wishiknewwho: (3D glasses)
[personal profile] wishiknewwho
Title: Nothing That Is
Author: wishiknewwho
Rating: G
Characters: Ten / Rose
Dislcaimer: I don't own Doctor Who and it's probably just as well that I don't because it'd be nothing but hugs and hair ruffling for the foreseeable future. 
Spoilers: None 
Summary: It's a night for making decisions.  Will the Doctor make the right one? 
Author Notes: The lovely [livejournal.com profile] hazelwho won me in the [livejournal.com profile] help_haiti auction a while back.  She prompted me with the last couple of lines of "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens, and this is what I wrote.  Also, there will be an Eyes Wide Open update on Wednesday.

Beta by the ever-brilliant [livejournal.com profile] salimali.

“It was a beautiful wedding,” everyone says and he murmurs his agreement. He and Rose follow along with the rest of the wedding party, her hand clutched in his as they make their way on the dusty road that winds down the mountain. The wedding was at the church at the top, the reception in a garden at the bottom. Rose is barefoot, having discarded her high-heeled sandals the moment the wedding was over, claiming they hurt her feet. She now carries them in her free hand. 
He looks down at her feet and smiles at the dirt smudging her toes, ruining the sparkly pink polish she’d so carefully applied that morning.
“Look at the two of them,” she whispers, moving up close enough to him that her shoulder bumps the top of his arm. “They are so in love.”
His eyes land on Etara and Jorn, leading the wedding party down the mountain, eyes only for one another. There is so much happiness between them that it is palpable, and for a moment, the romantic part of him thinks it’s their love and not the humidity making the night so balmy.
He mumbles a reply to Rose, something that sounds like agreement.
She smiles softly. Her hair, which had been perfectly pulled back and piled in curls atop her head just hours before is drooping and she gives her head a little shake to get it out of her eyes.
He stops them for a second, coming to stand in front of her. The others in the party stream around them, but they do not notice. He uses his free hand to tuck her errant curls behind her ears. “There. Better?”
She nods and they continue walking. The others are a little ahead of them now, but he and Rose do not rush to catch up. He adjusts his hold on her hand, his fingers slipping between hers. Their hands are damp from the heat outside and the contact of skin to skin, but Rose doesn’t seem to mind and so he doesn’t either.
They have been on this planet almost three weeks, helping to mount a revolution that for once was over quickly and with little bloodshed. He wishes that things could always be like this, that good could always win and peace and happiness would be all that’s left at the end of the day.
Since they’ve been here, Rose has grown quite close with Etara, close enough that Etara asked her to be a bridesmaid in her wedding to Jorn, one of the revolution’s leaders. Although it wasn’t like him to stick around after the adventure was over, Rose’s pleading brown eyes had made him relent. They are set to leave that night, once they leave the reception.
The sun is setting, the gold and violet a nice complement to Rose’s red dress and his eyes are drawn to her. He sees something in her brown eyes, something that looks like hope and wistfulness, and he wonders again what she’s doing with him. She deserves so much more than he can give her, and he’s given her all that he can. He’s shown her the stars, all of space and time, and taught her how to make her life something more. He has watched her transform from a shop girl who thought she had nothing going for her to a confident woman who has saved the universe time and again.
But she deserves what Etara and Jorn have. She needs to be loved, and not in the way he loves her. He loves her from afar, in his mind, in the little corner of his heart where he hides all of his secrets. Rose should have someone shouting from the rooftops with their devotion to her, someone who can make her life magical with just his very existence.
He feels her tug on his hand and he realises that they have made it down the mountain and are now at Jorn’s family home. The garden is transformed for the party, table after table lined with food, a floor set up for dancing, the trees hung with lanterns tinted in red, blue, and green glass, watching over the guests like fairies.
Rose’s breath catches in her throat and she flashes him a grin, but all he can think about is how she will never have this if she stays with him. If she notices his shift in mood, she doesn’t say anything, just pulls him along behind her. He awkwardly shakes Jorn’s hand in congratulations as Rose and Etara hug as though they’ve known each other forever. Etara whispers something in Rose’s ear and Rose blushes as she takes his hand again.
“What was that all about?” he asks as they make their way to a table.
“Nothing,” she says quickly, the pink still colouring her cheeks. Her eyes flick up to his for a moment, but then they are gone, looking back at the trees and beyond, where the sun is setting. “This is one of the prettiest places we’ve visited, don’t you think?”
“Absolutely,” he agrees. He promises himself to take her to places like this more often, to places where she can be surrounded by beauty that will complement her own. It’s all he has to offer her.
