Editor: the fantastic dr_whuh All mistakes are mine, not his.
Written for: the Nine/Rose ficathon at the storm_and_wolf community
Summary: He'd brought her here to swim. Lucky for his own piece of mind that a bit of adventure interrupted his thoughts.
Disclaimer: Dr. Who and its characters are owned by the BBC. I earn nothing and intend no infringements. The Whoniverse can take my love, though.
It didn't take her long to convince him.
"I know you won't swim," Rose said, hiding her regret behind a grin. "But you've got to come in with me. I'll bet they have chaise lounges, and I know they'll let you go out without changing."
("I have no idea why the Health Ministry sent him," the natatorium director hissed to the day shift host, after looking at the Doctor's psychically proffered particulars. "But what he wants, he gets, if we want the drain episode forgotten.")
"Besides ... " Rose trailed off for a moment. "It's no fun to be there with no one to talk to."
He cocked his head in that way he had, while the hard white sun that streamed in narrow shafts through the lobby windows heightened the gleam in his eyes. "And just how are you gonna talk to me when you're in the pool?"
"Easy," she said. "I'll come over and hang onto the side, and you can tell me all about the architecture, and the history, and, I dunno, the reasons they built this place the way they did. 'Cos it's ... it's impressive."
("A swimming pool? Are you kidding? That sounds so — " "Dull?" "You said it, not me." "Nope. Not dull. Gorgeous, more like." "You're mental." "Nah. I'm right. You'll see. Perfect tour guide, me.")
He couldn't hide a tiny smile of satisfaction when she said that. "Yeah, it is, isn't it? And this is just the entrance."
Rose laughed. "You're so smug! But yeah, s'like a fairy tale, like it's Turkish, or Oriental, something from A Thousand and One Nights, yeah?"
"No one in Asia appreciated Englishmen calling them Orientals. And it's actually closer to Indian." But he was grinning even more, and Rose knew he just needed a little more coaxing.
"Please? You can lecture me all you want, in between me doing laps. How's that for easy?"
"You sayin' you're easy?" He barely had time to kick himself for the unfortunate turn of phrase before she shot back, "You wish."
"Don't think so. You're trouble enough as it is." He quickly turned to examine the green and gold tiled walls, and didn't see the way she looked at him. She dropped her eyes when he shifted his attention back to her, and didn't see the hunger he let rise to the surface when he realized she wasn't watching.
By the time she looked up again, he'd wrestled his face into a mask of cheerful asperity. "Still, if it keeps me from gettin' a month of grief about it from you, 'spose I'll make the sacrifice. Come on, then. Lead me to the baths!"
Behind them, in the cool and mistily illuminated lobby, the natatorium director wondered what the odd-looking inspection team would say about her operation. She thought about the drain episode, and other things, and began composing appeals in her head. Thank god it was an off day; there was no one here today to notice them poking about.
The day shift host wondered, too, but not about inspections or appeals. She paid more attention to her hunches than she did the paper the leather-clad man and his companion had waved under the director's nose. She looked at the two of them standing so close together, and didn't think they came from the Health Ministry.
They didn't come from here at all, the day shift host was sure of it. Not this city, not even this world. She was no parochial simpleton; was, in fact, far more cosmopolitan about some things than her superior. She knew there were many worlds beyond this one, even if most people here preferred to ignore that reality in favor of their gravity-bound and homogeneous facsimile.
Strangers weren't wanted here. This world shooed most foreign traffic away, used outrageous tariffs on travel and trade to keep off-worlders out, and its own citizens in. In this galactic backwater, "out there" was frightening to most people. As most people do when they're afraid of something, they made "out there" a bad thing, something shameful.
Not so the day shift host. In the years she'd spent dreaming of escape from her world — from her job and coach tours and her incurious friends and her ordinary life — she'd imagined the adventure of "out there" and the strangeness of people from away.
And these two? Next to the lobby's mosaic tiling, the high arched ceiling with its gilded highlights, the soaring windows — all the dreadful familiarity of leaded and faceted glass artistry, splitting the daylight into scattered rainbows over the marble floor — the two of them looked as foreign, as exotic, as anything in her dreams.
What would the director say if she whispered her suspicion? Show them the door? Call the authorities?
But that was not her call. She sighed slightly, then looked to the director. At the woman's nod, the day shift host moved smoothly toward their guests. "If you'd like to come with me, I'll show Miss Tyler to the changing rooms, and you, Doctor ..." she smiled at the title, wondered to herself what 'doctor' meant to an alien.
