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12 July 2011 @ 12:50 pm
Fic: Next Morning's Sun (2/?, PG, Ten/Rose, Rose/OC)  
Title: Next Morning's Sun
Author: slpy650
Characters/Pairings: Ten/Rose, Rose/OC
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is the property of the BBC, not me.
Summary: "I'll wait. He'll come back."
                 "How long you willin to wait?" he asked her.
Previous Chapters:  One


Chapter Two: It’s been a Long Night


He bounded to her, wrapping her in a quick hug. “How long did you wait?”

She grinned, undeniably ecstatic and relieved to see him. “Five and a half hours.”

“Great! Always wait five and a half hours!”


-:-

The cabin had just two rooms. The larger one contained two single beds separated by a rickety bedside table with a clock radio and lamp. A dresser sat against the far wall. There was a small kitchenette in the corner with a little fridge, a sink, and some cabinet space with various used pots and pans and utensils. She’d seen a grill outside the door, no more than a hole in the ground surrounded by rocks with a grating on the top.

And then there was the bathroom with just the bare essentials. The door, made from thin pieces of wood, had just too much space in between each panel that she’d be uncomfortable doing anything in there if someone else were in the room.

Home, sweet home.

Rose threw herself down on the bed nearest the door, not bothering to undress, and proceeded to count the ceiling tiles.

-:-

At Bill’s urging, Rose managed to down about a third of the waffles, taking no notice of their sweetness. She washed it all down with more water. She felt slightly guilty, slightly resentful towards this man, riding her into town, buying her a meal that she then felt like she had to eat.

“So you gonna go lookin for him, huh?” he asked after she pushed the plate away.

She nodded, running her hand through her hair.

“Suppose you want a ride back to where I picked you up, then.” He frowned into the last dregs of his coffee, leaving the mug on the table.

She felt annoyed, tired, frustrated. She wanted to tell him she didn’t want his help, didn’t need his help, and why didn’t he mind his own business for a change? Sighing, she rubbed a hand into her eyes wearily. “You don’t have to do that, but I’m goin back there. Don’t care if I’m trespassing – I gotta find him.”

He shifted slightly, pulling out a wallet from his back pocket, and left a few bills on the table. “A’int trespassing if I invite ya. So let’s get goin.” Getting up, he donned his cowboy hat, tipping it at Sandy.

Rose watched him out of the corner of her eye. Her mouth felt dry all of a sudden, like she hadn’t just drunk several glasses of water at all – no. It felt like she’d been wandering the wilderness for years. For an eternity. It was as if her mouth had stopped producing saliva all together, had filled with the dust of time. And Bill was still tipping his hat at Sandy and she was waving him off. “You be careful now, Bill. See you tomorrow mornin.” Sandy’s voice was low, far away like something was blocking it.

And then he was turning to her, looking down at her, and the feeling passed. She smacked her lips, and the saliva was back. For the second time that day, Rose wondered if this was all real.

“You comin?” Bill asked, and she looked up at him, nodding dully.

As they came out of the café, the dogs lying under Bill’s truck got up, greeting the man with wagging tails. Rose took a deep breath, touching her hand to her head, but just as her fingers began to run through the strands of her hair, she stopped them, forcing her hand into a fist and lowering it to her side. It would be okay, she told herself. This was all going to be fine. She just needed to get back out to that spot where the Doctor had disappeared. He would show up; she knew he would.

Her eyes settled on the man in front of her, patting the heads of his dogs lovingly. They looked like Australian Shepherds. One, a mottled black, grey, and white coat, had those ice blue eyes Rose had always loved. The smaller one was a patchwork of white and milk chocolates. “Come on!” Bill said, slapping the side of the truck, and after the dogs had jumped in the back, he closed the tailgate with a loud clang.

Rose echoed the noise as she climbed into the truck’s passenger side and pulled the door shut.

-:-

After Bill dropped her off it took Rose a while to find the exact spot she’d woken earlier that morning, and once she’d found it, she had to find another spot to relieve herself. She really should have taken advantage of the bathroom back at the diner. The area where the Doctor had left her wasn’t really too far from the dirt road, but it was obscured by the hills.

There was a large assortment of rocks and brush, plants that she now knew were some sort of cacti, and scrubby, dry grass. After another thorough search of the area and still finding no evidence of the Doctor, Rose settled herself on what she thought looked like the most comfortable rock and waited.

