Characters: Ten / Rose
Dislcaimer: I don't own Doctor Who but you can bet if I did, there would've been a lot more kissing in Series 2.
Spoilers: None whatsoever.
Summary: Another planet, another broken law, another jail cell. Only this time, something's a little different.
Beta: The amazing and lovely salimali.
Author Notes: Ages ago when I was a little obsessed with Owl City, I had this idea that all of his songs could be turned into Doctor/Rose fanfiction. I set out to prove this theory. This is the third, and last, of my attempts. I know now how Sufjan Stevens must have felt when he promised to make an album for all 50 states and only got through Michigan and Illinois.
The cell is cold and dark, and he’s only been in there for a few minutes, but already it feels like ages. He leans back, his head thumping against the cinderblock wall behind him, and lets his body slide slowly to the floor. The little aberrations in the mortar, sharp as daggers where the bricklayers got lazy, scratch him through his suit and he winces at the pain.
“Are you all right, Doctor?” Rose calls. Her voice drifts towards him through the cold air, warming him momentarily, and he looks up, across the narrow corridor where Rose is locked in her own cell. His eyes have finally adjusted to the darkness, and he can make out the shadows of her face, the soft yellow glow of her hair.
“I’m fine,” he says, forcing cheerfulness into his voice. “Just working on a way to get us out of here.”
This isn’t the first time they’ve been locked up, not even the second or third. It’s probably not the twentieth either. This happens over and over, with a startling regularity that is quickly becoming not so startling. Take today: when they were arrested, Rose just rolled her eyes and casually held her hands out, awaiting the cuffs the man was pulling from his belt. He’s still not sure if her cavalier attitude is a good thing or not.
They are in a chilly cramped jail that is standard across the universe and they’ve been locked up for something they did or didn’t do, something that went against the local customs. And they’re in for life, as usual.
Only one thing is different: he’s not locked up with her. In all the times they have been jailed, not once have they been separated. He’s never had to spend a night in a cell like this without her hand holding his, palms touching palms, soft fingers cradling his one moment, then moving to the spaces between his the next. He’s never had to endure it without the brush of her breath on his cheek and neck as they whispered in the dark. He’s not sure how he’ll manage without her heat, her closeness, to ward off the chill of the dank air.
“Do you have a bed in your cell?” she asks, a tiny tremor of fear, of weariness in her voice, and he finds himself wondering when she’ll get tired of this life, tired of him. She deserves so much more than what he’s given her. She came with him to see the wonder of the universe, and all he manages to show her are planets in peril and a series of barred doors.
“No,” he says, cursing himself for not thinking to give her his coat. If she’d been put in with him, he’d spread the coat out on the floor and let her lean against him as she slept. He’s never told her that some of his best nights have been spent behind bars, her comforting weight pressed against him as he held her while she slept. But he won’t have that tonight, not with two sets of iron bars between them.
“Oh,” she says. There are a few moments of silence, a pause that is just a beat too long before she speaks again. “I don’t either.”
He doesn’t like this, not one bit. She’s too far away, even though she’s in the same room with him. It’s almost worse this way, having her so close yet not being able to touch her.
He forces himself to be still, to think. He needs a plan, a way out of this little room that is keeping him from her. They’d taken his sonic screwdriver along with the rest of the contents of his pockets. His mind scrambles around, but for once he has nothing, only an ardent desire to be free, to have Rose’s hand in his as they run, sprinting through the open moonlight to the TARDIS.
“Are you cold?” he finally asks. He’s torturing himself; there’s nothing he can do for her, yet he has to know.
“Yes,” she says quietly, but her voice echoes. There is a tiny rustle, and he thinks of the skirt she is wearing. He’d promised that this trip would be fun, no danger, no running, and she’d practically glided into the console room that morning wearing an orange skirt that skimmed her calves and a white t-shirt. He’d lingered on the outfit a little too long, his eyes darting from the smooth skin of her legs to the little v of her chest revealed by the t-shirt. She’d giggled, slapped his arm, and told him to stop staring. Now he only thinks of how she must feel, arms and legs bare.
