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19 September 2007 @ 02:43 pm
Wolf at the Door: Chapter Three  
Chapter Three:

I do like your butler; he's so violent.
City of Death

Chapter Three:

Automatically, Rose turned to look at Damien, the Leader. He didn’t hesitate.

“Keesha,” he hissed. “Get everyone out. Rose, you were last in?”

Rose nodded, knowing full well what that meant. The last person into the Community was automatically held responsible for any intruders. If anyone died, her life was forfeit.

Already, the smaller den-mates were slipping out the back entrance, the small tunnels that would let them out at least ten yards from the Community, and give them their chance to try and escape.

Mickey gave a soft cry of alarm and clung to her, his body trembling.

“Don’t go!” he whispered urgently. “You’ll be killed!”

In some, small, more civilised part of her mind, Rose tried to despise him for his spinelessness . . . but found she couldn’t. So he was a coward –cowards stayed alive. Heroes– the men who refused to submit, insisting on dramatic last stands –they were the ones who died.

And then there was her. Not quite a coward, not a hero by any stretch of the imagination. What would she do?
It wasn’t really a hard choice. Whatever Mickey felt, she refused to die in a hole in the ground like an animal.
Shaking off Mickey’s smothering embrace with difficulty, she ran for the tunnel. If she got out in time she might just make it . . . her head buzzed with half-formed plans and ideas.

As it turned out, she needn’t have bothered.

Rose pulled herself lithely from the passageway to find Derek holding the Doctor at gun-point outside the hole.
The Doctor was giving an unconcerned smile to the business end of the gun, and Derek was looking the Doctor up and down with the glare he used to intimidate people.

With anyone else, Rose thought, it would probably have worked. With muscles bigger than his head and scars from several years of active rebellion, Derek had the sort of menacing presence hired thugs would have paid big money for. Just looking at him, you had the feeling that, if you didn’t cringe, he’d do something to make you cringe.

If he thought it was going to work on the Doctor, he had a lot to learn. Rose didn’t think a man who could outpace Robomen, and didn’t even know the Daleks were running the planet would be intimidated by mere atmosphere.
She turned out to be spot on.

“Hullo, Rose,” the Doctor greeted her in his airy, well-bred voice, “Just got some red tape to deal with, and I’m all yours.”

Rose restrained an urge to roll her eyes. “S’all right Derek. He’s with me.”

Derek looked slightly disappointed that he wasn’t going to be able to shoot something, but he took it with a good grace.

“He your latest or something?” he asked with a smile. “Mickey won’t take that well.”

“When does Mickey take anything well?” she retorted, and turned on the Doctor.

“You,” she told him, “inside, now.”

The Doctor sat on a rock, drinking something that was almost, but entirely unlike tea. His Gallifreyan tastebuds could detect willow bark, elm, poplar, and, somewhere underneath all the native shrubbery, a tea leaf. Either that, or a shred of lemon-tree bark.

He almost preferred the four-hundred years old whisky he had used to celebrate New Years’ Day in 999 A.D.
The Doctor had been introduced to Rose’s den-mates, as he heard her refer to them, and found them depressingly similar. Hollow eyes, sallow skin, and, more than any one physical attribute, the same air of bleak, hopeless apathy.

Rose sat on a rock opposite, eyeing him warily, as though she expected him to do something that broke –or at least sprained –some vital law of physics, and wanted to be on the spot when it happened.

“Why are you here?” she asked impatiently. Her face, hidden by the darkness to human eyes, showed a plain mixture of concern, suspicion and alarm. “You could have been –”

“Exterminated?” the Doctor supplied.

Several heads went up around him from people who were trying not to look like they’d been listening, their eyes accusatory –as though he’d brought up the bombing of Hiroshima at a Japan/America peace conference.
He also didn’t miss the tiny shudder that went through Rose Tyler, but when she spoke, her voice was level as always.

