"Why don't you want him dead?" she asks, over and over, whenever she can steal a moment. Whenever she's sure Clive and Tish are safe, that Himself and his poor empty trophy wife are out of sight.
Over and over the answer is always different, always the same.
"He's the only other one." This is always the undertone, always the edge that lingers, and sometimes it's even the words that are said. God knows, even the Bastard himself knows this, laughs about it, boasts about it. Rubs it in and keeps himself safe by reminding them all of just that.
"He's sick." That was the one she got most often, and the one she always got when she'd held that little pot of arnica, dabbing his bruises. She's grown to hate the feel of her hand rounded under that jar.
"He needs help. I can help him." That one comes more and more often as time passed, and part of her loathes him for it. Loathes him because he and Martha are their only hope, and when Japan burns his eyes should have been saying I hate you or how could you? or anything other than I shouldn't have made him mad.
"He's my responsibility." That was another one that has always angered her, frightened her. Her grandmother had been appalled when she'd divorced Clive, had told her that keeping her husband happy and faithful had been her responsibility, one she'd clearly failed. Francine fears that I failed is this man's default belief system, and struggles to remember that Martha and Captain Harkness have so much faith in him, that Martha had been right and she'd been oh so wrong. Listens to Jack's stories in the bowels of the ship late at night and cries, because just this once, everybody lives! simply isn't going to happen this time.
It's ironic, she thinks — or would be if irony was a luxury she could afford these days.
Once, these legs had been accustomed to striding the cosmos, running to help, running to save — now they could barely hold him up. Once, these hands had altered machinery, lightning fast, preventing Martha from falling victim to the same curse as Lazarus — now they were frail, skin tearing at the slightest pressure. Once, her own daughter had slaved helplessly for this man for months, decades before either of them had even been born, out of loyalty and friendship. Now she did the same, out of fear and desperation.
And still she asks, why don't you want him dead?
She thinks that if he told her the truth, the full, complete truth, just once, then she wouldn't hate him for it no matter what it was.
She tells him so.
He regards her for a moment, silently.
"Would you wish Clive dead?" She blinks. "If he were the only other human in existence, inflicting monstrosities on other beings simply because he could... would you wish him dead, or would you want to help him?" The question makes her uncomfortable, and that makes her angry, because this isn't about Clive, for all his silly midlife crises, he'd never, never.
It's only later that night, chained in their 'quarters' and listening to Jack as always, that she calms down enough to wonder. Why Clive? Why did he not say 'Martha', or 'Tish', or 'Leo"? I love them too, would hurt if they became monsters.
Then she knows. And she cries again, and throws up, and as Clive and Tish grab for her she knows that if she ever gets the chance, she will kill the Master herself, spare the Doctor the raw, bleeding choice, keep him away from the so-called responsibility because she knows he'd do the same for her.
The Doctor would never put her in the position of killing the father of her children.