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If Rose Were Deaf

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ZZZZ ZZZZ ZZZZ

 

Rose jolted awake. Her bed was shaking in the agonizingly familiar pattern that it did every morning. Buzzzzzz… buzzzzz…buzzzzz. She inhaled sharply, and tried for a few moments to ignore the reality of her day. She had had the perfect dream, and she dreaded leaving that wonderful adventure inside her mind.

 

The world was so confusing when she was awake, and her own subconscious wasn’t much better. Rose spent the majority of her life feeling like she was missing something, and most of the time, she was right. Only in her dreams did she get to be an expert in something, so knowledgeable and smart that it took geniuses to explain what she was saying on telly. In her dreams, she was the one who everyone waited for, and she got to save the day.

 

Buzzzzz… buzzzzzz… buzzzzz. Sadly, dreams didn’t exactly come true for people like her. She let out a whiny breath, scrunched up her face, gathered her courage, and flung her bright pink comforter off of herself.

 

If anyone had asked her, Rose would have said that she and Mum were doing fine, no thanks to you. She would have said that there was nothing wrong with living on a council estate. But, privately, Rose felt like she was poor. As she dressed in somewhat ratty clothes that had been in style two years ago, and rushed to catch a bus to her no-A-Levels job, she contemplated all the things she would do if only she had enough money. Of course, everyone felt that way, but Rose didn’t think that most people would consider things like eating fresh vegetables andbeing able to buy clothes every few months, rather than either-or, a luxury.

 

Rose did her best to smile at customers as she watched them unfold several shirts and then leave them in a pile right in front of her. She gave up after several hours of folding and carrying the same three pairs of pants in the women’s section, and decided that it must be part of human nature to destroy a perfectly neat pile of jumpers.

 

Theoretically, she was supposed to be able to make sales of her own, and to speak with customers regularly, but her manager swooped in every time she started helping someone. “So sorry, ma’am, our Rose here is actually a bit difficultto understand sometimes. But we don’t discriminate at all in our hiring at Henricks…”

 

Rose had watched time after time as customers noticed the blue plastic devices fixed into her ears and suddenly acted as though she didn’t exist. Her lipreading was pretty spotty sometimes, but she could still see, plain as day, when her manager, stupidly, mouthed the words ‘disability hire’ and whisked the customer away. She never told Rose off, probably for fear of being sued, but she also didn’t give Rose a cut for the sales she’d helped with. Eventually, since she wasn’t being paid for her effort, she’d resolved to just do the bare minimum of maintaining the store.

 

She had a brief respite at lunch, when she met up with Mickey and she got to have a real conversation – probably the only one of the whole day. Mickey wasn’t the best a signing, and he tended to get frustrated if Rose made him work too hard, but after spending his lifetime in and out of her mum’s apartment, he was easy to understand even without words. Maybe that was why Rose had been drawn to him. She had never really kept in touch with the deaf kids at school because they always seemed much more knowledgeable about the community than she did, and a couple of her mainstream friends had completely fallen out of the habit of signing after she started spending all her time with Jimmy. Mickey, though, had been with her from the beginning, and he never judged her communication decisions. And, when she felt like she just could not speak to a single human on the planet, he was always there, ready with a “I know something we can do without any words at all.”

 

In return for his loyalty and his comfort, Rose was Mickey’s support. She knew that the guys at the garage liked to tease him about not having a girlfriend, and that he struggled to make friends sometimes. He really was a sweet guy. Still, though, Rose tended to find herself thinking of their relationship as transactional rather than emotional. Maybe it was because that was how she justified it to herself, but she worried that she didn’t love Mickey quite as much as she should have.

 

After her hour break, which was really just some off time between her first and second shifts, Rose slogged back to Henricks, and started to count the minutes.

***

 

The Doctor grabbed the girl's hand, startling her even more. She stared at him, so he said urgently, "Run!"

 

He led her down the hallway and through several sets of doors until they got to an elevator that would take them to the ground floor. The girl didn't run very fast, so the Nesteen was right behind them to the point that one of them almost got into the elevator. Its arm got jammed between the doors and he had to pull it off in order to get the elevator moving.

