Chapter Twenty Eight

After making sure Clarice was secure inside the hidden room, the Doctor walked to the kitchen. He found Donna at a wooden kitchen table, lost in her thoughts. She looked up when he entered.

"She's in Clarice's bedroom crying," Donna said. "That bitch upset her badly."

"I'll handle it. Go ahead and try to find something to eat. I don't trust Clarice. She may have been lying about forgetting we were coming and told the Master. We need to go ahead and leg it, at least into Calais and hide for a couple of days in case there really is someone coming to get us. But for the moment, just relax and eat something. I'll go talk to Rose."

Donna nodded and the Doctor went to find Rose. He found Clarice's bedroom and slowly entered when he heard Rose crying softly. Clarice's bed was a brass four poster bed with a white blanket on it and matching white pillows. The Doctor moved towards the bed but Rose didn't notice him because she was lying on her stomach on the far side of the bed, her face buried in the blanket while she wept. The Doctor sat down beside her and Rose jerked her head up when she felt the extra weight. She tried to compose herself while the Doctor watched her in quiet pain.

"I'm sorry," Rose said, wiping her eyes. "It's just that…I'm tired of all these new revelations about my husband. Each one makes me feel less and less like a person and more like Kleenex. I just had to come in here and let some of my emotions out."

"There's no shame in that," the Doctor said, laying a hand on her damp cheek. "After all you've been through; I'm surprised you didn't do this sooner."

"I wonder if Harry was going to tell me any of this eventually. I s'pose it doesn't matter now, I know what he did and I feel like dog shit. He stole everything from me. He stole my body, my mind and he stole our time together. He ruined everything and I wish he was here right now so I could wring his fucking neck," she snarled.

She took a deep breath while the Doctor watched with silent anguish.

"I'm sorry," she said. "It's useless to get angry, isn't it? What's done is done. Everything is turned upside down and I keep wondering how'll you sort it out."

"I will, Rose, I promise," the Doctor said, taking her hand.

"You've always been so kind to me," Rose said, rubbing the back of the hand. "You've never raised your voice or your hand to me. You're a Time Lord like Harry is but you're so different."

"In some ways, yes. But in other ways, he and I are the same."

Rose shook her head at that.

"No, you're far better than he is. You treat me and Donna with respect. We aren't just objects for you to use and abuse. You're wonderful and I hate that the only memories I have of our time together were loaned to me. I keep thinking what happens if you can't restore my timeline. What then?"

"Time can be rewritten," the Doctor said.

"You mean, just keep going with this timeline if I don't go back to my proper place?"

"We'll have to see what happens," the Doctor said. "Maybe you'll stay here or maybe you'll go back, but either way you'll land up with me and I know that'll suck," he teased her.

Rose smiled at that.

"No, my love, a future with you is about the most wonderful thing I can think of," she said.

The Doctor leaned forward and kissed her forehead. He started to pull away but Rose pulled his head back to hers and the Doctor snogged her. They lost themselves, fondling and kissing one another, and Rose realized that all her anxiety and anger was draining away as her love for the Doctor increased. They snogged for about twenty minutes before they slowed down and slowed to a stop. The Doctor moved his body so he was lying beside her and Rose turned so she was facing him and snuggled close to his body while the Doctor stroked her back. Rose breathed in his scent and closed her eyes while the Doctor kissed her temple and her cheek. For the moment, she lost herself and let her fears of the future briefly fade away while she basked in his love. Even when her husband pretended to love her, he was never this gentle, this loving and she realized what real love was like. She realized that getting angry about her husband's love affairs was the wrong thing to do. Who cared what strumpet Harry shagged when she had a wonderful man like this all to herself now.

If you can cheat on me, Harry, I can do it as well, Rose thought as she kissed the Doctor's chin.

Rose snuggled up closer to the Doctor and he put his arm around her and laid his chin on top of her head.

"This can't last," the Doctor said, stroking her back while she listened.

"No, I want it to last. I want to be with you always," Rose said, looking up at him.

The Doctor smiled tenderly at that and stroked her cheek.

"No, I mean staying here can't last," he said while Rose relaxed. "I have a feeling Clarice informed the Master that we were coming. I think we need to move somewhere else, at least for a few days and then perhaps come back and see if the men do come."

"What about Clarice then?" Rose said.

"Don't know. We can't leave her here or she really will tell the Master," the Doctor said. "She might be intimidated by me now but that won't last if we leave. She might fear me but her fear of the Master is stronger and she'll do anything to stay on his good side."

"Take her with us?" Rose said.

She stroked his cheek while he thought that over.

"Perhaps for a bit so we can keep watch over her. If we meet members of the resistance, we can give her to them. I'm sure they'd be happy to have a spy like her out of their midst."

"Would they execute her though?"

The Doctor sighed.

"Dunno. Maybe. We have to do something with her. We can't let her run loose. She's not only putting us in danger but others as well. If we meet other rebels, I'll talk to them and persuade them to treat her humanely. She's scared and fear can make you do things you wouldn't normally do. If the Master wasn't breathing down her neck she probably wouldn't have turned anyone in. She seems like a nice woman, just a weak will. That's why I'm very selective when I choose who'll travel with me. Not everyone has what it takes to stay strong in the face of danger."

"And I did?"

The Doctor chuckled.

"Ma'dori, I'm shocked at you. You doubt yourself when you defied the Master and became a fugitive? You could have stayed at his side and pretended to be his loyal wife to save your own skin. But unlike Clarice, you chose to fight back and now you're in as much danger as I am. After all that, you dare to question whether you'd be worthy enough to travel with me?"

"It's just that you're the first person besides mum who ever made me feel worthy."

"Then listen to me and no one else. Because I've seen you in action and I've seen what you're capable of and you're more than worthy. You're a courageous, loving, strong woman and don't you ever forget that."

Rose smiled at that and kissed his lips. The Doctor lay with her for another hour, watching while she rested her reddened eyes and let her anger and sadness drain completely away. When she woke up, she was feeling better and refreshed from her nap. She smiled, seeing the Doctor's loving expression the moment she opened her eyes.

"Feel better?" he asked.

"Yes, much better."

"Good. Come with me then. I want to talk to Clarice and tell her what we're going to do."

Rose nodded. She gave the Doctor one last kiss on the lips before she sat up, swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up. The Doctor did the same after her and she took his hand as they left the room.


Jack entered the Master's office on the Valiant and prostrated himself before him while he sat at his desk.

"I am here, Master," he said, touching his forehead to the floor.

The Master stifled a snicker and commanded him to rise and stand at attention. Jack stood up and went rigid, waiting for orders, while the Master unlocked his top drawer, reached in and pulled out a small manila folder. He opened it up and found the sheet of paper he needed.

"I have here a report from one of my spies near Calais," the Master said to him. "According to her, the Doctor and Rose were going to her house. They're probably there now if this report is true. I wish you to go there and find them."

"Yes, Master," Jack said. "Kill on sight?"

The Master steepled his fingers while he considered that.

"No, bring them back to me alive if you can. If not, then yes, deadly force is allowed. But…only if you can't bring them back to me alive, is that clear?"

"Yes, Master."

"I want you to act normally around them. Make them believe you escaped from here and you found them. Try not to arouse suspicion so you can keep their trust. Once they are comfortable around you and an opportunity for capture arises, take them and bring them to me."

"Yes, Master."

"Go. I have made arrangements for your departure. A transmat beam will bring you down near the house."

"Yes, Master."

He started to leave when the Master stopped him.

"On second thought, I have another idea. Let's make you look a bit scruffy so you look more convincing," he said, rising from his chair.

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