"I won't need the changing rooms," he said hastily. "Just show me to the deck chairs."
"Certainly." She lifted a professionally graceful hand and gestured for them to follow her.
"Oh." Rose stared in surprised delight at the natatorium's main hall. "I didn't think it could be more beautiful than the lobby."
"It is, isn't it?" the Doctor agreed, taking in what he saw.
The TARDIS had chosen well; Rose was dressed in an ivory colored swimming suit, a simple one piece column style that was far more modest than a 21st century bikini but flattering to the curves she normally kept hidden under jeans and hoodies. She'd pulled her hair up, away from her face and off her shoulders. Her pre-swim shower had scrubbed her face of makeup. She looked both older and much younger than he was used to seeing her. He made an effort not to stare at the shower-damp curls at the nape of her neck, shifting his gaze with difficulty to the chamber about them.
They stood on the broad deck of a large pool. The walls were tiled with oceans and rivers, waterfalls and waves, all in a muted rainbow of blues. Azure, turquoise, royal and cerulean, blues that would have been overwhelmingly monochromatic had the tiles not held hints of eggshell and gold, scarlet and silver and green. The surface of the pool was still, and when Rose peeked over the deck lip, she could see a mosaic garden below the water, beckoning visitors into yet more shades of blue.
Windows, as tall and narrow as those in the lobby, marched down one wall. The progress of their glazed panels was broken only by huge potted plants, riots of dark green leaves and blue petals, and by marble-robed caryatids who silently held up the indigo and star-bedizened roof. From inside the hall, only the blue and the white of this world's sky and sun were visible; the natatorium stood on the top floor of a multi-story building, and its distance from the streets below also ensured that they were enveloped in silence.
"Doctor, it's brilliant! And it smells ... " Rose stopped for a second, and drew another breath. "Like a garden. No, wait; it's too heavy for flowers, but it's wonderful. It's more like ... sandalwood. Yeah, s'like sandalwood. " Then a thought struck her. "Doctor, where's the chlorine smell? Has the water been treated? Is it safe to swim here?"
"Don't need chlorine," he said, trying to ignore the smell of her, under the sandalwood and the shower soap. He was standing too close, he knew, but he didn't move. Instead he compensated by sounding as disinterestedly superior as possible. "Not every world's Earth. Some folks understand chemicals better than you lot. That sandalwood smell is their water purifier."
Rose tilted her head to look at him, and smiled. "Well I'm not complainin'. This is gonna be wonderful to swim in." Yes, he thought, he was definitely too close. He backed off rather too quickly, then tried to make that part of his move to a chaise lounge.
"Into the pool with you, then," he said, throwing himself to the chair and hoping he'd made it look casual.
"Right. A few laps, and I'll be back so that you can tell me all about this place." She turned and walked to the deep end of the pool, then dove in. He watched her surface and start down the pool using a sidestroke that rolled from breast stroke to non-regulation crawl and back. Every stroke showed a different curve — The Doctor swore at himself silently.
He'd simply wanted to introduce her to another lovely place, and hadn't thought the idea through to its skimpily-clothed end point. Oh, Rose ... she was turning him into even more of a fool today than she usually did, and the hell of it was that she didn't even know it. At least he didn't think so ... he pushed the thought down ruthlessly and concentrated on the caryatids until he realized that wasn't going to help. He stared at the potted plants.
He didn't open his eyes. He knew it was the day shift host, and keeping his eyes closed was comfortable. Besides, he'd decided that not watching Rose swim was the best strategy for now.
Once Rose was up and out of the pool, he'd go into lecture mode, she'd go into student mode, and they'd end up having one of the conversations he so loved to have with her. He'd be the 900 year old Time Lord and she'd be his friend. They'd keep it simple and he could think about the running and the laughter, and the comfort she gave, and the pride he felt every time she learned something new, and the irritation he fought every time she thought on her own or made him listen to unwanted truths, and the joy he felt just knowing she was near him, just looking into her eyes, holding her hand, touching her hair — wait, no —
"What?" He hadn't meant that to come out as a growl. "Sorry; what can I do for you, then?"
The day shift host still had a professional smile on her face, but her eyes darted between him and the door she'd come through. "If I could have a word?"