 

He threw it back to the girl, who was panting in the corner of the elevator. Her eyes were wide. She looked at the arm, then him, then the arm again, all with an alarmed look on her face.

 

"Plastic," he said bluntly. In some ways, he thought, that was all the explanation anyone needed.

 

She nodded, but didn't seem to believe him.

 

The Doctor said, "They're really plastic, I promise. Not some prank group or any of that nonsense."

 

The girl stared intently at him, like he had an odd facial hair or a mole or something. She raised an eyebrow. She still didn't believe him. But, all she said was, "Wilson will call the police."

 

The girl had a very heavy accent, but the Doctor couldn't place it. Her words were flat and strained, like they were caught in her throat. She sounded like she had several speech impediments that were never addressed. It was odd for the Doctor to run into an accent he didn't recognize, especially on Earth, especially in London.

 

He asked, "Who's Wilson?"

 

"Electrician," she answered.

 

The Doctor frowned. He'd only gotten one human life sign when he scanned the building. He said, "Wilson's Dead."

 

The girl looked alarmed again, but also angry. She said loudly, "That's sick!" Her arms shot out in big movements too. He wondered if she was ever an actress or a dancer.

 

"Watch your eyes," he said, tilting his face slightly away from the elevator panel while he soniced it. The girl didn't seem to care what he had to say, though, because she looked straight at the beam. Idiot, he thought to himself. She was just like any other human who couldn't listen to a single direction.

 

The Doctor started walking towards the exit, but the girl just seemed more angry. She said, "Wait!" and grabbed his arm. He turned to her forcefully. No one had touched him directly like that for a long time. He hadn't kept any companions around sit the war ended, and before, well, Gallifreyans weren't a very touchy species.

 

The girl let go when she saw how he reacted, but still held his gaze. The Doctor forgot that humans tended to be a bit fierce when they weren't given enough information. (When they didn't feel important, thought the Doctor cynically.) "Explain," she demanded. She added, "And look at me." Her pointed two fingers and moved them like his eyes were on her.

 

He walked a bit slower so she could catch up, and said, "They're made of plastic; living plastic creatures. And they're being controlled by a relay device on the roof, which would be a great big problem if I didn't have this." He held out the explosive he'd been carrying in his jacket. He continued, "So I'm gonna go upstairs and blow it up. And I might well die in the process, but don't worry about me."

 

The Doctor opened the exit door and gestured for Rose to go through. He said, "No, you go home. Go on, have your lovely beans on toast." He pushed her out the door and said, "Don't tell anyone about this 'cause if you do, you'll get them killed."

 

The girl stared at the Doctor. Her eyes had been trained on his face the whole time. As soon as he stopped talking, though, she made the briefest eye contact. He shut the door.

 

The Doctor started to turn away, but something stopped him. He couldn't stand to just leave her out on the street. He turned back, opened the door again, and saw the girl still staring in his direction, as if he'd left something there. She seemed surprised that he was back.

 

For the first time, he looked at the girl he'd saved. His first impression was that she was pretty. Then, with a start, he realized how young the girl was. She looked like a teenager, maybe 20 tops. She had dyed blonde hair... and hearing aids. The Doctor suddenly remembered her accent. She was deaf. No wonder she hadn't turned away from his sonic; she couldn't hear his warning. She must have been pretty good at lip reading to have kept up so far.

 

He looked her straight in the eyes and said, "I'm the Doctor, by the way. What's your name?"

 

"Rose."

 

"Nice to meet you Rose, run for your life!" He closed the door for good this time and made his way to the roof.

 

A deaf girl, he thought to himself. Of course she was deaf. After all this time, the Doctor still cringed a bit when he thought about deafness. It wasn't allowed where he grew up. If a baby was somehow allowed to be conceived and turned out deaf it was sent away, and never allowed to have any children. He remembered the tests that they used to do on Gallifrey, finding the probability of two people having a child with any kind of physical disability. Anything above a 10% chance was illegal. That was the reason he'd had to divorce his first wife... they had wanted a child, a daughter. But, when they applied, they were denied for a 25% chance of deafness. The Doctor remembered what he'd thought when he'd heard that news for the first time. He'd been so excited to have a child, so nervous about what they would think of him. And then, he'd found out it was illegal, and it all felt ripped away before he’d even had a chance to properly love the little person that might have been.

