Authors: _thirty2flavors and goldy_dollar
Characters/Pairings: Ten2/Rose, Jackie, Pete, OCs
Summary: On Tony’s eighth birthday, the Doctor is kidnapped by a paramilitary group who will do anything to defend Earth from aliens.
Warnings: Aaaangst, violence, mentions of torture (offscreen)
Excerpt: The Doctor had put her ahead of the universe, done something that would haunt him just to keep her safe. And here she was, throwing away that opportunity just because she couldn't stand to be without him.
Previous parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four
It was hard to run with one arm in a sling, Rose quickly learned. The Doctor, too, was having difficulty; he was winded well before he typically would have been. Rose couldn't help watching him with concern as they ran. She'd never seen him so beaten up and whenever she thought about what had been done to him she was torn between wanting to scream and wanting to cry.
She closed her eyes and gave her head a quick shake before focusing down the hallway again. She'd have time to worry about that once they got out of here.
"I don't know which way it is," the Doctor said, looking around as they ran. He skid to a halt when they reached a fork in the corridor, looking both ways, his chest heaving. "We're underground, there must be stairs somewhere."
"There's a staircase somewhere. Locked," said Rose, flashing her torch down one hallway and then the other. "The upper level's not very big, I think I saw most of it when..."
"Right." His free hand flew up to his hair, ruffling it nervously. "I don't know. I know where their labs are--" he gestured behind them with the torch "--but I don't know where the exits are, they've never shown me the exits. When I was a Time Lord--"
"This way," said Rose, picking a direction arbitrarily and jogging down it. They definitely didn't have time for the Doctor to have an identity crisis.
They reached a door, and the Doctor pressed his ear against it, listening. The beam of light from his torch bounced up and down along the wall, and it took Rose a moment to realize that his hand was shaking. She shone her torch on him, horrified to find his whole body was trembling. Rose fought back a creeping sense of fear.
"I'm fine," he said briskly. Then, evidently satisfied with what he heard on the other side, he swung the door open and took off down the next hallway. "Allons-y!"
Rose was close behind him, scanning the walls on either side with her torch as some of her fear gave way to relief. "This is good," she said, overtaking the Doctor who was outright panting now. "This is good, this is familiar, I think they brought me through here when they were taking me to you, which must mean..." She ran a little faster, spurred on by the sudden burst of hope. "I think there's a stairwell up ahead," she called back. "I can't see it yet but it shouldn't be much..."
It hit her very suddenly that she could only hear the sound of her own footsteps. Whirling around, she scanned the hallway with her torch. "Doctor...?"
She found him leaning against the corridor wall, his breathing laboured. "I'm fine," he croaked as soon as she stepped forward, motioning her away with his hand. "Keep going. I'll catch up."
As if to prove his point he shoved himself away from the wall and started towards her--but he swayed on his feet and stumbled, sagging back against the wall again with a hiss of pain. He managed another step as she ran towards him, then fell to the floor, his free hand still clutching the wall.
Rose sank to her knees as she reached him, dropping her torch in favour of running her hand through his hair. His breathing was heavy, and she could feel him shaking.
"I'm fine," he insisted again, his voice tight with pain. "I'll be fine, keep going, I just need to catch my breath. This body, it..." he paused, breaking off as he tried and failed to pull himself to his feet. "...doesn't recover fast enough."
Rose bit her lip, running her hand down the side of his face, trying not to let her voice betray how scared she was. "It's okay. Take a rest. We'll keep going again in a minute."
The Doctor shook his head. "No, you need to keep--"
"Don't be stupid." She stood up, trying to loop her good arm under the Doctor's. "Come on, I'll help you up."
The Doctor seemed reluctant, though he didn't argue. With her arm under his and his arm over her shoulder, Rose managed to hoist the Doctor to his feet. The weight hurt Rose's sore shoulder, but she gritted her teeth, determined not to let him know that. They managed a couple steps like that, the Doctor bracing himself against the wall.
"I'm slowing you down," he murmured, in that defeated tone from earlier which terrified her. "We don't have time. Rose..."
