Word Count: 891 w.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Written for who_contest One Shot Challenge #12: ‘Gravity,' this story was penned for my dear friend/beta/fellow author, kilodalton (aka strange_charmed). ILU, bb! I'm sorry this is so late, and that I'm so very rusty. <3 Thank you to psyfi_geekgirl, for reading some early bones for this concept, oh so long ago.
- - -
I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
I’d soar to the sun
And look down at the sea
Then I’d sing ‘cause I’d know
How it feels to be free.
~ Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free
“Go anywhere,” he says.
Rose Tyler isn’t sure she can even begin to comprehend just how BIG the bigness of the Doctor’s offer really is. Her dreams grew up in tight places, stooped under low-slung ceilings. But, tonight.
Tonight, she’s seen and done things that make her chew her lip and consider the possibilities. Like stretching cramped muscles that have been asleep for far too long –
“Is it always this dangerous?”
– Rose is all needles and pins. Remembering the rush she felt flying on that chain, her thoughts swing back to his question. Go anywhere … with him. Out there. Way out there. A small smile tugs at the corners of her mouth as she tries to imagine it, starry-eyed.
THIS IS COMPLETELY MENTAL.
Mickey, still cowering at Rose’s feet, must feel her tremble as she balances on the edge of a decision. And she’s slipping. He must feel it, feel Rose slipping away from him because she’s leaning into the Doctor’s offer, now. Very slightly leaning away from him. Panicking, he flings his arms out to catch her hip like a grappling hook. It’s a desperate boy’s attempt to pull his girl back to their reality and it works, to a degree, because the sheer force of impact jolts her, stops her. But it’s her own self-doubt, squeezing her heart like a fist, that squashes Rose’s confidence and weighs her to the spot so much more than Mickey’s vice-grip could ever do. She regrets the words before they even leave her mouth.
“Yeah, I can’t.”
She blurts them out quickly before she can change her mind, dropping her eyes to address the chapped leather of the Doctor’s lapels. Her mumbled excuses sound unconvincing in her own ears, spilling like marbles from her strained smile.
“Okay,” he says quietly, his face a mask. “See you around.”
And that’s it. His non-reaction feels like a slap: crisp night air collides with the wet bone of teeth as Rose's mouth drops open from the surprise of it. And, no, maybe that’s not fair - he asked and she said no - but … so? She’s only known him for a day, but it’s enough time for her to expect him to argue, to push back – to fight. She fought for him tonight and it had seemed like, well.
When the Doctor takes a blind step backwards through the splintered blue doorway, he takes all of the air with him - Rose feels winded. His stoic expression flickers as he watches her: his face winds down like an old pocket watch, eyelids sagging at eight and four. It makes her chest clench, and it feels … this feels … wrong.
This is completely wrong.
In a flash, he shutters himself away from her again, features stripped bare and a hand on the door, and she knows she’s missing her chance. Say something!
Rose grits her teeth to stop the curse or the sob or whatever it is that’s threatening to climb out of her throat when the door shuts with a quiet snick. Regret is already seeping into her bones as the Police Box begins to blink and fade away, leaving her to stand on the wrong side of a door that’s no longer there.
As the air stills and the soft corona of her hair deflates to settle on her shoulders, Rose listens carefully – because it’s the strangest thing, this singing. Can Mickey hear it, too?
It’s making her blood shiver and her skin prickle and this must be what the Doctor meant about feeling the turn of the Earth because she feels it now, keeping time with the thrum of her pulse. The sound fills her head until she can see it as tangible pathways and curling ribbons of infinite, malleable possibilities. It’s brief and it burns and it’s too great to hold onto really great gonna have a really great year and she’s already forgetting just as she remembers she’ll need to forget …
A dog barks two streets over, snapping Rose back to her senses – back to Mickey at her hip and to their long journey home – but not before tugging upon the brightest thread to scatter the words whenever he might be: ASK AGAIN ASK AGAIN ASK AGAIN…
From the moment the rematerialized door opens, they both know she’s going with him, and that it’s completely fantastic.
By the way, did I mention it also travels in time? The Doctor smirks, swagger restored. He doesn’t wait for her to answer – he just backs out of the doorway, to give her room.
When she kisses Mickey goodbye, Rose says the rudest, rudest thing she can think of (’s better this way - love you enough to let you hate me a little) and cuts a second chain tonight: this one, to rescue herself. And then she runs.
She has no idea where she’s heading, only that she’s going. With her hair streaming behind her and a grin so big it hurts, she lets everything else fall away. Taking a running leap over the threshold of that magical blue box, all Rose Tyler can think is she’s never felt so light, or so goddamned free.
- Current Music:Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free