbled something that sounded like a rhyme, over and over, under his breath.
The Doctor sensed it immediately just before it came; his eyes widening, darting around in swift jerks, he took several steps back.
"Doctor..." Rose watched his panicked face with dreadful concern. "What is it?" she asked, watching as he looked back the the way they had come, where the TARDIS was parked a few streets back from them and around several corners. They had been headed down to the beach, where Rose had been promised one of the most delicious ice creams in this galaxy and hours of nothing but a singing sea and pink sand.
The Doctor quickly grabbed Rose toward him, his arms around her waist, his stomach touching hers, keeping her face close to his neck. She could feel the steady, loud thrumming of his hearts against her chest. His voice raw, and with barely contained fear, he whispered into her ear, "Stay perfectly still. Don't move or speak unless I tell you to."
Confused and concerned, Rose did as he said, resisting the urge to mutter something witty about him ordering her around, she remained still and silent. The clear fear and perfect stillness was what frightened her the most. Usually, if there was any oncoming danger the Doctor would grab her hand and they would run. This sudden need to have her so close, her breath whispering against his neck, and their statue like composure; it was deadly unsettling. She could see nothing but the tiny freckles dotting the Doctor's neck and only feel his bristly hairline against the top of her cheek.
But her hearing seemed to pick up on everything; the Doctor's harsh, swift breaths and the fast, double beats in his chest; the child's shifting rocking, to and fro; the man's muttered, tuneless song.
The silence was so abrupt when it came, it caused a sharp breath to catch in her throat.
Everything stopped for what felt like hours, but was probably several seconds; even the Doctor's breathing seemed to cease.
Then, so sudden Rose flinched, a high, piercing scream swept sharply through the area. It froze her senses and she felt a chill run through her bones at the utter terror in the screech. The Doctor's arms tightened around her and Rose hugged him back, terrified. Whatever was causing the scream, the Doctor didn't move to help, didn't attempt to shift away from whatever it was either. Around them Rose felt a cool, fast breeze sweep through her hair.
"Close your eyes," the Doctor's voice murmured into her ear, tinged with a raw thickness and strain she had never heard in his tone before.
Rose obeyed without thinking, the terrible, howling scream still echoing in her ears. The wind was getting louder and she thought there might be a light pushing against her closed lids. A grinding sound seemed to be edging against the gust; it was an almost metallic scraping that sounded a little like... the TARDIS? And yet, it had a sinister, louder edge, like it was broken. Rose so desperately wanted to turn from the Doctor's vice-like grip and take a look at what was happening around her, but the Doctor's arms were tightening and the howling noise made her too afraid to move.
Then, as sudden as it started, everything stopped.
They were left almost breathless, the silence abrupt and taking every sound away with it. Rose could only hear her breath, tickling against the Doctor's neck; the Doctor's double beats drumming against her chest; his short breaths blowing her hair. There was no muttering rhyme from the man under the tree. No shuffling from the small boy sat on the curb. No wind, or broken metallic grinding of time and the vortex.
Rose opened her eyes as the Doctor gently leaned away from the hug, his arms falling to his side as he took a step back, looking around. "It's okay," he murmured softly. "We're okay."
Rose didn't reply, her eyes caught on something meters away from them, any words she might have had caught chokingly within her throat. A little away from them, where minutes before there had been a small boy sat on the pavement, there was now a crippled, old man lying on his back; his eyes staring up at the sky, empty and glassy; his skin a cream grey, decaying and withered. He was very clearly dead. Rose's hand shot to her mouth. He had definitely not been there before. But where was the little boy? Why was this man in his place? Unless he was the... oh, god.
"Doctor," Rose whispered hoarsely, her head shaking, "What... what's happened?"
But as Rose looked up she noticed the Doctor was not by her side, his attention caught by something else. Rose walked over to where he was stood, her gaze following his to a woman lying on the ground. She let out a sharp breath. It was the woman who had been stood outside the bakery. Except she now looked so very different, totally contorted. Half of her face was the clear complexion she'd been before – brown hair, brown eyes – but the other half was a terrible grey, with haggard, wrinkled skin and white hair meeting the brown hairline in the middle. Her mouth was open in clear pain, but no sound was coming out; her fists – one a perfect creamy peach, the other wrinkled and frail – were clenched tightly in agony. She stared at the sky and slow moving tears fell down her cheeks.
