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24 April 2005 @ 23:05
Ten Seconds  
Just something I couldn't resist playing with... (spoilers for World War Three)

Ten Seconds

He should have stopped her.

"I'm travelling, that's all. And then I'll come back."

He stood there, listening to the child comforting and reassuring the parent with simple words. Believing them to be true as she said them, with a child's trust, and a child's smile. He clutched the rucksack like a shield.

"Mum, if you saw it out there, you'd never stay home."

The Doctor wasn't good at domestics. He'd never been faced with a furious and terrified mother before, demanding he make promises he couldn't keep.

He'd spent the last hundred years deftly avoiding these situations. Side-stepping the worried mums and frantic fathers and sisters and cousins and wives and husbands like they were leaves being blown around the pavement by the wind, spinning in circles while he kept on striding forward. He saw Jackie coming, and he couldn't get out of the way fast enough. He would have laughed if the laugh wasn't sticking in his throat like a sob in its infancy.

He knew.

He took in orphans. He took in stow-aways. He took in adventurers. He even, upon occasion, took in spies and saboteurs. Minders meant to hold him in check, and adults who got the stars in their eyes. His door was open to them. He held out the brass ring, knowing which of them would take it. Knowing before they even did. And still he offered, even though he knew.

He took in anyone in need. Anyone he thought could keep up with him, who shared a passion for never standing still when there were new horizons to be mapped.

But he'd never asked of them more than once.

He'd never needed them so badly, as he needed her now, which Jackie could see even if Rose couldn't.

Mothers know. So, to stay safe, he'd avoided mothers in particular.

"You still can't promise me. What if she gets lost? What if something happens to you, Doctor, and she's left all alone, standing on some moon a million light-years away. How long do I wait then?"

Another year? hung in the air between them in that split-second. Ten years?

Will my daughter come back to me older than I am?

Will my daughter come back to me at all? shone in Jackie's yes, and he almost flinched.

He couldn't promise, and they both knew it, even if Rose didn't or couldn't or wouldn't admit it.

It was Rose's choice to make, he'd lied to himself from the first. She was a big girl, and knew her own mind.

Which was why he kept dangling the Universe in front of her like a carrot on a string. Because he knew--he knew in his bones that she wouldn't be able to say no, once she'd got the merest taste of it.

He knew.

Rose, as always, came to his rescue. Rose, barely singed from the missile. Barely bruised from the metal box they were sealed in crashing two stories to the pavement. Rose, who had shown up with a rucksack and a grin, even after he'd said what he'd said, the way he'd said it, forcing her to choose. Loving him for manipulating her, resorting to emotional blackmail, dangling the carrot.

"Mum, you're forgetting it's a time machine. I could go travelling around suns and planets, and all the way out to the edge of the universe and by the time I get back, yeah? Ten seconds would have passed. Just ten seconds." Her hands were on Jackie's shoulders, and she was still smiling, because she didn't know. Not yet. "So stop worrying. I'll see you in ten seconds time. Yeah?"

They had embraced, and even with Jackie's back to him, he knew she was weeping. And he knew Rose wasn't. Wouldn't. Because she believed it.

He couldn't bear to watch it.

He'd gone inside the TARDIS. He'd run away. Before Rose could see his face, and know what he knew.

She could die.

It had happened before. Sons and daughters like Katarina and Adric. Both of them children, barely Rose's age. Brave and clever and dead.

She could die.

She could change.

The girl Jackie was begging to stay could cease to exist. Could. Would. She'd be unable to be confined to a single planet, in a single moment, living a small life after getting even a glimpse of the vastness of his world. She wanted more, and wouldn't be satisfied until she had got it. She wanted more than this little world, this time barely out of smokestacks and steams ships, could ever give her.

He knew that. He'd already seen it in her. She was making a promise she couldn't keep. And even though Jackie had begged him to do the same he hadn't been able to force the lie past his lips. But Rose had no idea what she was doing. The torture she was inflicting out of love.

He could have stopped her. Told her anything. Reminded her about Cardiff, and Christmas every day as a pleasant fiction but perhaps not practical. Remind her about yesterday when it came to that. Sitting on a rooftop and I can't do that to her again and what short memories these humans have.

The TARDIS wasn't quite that reliable, he'd say.

Ten seconds is a bit like angels dancing on pin-heads really, and shouldn't we ought to just promise to send postcards at Christmas?

He could have stopped her.

Someday she could would look back on this moment, and realise that he knew that he'd known, that he could have stopped her, and despise him.

He should have stopped her.

Mum, if you saw it out there, you'd never stay home.

He knew better.

She's my daughter. She's just a kid.

He knew Jackie would stand there on the rain-slick pavement, counting backwards to zero.

He knew she'd spend the rest of her life, counting the seconds.

An entire life measured in ten second intervals.

He knew.

And he should have stopped her.

But he didn't.
Tags: ,
equusentricequusentric on 25th April 2005 04:19 (UTC)
This is a sock-rocker! :o)
ljc: doctor who MIBtaraljc on 25th April 2005 04:53 (UTC)
I am so blown away by that tag. Seriously. So... I had to play with it a little bit.
Hal Jordan! Let's do it!: cracktastic!memlu on 25th April 2005 04:27 (UTC)
I can't promise anything regarding the quality of this comment; somewhere after midnight my brain hits a wall of Do Not Coherent Hello. *g*

This is gorgeous, really and truly - the repetition is fantastic, from the ten seconds to "he should have stopped her" and how it culminates in the last line, which is very much there, cut and dry; the compare and contrast of Rose with previous companions, where she is now in terms of her idealism and intrigue and where she could be (or more importantly, who she could become); and need/selfishness as opposed to what might be the right choice.