"Don't say it," she insisted stubbornly. She could feel him slipping and tightened her grip on his shirt. "It's not that far. We'll be fine. You can rest in the car."
"I can't..." he started, but broke off as he stumbled and pitched forward. With only one good arm, Rose couldn't catch him, and he landed on his hands and knees, his torch clattering to the ground and rolling away.
"Doctor!" Rose knelt down next to him instinctively, her arm around his back as the Doctor heaved himself into a sitting position. "Are you all right?" She scrambled to the side, picking up his forgotten torch and shining it on him.
The Doctor shook his head, sitting back against the wall. "Fifteen minutes, she said. You have to--"
"Stop it," said Rose firmly. "We have plenty of time. You just need to catch your breath. You can do it."
The Doctor squeezed his eyes shut, groaning as he tried to shift into a comfortable position. "I can't--"
"Yes, you can."
"No, I can't!" he snapped back, loud enough to startle Rose. He stared at her, suddenly furious. "This body, this stupid human body, it's too weak, all right? I can't regenerate, I can't..." He trailed off, scrubbing his face with his hands, and Rose watched him silently, unsure what to do. When he finally dropped his hands, his voice was quiet. "Rose, listen -- you have to keep moving. There isn't much time. It's been ten minutes. You have to keep moving. You have to get out of here."
"Stop it," Rose demanded again, the back of her throat beginning to burn. "Stop saying that, I'm not leaving you, you know that."
"You have to--"
"Well I'm not, so you can forget it." She sat down in front of him, dropping the torch into her lap to grab his hand. "Listen to me. I'm not going anywhere without you, yeah? So we've got to think of something else." She twined their fingers together, squeezing his hand and forcing a smile. "We can do that. We always do."
But the Doctor didn't look convinced or even heartened. In the dim light of the torch she could just make out the defeat on his face as he shook his head. "No." His voice was thick. "Rose, you've got to go. You have to get out of here. I have to know you're safe. I can't be the reason you're not."
He put his other hand over top of theirs, watching her with wide, imploring eyes, but Rose shook her head. "I'm not leaving you behind."
"I'm not." She pulled her hand out of his, running her fingers through his hair again. "I didn't come all the way out here just to go home without you." She tried for a grin. "You're stuck with me."
His voice cracked as he said it, and the desperation broke her heart. She bit her lip, trying not to cry and wondering what to say. A part of her wanted to appease him, wanted to do whatever he was asking on the rare times he sounded like he did now, terrified and helpless. But a larger part of her rejected the idea of leaving him for anything.
“You don’t understand.” The Doctor brushed some hair behind her ear, his hand trembling. “The things I’ve done, the number of people who’ve been hurt because of me, the number of people who have died for me… I don’t want you on that list.” He swallowed. “I can’t be the reason something happens to you, Rose. I can’t, I just can’t.” He dropped his hand, cupping the back of her head. “Please don’t make me. Please.”
Swallowing thickly, Rose wrapped her arm around his shoulders and pulled him into as best a hug as she could manage. The Doctor buried his face in her shoulder immediately, clinging to her even as he pleaded with her to leave. His heart was beating too fast and his breaths were short and shaky. She squeezed his shoulder, holding him as close as she could. It seemed all the stress and exhaustion of the last few days was finally breaking through the surface; he was panicking.
Rose pressed a kiss to the side of his head, trying to fight back her own growing fear. Anders had said they were going to kill him. The least she could do was try to be there for him.
"Doctor, listen to me. I'd rather be here, with you, right now, than anywhere else without you, you got that?"
The Doctor was quiet for a moment, though whether in comfort or defeat she couldn't tell. Then he said, very quietly, "I just want you safe. That's all I ever want. Please go."
Rose thought about how furious it always made her when he chose for her, like she couldn't take care of herself and like he wasn't just as mortal as she was these days. But sitting here like this, with the Doctor on the verge of physical and emotional collapse, Rose couldn't find it in herself to be angry. She knew she would do the same thing in his position -- beg him to go on without her even as she knew he never would. It would be horrible, knowing that he'd given up a chance at escape just for her -- not to help her, because he couldn't, but simply to go down next to her.