“Yes,” she replied curtly. Then an odd expression seemed to come into her eye. “Are you one of the rebels?” she asked, her tone a mixture of hope and excitement. “The freedom fighters?! I heard they were marching north!”

The Doctor shook his head. “Not so much a rebel as the rebel,” he corrected. His voice dropped. “The Daleks and I go way back.”

“They trying to kill you when you met me?” she asked bluntly.

The Doctor nodded. Quick girl, this Rose Tyler.
“You’re square then.” The way she said ‘square’, the Doctor guessed it was slang for alright. “So why are you here?”

After a brief struggle with accuracy versus his expectations of human credulity, the Doctor decided to take the easy way out.

“I followed you,” he informed her helpfully. “I wanted to try and get a little information.”

Rose lip curled. “On what? The Daleks? Or just the planet in general?”

“The planet in general would be very helpful, thank you,” the Doctor smiled widely. “But right now, I’m interesting in something more specific. Have you seen a large blue box lying about anywhere? It says “Police Public Call Box” on the side, and it’s rather important.”

“A Police Box?” Rose looked incredulous. “I haven’t seen one of those for years! Why?”

“Oh,” the Doctor waved a hand abstractedly. “I almost certainly know where it is. I just thought you might be able to reassure me on that point. Oh well, next question: if the Daleks found something rather important, where would they take it?”

Rose shrugged. “Easy. It’d go to Dalek Control.”

“What?” the Doctor blinked.

This time the look she gave him was decidedly wary. “Control –the dirty great big building slap in the middle of London? The one with all the furnaces and fires and a hundred Robomen marching around the perimeter?”

“Never heard of it,” the Doctor informed her cheerfully. “ So that’s the sort of place they’re likely to take anything valuable?”

“Anything on this continent that’s worth anything ends up there,” Rose sounded positive. She leaned closer, looking around as though afraid Robomen could hear her. “They say the Emperor’s installed at Dalek Control.” She paused. “How come you don’t know about it?”

It was the Doctor’s turn to shrug. “I haven’t been to London in a while,” he explained.

“Neither have I,” Rose pointed out. “Not since –” she stopped, then changed topic abruptly. “But I still hear the stories. That place is supposed to be about as safe as sleeping in a minefield.”

The Doctor stored that away as useful information.

“You said the Daleks have been since you were five, how long ago was that?”

“That’s a bit of a weird way to ask for my age,” Rose commented. “I’m nineteen. Work it out.”

The Doctor grinned. “A math problem!” he exclaimed with childish glee. “I used to get those from Pythagoras –wasn’t he a slave driver! Well, let me think . . .” the cheerful expression vanished from his face, as though it had been wiped clean. “The Daleks have been here for sixteen years?!”

“Very good,” remarked Rose dryly, “Nineteen take five equals sixteen. Top of the class.”

“No, no, no, you don’t understand!” the Doctor’s face was agitated now. “This isn’t right, this isn’t what supposed to happen, I’m sure of it! Sixteen years . . .” he turned to –almost turned on –Rose.

“What year is it?” he demanded.

Rose was too startled to make a comment. “2005,” she recited automatically. Then she coughed, corrected herself, “well, as near as we can figure, anyway.”

The Doctor looked shocked. “You don’t even know for sure what year it is?!” he exclaimed.

Rose lifted an eyebrow. “Neither do you,” she retorted.

“Touché.” The Doctor had to admit, she had a point.

“The ash makes it hard to keep time.” When Rose spoke a few seconds later, it was in the off-hand tone of someone defending a perfectly reasonable position. “And, if you’re in here all day and all night, you don’t care much what day, or month, or year it is.”

“You mean, some people don’t even leave their Communities?” the Doctor looked appalled. “How can you fight the Daleks from little holes in the ground?”

Rose stiffened, as though he had laid a hand on an open wound.

“We don’t,” she spat the words. “We sit in our little holes and wait to die from old age.”