 

The Doctor reached the roof and forced himself to stop thinking about the past. It took several moments to draw himself back to the present, and afterwards he felt raw and vulnerable. He hadn't consciously thought about Gallifrey since before the war.

 

He quickly located the thought-control receiver and aligned the bomb. He made his way to the edge of the roof, looking at the people on the street below. The bomb would eventually make the entire building explode and go up in flames, but it would take at least two minutes before becoming any danger to the people on the street, which would be plenty of time for everyone to get out of the way.

 

He spotted Rose running down the street. She crossed the street randomly in her panic and almost got hit by a car. The Doctor wondered if she was normally so reckless. Something told him the answer was yes.

 

***

Rose hesitantly started walking home. She started to turn the corner when she noticed a display window full of mannequins. Her heart leapt and she quickly turned to cross the street. But, she wasn't paying enough attention and almost got hit by a car. Crap, she thought. She imagined her mum chastising her for not paying enough attention.

 

She took a breath and started jogging down the street to see if that would help her to relax. It always had in school. She felt her adrenalin start to kick in and felt herself running, then sprinting. She wildly dodged shoppers and pedestrians for several blocks before she exited the main shopping area. She got a couple of rude gestures, but was grateful not to be able to hear the curses that were probably aimed at her. In her panic, she ran much too hard and far before stopping to take a breath, but when she did, she felt a slight tremor in the ground. She turned around to see Henricks on fire in the distance, a bright orange glow. More alarming were the people running around, even as far away as she was now. People around her started running away, making the entire situation a mess. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment. Suddenly, she could be anywhere in the world. The world was just an illusion of panic and fear, when really it was peaceful and still. Of course she opened her eyes again, but when she did it felt like she was removed from the commotion. She was just a normal girl walking home. She pretended the disaster was in a different reality, and she was safe in her own.

 

Rose didn't allow herself to relax for too long, though. Her mum was probably home, watching the news right now. It would only be minutes for her find out the breaking news, and Rose still had at least twenty minutes to go if she ran. There was no hope of a bus, either, since the streets were completely crazy.

 

***

 

Mum was saying something to Bev on the phone, pacing up and down the apartment. She handed Rose a cup of tea. She was sitting on the couch, watching the news go on about the disaster.

 

Just then, Mickey Smith walked in. Mickey lived on the estate as well, and, despite his poor sign language skills, they'd been friends since forever. Recently, they'd been dating. Mickey wasn't especially cool or exciting, but Rose had learned the hard way that 'cool' was overrated anyway. Mickey was safe, and comfortable, which pretty much summed up their relationship. They went out, they got lunch, sometimes they had sex, but that was pretty much it.

 

'I called you,' Mick signed at her. Rose shrugged. Most of the people who had texted her were barely her friends, but they suddenly seemed to care enormously.

 

'You could have died!' signed Mickey. He leaned in for a hug, which Rose did her best to deflect. She didn't want to be smothered. She didn't want compensation. All Rose wanted was to go back to her old job, to her life, which she'd worked so hard to make stable. She didn't fancy starting all over again from scratch.

 

'What HAPPENED?' he asked, spelling out the word 'happen'. Rose shook her head again. 'I was outside,' she answered. There was no point telling people about mannequins coming to life. It would only start a search for the mystery man who'd saved her life. It didn't matter, anyway. All Mickey seemed to care about was going to the pub to watch football. He seemed to be here out of a sense of obligation more than concern. Rose waved off Mickey, and then got pestered by her mum about interview and compensation again. She didn't care about any of it, though. She wished she'd never run into that man - 'The Doctor'. He was mixed up in everything that had destroyed her job. Not that Rose was especially attached to Henrick's, but she had finally worked off her considerable debt from her time with Jimmy, her wounds were healing, and she was hoping to be promoted. As boring as it was, her life was finally free off the drama and heartache that had consumed her life.