She’d been wrong about before. That hadn’t been hot, this was hot. The sun was high, and she could feel her skin burning slowly, but she didn’t care. The Doctor had any number of things that would cure even the worst of sunburns in nearly an instant. He would come soon because he’d said wait five and a half hours, and she had. And he’d said he wouldn’t do this. He wouldn’t leave her. Not her.

-:-

Something woke her with a start. She felt flushed, but a cool breeze was gently soothing her heated skin. But that wasn’t what’d disturbed her. She got the distinct feeling that someone had been calling her. Searching for her. Her skin prickled with gooseflesh. As she tried to lift herself up from the rock that had become her pillow, someone called out to her.

Her eyes flew open. “Doctor!” she croaked.

It was night, a beam of light in the distance providing the barest modicum of light into the vast darkness. Her eyes searched for the TARDIS, for the Doctor to come running to her, embrace her, and usher her aboard.

“Rose!”

It wasn’t the Doctor’s voice.

Her heart dropped, and she felt sick. She sat there in the dark, silent tears beginning to run down her cheeks.

Something wet touched her nose, and she felt the nuzzle and lick of a dog. Numbly, her hands found its ruff, and she pulled it closer, burying her face in its fur. When the dog began to struggle and she heard footsteps nearing, she let it go.

“Rose?” a voice asked, and she cursed it for not being the Doctor’s.

“Sure he’ll come, but you can’t sit out here all night,” Bill drawled.

“Who says?” Rose asked, and she hated the childish way it sounded.

“Well, me for one. Don’t wanna come upon a half-eaten carcass tomorrow.”

His ploy worked, and Rose stirred, trying to make out his form in the dark. “What?”

“Mountain lions. Like to hunt at night when it’s cool, and in your state, you don’t have a chance in hell.”

Rose heaved a sigh, pulling herself up from the hard ground. “What do you propose, then? Take me back to your humble abode?”

She waited for his reply, listening as the dogs panted nearby. He laughed, a deep bark of amusement that went right through her, gooseflesh spreading up her arms and legs.

“I really know it’s not my business, but there’s a motel back in La Coyota. My good friend’s wife runs it, and it ain’t too bad.”

For the third time that day, Rose ran a hand through her hair, but this time, she didn’t think to stop it.

Finally sighing, she murmured, “’Kay.”

-:-

He dropped her off at her cabin after checking her in. Number 17, a little turquoise thing set back against some barren hills. Through the truck’s headlights, she could see other colorful cabins surrounding it. As she’d gotten out of the truck and made her way to the cabin door, Bill had called her back.

“Rose.” She stood by his window, the little brass key he’d given her clutched in her hand, painfully reminding her of another key she’d been given, one she no longer had. She stared at him, her eyes large as she waited for him to continue.

“Good luck,” he finally said gruffly. “I hope you find yer friend.”

Rose nodded, smiling sadly. “Thanks.”

The truck’s headlights disappeared as Bill backed up the dirt drive, leaving her alone once again in the dark night. The key fit easily into the door, and she took a desperate gulp of air as she stepped inside. Flipping on the light switch, a lamp came on, bathing the cabin in a soft, orange glow. She looked anxiously around the room as the cabin door shut behind her with a soft click.


-:-

Rose awoke at dawn. For a moment, she had no idea where she was, and she mumbled groggily for the Doctor, rubbing her eyes of the last of sleep. But even that gentle rubbing was dreadfully painful. And as she hissed, her face stinging, the previous day came back to her in a rush, and her heart dropped in her chest, settling itself deep in her gut.

The cabin was dim, the morning sun just beginning to crest the horizon. There was one window in the middle of three of the walls, their curtains drawn wide. For some strange reason, Rose felt like she was on display, and she leapt from the bed, hurrying to the nearest window to close the curtains. Had someone been looking at her?

She turned quickly, casting an accusing eye at the two other windows. But there was no one there. Walking slowly to the far window, she peered out. The sun glowed pink behind the hills, lavender clouds edging the still, dark blue of early morn high above. It was empty – nothing out there but desert. But that feeling wouldn’t leave her. Like something was looking for her.

She stumbled backwards to the bed farthest the door and sat down, the tired springs creaking beneath her weight. She could hear the Doctor inside her head, see his smile.

How long did you wait?

How long had she waited now? It had to be over twenty-four hours.

A grumble sounded in her belly, and Rose covered it with a hand, willing it to not cause a fuss. As if in rebellion, it growled again, louder. Twenty-four hours!

“Hush!” Rose whispered angrily, at her mind or at her belly, she didn’t know. But to show both just who was in charge here, she got up and went into the bathroom, flipping on the lights. A strange face stared back at her in the mirror.