She felt a wave of guilt. The Doctor had put her ahead of the universe, done something that would haunt him just to keep her safe. And here she was, throwing away that opportunity just because she couldn't stand to be without him.
She wondered which of them was the selfish one.
She closed her eyes. "I know. But it's not your job to protect me. It's not your fault, all right? Whatever happens, it's not your fault. I chose to stay here. My choice, yeah?"
Her words didn't seem to make much difference. "I'm sorry," he murmured into her neck, and then, "I love you."
Rose nodded, rubbing her hand up and down his back. "I love you, too."
The Doctor said nothing else. He slumped against her, turning his head so she could feel his warm breath on her neck. Rose traced her fingers through his hair, squeezing her eyes shut and trying to muster up some degree of hope. She and the Doctor had been cornered before and they'd always made it out. There had to be something they could do, some way out -- if she could just think...
"Can you hear that?" the Doctor asked her quietly.
Rose opened her mouth to say "no" but then she heard it, too--the sound of footsteps, off in the distance. Someone was coming. She pulled back so she could look the Doctor in the eye, cradling his cheek with her hand.
"We'll be okay," she affirmed, trying to inject her voice with as much certainty as she could. "We'll think of something. We always do." She forced a smile. "The stuff of legends, yeah?"
The Doctor didn't answer, and though he managed a weak smile in return he still looked profoundly sad. One of his arms slid from around her and she felt him shove the sonic screwdriver into her pocket, but before she could argue he leaned forward, closing the gap between them with a kiss. It was hesitant at first but grew more frantic, and his arms reached up to tangle his fingers in her hair. Rose matched his desperation, her hand clutching the back of his head.
She could hear the footsteps coming closer but ignored them. It might well be her last few moments with the Doctor and she was reluctant to give them up for anything. She wondered if they would kill him on the spot or take him away from her first. She wondered which would be worse. She didn't wonder what they would do with her -- if they killed the Doctor it wouldn't matter.
The lights in the hallway turned on as the power came back and the footsteps drew nearer. Rose pulled back but rested her forehead against the Doctor's, her eyes still shut. The Doctor's hand took hers and twined their fingers together.
"Oh, how sweet," came Anders' voice, dripping with scarcely-concealed disgust.
Reluctantly, Rose opened her eyes and sat back, scowling at Anders. She felt a fresh surge of fury and she clutched the Doctor's hand, drawing her lips into a thin line. Anders stepped closer to them, flanked by a handful of AIF's guards. Rose shifted closer to the Doctor, reluctant to show fear but wanting as much space as possible between her and Anders.
"Honestly I'm a bit disappointed," Anders went on, staring down at them. "Not much of an escape attempt for a genius. Cutting the power, all right, not bad, but stopping to cuddle? That's just poor planning. I'd have thought you'd be more eager to get your wife to safety, Dr Smith."
Anders looked at Rose coldly as he said it, but she cast a worried glance at the Doctor. He kept his face blank, but his hand was gripping hers painfully tight. Rose scooted back to the wall to sit beside him, and the Doctor wrapped his free arm around her waist.
"Unless of course you couldn't," Anders went on, looking at the Doctor. "That's a shame. Perhaps your species is more brains than brawn." He smiled. "Mattias, help Dr Smith to his feet."
One of the guards stepped forward and grabbed the Doctor under his arm, heaving him to his feet. Rose shoved herself up immediately but another guard caught her good arm, twisting it behind her back and causing her bruise from earlier to sting. The Doctor looked unsteady where he stood but kept his face blank as Mattias pulled his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
Anders stepped towards the Doctor, that eerie smile still on his lips. "I must say I'm a bit hurt, Dr Smith. Here I thought we'd been working so well together these last few days. What do we have to do to make you behave? Break your wife's other arm?"
Finally Anders got the reaction he was looking for; the Doctor lunged forward, his cool mask replaced by a furious glare. "Don't you dare," he snarled.
Anders raised his eyebrows. "I don't think you're in any position to be making demands, Dr Smith."