 

But, as Rose laid in bed that night, she couldn't help but reflect of her life. She thought about how much she hated her job, how mediocre her relationship with Mickey was. She barely hung out with her friends, she had no purpose in life. Rose didn't miss her old life, she hated it. She still hated it. She rethought her assessment of that man, the Doctor. What life must he have? Chasing monsters, rescuing girls, and blowing up buildings seemed like the kind of thing that only happened in television shows and books. Maybe she really had just imagined him in order to repress whatever actually happened in that warehouse.

 

But, Rose couldn't quite believe that her mind would play such a trick on her. After all, she had been through a lot in the past few years. She had never hallucinated, had never repressed a memory to the point of forgetting it, no matter how painful.

***

 

BUZZZ BUZZZ BUZZZ.

 

No matter what her mum said about being able to sleep in for once, Rose couldn’t just stay in bed. Once all of her adrenaline had worked its way through her body, she was left with a strong sense of longing. It wasn’t her old life that she wanted back, despite what she’d told her mum. In fact, she was extremely pleased to be rid of it. No, what she longed for was the thrill of something actually happening.

 

In some ways, she felt a bit like a monster. Something terrible had happened. A man was dead. A building was reduced to rubble. But she just couldn’t bring herself to feel sad about Henrick’s. Instead, she wanted to do something. Preferably, with the strange man who she had definitely met on the roof. Hopefully he wasn’t dead. He’d seemed to have all the answers.

 

The next morning, the doorbell was flickering the kitchen lights like mad over breakfast. Rose searched around for her mum, but she must have been off doing her hair or some such thing, because she wasn’t able to hear the damn thing. It was probably just some stupid kids who thought it was funny to knock on the deaf girl’s door.

 

Rolling her eyes, she went to get it, but found a hand reaching through the cat flap. God, mum had forgotten that too.

 

She swung the door open abruptly, pleased to see it caught the man off guard.

 

“What’re you doing here?” he demanded.

 

She raised her eyebrows. Surely, he would recognize the stupidity in his own question, right? There was a beat, and then he glanced at her ears. She wasn’t wearing her hearing aids, since she wasn’t expecting to spend time with anyone who couldn’t sign. He must have noticed last night. She found herself blushing, of all things. It had been nice, to be treated as intelligent. As a normal person.

 

HELLO!”he said, mouthing the word ridiculously. Inside of her, a little bubble of hope popped. It was a familiar feeling. After all, plenty of hearing people had let her down before. But still, it hurt just at much.

 

“What do you want,” she asked coldly, not bothering herself about her speech that she had so little opportunities to practice.

 

“I! Am! The Man! From! Last night!” he replied. Totally hopeless. He crudely mimed something exploding with his hands, then looked up at her.

 

“I remember,” she said, glaring. “You don’t have to speak like that.”

 

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

 

Rose rolled her eyes, but let the man in. Hero or not, he was still a mystery. No to mention the only interesting part of her life at the moment.

 

She passed mum in the hallway – indeed doing her hair – and the had a brief exchange.

 

‘Who’s that?’ Jackie asked.

 

‘Man from the government,’ she replied. ‘He’s here about compensation.’

 

Jackie raised an eyebrow. ‘Does he sign? Is there an interpreter?’

 

‘No, but I’m fine.’

 

‘You sure?’ Jackie asked seriously, setting her hairdryer down. She had that same wrinkle in her face, like she wanted to help so badly, but didn’t for the sake of Rose learning or developing or something.

 

‘Positive,’ Rose replied firmly.

 

She went into the kitchen to make tea, but the man – the Doctor – seemed to have stopped to talk to Jackie. He was just coming down the hall and he looked grim.

 

(“Now listen here, mister. I don’t care who you are. My daughter isn’t some silly deaf girl you can just push around or take advantage of. She deserves compensation. And she has the right to a goddamned interpreter.”

 

“Right. Of course. We’re having someone come down right now.”

 

“You better not be lying to me. I know how government types like to take advantage of a girl with a disability. But myself on the other hand… you could certainly take advantage there, if you like.”