“I’m sorry,” he says, his voice just as quiet, just as echoing. He looks at the narrow corridor between them again, and an idea forms in his mind. Not a plan to rescue them, but a way to make her more comfortable. He pushes himself to his feet and slides his coat from his shoulders. “I’m going to swing my coat across to you. Do you think you can catch it?”
He hears movement as she stands and comes to the bars. “Yeah,” she says, “I think I can. But then you’ll be cold.” Still, she slides her arms through the spaces between the bars.
Her protest is weak, and he thinks she must be freezing. “I’ll be fine,” he says. “I’d rather you be warm.” He says the words without thinking, but he’s been saying more and more to her lately anyway, subtle hints that reveal just how much he cares for her. He’s discovered that telling her these things isn’t nearly as troubling as he once thought they would be. If anything, each little confession lightens his heart a little more.
He bunches the coat up and forces it through the narrow bar, letting go of all but the collar once it is free. He gives it a couple of experimental passes, building up the momentum of his swing. He tells her to hold her hand out as far as she can, and let him know when she has it.
“I’ve got it,” she says, and the coat is taut between them, her holding one end and him holding the other. It’s not skin on skin, but it’s a connection and he’s reluctant to let go. Finally he does.
He can just make out the motions of her slipping the coat over her shoulders and wrapping it tightly around her. He’s overcome with a rush of want, as the desire to see her in his coat takes root in his stomach. “Better now?” His voice breaks, cracking as he pushes thoughts he shouldn’t be having right now from his mind.
“Yeah,” she says. She sits down next to the bars, gathering the coat around her like a blanket. “Thank you.”
He sits down, crossing his legs. The chill of the concrete floor seeps through his trousers and he shivers, but it is worth it for Rose to be warm. “You’re welcome,” he replies softly, wishing he had more to offer her than just his thin coat.
“What are we going to do?” she asks, but the words aren’t tinged with desperation. She sounds as if she believes that he has a plan, that he will fix all of this.
He shrugs, not wanting to let on that he doesn’t know what to do. It’s not what she expects of him. “I’ll think of something,” he says with a confidence he doesn’t feel.
“You have no idea, do you?” she says softly, and he realises that maybe he didn’t sound as assured as he thought, or maybe she just knows him too well.
“Not really.” He presses his forehead to the bars, ignoring the cold of the metal and the rusty smell of iron that fills his nose.
“Okay,” she says.
He listens to the dull thud of her fingertips as they drum absently on the bars, tapping out a rhythm that he can’t make out. Long minutes pass, and he feels every second as his eyes shift between the little window in her cell that lets him see just a hint of the night sky and the shadows of her face. He cannot make out her expression and that is almost as bad as not being able to touch her.
After a while, she speaks again. “Doctor?” She sounds fragile, afraid, something he’s not used to from Rose. She’s always so strong, but he’s beginning to wonder if her faith is measured by his.
“Yes, Rose?” he answers, a little louder than he anticipated. His voice rings out in the room, bouncing off the walls.
“This is going to sound strange,” she warns, “but I miss you.”
Even though he cannot really see her, he can feel her eyes on him and the look he imagines there warms him until he no longer feels the chill air or the unforgiving concrete floor. “Me too, Rose,” he says, the words rushing over his tongue. “Me too.”
“Good,” she says and he can hear the smile in her voice.
Silence settles over them again, and he listens to Rose’s quiet breathing, pretending that she is next to him.
An hour passes and then another and then the door to his cell is being opened by an irritated guard who mumbles something about a lawyer getting them freed, and his mind barely casts a thought back to the man they’d helped in the street. He can only focus on Rose and the loud clanking of her cell door as it is thrown open.
She flies into his arms, coattails flapping as he catches her and lifts her feet from the floor. The moment he sets her down, he presses his lips to hers, swallowing her gasp of surprise. She kisses him back, her lips moving in tandem with his as her fingers map their way through his hair and his hands fist in his coat. Everything around them, the cold prison, the guard, everything falls away as he promises himself that he’ll never let himself be separated from her again.