He turned towards Rose and the Doctor strained against Mattias' hold. "Kill me instead," the Doctor said, and though his voice was tight and controlled Rose recognized the fear lurking under the surface. "Your virus is done, you don't need me anymore."
"No!" cried Rose.
But Anders froze, spinning slowly on his heel to face the Doctor. "Is that so?"
The Doctor nodded curtly, his face deceptively impassive. "It's close enough to complete that Inga could finish the rest. You don't need me anymore. And I know what that means, that means you get to kill me. But if you don't need me then you don't need to hurt her to make me cooperate. Kill me, but let her go."
"No." Rose struggled ineffectually against her captor, twisting and turning. "No, don't you dare, I'm not going anywhere without him--"
The Doctor swallowed, and he met Rose's eye for the briefest of seconds before looking at Anders again. "She's human."
Anders' smile was spreading wider by the second. He looked between the two of them, utterly delighted. "Now, isn't this touching? Such devotion. Between two different species, no less." He looked at the Doctor. "You're like her pet."
The Doctor didn't acknowledge the insult. He kept his head held high but softened his voice. "Please, Anders. I'm begging you--do whatever you want to me, just let her go."
Rose shook her head, still struggling. "No. No, you can't--please--you can't--"
Anders ignored her, looking over his shoulder. "Inga? Is it true the virus is almost finished?"
Inga pushed her way through the couple of guards but stopped short of coming to Anders. She was pale as she regarded the Doctor and it was a moment before she spoke. "I... I don't know, it's a very complex process, without Dr Smith's help, I'm not sure..."
"So we've got a difference in scientific opinion," said Anders. "Fascinating." He turned around again, walking over to the torch Rose had left lying on the ground. He picked it up and tossed it from hand to hand. "You see, this escape plan of yours -- it's very simple. Turn out the lights and run away with by torch light. Thing is..." He moved to face them again, frowning in feigned thought. "Where did you get the torches?"
Rose looked at the Doctor, who was staring determinedly at the ceiling and not at Inga. A petty part of Rose wanted to say something--whether she'd helped them or not, Inga was still the woman who'd put the Doctor through hell. But she held her tongue and focused on the ground.
Anders stepped forward, passing Rose. "And putting the security cameras on delay, that was clever. But how'd you do it? You'd need access to the security room in the first place, and if you were trying to escape it'd be a bit of a detour. I'd say you'd need a bit of help. But from who?"
Rose and the Doctor exchanged a look as Anders turned to Rose. "Maybe your good friend Torbjörn? Fond of him, aren't you? Maybe you hatched a plan while you were alone in the showers together?"
"What?" yelped the Doctor, his eyes going wide.
"Boss--" began Torbjörn.
Anders ignored them both, still smirking at Rose. "But then I said 'clever', didn't I?" He spun around again. "And I'm afraid 'clever', Torbjörn, is not how I'd describe you." He stepped towards Inga then. "Don't you agree, Inga?"
Inga went pale, taking a step away from Anders and bumping into Torbjörn. For a moment she looked like she might deny it, but then she burst out, "They're people, Anders, just look at them! They love each other, they're just trying to take care of each other, they're--" She broke off as Anders closed the distance between them and grabbed her by the arms.
"Leave her alone," the Doctor ordered, his voice quiet with anger and impatience.
Anders didn't let go of her; he didn't even look over at the Doctor when he spoke. "Are you actually defending the woman who tortured you?"
"Oh, I'd defend anyone from you," the Doctor said plainly. "Besides, she's not only human, she's one of yours. Even by your faulty moral compass that's not right."
"She's a traitor," Anders spat. He tilted his head. "You've been playing favourites with your patients, Dr Lindkvist. What would the others think? Do you think they'd be as forgiving as Dr Smith? You ought to pay them a visit. Where's that one with the big teeth?"
Torbjörn looked uncomfortable. "Boss..."
"Shut up," Anders snapped. Inga tried to squirm away from him and Anders looked over his shoulder at the Doctor and Rose. "You could all go. Bit of a field trip. I'm sure you'd feel right at home, Ms Tyler, sharing a cell with a beast."
