Title: Turn My Wooden Heart (Chapter 2/13)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Romance
Rating: Adult, NC-17
Summary: The Doctor and Rose find themselves wrapped up in a war between two tribes of people. As they sort out the conspiracy surrounding this war, they begin to question their feelings for one another.
Disclaimer: I certainly don't own anyone or anything associated with Doctor Who, but I do enjoy playing with Nine and Rose. ::pets them::
A/N: This fic is thirteen chapters with a short epilogue, and it is nearly complete. I'm going to try to post at least two chapters a week. Also, big thank yous to Tardismate and Amberfocus. You gals have been so much help, and I appreciate all you do.
Previous Chapters: Chapter 1CHAPTER 2
Rose didn’t get much sleep that night. Even though she could not see or hear the pale-skinned Sarhn outside, she knew they were there, waiting for the door to the TARDIS to open. The Doctor, of course, was here and there, tinkering with the controls and keeping himself busy. Most of the time, his eccentricities didn’t bother her, but on occasions like these, she wanted to throttle him then make him sit still and talk to her about their options.
Now, they were carefully picking their way along the tree line on the opposite side of the meadow. Rose thought finding the Harack was a terrible idea, not to mention near impossible when the apparent size of the forest surrounding them was considered. “Do you see anything?” she asked, keeping her distance from the nearest trees. It wouldn’t do to get pulled in by one of those pale things.
“Everything’s quiet over here.” The Doctor took a couple of steps into the forest, and Rose had to restrain an urge to snatch him back. She just needed to calm down and reassure herself that the Doctor was capable of taking care of himself. “Rose.” His voice sounded strained, but was loud enough to carry over to her.
“What is it?” she asked, stepping between the two trees he had gone through only a few seconds before. “Doctor?”
“Over here, Rose.” He was kneeling beside another humanoid creature that looked like one of the Sarhn. “He’s injured,” the Doctor said as she cautiously approached.
The man’s black eyes had a shiny, glazed quality to them, and one of his hands was pressed tightly over his abdomen to cover a ragged wound which was seeping black blood onto the forest floor. The Doctor maneuvered himself closer and reached out to help put pressure on the wound, but the man jerked sharply away and pushed himself up against a tree trunk.
“I’m here to help you,” the Doctor insisted, closing in again. “What’s your name?”
“Taal,” he managed to grunt through the pain. “You must take message to my people, to Harack.”
“Rose and I will help you back to your people,” the Doctor replied, reaching out to put his arm around Taal.
Without a thought of questioning the Doctor, Rose stepped up to take Taal’s other arm and lift him from the ground.
“My time is gone,” Taal replied, holding the hand dripping with black blood up to ward them away. “You must tell them it is not Sarhn. Sarhn do not come for us in the night.”
“How were you injured?” Rose asked, kneeling beside the Doctor to watch the man. She desperately wanted to reach out and comfort him, but he would not allow it.
Taal shook his head. “The others,” he said. “It is the others. Not
Harack.” He took a shuddering breath, his muscles tense and his face twisted in terrible pain. “Go, now! Go!”
Slowly, the tension melted away from him and his eyes closed. Rose saw his chest rise and fall for the last time before he died. The Doctor knelt a few feet away, his face hard and his eyes wide.
“Doctor, what happened to him?” Rose asked.
“Don’t know.” He stood and brushed off his pants. “But we are going to find out. The Harack can’t be far. Let’s go.”
It took another hour before they managed to find any sign of civilization, primitive though it was. Rose could see nothing but Taal taking his final breath and dying in front of her while she could do nothing to help. She hadn’t even known him, but the thought of him lying back there on the forest floor made her heart feel heavy. And that wasn’t the only thing that worried her. She could only hope the Doctor remembered the way back to the TARDIS or they were going to be camping in the wilderness with the Harack. Provided they were friendlier than the Sarhn, of course. Just as they came round a cluster of tightly-packed trees, they saw three pale white men with staffs similar to those of the Sarhn. The Doctor’s hand closed around hers as they approached slowly.
“Halt!” the middle one called out. “Sarhn sent you?”
“No,” the Doctor called out, pulling Rose closer. “We spoke with Taal. He asked us to deliver a message to you.”