They load their plates down with food and he wonders if it’s wrong of him to try to keep her with him. He’s being selfish. She could be so much more, have so much more, if only he had the strength to let her go.
He eats, distracted from his dark thoughts by the food. 
“You have to try this,” Rose says, turning to him and holding out a deep purple fruit. He surprises both her and himself when he leans forward and takes a bite, his lips so close to her fingers he swears he can taste her.
The juice from the fruit dribbles out and he licks his lip. “That’s delicious,” he declares. 
Rose eyes are on his lips when she murmurs her agreement. She eats the other half of the fruit, and he tries not to think of the implications of that. They’ve shared food plenty of times and it’s nothing special. Still, he can’t help it when his hearts speed up a little as she licks the juice from her own lips and then her fingers.
He swallows and turns back to his own plate. Rose makes conversation with the person sitting on the other side of her and he lets his mind wander again.
She glows here, in this place where she has made friends, where the people are so like her, outgoing and friendly and so willing to give their hearts without regard for the aftermath. This planet is standing on the brink of a bright new future, and Rose helped to make that happen. There could be a place for her here; she could continue to do good, to help as these people set up a new way of life. She would be so much more than just a shop girl, and at the same time, she could find someone to love her, someone to love, who could give her everything she deserves and more.
He wouldn’t dare leave her here, not without an unquestionable certainty that she wants to stay. Although he thinks she might be happy here, he would never presume enough to make a rash decision for her. Or maybe he should.    
He watches her carefully, wishing that he could know what she is thinking, if she would like to stay. She has promised him forever, told him countless times that she will not leave him, and it is not like her to renege. You could bet your life on a promise from Rose Tyler. But that doesn’t mean it’s what she wants. Maybe somewhere along the line she has grown tired of the life they lead and doesn’t know how to tell him that she wants something else. Perhaps he should just let her go. She’d be angry for a time, but he knows that eventually she would realise that it was for the best.
He could let her go before she could hurt him anymore than she already unwittingly has.
Rose catches him look at her and gives him a little grin, lifting her eyebrow at him in that way she has that is so endearing, so damn cute, and his heart tightens. He forces himself to smile back and she clutches his arm before continuing her conversation with the other wedding guest. 
He forces himself to finish his meal as his mind casually works out the details, how easy it would be to get back to the TARDIS without her noticing. He won’t admit to himself that he’s seriously thinking of leaving her here; if he thinks about it too much, he’ll never do it. 
Rose’s laughter drifts over him and he closes his eyes, savouring the sound. Music begins to play and before he realises what’s happening, she’s grabbed his hand and pulled him from his chair. “Dance with me,” she says, her voice flirting with him, enticing. He has no choice but to give her what she wants, even if it will make what he’s thinking of doing all the more difficult.
He follows her out to the dance floor, unable the stop the smile spreading across his lips as she turns to face him, still pulling him along as she walks backwards. She’s been drinking, has had at least two glasses of something that looks and tastes like wine, and her eyes sparkle at him under the light of the lanterns. Her cheeks are flushed a sweet shade of pink.
He’s never felt quite so awkward in this body as he does now, trying to keep up with her as she dances, swaying her hips slowly with the beat of the music. His arms and legs won’t cooperate with him and he knows that although she’s not cruel enough to laugh at him, she must notice how silly he looks.
She cocks her head to the side, her eyes travelling up and down his form, and then she reaches forward, tugs on his tie, loosening it and reeling him in with one motion. “You need to let go, Doctor,” she says, and if she only knew, if she only knew that he is thinking of letting go of her.
Then her hands are everywhere, on his shoulders, on his hips, sliding into his own as she shows him how to move with her. It’s a delicate give and take, a balance, and once he begins to think of it in terms of science and mathematics he is able to match her step for step. The grin she gives him sets his blood on fire.
They dance, and for once he loses all track of time. He is only aware of the cant of her hips, the brush of her hair against his hands as he winds his arms around her shoulders, the way her toes rest atop the rubber caps of his trainers as they dance to a slow song. She giggles as he lifts her feet with his, the two of them almost falling.
He thinks wistfully that if this is goodbye, at least he’s getting as much of her as he can before she’s gone.
It is late, so late that the band is packing their instruments away and the last few wedding guests are gathering their things to leave. Rose is still in his arms. Jorn and Etara remain; there is too much for them to do and their honeymoon will have to wait.
Rose finally pulls away from him to say her goodbyes to her friend and he knows that now is his chance. He could slip back to the TARDIS, maybe even tell Rose that he’s going to go and get the ship so that she doesn’t have to walk all the way back. It’s the perfect excuse; her shoes hurt her feet, and it’s a long walk for her to make barefoot.