 

“…no.”)

 

Rose didn’t hear the Doctor slowly being choked to death by a flying plastic hand, so it was a few minutes later that she came out of the kitchen to find him slightly blue in the face. She ran over, tea forgotten, and wrenched as hard as she could.

 

The experience of having her own face smothered was not one she valued. She was thrown against the wall with the force of a full-grown man, not a 100 gram piece of plastic. The Doctor pulled her back, and then she and him fell to the floor, destroying the coffee table. Even with the Doctor’s help, it felt like forever before it came off her face. When he finally got it off, it left her straddling him. They made eye contact briefly, and his eyes widened just a bit. She scowled and climbed off.

 

She touched her neck. It was tender where the fingers had held her, and it hurt worse on her shoulders, where the man had braced all his force against her to separate her from the mannequin.

 

“What the fuck,” she swore. That was a plastic hand. That was a living, moving, murderous plastic hand. Whatever it was, it wasn’t normal.

 

“Right. That solves that. I’m off.”

 

Rose followed him down the stairs, trying to ask him questions, but if he was answering she had no idea, with his back to her. She asked about the police, but it sounded stupid even to herself. There was no way they would believe her. Even worse, they might blame her for the explosion, say she was trying to come up with a cover story.

 

Finally, after hitting the ground floor and chasing him across the grass, she grabbed his shoulder and forced him to face her. “Just wait,” she demanded. She pulled out a pen and pad of paper she’d grabbed in the rush of things.

 

I deserve the truth, she wrote and handed to him.

 

He took the pad, then the pen as well. It could get you killed.

 

Rose huffed. No more deflecting. She underlined the word deserve.

 

“Fine!”he said loudly. He pointed two fingers at her eyes, and the lead them back to his. ‘Watch me.’

 

“That hand and those mannequins were animated by aliens. Dangerous aliens who are in London and want to take over the world. I am going to stop them, because I’m the only one who can, and because that’s what I do. It’s too dangerous for you. Go. Home.”

 

Rose stood firm. “Why me? Why my life?”

 

He shook his head. Patronizing. “They came after me. You’re just unlucky.”

 

She narrowed her eyes. “So, the world revolves around you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Who are you?”

 

The man hesitated. It didn’t seem like he was avoiding the question, though. More like he didn’t know how to explain. Like he was worried he might lose her in the process of answering. Rose often thought she had missed many pointlessly eloquent speeches because of this. Finally, he said, “I’m unlucky. And I don’t have anyone waiting for me at home.”

 

That made her pause. She turned around to watch for her mum, who she suddenly imagined finding her daughter missing with a strange man, while the house was a complete ruin. Would she call the police before Rose could let her know she was okay?

 

By the time she turned around, he was gone.

 

***

Plastic Mickey couldn’t sign for shit.

 

Regular Mickey wasn’t much better anyway, but the plastic wasn’t quite delicate enough with its movements, and it made the whole thing rather obvious. Still, even with all that, Rose made it all the way to the restaurant before figuring it out. She really just hadn’t been watching what he was saying, assuming it was just the regular stuff.

 

‘Champaigne?’

 

She could have cried from relief. Mickey – or, rather, not-Mickey – had been holding her hands down, effectively stopping her from being able to communicate. There was nothing worse. Still, though, when she saw the Doctor making the jerky movements that made up the word Champaige, she just laughed. It was a bit hysterical, but also genuinely funny how much of a novice he was. She imagined he’d been trying to be smooth.

 

The moment degraded from there. Mickey turned his hand into a giant club, and the Doctor pulled his head right off his body. Rose still felt like she was looking at the real Mickey, and she wasn’t sure whether she was happy or not when it kept talking.

 

Commotion filled the restaurant. People started screaming. Not-Mickey was breaking tables. Too many people were staying put, though. They had no idea how dangerous this thing was. She scanned the room frantically, and spotted a bright red fire alarm. Perfect.

 

Following the Doctor out of the building was just a matter on instinct. He’d already saved her life twice, after all. She was moving too quickly to notice anything about how she was feeling, but she did notice some kind of whoop come out of her mouth.