Rose looked from the Doctor to Inga's wide, terrified eyes. In truth Anders' threat didn't scare Rose as much as he probably intended; after the last couple days aliens didn't seem at all dangerous compared to other humans. Maybe the Doctor could talk to it, could explain...
But whatever creature he was referring to had no doubt been in AIF's care much longer than the Doctor had, and Rose knew that after so long that much torture would do things to a person. Some of them, she knew, would turn meek and docile, but others were bound to respond with hostility and violence. If Anders was trying to use one as a threat, Rose was willing to bet it wasn't one of the docile ones.
"They're human, Anders," the Doctor said again. "Have you really sunk so low? Aren't they the ones you're trying to protect from people like me? Inga was just doing what she thought was right. She knew the virus was complete, she wasn't jeopardizing AIF's progress. Fire her if you like, but don't kill her. And Rose... Rose is innocent."
"You're wasting your breath, Dr Smith. I'm not about to take moral guidance from an alien."
Rose snorted. "Why not? The Doctor's more human than you are."
Anders let go of Inga, shoving her roughly towards Torbjörn, who placed a hand on her shoulder but did nothing else. Anders stalked back towards Rose, his eyes narrowed. "Jakob, break her arm."
Rose closed her eyes, bracing for the pain, but it didn't come.
"No!" the Doctor cried -- and so did Inga, springing forward with one arm out.
"Jakob," she said, "don't. Listen to me, she's--"
Anders spun around and hit her in one smooth motion. Inga fell backwards, tripping over her heels, and Torbjörn caught her before she hit the ground, watching his boss with wide eyes. Jakob's grip on Rose's arm loosened in surprise while Torbjörn helped Inga to her feet.
"Don't ever undermine my authority again," Anders snarled, starting towards Inga, "you--"
Torbjörn stopped him with one hand on Anders' chest. "Leave her."
Anders stared at Torbjörn in momentary silence, breathing heavily, clearly furious but physically outmatched. Rose looked across at the Doctor, who raised his eyebrows as though to say well, isn't this unexpected? when he suddenly looked up at the ceiling, brow furrowing. It took a moment and then Rose heard it, too -- a sort of low rumble from above.
"I don't suppose your top floor is a dance studio?" the Doctor asked, and Inga, Anders and Torbjörn all turned to look at him. The Doctor shrugged, gesturing upwards with his head. "That would explain the footsteps."
All of them looked up, following the sound from above as it moved across the ceiling. Then there was a loud beating noise.
“Helicopters,” said the Doctor, “cavalry’s all here.”
The goon holding onto Rose relaxed his grip and she shifted slightly. Out of the corner of her eye, Rose caught a glimpse of movement. She looked over in time to see Anders deliver a sharp kick to the back of Torbjörn’s knee. As Torbjörn crumpled, Anders seized his gun, whipping around to aim straight for the Doctor.
Rose acted on instinct—she tore out of the goon’s grip and lunged forward, tackling Anders with the force of her bodyweight. She cried out as her broken arm collided with his chest and they thudded to the floor. The gun rang off, bullet lodging somewhere overhead.
Rose started at the Doctor’s voice, turning around to find him straining against Mattias’s grip. Anders used the distraction to flip her over, wrestling her to the floor. She gritted her teeth against the pain ringing up and down her arm and looked up into Anders’ smirking face. His knees dug into her thighs and he clicked the gun near her neck.
“I like you better on the bottom.”
“Me too,” Rose spat, wrenching her knee up and into his groin.
He moaned in pain and before he could retaliate, Rose thwacked him in the throat with her good hand. He choked, instinctively curling into a ball. Rose wiggled out from under him and kicked the gun out of his hand. It slid across the floor and came to a rest. Breathing hard, she backed up a few steps, banging into the Doctor who was still struggling against Mattias’ hold.
She turned around, shooting the Doctor a quick, reassuring smile before addressing Mattias. “Let him go.”
Mattias hesitated, gaze jumping to Anders.