"You're havin' it now," he said, but he opened his eyes, sat up and swung his long legs off the chaise lounge. "Why are you whispering?"
She stumbled, abruptly looking almost as young as Rose despite her smooth hair and her smart suit. "I, uh ... I don't quite ...."
The Doctor controlled his irritation. "All y'have to do is talk. I promise I won't bite."
He watched as the woman seemed to screw herself to some internal sticking point. "I think you and Miss Tyler should get ready to leave."
In the pool, Rose continued her laps.
The host took a deep breath. "My superior rang the Ministry — she's been worried about some issues that she thought you'd come to check on and she wanted to, uh ... to explain. They told her they have no record of a doctor working for them and they sent over a number of men. I didn't hear everything they said to the director, but they appear to know about a Doctor, and he is, apparently, someone from ..." she stumbled again, but only briefly. "Someone from away."
"Away. You mean off-world?"
"Yes." The day shift host spoke calmly, but he could see she was also apprehensive. "And we don't have a lot of off-worlders here. Actually, we haven't had any. For, uhm, several years."
"Ah." He'd not noticed the mono-cultural feel of the place until now. Come to think of it, he'd forgotten this planet's isolationist decades. Damn. "And why are you telling me this? I could be dangerous, you know. Alien, me."
She laughed, quickly and nervously. "I know."
He heard the soft lap of water against the side of the pool, and a series of small splashes as Rose pulled herself up out of the water. She wiped drops from her face, brown eyes fixed on the host as she joined the Doctor. "What do you know?"
He tensed, wondering if Rose was going to be frosty. She sometimes was with women they met.
"Miss Tyler, thank you for joining us." The host's sudden smile was inclusive, friendly, and a bit relieved; he watched Rose's own instinctively good-natured response to that melt any incipient frost. "I was just telling the Doctor that the two of you should leave."
"Wha — why?" Rose managed to mix disbelief and disappointment in two short syllables.
"The host here was gonna tell us that, weren't you Miss — what's your name?"
"I'm just the day shift host, Doctor. We're not allowed to give out our names."
"You're probably not allowed to warn aliens about their pending arrests, either, am I right?"
"Arrests?" Rose groaned and rolled her eyes. "Doctor, you promised! One afternoon in a beautiful swimming pool, no adventure!"
"Focus, Rose," he admonished her, rather pleased with his ability to do the same while she stood wet and shapely beside him. "So, Miss —"
"My name's Aedit Burney." Excitement seemed to have won out over nerves.
The Doctor nodded in satisfaction. "Well then. Rose, Aedit here just let me know that her boss has realized that we aren't government types. She's made some calls, and it seems the real government types don't like our type around."
"People coming to arrest us sounds a bit more than 'they don't like our type'."
"I'm afraid so," Aedit said. She turned to Rose and said, "I'm so sorry. I've always wanted to meet off-worlders myself."
"I take it that's against the rules, too," he asked, while he silently cursed all isolationists, everywhere — and himself for being an oblivious fool.
She grimaced. "I'm afraid you're right. Still ... I can't say I regret it."
The Doctor heard voices several seconds before the women did, and put one arm around each of them, herding them towards a paneled door at the rear of the hall.
"Come on then, you two. We need to get out of the natatorium and we need to do it now. Aedit, you know the building; does that door lead to an exit?"
The host nodded. "Follow me."
"Do I have time to get my things?" Even as she asked the question, Rose knew the answer; she could hear voices now, and realized they were coming too fast for any clothing retrieval. She'd really loved that top, too. "Oh well. But I can't go out like this."
She saw several emotions race across the Doctor's face, before Aedit said, "There are stairs down the back, and we can duck into the staff changing rooms on the ground floor. You can wear one of our janitorial uniforms — that is, if you don't mind?"
She looked so tentative as she said it that Rose had to laugh. "Don't worry. I've nicked so many disguises to get out of trouble, I don't even think about it any more. When you're with himself, you get used to it."
"Oi!" The Doctor tried to look injured, but he gave up and grinned instead.
Aedit's eyebrow shot up. A little to her own surprise, she grinned too. "Really?"
"Yeah," Rose said, deciding she liked the other woman. "Here?"
"It's not like we're criminals, or terrorists," Rose continued, as Aedit pulled a key from her jacket pocket, and used it to open the paneled door. "It's just that we just seem to ... run into adventures."
Aedit looked wistful. "Is this an adventure?"