Beside her, Rose heard the Doctor's mournful, sincere words as he stared at the woman, "I'm so sorry."
Rose looked up at him, eyes pleading, "Can't we do something?"
His gaze met hers, powerful and tired, dark eyes looking into hers. "We can't," he said regretfully.
She looked from the dead, old man lying in the street to the contorted, agonised woman. The man who had been murmuring gently in a mumbled, continued rhyme was gone, Rose noticed, and she wondered if he was safe, indoors or somewhere. After what she'd just seen... god, she hoped so. "What happened to them? That thing, before, what was that?"
The Doctor swallowed thickly, his chin raising as he looked grimly at her. "I think it was a time surge, Rose."
"A time surge. It manipulates and breaks the ageing of organisms, either speeding up the ageing process, or slowing it down. Deadly and totally out of place for this planet. They cause chaos, and when you get caught in one..." he trailed off, his gaze falling back in between the distorted woman and the old, dead man that had minutes before been a small boy. "I could sense it," he went on. "Just before it came, and I knew there was a weak point right where we were standing. We were safe there. But these two..." The Doctor swallowed and his gaze darkened.
Rose frowned slightly, about to say something when a loud, booming male voice behind them interrupted her, "Excuse me; you there!"
They swivelled around to find several men in smartly dressed black suits walking towards them. One was standing in the middle, calling out to them with a furrowed brow, as others stood at either side of him. Behind the front man there were several others in pairs, each supporting a stretcher between them.
The group stopped in front of Rose and the Doctor, and Rose was able to see that the group were all native to the planet, with the same olive skin and cocoa eyes as the woman lying on the pavement beside them. "What are you doing here?" the man who had spoken before asked as he walked towards them. "You're not locals. How did you get here? Who are you?" As he spoke, two of the men behind, with a stretcher balanced between them, had walked over to the old man lying dead on the ground, and were carefully placing him onto it.
"Oh." The Doctor idly pulled on an earlobe. "Us? No one really – we're just passing through; tourists mostly. Came to see this beautiful place! Although," he glanced around at the deserted streets and boarded up shops, "Not as much going on as the last time I came here. Well," he looked solemnly at the woman now being put gently onto a stretcher, "Nothing good."
The man was frowning, his gaze skirting between Rose and the Doctor. "I don't understand. How are you... you're not hurt. How can that be? This has just been declared a time surged area. It was seized by the surge moments before – I don't see how you can be... here." He shook his head.
Behind him, Rose saw another man, taller than the one they were speaking to, broader and strong. He was staring intently at Rose; as soon as he saw her looking he smiled gently, but Rose looked quickly away. It was just a smile – yet she couldn't help thinking there was something else hidden in his blue eyes. Something cold and icy. Something she did not like.
"Well, I'm sure you've had plenty of other lucky escapes," the Doctor was saying idly, looking around at the group of men. "How else have you all survived? You must have been fairly nearby."
"We travelled to the edge of the surge by motor," the man replied in defiance, with a rise of his chin.
"Really?" the Doctor said. "What for?"
"It's our job to collect the people caught in the surges and take them to be buried or placed in the appropriate institutions."
"What, you mean you can predict where those time things are gonna happen?" Rose asked in frowning curiosity, bringing the man's attention to her.
He stared at her for several seconds, and for a moment Rose thought he wasn't going to answer. "No," he said finally, and rather curtly, turning sharply away from her and back to the Doctor.
"Then how'd you know where to come?" she asked, with growing annoyance.
Again, he stared at her, eyes boring in with an odd curiosity this time. The Doctor watched the exchange, his expression mostly unreadable, but with a glint of pride shining in his eyes. "Luck," the man said with a small shrug. "The motors break down when we reach a recent time surge for some reason, so we knew this was the place." He then turned sharply back to the Doctor, "Forgive me, sir, but how exactly are you here? And how were you ignorant to all of this information before?"
"Oh, like I said. Visitors – that's us." The Doctor shrugged, a grin pulling across his features. "Just tourists, passing through."
The man stared steely at him, and his gaze was cold. "Tourism is dead, sir, as you very well should know."