“Do something,” he hissed. With great effort, he pulled himself into a kneeling position. “Kill him. Both of them.”
“No,” said Inga with a sudden calmness. “No, we won’t be killing anyone.”
Rose’s heart jumped when she heard Pete’s voice from upstairs. “Come on! The gunshot came from downstairs.”
Inga approached Anders, looking sad and a little weary. “It’s over for you, Anders. I’m sorry.”
That seemed to be enough for Mattias. He released the Doctor and Rose hastened forward, using the sonic screwdriver to undo his handcuffs. As soon as he was free, he enveloped her in a tight hug. Rose could feel him shaking as he leaned into her—though whether it was from fear for her or complete exhaustion she couldn’t say.
“You can’t honestly listen to her,” said Anders, looking at his employees in turn, “she’s a traitor, she betrayed us, she helped them!"
There was a long pause as Inga, Mattias, Torbjörn, and the rest of Anders’ goons turned to stare at Anders. No one said anything—leaving Rose with the distinct impression that they were simply waiting for Torchwood to show up.
Moments later, a door blew open and in marched Pete, Agent Callie and Francis, two dozen of her old Torchwood colleagues, and—
“Mum?” said Rose, releasing the Doctor to stare open-mouthed at Jackie, marching behind Pete with the biggest gun that Rose had ever seen.
“Hello, sweetheart,” said Jackie. With a hard gaze, she surveyed AIF and then cocked her gun. “Now which one of you is responsible for kidnapping my son-in-law?”
“Jacks—” began Pete, “we really can’t just start shooting indiscriminately—”
“Oh, I dunno, it might make me feel better,” Jackie insisted.
Both Francis and Callie looked amused by their sniping while Rose continued to stare open-mouthed at her mother. AIF watched them passively, faces tight and glum.
Only Anders seemed to have any real spark left. He struggled to push himself to his feet before falling. “Backup is on the way, this is a highly protected base, you—”
“Oh, can it,” said the Doctor. He placed a hand on Rose’s shoulder and she got the sense it was more to hold himself upright than any real gesture of support. “Jackie, as much as I appreciate the rescue, I don’t think you’ll find much resistance.”
Pete’s gaze jumped over to the Doctor. “No offence, Doctor, but you look entirely like you could use our help.”
Inga stepped forward, her face pale and pinched, but her words measured, “It’s all right. We’ll stand down.” She looked back at the rest of AIF. One by one, Anders’ goons nodded, lowering their weapons to the floor. Anders watched them with his mouth slowly falling open, looking like he wasn’t quite sure how to react.
“Well...” said Pete, “that was unexpectedly easy.”
“Oh, Rose,” said Jackie tearfully. She thrust her gun into Pete’s chest who “oomfed” but held onto it. “I was so worried.”
A second later, Rose was wrapped in her mother’s arms. “I missed you too, Mum,” said Rose, fighting for air. “Thanks for coming after us.”
“Don’t you dare ever do that to me again,” she said, “taking off in the dead of night, not telling anyone where you had disappeared off to....”
“I know, mum, I’m sorry, I—” but before Rose could finish, the Doctor gasped and then fell to his knees, hands coming out to break his fall.
Rose wrenched herself away from her mother, kneeling beside the Doctor. She touched his shoulder, fighting down tears. He turned to look at her, clearly struggling to keep from completely collapsing.
She put her arm around him and he leaned into her heavily, body shaking against hers. She twisted her head around. “He needs help,” she cried.
Pete nodded. “Callie, Francis, get the nearest medic in here now.”
They hurried off and Rose focused on the Doctor again. She rubbed his back, making soothing noises. “It’s okay,” she said. “We’re going to get you help, yeah? Just hang in there.”
Jackie crouched down on his other side, meeting Rose’s concerned gaze over the top of the Doctor’s head. “It’s okay now, sweetheart,” she said soothingly. “Medic’s on his way.”
Rose pressed a kiss to the Doctor’s forehead. Over his shoulder, she caught Inga staring at them. She met the other woman’s gaze and held it until Inga looked away first.