"It will be if we get caught," the Doctor said from behind them.
With that terse encouragement, the trio sprinted out onto the stairwell landing and down the steps. The stairs weren't carpeted, and the polyrhythmic echoes of one pair of boots, a set of high heels, and her own bare feet seemed very loud to Rose.
"We're makin' a lot of noise, aren't we?"
"Don't worry, just one more flight. We're almost there," Aedit said, a bit out of breath, but still taking the stairs quickly. Rose wished briefly that she could move as fast in high heels.
"Here we go," their guide said, throwing open a scuffed and dented metal door at the final landing and ushering them through. The walls on this floor were also blue, Rose noted, but painted, rather badly. There weren't any mosaics, although she thought she could see places underneath the inexpertly applied paint where there might have been something else, maybe old mosaics, or perhaps murals.
Aedit passed two doors, then opened the next. The locker lined interior of the room inside smelled faintly of sweat, soap and trainers.
"The employee's change room, right?" Rose didn't need an answer. "Where are the uniforms?"
"Here y'go, Rose." The Doctor had opened the first locker within reach and grabbed the jumpsuit inside. "It looks a bit long for you."
"Never mind, I'll roll the cuffs," Rose said, taking it from him and skinning into it as quickly as possible while trying to ignore the clamminess of her still damp swimsuit. "I'll need something on my feet." She'd long since learned that running in bare feet netted splinters, cuts and dangerously reduced escape speeds.
"You can have my sandals," Aedit said. She walked over to a locker, her own apparently, opened it and fished about a moment. "Here," she said, pulling a pair of shoes out and tossing them Rose's way. "They're adjustable."
They were, and Rose quickly tightened them around her ankles. "Alright. Now we need a door to the outside. Doctor, what was the name of the street we left the TARDIS on?"
"I didn't pay attention," he admitted. "I generally just know."
"Doctor —" Rose struggled to keep her voice down.
He put his hands up placatingly. "Hold your horses, let me think. Right. It was Cheerford."
"That's not far from here," Aedit said. "My car's in the lot; I could drive you."
Rose looked at the Doctor. Was it worth getting this girl even more involved than she was? "Aedit, right now you can deny you had anything to do with us leaving. If you take us back to — to where we need to go, that's different. You'll be leaving work, with us. You'll draw attention to yourself, and not the good kind."
The day host only looked troubled for a moment. "I'm sure they want to take you back to the Ministry — or someplace worse, because they really didn't look like health professionals. And I'm also really rather certain that they wouldn't let you go. That's just wrong. And when it comes down to it, I don't want to go back. I'm sick of this place."
"You wanna quit?" Rose asked her. She knew the feeling.
"Yes," Aedit said, then stopped, her mouth still slightly open; it was clear she'd just astonished herself. "Yes, I do. I hadn't thought of it before but I — oh. I think we'd better go. I can hear them again."
Sure enough, a babble of voices was growing, as if a disturbingly large group of people were advancing down the hall towards the locker room.
"The employee exit is right 'round here," Aedit said, pointing at what Rose first thought was the lavatory, then saw was yet another unadorned door. Shaking her feet to make sure the borrowed sandals were tight enough for a dash if necessary, Rose told the Doctor, "We're takiin' her offer." He nodded, already in motion. "Yup."
The director was first angry, then alarmed, at the stony response she'd received from the officials who arrived with frightening speed after she made her call — a call she now quite regretted. They weren't from the Health Ministry at all, it seemed. That unnerved her considerably.
No, she said, she'd never seen the man or the woman before; they were most certainly not regular patrons. No, she'd had no idea that either of them might be spies or criminals or worse; they'd offered her credentials, for heaven's sake. She'd never even seen an off-worlder herself, she assured them as she tried to keep up with their progress toward the blue pool room. She didn't approve of that sort of thing.
When the chamber proved unoccupied, she pulled out her mobile. She'd call her shift host, she said. The host had accompanied them here, and should know if they were looking in on some of the other floors. That must be the case, she insisted, even though the other floors weren't generally used these days. The very large men from the far-more-ominous-than-she'd-expected Ministry nodded, but paid no more attention to her than that.
One of them pointed to the pool room's rear door, and she was forced to traipse after them as they descended all the way to the bottom of the back staircase. She kept trying to explain that the strangers wouldn't have known about the employees' changing room, or the exit, until one of the men asked her if she'd been able to contact her day shift host yet.