It was smudged with dirt, the skin a raw, beet red beneath. Her arms were in much the same shape, the skin an angry red. Her eyes looked puffy and tired, like she’d been crying all night in her sleep. Black blotches stained the collar of her shirt, the last remnants of her mascara. Bill was right – she did look like hell.

After carefully taking off her clothes, Rose stepped into the soothing, cold spray of the shower and used the tiny toiletries provided to try and clean up as best she could. But there was nothing to do about her clothing. Just as carefully as she’d removed them, she put back on the dirty garments.

The feeling of being watched, of being searched for was gone, and she wondered if it’d been a dream. Possibly, but she couldn’t remember dreaming anything. She’d been so exhausted the night before, passing out soon after falling onto the bed, her mind replaying the Doctor’s last cry to her before he and the TARDIS had disappeared.

Another feeling had found her, one she’d never felt when being with the Doctor – not until he’d smashed that time window. She felt lost. She felt abandoned, and it angered her. She was sure the Doctor was just as lost as she – wasn’t he? He hadn’t abandoned her – but why then, did she feel this way? It was like the irrational anger she’d had at her dad when she’d been young.

It’d taken her mum sitting her down and patiently explaining for the countless time why her dad just wasn’t there – couldn’t be there for her. Not ever. But he had been, in the end. And that was all because of the Doctor.

Groaning, Rose jumped up from the bed, scouring the floor for her shoes and pulling them on. She couldn’t stand this any longer – all this speculation, this wondering – this torture. She needed to do something.

Almost as an afterthought, she grabbed the key off the bedside table, the little orange keychain marked ‘#17’ jingling merrily as she locked the door behind her. The sun was higher, and she almost faltered mid stride at the spectacular colors in the sky. Pink, yellow, orange, purple, and blue all vying for space above her. But then she was moving again, her eyes focused in front of her, determined.

She made her way down the dirt path to the little building near the paved road. It’d been where Bill had stopped the night before to check her into the cabin. She wondered if it’d be too early, if the woman who ran the place would even be up, but she need not have worried, the light was on and the door was unlocked.

A cool blast of air conditioning welcomed her as she walked in, and Rose could have stood in front of the metal box all day, it felt so good on her sunburned skin. There was a counter separating the little entry from the rest of the building, and she could see the various things scattering the room, signs of running a small motel – the keys hanging on the back wall, unopened mail and other papers, a little cash register, and an old calculator among other things.

A TV sat in the corner on a table behind the counter, a grainy picture of some bloke with glasses and a mustache speaking evenly into the camera. Looked like the news. She was about to just leave the keys on the counter when she saw the ‘Please Ring Bell’ sign. Impulsively, her hand banged down on the shiny bell and it rang out, interrupting the newscaster as he tried to introduce the weatherman. There was a noise from somewhere further in the building, and then a shuffle of feet. A woman appeared in the doorway. She was short, slightly round. Her skin was dark and her hair darker, pulled back from her face in a long plait.

“Can I help you?” the woman asked, her voice heavy with a Spanish accent.

Rose smiled sheepishly, “Sorry,” she said, holding up the keys so the woman could see. “Didn’t mean to bother ya.”

“You checking out?”

Rose nodded.

“You’re in seventeen, yes?”

“Yeah –”

The woman waved her hand at Rose. “It’s taken care of, don’t worry about the bill.”

Rose was about to ask her – though there was no need, it was obvious – if Bill was paying for her room, when the picture on the telly changed. The news had been replaced by a commercial for used cars. A suited man was promising great deals, quickly firing off one after the other. And then he was speaking again, much more rapidly, in a language Rose didn’t understand but recognized. She froze, her eyes watching his mouth in a kind of horrified wonder. “¡Se hablo español! ” the man declared brightly before the commercial finished, and Rose stood there, still gaping at the TV in shock.

She’d gone numb. Absolutely numb. Vaguely, she was aware of the shorter woman saying something to her, and she cocked her head, her eyes still glued to the screen. “Wha?”

“I said, are you okay?” A hand reached across the counter and gripped her shoulder firmly, giving her a slight shake. Her eyes finally broke from the screen, but it didn’t stop the terror that was running through her.

“Yeah,” Rose answered quickly. “I’m fine – I’m fine!” She backed up a step, and the woman looked at her, worried.

Rose all but ran from the building, closing the door firmly and striding out into the dim morning. She was afraid she was going to faint, it felt like she was hyperventilating, so she put her hands over her mouth and forced herself to take deep, calming breaths.