The Doctor's smile fell slightly, as he stared back at the man's grim features. "Right," he said. "Sorry, of course, absolutely right... uhm, what was your name?"
"Takin. Mr Jaron Takin. And who are you exactly?"
"Right, good to meet you Mr Takin." The Doctor's grin was back firmly in place. "I'm the Doctor," he pointed to Rose, "and this is Rose Tyler."
Takin glanced once at Rose, "Charmed."
Rose simply glowered at him.
"A doctor of medicine?" Takin asked the Doctor.
"Well, no, a Doctor of everything really. Though I can be all doctor-ish with medicine if you'd really like. I'm very clever actually."
"And so modest," muttered Rose, voice dripping with sarcasm.
"And how exactly, Doctor," he spat the name like it was foul word, "did you and Ms Taylor get here?"
"It's Tyler," Rose corrected him irritably, to which Takin chose to ignore.
"Oh, we have a, uhm," the Doctor pointed vaguely in the TARDIS's direction, "...special ship. Disappears here, reappears there. Very good for, you know, tourist stuff. For tourists. Like us." He gave a toothy grin.
Instead of being reassured by this, Takin merely looked upon the Time Lord and his companion in dislike. Glowering at them for a few seconds, he abruptly clicked his fingers, summoning three well built men from behind him. One of them, Rose noticed, was the burly man who had been watching her. "Their story doesn't fit," Takin told the guards simply. "Take them to Prison sector six, have them locked up and questioned."
The Doctor's grin vanished as though it were never there. "Takin," he said quickly. "Listen to me – these time surges, I can help you with them. They shouldn't be here –"
" –Doctor, I must insist –"
" –and if I can find out who's causing them –"
"– I really don't have time for this –" Takin was growing frustrated.
" – I can stop them from happening!" the Doctor insisted, his voice rising considerably.
It was then that the guards apparently decided enough was enough, drawing out their guns and pointing them threateningly at the Doctor. "I'm sorry Doctor," Takin sighed. "I must ask you to follow these men now."
For a moment the Doctor simply glowered at Takin, his eyes dark. Rose put her hand to his shoulder, and he looked round at her, his gaze softening instantly. Sighing, he nodded regretfully and they followed the guards as they walked from the way they had come. A hand dug in Rose's shoulder as one of the men placed one of his large hands there; nails clawed down at the skin and she resisted the urge to wince. Looking up, she felt something shift in her stomach when she realised it was the man with the cool, blue eyes with his hand on her, still staring at her.
"What was your name?" the man asked her, almost conversationally, as he and the two others led her and the Doctor toward their vehicle. Behind them, Rose felt the eyes of the Doctor upon her and wished she had the guts to slow so she could walk beside him.
"Rose," she answered quietly, her eyes set out in front of her.
The man chuckled. "Pretty name. It's a flower that, isn't it? A pretty name for a pretty lady."
"What about your name?" the Doctor cut off any retort Rose might have had, something Rose couldn't distinguish in his tone. "What's that?"
The man acted as though the Time Lord hadn't even spoken, talking directly to Rose, "You are one of the most pretty things I've seen, you know, Miss Rose." His fingers snaked around her shoulders, to her neck. Rose shivered, her stomach twisting.
"Don't you know it's rude to ignore people," the Doctor retorted from behind, something beyond anger setting an oddly calm and dangerous tone to his voice.
Again, the man ignored him, and his hands lowered from her neck, down her back. "So very beautiful."
"You'll wanna stop that right now," Rose muttered between clenched teeth. His hand merely went lower.
"She told you to stop." The Doctor's voice was calm and definitely dangerous now.
Rose swallowed and kept on walking, trying to lean away from the large man's body as it twisted closer to her. "Keep away from me," she muttered, and heard him laugh.
Behind her the Doctor's breaths were becoming sharper and he sounded ready to try something, until a different voice, similar to the man who was currently stroking her lower back but different, cut through. "Marin, enough. Not now." Another guard, Rose realised.
Slowly, Marin's body shifted away from her, his hand moving back onto her shoulder. "Right you are, Slarrah," he said quietly. "Not now." Then he smiled slightly, and to Rose alone whispered, "Or at least, not yet."