“Not all of you,” the Doctor pointed out. “Why were you outside at all, if all your den-mates stay inside?”
Rose shrugged. “Why does anyone do anything?” she asked rhetorically.

The Doctor answered her anyway. “The usual reasons,” he said. “Profit, a chance to proliferate the species, to explore, to boldly go . . . oh, wait, wrong Sci-Fi. The real question is, why not?”

Rose frowned. “Why not what?” she asked.

“Why not just stay here?” the Doctor elaborated. “Live a safe and probably much longer life than if you risk your neck running around, causing trouble?”

Rose scowled. “Most of this Community wouldn’t know what it meant to live, let alone die. I go out, because I can’t stand to stay here.” Her voice held an odd mixture of disgusted affection.

The Doctor looked at her thoughtfully.
“Why couldn’t you stay here?” he asked, his voice carefully neutral. “It’s nice –”

“It’s too much like death,” Rose blurted, and by the look on her face, she had only just realised the fact herself. As though this sudden revelation enabled her to continue, she muttered, “It wasn’t so bad at first. I was grateful to have a roof over my head, a place to escape to . . .” she trailed off.

“But?” the Doctor prodded.

“Yes, that’s just it,” Rose, laughing lightly, and not altogether happily, “But. But, I started to feel like I was living in a tomb. Everyone speaks in whispers; you can’t light a candle or turn on a torch for fear of being spotted . . . I couldn’t stand it!” she burst out, glaring around her at the darkness as though her scowl could make it vanish.

If the Doctor had been the one with that look directed at him, he would have shifted rather quickly.

“So I pulled a few strings,” she continued in a calmer voice, “got myself on scavenging duty. It’s dangerous –hell, only the mad ones want the job in the first place –but . . .” she trailed off, unable to explain how she felt.

The Doctor nodded. “But at least you felt you were doing something worthwhile.”

Rose suddenly flushed bright red, as though her brain had suddenly caught up with her mouth.

“I barely even know you,” she muttered, visibly embarrassed, “and I’m blabbing my life’s secrets all over the place. You must think I’m an awful coward.”

The Doctor felt a tug of sadness at the girl’s automatic assumption.

“I think you’re probably one of the bravest people I’ve met.”

Rose looked up at him, even though he knew she couldn’t see him in the gloom, and looked grateful. An expression, the Doctor suspected, that she would have been far less ready to show if she’d know he could see it.
An awkward silence fell.

“Nice cave you have here,” he commented, more for anything to say than out of any real appreciation of the cave’s aesthetics.

It was the wrong thing to say. Rose’s back went up. “It’s not a cave,” she returned defensively. “If you’d seen what the Gritts call home, or the mess the Hoodlums have been using, you’d wonder why we haven’t been chased off months ago.”

“Why haven’t you?” enquired the Doctor.

Rose gave a small smile. “We’re too close to the London Construction Facility for most people,” she informed him. “The only Survivors nearer to the Daleks than us is a den of Townies. I used to –that used to be my Community.”

The Doctor noticed the hesitation, but said nothing, letting her continue. “After I left the Townies,” Rose was hurrying on, tyring to cover her slip, “I came here. I’ve been living in this Community for almost a year now.”

“I wouldn’t really call it living though,” the Doctor mused, “would you?”

He had just been emoting, not really thinking about what he said, but his words seemed to strike a chord; Rose’s face froze. Before she could say anything, however, a voice called her name.


Rose winced, and a gangly, shaven-headed boy of anywhere from twenty to twenty-five –it was impossible to tell with these malnourished humans –stormed over, obviously ready to do battle.

She cast a look in the Doctor’s direction said clearly, Here we go again.

“Doctor,” she said dryly, “meet my latest, Mickey Smith. Known to his enemies as Rickey the Idiot.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Rickey,” the Doctor smiled genially, and held out a hand. Mickey ignored it.