He takes a last look at her, his eyes lingering over every part of her he can make out in the moonlight and the flickering glow from the lanterns. She’s smiling, happy for Jorn and Etara, but sad to leave them. He keeps urging his feet to move, to turn around and make his getaway, but he’s stuck in place. He can’t shift his eyes and he can’t shift his feet.
Before he knows it, he’s shaking Jorn’s hand and kissing Etara’s cheek, and then Rose has his hand in hers and she’s pulling him along. His chance has passed, and while he feels guilty that he couldn’t do it, that he couldn’t let her go to have a better life, he is overwhelmed by a sense of relief that she will stay with him a little while longer.
“You’ve been quiet tonight,” Rose says once they’ve gone and are walking by themselves.
He pushes a hand through his hair. He’s tired and his feet are hurting a little. He cannot tell her what he’s been thinking, so instead he offers her a small smile. 
She smiles back. “Before we go home I wanted to show you something. Can I?” She’s taken to calling the TARDIS home, and every time she does it, he equally thrilled and terrified.
He nods his assent and she leads him around the side of Jorn’s home, through a garden, and down a hill to a lake. The water is dark, almost black, and in the still, humid night, it is barely moving.
“Etara brought me here last week,” Rose says by way of explanation. She sits down on the bank, lies back, and throws her arms wide. “That was some party. I haven’t danced that much in ages, not since I used to go to the clubs.” She’s babbling, and he realises that she is nervous about something. She pats the grass next to her. “Sit down with me.” 
He joins her, taking care to put a bit of space between them.  He’s been close to her the entire night, pressed right up against her at times, but that was dancing, and he knows it didn’t mean anything. She reaches and snags up his hand, twining their fingers together, and they sit in the quiet, saying nothing. He focuses on the rhythmic pattern of her breathing, on the shimmer of sweat on her collarbone.
He’s just about to tell her that they really should be making their way back to the ship when she sits up. She inches closer to him, not letting go of his hand.
“Etara and Jorn used to come out here when they were kids,” she says. “He kissed her for the first time here.”
He hears a note of wistfulness in her voice. Of course. She wants what Etara and Jorn have, she wants to be in love. He curses himself for not leaving her here when he had the chance. It wouldn’t have taken her long to find someone. He wishes that he wasn’t so selfish when it comes to her.
“Say something.” She is looking up at him with something he cannot read in her eyes.
“What do you want me to say?” he asks, genuinely confused.
“I don’t know,” she says. “You just haven’t been yourself. Tell me what’s wrong. Or tell me something stupid, something silly. Do that thing you do where you go on and on about something that makes no sense to me.”
He presses his tongue to the roof of his mouth and searches his brain for something to say to her. His mind is full of nothing but ideas and information and inanities, but he can’t think of anything to say.
She frowns. He’s disappointed her.
“I thought if I brought you here, you might kiss me,” she says finally, embarrassed. She turns away from him.
His mind screeches to a halt, replays the last ten seconds over and over a few times, until he is positive that she said what he thought she said. “Rose,” he tries, then falters. It seems he can do nothing but let her down, one way or another.
“I get it, okay?” She still doesn’t look at him. “I know that it’s not like that for you, and I’m just a silly little human who wants things that are out of her reach. So you don’t have to say it.”
He takes a few deep, measured breaths. “Rose, I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything,” she says. “Let’s just go. Forget it ever happened.” She stands up and starts to walk away from him.
He jumps to his feet. If he knows one thing, he knows that he can’t let her get away. “Rose, wait.” He catches up with her easily and grabs her hand to still her.
She doesn’t say anything, and she refuses to look at him, her bottom lip curled into a pout. She can be so damn immature sometimes, and he adores that about her.
“Rose.” He can’t stop saying her name. He almost lost her today, and although it was due to his own stupidity and not a gruesome monster, he still feels the same surge of relief. “I’m awful at this. You know that.”
She nods her agreement. “You could try,” she says, and he can hear the sulk in her voice.
“Help me,” he says, moving to face her. “Show me how to be what you need.”
It takes a moment, but she finally lifts her eyes to meet his. He sees a challenge there, and he doesn’t look away. Maybe he doesn’t have to let her down.
She lifts their joined hands and presses his palm to her cheek. “Kiss me,” she says.
He complies, shuffling closer, bringing his other hand up to her hair. “Yes, Rose,” he whispers, and brings his lips to hers.

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January 2012

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