 

The thrill wore off as soon as she found herself trapped in a back lot, though.

 

“Let us out!” she cried, pulling at the Doctor so he would face her.

 

“No need,” he assured her.

 

Rose was pretty damn trusting of this man, but she was not about to follow him into a wooden box with a metal door-breaking monster after her. She tried the gate again. Hopelessly locked. She eyed the dumpster, but the cement wall behind it was at least ten feet above.

 

She looked over her shoulder and shrieked. The monster’s cleaver-hands had almost punctured the door. It was only a matter of time. She ran into the box.

 

Rose prided herself on her ability to tell bullshit from reality. She was an expert at going to funhouses or carnivals or magic shows and finding out the trick. Mum always said it was because she wasn’t distracted by the noise of the universe. Now, though, the universe seemed to be telling her the tallest tale it knew, and she was apparently eating up every word, because the little blue box she’d just walked into was suddenly the size of a concert hall.

 

She ran outside. She glanced over at the door. The thing wasn’t through yet. She traced her hand all along the outside of the box. Tiny. Square. Wooden all around. She ran back in. Gigantic. Tall ceilings. Circular, and made of metal and wire and some kind of rock or coral. Definitely not a trick with mirrors.

 

She ran out one more time. She turned around just in time to see the metal door break. She ran back in.

 

‘He’s coming!’ she signed frantically.

 

“Don’t worry. The combined forces of………… We’re safe”

 

Rose squinted. He’d turned briefly to look at his console, so she had no idea who they were safe from, but the Doctor didn’t seem worried. She decided that even if the thing did get inside, there was lots of space to run away. She stared around at the high ceiling, the center dial-thing, the man who was connecting a plastic head to a bunch of wires.

 

“Right. Where do you want to start?”

 

Rose signed ‘it’s bigger on the inside’ before she remembered that the Doctor had no idea what she was saying.“Sorry-”

 

“It’s okay,” he replied. “I understood that one. I hear it a lot.”

 

Rose nodded. She took a deep, steadying breath. “Are you an Alien?”

 

The Doctor smiled, standing with his hands in his pockets. He was allowing her to see; to stare. “Yes.”

 

“Is that alright?”

 

She was nodding before she even thought to consider it.

 

“It’s called the Tardis… hang on,” he held up both hands and focused on them. He signed T-A-R-D-I-S. “Tardis. Time and Relative Dimension in Space. You got that?”

 

She tried to nod, to say something about the finger spelling, but instead she felt a sob come up out of her throat. Her eyes welled up without her permission. It was too much. She was sure the Doctor had kept going, but she just closed her eyes and tried to focus on not crying.

 

Finally, she looked up. This time, at least, the Doctor was waiting for her. His eyes were trained on her, and she noticed the same note pad from a few days ago in his hand. Improvement. Then her eyes strayed to the plastic head hooked up to the console and a completely different kind of dread than she normally felt about Mickey overwhelmed her.

 

“Did they kill him?”

 

The Doctor frowned. “What?”

 

“Did they kill Mickey? My boyfriend”

 

“Oh.” He didn’t seem overly concerned. “I didn’t think of that.”

 

Things disintegrated from there.

***

Rose mostly followed the Doctor’s lead to the eye. She wasn’t sure if she was furious with him, proud of his miniscule signing, or disappointed. So, she just stayed mostly quiet. She did gasp when she saw the boiling vat of conscious plastic evilness.

 

She pointed at the anti-plastic in his jacket pocket, then motioned to the Nestene.

 

“No. I’ve got to give it a chance,” he said quietly.

 

Rose stared at him. That thing had already killed a human. It would have killed her. God knows if anyone had gotten hurt by the Mickey Monster. She motioned to the anti-plastic again.

 

“No. I don’t just murder things. Not without giving them the option of doing better. Anyone can be better if you give them the chance. Human taught me that.”

 

Rose glared at him, but he didn’t budge, so she turned away. That’s when she spotted Mickey.

 

‘Rose!’ he signed, laughing and crying at the same time.