“Rose!” He was glaring at her with possessive annoyance. “Jenn told me you almost got daleked! Again!”

The Doctor looked up at the unfamiliar word. “Daleked?”

Mickey broke eye contact with Rose to glare at the Doctor, trying to be tough. Pity he wasn’t much good at it.

“Where’d you pick this one up from?” he sneered. “The Antarctic wastelands? Daleked, adjective; to kick the bucket, give up the ghost, shuffle off this mortal coil . . .”

“Oh, don’t make a fuss!” Rose sounded impatient, as though she’d had this conversation before.

“No point you making a fuss over how much you want to live if you get daleked, just ‘cause you’re careless!” Mickey snapped

Rose glared at him. “I said leave it alone!”

She stomped over to the far corner, out of earshot, and pointedly sat with her back to the two men.
“Well,” the Doctor made sure he sounded overly smug, needling the boy, “how to win friends and influence people, I don’t think.”

He wished he didn’t have to be so abrasive, but people give away more information when they’re angry –and the Doctor needed information.

“What would you know about it?” snapped Mickey. “Rose takes too many risks, she always has. Tell her she can’t do something, and she’ll break her neck trying to prove she can.”

The Doctor looked after her with new interest. “Sounds like she has a good deal of self-confidence.”

Mickey looked put out, and the Doctor guessed that self-confidence was something very few people would ever accuse him of.

“Not really, just stubborn. Very stubborn.”

“ ‘It is better to have lived and lost than never to have lived at all’ ”, quoted the Doctor softly.

“What?” Mickey looked confused. But then, the Doctor somehow doubted that he’d had time for a classical education.

“Nothing important.” The Doctor stood up. “Just paraphrasing a friend of mine.”

Mickey still looked clueless, and the Doctor had to restrain a laugh.

“Thank you so much for your hospitality.” He got up from his rock, dusting off his velvet jacket. “But I have my . . . police box to get back, and I’m sure you must be very busy trying not to get your friends robotised.”
Mickey was glad to see the back of him, and didn’t bother hiding it.

“See ya then, Doctor,” he rejoined shortly. “We’d offer you some food, but we’ve got a hard enough time keeping ourselves going as it is.”

“No need for that,” the Doctor assured him, turning around –and nearly falling over Rose.

“Oh, yes there is,” she declared, her jaw jutting dangerously. “Cos I’m coming with him.”

The Doctor’s eyes widened in his head, and he felt himself start to stammer.

“Rose, I-I’m going to be heading for the Dalek Construction Facilities!” he protested. “There’s not much chance of me coming out of there alive, let alone alive plus one!”

Rose was unfazed. “Answer all question truthfully, and in one word or less,” she directed. “Are you going to Dalek Control?”

The Doctor blinked. “Yes, but –”

Rose continued, undeterred. “Are you going to try and kill some Daleks?”

“I’m going to put right whatever’s gone wrong here, yes,” the Doctor confirmed. “But Rose –”

“Doctor,” Rose informed him bluntly. “You seem to have been living in a little cave underneath a rock somewhere. There is no way on Earth you’re gonna get five steps without someone who knows the area.”

The Doctor thought he could see where this was going –not that it took a mind-reader to work that out.
“And you know the area, I take it?”

Rose grinned. “Know it, Doctor? Born and bred in the Briar Patch, to quote a dear friend of mine. I’ve got a string of contacts from here to the Construction Facility all the way through to Megiddo.”

“Rose?!” Mickey’s voice was incredulous. “You can’t –”

“Yeah, I can,” Rose contradicted. “I’m not doing any good here. Might as well do the best I can, somewhere where it’ll actually help people. He needs to get to Dalek Control, and he’s never gonna get there on his own.”

She looked at him through eyes sharp with an intuitive wit.
“You want to help us,” she asked, and it was more a question than a statement. “Don’t you?”

Silently, the Doctor nodded. Somehow, wherever he went, people seemed to be able to pick him as someone who would try to help, try to change the way things were.