No she hadn't, she replied. As the men exchanged significant glances, her eyes went wide. Had the aliens abducted her employee? Only in a manner of speaking, they told her. She connected the dots, and gasped in injured surprise. Aedit! Well, she sniffed, when she regained her composure, that girl could go begging if she thought she had a position at the natatorium any more.
The men from the Ministry just looked at her; she began to wonder about her own position.
As escapes go, this one was uneventful, the Doctor decided as they rounded the last corner in Aedit's little runabout. For a tense minute or two when they first left the natatorium, he and Rose had listened for the telltale sound of shouts, sirens or other evidence of pursuit into the carpark and out into the street. Nothing materialized; whoever it was who'd followed them in the building appeared to have lost the scent. Traffic had been a little tricky in the blocks around the natatorium building, but had thinned out over the next half-mile or so. Cheerford Street looked, if anything, a little emptier than it had when they'd arrived.
During the 10 minute drive, he'd left conversation up to Rose and Aedit, a task they'd shouldered with ease. While the two women chatted, his thoughts went round and round in a fever of regret and self-castigation. How could he have been so stupid?
He'd remembered this world because of the natatorium. He'd been here before, in quite another life. It was a triumph of art and engineering with pools on several floors, everything decorated with taste and imagination and dedicated to the feeding of all the senses.
He'd drunk in its beauty, wandered the various halls and pool chambers, eaten in an excellent natatorium restaurant, put his feet up in one of its comfortable lounges, and checked out the spa areas. On that trip, he'd even taken a dip in one of the pools, before spending the night in one of the luxurious suites available to patrons. He'd loved doing that sort of thing back then, he remembered.
In fact, it had been a major interplanetary tourist attraction, from the interior design to the graceful architecture of the building which housed it, standing as it did among a number of well-appointed parks and broad, busy boulevards. There'd been people of all types coming in a constant stream — humans, humanish, humanoid and non-humans alike — all of them entranced by mosaics and murals, friendly service and sandalwood-scented swimming.
The differences between then and now kicked him in the teeth. They'd seen no non-humans when they first strolled from the TARDIS to the natatorium building. They'd seen precious few humans, come to think of it, but he'd accepted Rose's guess that it was a working day, and hadn't thought further about the emptiness of this urban landscape.
He watched that landscape as they drove, and saw a plethora of new construction. All the new buildings looked alike, with none of the fresh and vital feel of the natatorium building. And none of the directional signs, none of the store boards, none of the beacons or illuminated posters were in any language but that of this planet. All of the multilingual signage he remembered was gone.
Even in the natatorium, he now realized, any signs of multiculturalism had disappeared; in fact he'd seen but failed to register evidence of old signs torn down, of inexpertly plastered-over murals, of everything that pointed to the fact that this planet had entered its particularly toxic isolationist period.
He'd been a fool. If it'd been a weasel, it'd have bitten him, but he'd been so blind to everything but Rose and impressing her that the warning signs went unheeded. What kind of Time Lord was he? He had to stop this foolishness, this reckless, impractical, emotional and physical pull towards her. He had to, or the little human he was so obsessed with could end up —
"Doctor, we're here."
He shook his head and nodded at Rose's words, glad to get out of his own thoughts. "Good."
He climbed out of the back, in time to see Aedit look first at the TARDIS, then at Rose, then him. "What's this?"
"It's our ship," Rose told her. "It's the TARDIS." She looked at him. "It's home."
The Doctor felt his hearts constrict.
"D'you wanna see?" Rose asked Aedit as she unlocked the TARDIS door. He recognized the same pride in her voice that he'd had in his own when he introduced his ship to her. So long ago, it seemed, in back of the restaurant where the Mickey mannequin had attacked them. So long ago.
"But it's —" Aedit began, before Rose grabbed her hand and pulled her into the console room. "—bigger on the inside." She stopped, gaped, turned around in a slow motion pirouette.
"Yup." Rose sounded just like him; she looked at him and grinned, her tongue peeking out between her teeth.
He couldn't help it; he laughed. There really was no help for him, was there? Or her.
"I don't know what I'm going to do now," Aedit said. She held a mug of tea in her hands, but hadn't had more than a sip or two in the past five minutes. It had been an information-packed half hour for her, and Rose was actually impressed with the lack of hysterics she'd exhibited. "I'd been counting on that job to get me through school, but I can't really bear the thought of going back."