It’s okay, it’s okay, she told herself. This is bad! This is bad, her mind screamed back. Her mind was no longer connected to the TARDIS. It wasn’t translating for her – what did that mean? Was the – was the Doctor dead? Horror ripped through her at the thought, bile rising in her throat.

She shook her head violently, refusing to believe that was possible.

Then the TARDIS – had it been destroyed? Rose gasped, unable to contain the turmoil within her mind, within her body any longer. She’d never felt as alone as she did that moment. The Doctor, gone. She heard his cry again in her mind, his fear imprinting itself on her soul. ROSE! Her mum, Mickey, all her friends. All gone. Her legs refused to hold her and she crumpled to the dirt, hugging her knees into her chest. A sob escaped her lips just as the tears sprung from her eyes.

She wasn’t sure how long she cried like that before the woman came out. She heard her footsteps on the drive, and then two hands softly embracing her for a moment before urging her up. Rose pulled away briefly, a last, half-hearted struggle to stay wallowing in her sorrow. But finally, she followed the woman’s lead, standing shakily, and allowed herself to be led back inside the little office. The small woman guided her behind the counter and directed her into a chair there.

Rose sat down gratefully, her sobs dying to dismal hiccups. A box of tissues was placed in her hands. “Ta,” she whispered, pulling one out and dabbing her eyes.

Now the woman was standing in front of the counter, just where Rose had been several minutes before. She had thoughtful, dark eyes, and they seemed to urge Rose to get a hold of herself.

“I’m sorry,” Rose said, “I’m so sorry…” She realized her phrasing too late, and she bit her lip to stop another sob from bursting forth. “I don’t think he’s coming back,” she told the woman.

The Hispanic woman looked at her remorsefully, a sudden sadness in her eyes. “I know,” she told Rose in that thick accent, and Rose had a momentary start of surprise before realizing the woman must be talking of someone else. Someone she’d lost. “Sometimes, God’s will can be very hard to know – to interpret – but,” she came around the counter now and gave Rose such a heartfelt hug that new tears threatened to spill from her eyes.

She pulled back to look Rose in the face. “It is not our place to question it. You have the strength to go on,” the woman said, and Rose scoffed, sniffling into her tissue. The woman shook her head as if Rose wasn’t getting it. “You do,” she urged. “God has given it to you, just as he has given it to me. You,” now she placed a warm hand over Rose’s heart, and dark eyes met hers. “You have been given the strength to live, Rose Tyler.”

Rose stared at her in astonishment. She could hear a voice inside her head, but it wasn’t hers. It was his, her first Doctor. Have a good life, he’d said. Of course she would – but a good life with him. That’s what she’d planned on, what she still longed for. Her heart wrenched. But there was no way to stop it this time, no way to change things. There was nothing to stop. It was all up to him to come back to her, and she would never give up on him. But yet, she heard his voice again.

Have a good life.

The woman was right; she had the strength to get through this, and she would. She’d faced werewolves, Queen Victoria; she’d seen the end of the world, and stopped a whole bloody Dalek fleet. She was Rose Tyler, and she could do this.

“Don’t know if I believe in God,” Rose whispered. “But,” she smiled, “thank you. I just kinda lost it there.”

“Grief,” the woman said simply, and Rose’s throat constricted. She nodded back silently, her eyes dropping to the box of tissues in her lap. “You hold onto those keys. And don’t worry about any bill.”

Rose looked up and began to protest, but the woman put up a hand to stop her. “I insist.”

She put the tissue box on the desk and stood up to pull the woman into a proper hug, bending slightly to accommodate the other’s height. The woman patted her reassuringly on the back.

Straightening, Rose took a deep breath, steeling herself for whatever else might come her way. She headed for the door, and before she stepped out, she looked back at the woman. “I didn’t tell you my name –”

“You’re Rose. Bill told me last night – you’re on my registrar. And I’m Theresa. Anything you need, you come see me. Got it?”

Rose smiled again, “Yes,” she replied. “Thank you.”

-:-

She walked slowly now, almost at a leisurely pace, but her mind still seemed to be in a state of shock. She’d seen the other buildings down the road that marked the town of La Coyota and decided to head that way. The first one she passed was a little gas station, and several trucks were filling up that morning. A couple of the guys waved or nodded at her when she caught their eye, and Rose waved and nodded right back. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Seeing a payphone outside the little convenience store, she had the sudden urge to call her mum.

No, that was a bad idea. It was 1981 – she couldn’t go calling her mum. Her parents hadn’t even met yet, and she remembered the last time Jackie was presented with a supposed adult daughter from the future. And anyways, she didn’t have a bean on her. It went without question Jackie wouldn’t take a collect call, let alone one from the States.