“But you don’t understand,” he said, trying, honestly trying, to keep her out of it. “I’m dangerous, what I’m doing –”

Rose’s lips curled. “We’ve been living placidly under the Daleks for sixteen years longer than we should have,” she almost growled the words, her eyes lit with something very old, and very angry. “I want to try and do something for the humans, even if the most I can manage is to die.”

She sounded like Spartacus, the Doctor thought with a wave of empathy. But Spartacus had only been up against other humans, and he ended on a crucifix. The Doctor refused to bring another innocent into the chaos that was his life.

“No,” he told her sternly. “You’re can’t come. I forbid it.”

It occurred to him, .03 of a second after the words had left his lips, that he might not have used the most sensible wording.

Rose seemed to share his opinion.

“ ‘Forbid’?” she enquired, a dangerous expression in her eyes. She smiled at him, and suddenly, she didn’t look pitiable any more.

“You’re taking me with you,” she informed him, “or you’re not leaving.”

Rose almost had to run to keep up with the Doctor. He wasn’t even paying attention to her, muttering something about “bull-headed girls”, and someone called Tegan, but she ignored it. She felt better than she had in years. There was a fresh breeze blowing in her face that barely smelled of smoke and ash, and the sky –what she could see of it, lit by the reluctant, watery sunrise –was a shade of slate grey, the nicest blue it had been for months.

With a deftness born of long experience, Rose expertly navigated the bluff chunks of concrete that, even after all this time, still lay scattered about wherever you looked.

Suddenly, Rose froze, her whole body simply turning to stone in an instant. Her ears pricked, and her nose went up, sniffing.

There! She could smell something hot and dry, a frizzly sort of smell made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Like static and heated metal.

Somewhere very close by, a Dalek had just made a kill.

The Doctor was still muttering to himself, but Rose was no longer listening.

“Dalek!” she hissed. “Get down!”

When the Doctor didn’t move fast enough, she pushed him. Taken off balance, he fell heavily into the lee of a crumbling wall –she followed half an instant later.

Every hair on Rose’s neck was standing up now, whether from the static or fear, it was hard to say.

In perfect silence, they watched as a Dalek rolled slowly over the least obstructed path, its eye sweeping the rubble.
Rose thought desperately. In a few seconds, it would be past the sheltering curve of the wall. It would see them, and they would die.

Rose’s brain churned. Weapons, weapons –

She bumped the wall, and to her delight, it swayed slightly. She grinned. Weapon!

“Doctor,” she murmured, careful to soften her plosives, “on the count of three, push the wall as hard as you can. One.”

“Rose!” the Doctor sounded alarmed, “What do you –”

There was no time to argue. Rose kept counting. “Two.”

“–think you’re doing? You’re going to get –”


Rose slammed her shoulder into the wall, wincing as she felt something give. She just hoped it wasn’t her shoulder she could feel. At the same time, the Doctor braced his hands against it and pushed.

The entire wall seemed to quiver for a second, teetering on the brink of destruction. Then, like the hand of God descending to crush the invaders, it fell on the Dalek.

There was a tinny scream and a sudden explosion, as a surge of power arched through the air.
Then silence.

Rose punched the air, her teeth bared in a victorious grin. “Nailed the bastard!” she cried.

She spoke too soon. From under the rubble, something resembling an egg-whisk twitched, locating the source of the sound –and fired.

There was no way it could miss at that range.
My World is Feeling: artisticartistic
herverylowness: Rassilonherverylowness on October 6th, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
Oh man! Cliffhanger! Brilliant fic though!

Minor error though: “No,” she told her sternly. “You’re can’t come. I forbid it.”

Slightly confusing there but I got what you were getting at.
emerkohlvdoremerkohlvdor on October 6th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
D'oh! Sorry about that -I hate it when I missed simple little typos like that >:(

I'm glad you liked the rest though *G*