"Even if you wanted to, I wouldn't advise it," the Doctor said from where he was leaning against the kitchen door frame. "They'll have figured out you helped us get out of the natatorium."
Rose felt him, the way she always did if he was anywhere near her, but she kept her focus on Aedit, because she knew exactly how the former day shift host felt. She'd felt the same way the first time she'd walked into the impossibility of the TARDIS. "You an' me, we're a bit alike, y'know," she said, leaning across the table and touching Aedit's arm. "When I met him, he blew up my work."
That won a giggle from the other young woman. "No!"
After their shared laughter died down, Rose spoke again. "Seriously, the Doctor's right. And you helped us there, so maybe we can help you. We can help, can't we Doctor?"
At his look, she hurried to explain what she meant. "No, nothing big. I know we can't do anything big. But could we, I dunno, maybe find her another city, get her a new job?"
"Couldn't I come with you?" Aedit looked so hopeful that Rose winced when the Doctor shook his head.
"You think you want to go, but trust me, you don't want to."
"Why not?" Now the girl looked mulish. "I can handle it. I handled this, didn't I? Why do you think I can't go with you?"
"Because you've grown up, even as curious and open as you are, an' don't think I don't appreciate it, in a time on your world that doesn't prepare you for out there. Do you want to go where we do? Rose and I go to places where people don't look like people, where they sound and feel and smell like nothing you've ever imagined, think thoughts that would turn your blood to ice.
"And there's this," he continued, suddenly cold and grim, almost inexorable. "Rose told you we have adventures. Truth is, that's not what we have.
"We have escapes, narrow escapes, and trouble, and sometimes nightmares. We run for our lives from them, but sometimes the nightmares almost win." He looked haunted for a split second, but pressed on. "That's our life. Nearly every day. Nearly every day, people try to imprison us. To hurt us. To kill us. And they've succeeded in hurting us — hurting Rose — and I will do anything I can to prevent that from happening again. If it came to a choice between saving myself and saving her, I wouldn't hesitate to save her, but I might not be able to save myself. And if you were with us, I don't know if I could save you."
Aedit paled and licked her lips. Before she could respond, though, the Doctor was his manic self again. "Besides, this world needs people like you. If I don't miss my guess, isolationism here is about seven years from total collapse, but that won't be certain unless people like you encourage everyone to look beyond their own noses. People need your kind of curiosity to make this world open its doors."
"They do?" Aedit blinked.
He pushed away from the door frame, came in and sat beside her, still smiling. "Yup. You're a national treasure, or at least part of one. If I'm right — and I'm almost always right about things like this — you're going to help start a movement that will end things as they are on this world. Y'want to be here for that, don't you?"
Aedit looked at her mug, then put it down and looked up at Rose and the Doctor. "Do you know, they took down all the old signs at the natatorium a few years ago. Too many foreign names, too many names from the old days, when off-worlders were welcome. The pool I took you to, we just call it the blue pool now, but I remember its real name, what they called it when I was a little girl. They called it the Lazuline Hall."
"That's pretty," Rose said. She understood the comment, somehow.
"I'd like to be able to call it that again."
In the end, they weren't able to find Aedit a new job, but they were able to relocate her in a small city halfway across the continent from her original home, where she was safe from any government trouble. Shortly after they left, she found work as a junior administrator in the history department of a small university,. Students and professors alike seemed more open to ideas than did their counterparts elsewhere, and Aedit was happy there.
Seven years later, she was indeed part of the generation that broke her world's isolation. Years after, when she was ready to retire from a much higher position at the university, she returned to the city she'd left. She visited the natatorium, and the pool.
After a while she left, with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. The archway above the door read "Lazuline Hall."
"You know what you told Aedit?"
"Think I said a lot to her, didn't I?"
"About savin' me, but not being able to save yourself."
"Don't say things like that, OK? I couldn't bear it if that happened."
"Y'wouldn't be able to bear anything if you were dead."
"Can't promise anything, me."
"Oh. Then can you at least try? To be careful?"
"You're jokin', right? With our life?"
"That's just it, Doctor. It's our life."
Rose said nothing more. She didn't drop her gaze, though, when he looked at her. And he didn't look away when he realized how she was looking at him.
After a moment, he spoke. "You're right. It's our life. I'll try to remember that."
They smiled at each other as the Doctor threw a switch, and the TARDIS hurtled them into their future.