And if I don't stop soon I'm going to wind up babbling the entire fic back at you, so I think I'll just stop with guh and happy little flingings of my arms up and down and about. :D
ljc: TARDIS callingtaraljc on 25th April 2005 04:53 (UTC)
the repition is a trick that only works once, so I figured I'd better use it all up now *lol*

I just couldn't get over the Doctor's face in that last scene. I really was very affected by the entire tag, and when Rose hugs Jackie and he just... runs. And it's not played for the funny. He just can't stand being there. And my immediate thought when Rose said "Just ten seconds" was "Oh fuck because you know Jackie's gonna stand there and count. And Rose just managed to utterly destroy her mum, without realising it. And he knew. Dood. He so knew.
aces: dickens magicwishfulaces on 25th April 2005 05:10 (UTC)
Oh, yes, yes, yes. Just the sorts of things I was thinking about while watching the ep, especially about the orphans and the stowaways, and there he was offering Rose a choice even while manipulating her so that she couldn't *not* go with him--

Yes. Very good and bittersweet.
ljc: doctor who MIBtaraljc on 26th April 2005 04:04 (UTC)
I'm obsessed with this epsiode, I really am. I'm still so surprised they packed so much into it. CE was amazing. I'm really fascinated by some of his choices in thsoe scenes. I know folks will grumble, but the charatcer-driven stuff just pings for me so much more than the aliens.
(no subject) - kermix on 30th April 2005 16:50 (UTC) (Expand)
Cedara: Doctor_Who:Key_to_Tardiscedara on 25th April 2005 06:35 (UTC)
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. :-)
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 26th April 2005 04:05 (UTC)
I Happen To Have No Dress In My Cabin: [drwho] chris eccleston roxsarah531 on 25th April 2005 06:47 (UTC)
Darn, you're good. :)

(Dammit, I hope they show up again maybe twenty seconds later, climb out and say 'sorry we're late'...)
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 26th April 2005 04:07 (UTC)
I nicked all the good stuff off RTD's script and CE's acting.

I'm really starting to believe Jackie may never see Rose again.
(no subject) - sarah531 on 26th April 2005 07:18 (UTC) (Expand)
Bud-Clarebudclare on 25th April 2005 06:47 (UTC)
At this rate, I'm going to end up watching the entire series through you. (Spoilers? What are those?) And honestly, I'm not sure that I mind.

It's lovely.
ljc: doctor who MIBtaraljc on 26th April 2005 04:07 (UTC)
You have to SEE omg it's FAB.
bad_sheep: Nine and Rosebad_sheep on 25th April 2005 07:34 (UTC)
This is great! Thanks for making my Monday morning...

Really like the ending. Very emotive.
ljc: doctor who MIBtaraljc on 26th April 2005 04:08 (UTC)
I just couldn't get over that scene. It just made me go "Oh fuck". Poor Jackie.
Lesley: Doctor Rose by Japeparatti on 25th April 2005 08:40 (UTC)
Loved it.
ljc: TARDIS callingtaraljc on 26th April 2005 04:09 (UTC)
hurrah! so glad!
Kat: Peek-a-boo!kataclysmic on 25th April 2005 08:49 (UTC)
ljctaraljc on 27th April 2005 01:42 (UTC)
HawkMoth: plotisgoodhawkmoth on 25th April 2005 11:19 (UTC)
Darlin', me thinks you've got this new series all sewed up!

I can't wait to see that moment on screen.

Orphans and stowaways, waifs and strays. For ever I've considered the Doctor as falling into those categories himself--the self-imposed exile, his subsequent incarnations stuck in the role of stowaway to the first. The prodigal son who used to be able to go home once in a while without too much consequence, but always winding up going astray again. And now, truly as much of an orphan as Vicky, Adric and Nyssa...
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 26th April 2005 04:09 (UTC)
Darlin', me thinks you've got this new series all sewed up!

Doubt it--show keeps throwing me curves. But I'm adoreing them. With each ep, I fall a little more in love.
(no subject) - kermix on 30th April 2005 16:54 (UTC) (Expand)
Just Jennelfgirljen on 25th April 2005 15:23 (UTC)
Rambling along.....
Wow that was amazing!
Thanks for sharing
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 27th April 2005 01:43 (UTC)
Re: Rambling along.....
thanks for reading!
Lara: doctor/rose watchinglarakailyn on 25th April 2005 15:41 (UTC)
Another great piece. You've really got the characters nailed down. And it's so right - no matter what happens, the same Rose won't be coming back. I love the references to his past companions too.

So well done.
ljctaraljc on 27th April 2005 01:43 (UTC)
thanks so much! so glad you enjoyed it.
Flurblewig: docrose_endflurblewig on 25th April 2005 18:56 (UTC)
Fabulous! Very insightful and poignant.
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 27th April 2005 01:44 (UTC)
thanks so much! I just couldn't resist... that tag was just so amazing.
fantomeq on 25th April 2005 21:06 (UTC)
Memlu recced this for me, and it is lovely. Quite in character and very emotional. It's clear how much he needs Rose and how little Rose understands. Great job!
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 27th April 2005 01:45 (UTC)
Thanks so much fortaking the time to comment. I think this series has officially eaten my brain.
Rhirhipowered on 26th April 2005 00:29 (UTC)
Really poignant. Great work.
ljc: lost (doctor)taraljc on 27th April 2005 01:47 (UTC)