Rose pressed on, walking further. There was a little post office, a feed supply store, and a small grocer’s – there was a sale on grapefruit, $0.12 per pound. The whole town was surprisingly devoid of trees. Well, she guessed there were a few, but they looked more like shrubbery. She remembered the barren hills she’d stared out all day yesterday. Everything out here was just desert, ugly, dull brown – the feeling of death. She came upon the café last, but it was the busiest place in town, loads of trucks parked out front. Her eyes scanned them for blue trim, but Bill’s truck was not among them. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed.

As Rose walked to the diner, she wondered if she could offer to be a dishwasher in exchange for a meal – she was undeniably hungry. The bell above the door tinkled as she pushed the door open. It was the same as yesterday, the place full of men, mostly, talking to each other, joking with one another. Eyes looked up, watching her standing awkwardly in the doorway. Just as before, the banter died slowly, more and more eyes taking notice of her. Rose hesitated, searching but not finding a friendly face in the crowd.

She opened her mouth to speak, but she had no idea what to say, what to do. It was like one of those awful dreams people have, standing naked at the front of the class. It was like these people could see right through her. You’re not one of us, their eyes accused. As she turned to leave, run away like a coward, the bell above the door tinkled again. A man in a battered cowboy hat came in. He was tall, his face tanned, eyes dark. They looked at each other, both startled to see the other.

“Bill,” Rose finally said. And then he smiled, and she smiled right back.

“Mornin, Rose. Are ya leavin?”

“No, I –” he could see her struggling to find the words, so he stopped her.

“Breakfast?” he asked.

She laughed a little then, nodding her agreement. This time she led them to the booth in the back corner, wondering if it was his usual spot. The diners suddenly found an intense interest in their meals, not lifting their eyes as she passed, but then she could hear Bill saying hello to them, and soon the loud banter had grown again, and things were back to normal. Bill slid into the booth, taking off his hat in the process.

He bought her migas, scrambled eggs with fried corn tortillas, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onions. It was delightful, and she hummed happily, that empty feeling in her stomach finally sated.

“You still looking, I reckon?” he asked, exhaling a fine cloud of smoke. Rose nodded, taking the last bite of egg and tomato, but her lifted spirits seemed to drop again, her heart aching. “Planning on sittin all day out in the sun, huh?” Again she nodded. What else was she supposed to do? What else could she do? She couldn’t give up on the Doctor, give up on the hope that he would return, and everything would be okay – there was no way she could do that. She’d been serious when she’d said forever. If forever – her forever – was what it took, she’d wait.

“Well, come on then,” Bill said.

Rose had the foresight to use the bathroom this time, eyeing the payphone as she walked out of the hallway and through the diner. As she came outside, she saw the dogs were already in the back of the truck and it was running, Bill behind the wheel. She pulled herself into the passenger seat and paused, her right foot dangling above the ground, hands gripping the door tightly. A bottle of sunscreen sat in the seat, and Bill followed her gaze to see what had stopped her.

“Already look like a grapefruit, but it might help ya some with the,” he pointed vaguely at her face.

Picking up the bottle, Rose settled herself in the seat and looked at the sunscreen in her lap. The ache in her heart hadn’t died, in fact, she was sure it’d intensified at this small gesture of kindness, and yet her lips pulled into a slow smile. “Thank you, Bill.”

To be continued…


 
 
 
( 5 comments — Comment )
Andee: SPUD14 - catflapi_luv_redheads on July 12th, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for putting me out of my misery and continuing! Can't wait for the next part!!
I'm writing this to you in reverse: pretty smileslpy650 on July 15th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)
Great! Thank you!
salimalisalimali on July 14th, 2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Oooh very very intriguing.

I'm pleased Rose has found a friend, but suspicious, because he's there 'just' when she needs him hmmm then there's this line
Sandy’s voice was low, far away like something was blocking it. what's all that about??
And then the feeling of being watched, losing the TARDIS translation, the plot thickens!!

Can't wait for more xx
I'm writing this to you in reverse: Roseslpy650 on July 15th, 2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
And so the plot turned into gelatin so thick, neither the reader nor the author could traverse it...

Okay - it's not even remotely that thick. I'm just ridiculously silly today.

:D

Thanks so much for reading!
tedpidyh on November 1st, 2011 07:11 am (UTC)
pimples are really annoying, you can kill them using benzoyl peroxide but it will also make your skin red.

( 5 comments — Comment )