 

She ran to him, mission forgotten. How long had he been here? Hours and hours at least. He smelled awful. And Rose could tell from his expression that he’d been traumatized. How had she not noticed for so long? She hugged him, despite the smell of desperation and sweat, and felt his warm, soft skin. He was obviously not plastic.

 

‘Rose, I love you so much, thank you thank you thank you…’ he signed, more and more frantically. She hugged him again, let him cry. Mickey and her had always had an understanding about crying. It was one of the best parts of their relationship.

 

‘Rose, who is that guy?’ Mickey asked fearfully. ‘He keeps showing up, doesn’t he? Is he dangerous?’

 

Rose shook her head ‘He’s called the Doctor… or maybe Doctor like PHD? I don’t know, but he’s here to save us.’

 

‘Looks like he needs saving,’ Mickey responded.

 

Rose whipped around to see the Doctor being held back by an army of mannequins. He was talking frantically, but they just kept pushing in towards the edge… they were going to push him over. Even worse, there was obviously pain in his eyes. He seemed close to crying. All of his cool arrogance was gone.

 

Rose pushed herself to her feet. The mannequins hadn’t noticed her yet, so she had a moment of advantage. She scanned the room, but there were no good weapons. There was no way she could fight that many, anyway. She did notice chains attached to the ceiling, though. And she spotted that the mannequins were holding the anti-plastic precariously close to the edge too. She had an idea.

 

‘Don’t go!’ Mickey cried, but Rose didn’t pay attention. She could save the Doctor, and she was the only one. It had to be her.

 

She ran up to the chains. “Oi!” she shouted, once she was ready to jump.

 

“Rose!” the Doctor called. He looked concerned, but he did not tell her to stop. She smiled at the thought, and then swung.

 

“I haven’t got any hearing,” she said aloud. “And I can’t speak for shit. No A-levels. No job. But you know what I do have? Junior under-ten’s gymnastics. I got bronze.”

 

When she landed, the metal was already shaking. She held her hand up high to get Mickey’s attention and waved to him. ‘Let’s go!’, she waved frantically. Luckily, he nodded and followed them up the ramp and out of the lair.

***

“Come with me,” he asked. It was difficult to actually see his lips moving, but Rose knew what he was going to ask. It was obvious from the way he’d been shooting her glances as they walked back to the box. The Tardis.

 

She looked over at Mickey. He had run out of the box as soon as she opened the door, and now he was clinging to her. His fingers were shaking. She wondered when was the last time he had anything to drink.

 

“No. I can’t. Someone has to watch over this guy,” she explained. She looked at him a bit invitingly, though. Offer to take him too, she begged. Ask me again. Wear me down.

 

“Oh. Right. I understand. I’ll just be going, then.” He let himself back into the box, and for the first time Rose watched as the thing pulsed in and out of reality. She felt like she could feel the ripples in the universe, like circled emanating in a pool of water.

 

She thought of going home. Of forgetting tonight. It was physically painful. She had nothing to turn back to. She felt like her life had become so much bigger and happier, only for it all to disappear, leaving her empty and wanting. She closed her eyes. She imagined the pulsing slight of the Tardis. She never wanted to forget.

 

Then, she really did feel it. The wind was blowing outwards, and there it was again. Big and blue and impossible. Exactly where it had been. The Doctor stepped out. He held up his hands and signed, ‘By the way... it also travels in time.'

 

Rose smiled wide and let out a happy laugh. The Doctor's signing was terrible. She had no idea what she was doing. She had no interpreter. But, when she looked down to Mickey, crying at her feet, she couldn't help but feel trapped. She didn't want to spend her life taking care of Mickey, hoping to eventually get promoted to middle management, and trying to keep herself safe.

 

She turned to Mickey, taped him on the shoulder until he looked at her, and said, 'I'm going to go. Thanks for everything.'

 

Then, without looking back, she ran into the strange blue box. T-A-R-D-I-S, she thought to herself. The Doctor held the door open wide for her, and she had to resist the urge to slow down when she went through the doors. Inside, her brain had to reset a bit, to accept what it was seeing. She widened her eyes to see the entire Tardis, but the room was too big.