“Taal!” the Harack on the left exclaimed, looking on the two intruders with more suspicion.
“Taal has been gone many days.” the middle one replied. “I am Tok, leader of Harack. I will take message of Taal.”
The Doctor nodded solemnly. “He said the Sarhn do not come for you in the night--that the others are responsible. Not the Sarhn or the Harack.”
Two Harack that were hiding behind trees stepped out, and one of them screamed. “Lies!”
“No, truth,” the Doctor replied. “He was seriously injured, a wound to the stomach.” He paused and looked to the ground. Rose glanced over and saw his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed and looked back up to Tok. “I am afraid Taal is gone,” he said with tenderness.
“It is lies,” the one on the left whispered, agreeing with his comrades who were hiding behind the trees again.
Rose finally spoke up. “We’re telling you the truth. We don’t have any weapons; we couldn’t hurt him. He was dying when we got there. The Doctor tried to help him, but he wouldn’t--”
“You take us to Taal,” Tok commanded, lowering his staff and pointing it directly at Rose.
“You,” he agreed.
The Doctor squeezed Rose’s hand tighter. “She doesn’t go anywhere without me.”
Tok conferred with the two Harack standing beside him. When he turned back to the Doctor, he said, “This one is your ilsingin?”
Before the Doctor could answer in the affirmative, Rose spoke up. “What exactly is an ilsingin?”
“She is not,” Tok told his fellows. “She goes to Taal with us. Other will stay here with--.”
“She is!” the Doctor called out, interrupting Tok.
Tok frowned. “She knows not her place?”
“No, she doesn’t seem to know her place,” the Doctor replied, looking down at Rose and begging with his eyes for her to go along with him.
The Harack laughed and exchanged knowing nods with each other. Rose forced a strained chuckle and nodded her head. “Right, I’m the Doctor’s ilsingin,” she told them. “Whatever that is,” was added under her breath so they couldn’t hear. “You know, I’m not too keen on this ilsingin business,” Rose whispered in the Doctor’s ear.
“They’ll separate us if you don’t go along with it, Rose,” he hissed back. If they weren’t in such dire circumstances, Rose might have enjoyed his breath on the shell of her ear more than was strictly necessary.
“You take us to Taal, then we decide fate of you and your ilsingin.”
“Ilsingin,” Rose muttered, rolling her eyes. She snapped her mouth shut when the Doctor grabbed her upper arm and started pulling her back the way they came. Six Harack fell into step behind them, all armed with heavy wooden staffs decorated in bright paint and intricate designs. “Can’t you just zap them with your sonic screwdriver?”
“They’re not mechanical, Rose.”
“Right. This is bad.”
The Doctor glanced behind them. “Oh, I don’t know. They seem like a nice bunch of fellows. A bit war-like, but more understanding than the Sarhn.”
Rose looked up at him and he flashed his goofy smile. She couldn’t help but roll her eyes at him and tuck his arm closer to her body.
“They think we did it,” Rose cried out, shaking the rough-hewn, wooden bars of their prison. “Hey! We didn’t kill him.”
The Harack standing guard only a few meters away did not react, staring out toward the trees surrounding the small camp instead. Shortly after they all arrived and found Taal’s body still propped sadly against the tree, the Doctor and Rose were tied up and marched back to the Harack’s campsite. The bindings were only taken off once they were placed in a small prison cell crafted of wood. It was barely long enough for the Doctor to lie down in, and only wide enough for them to sit side-by-side.
“They aren’t stupid. They’ll figure it out soon enough.”
Rose looked over to see the Doctor sitting casually on the ground with his back against the bars. “They carry sticks and locked us in a rabbit trap!” she exclaimed. “I don’t think they’ll be figuring much out any time soon.”
The Doctor smiled. “Don’t make the captors angry, Rose. Insulting their intelligence is no way to get us out of here.” He nodded over to the guard standing closest. His black eyes were squinted in anger, and his milky-white face was a study of disapproval.
“Can’t you use your sonic screwdriver?” she asked for the second time that day, lowering her voice as she sat down beside him.
“To do what?”
“Get us out of here.”
“By unlocking the cage, of course.”
The Doctor pointed to the latch of the door. “No metal, no lock. The ropes keeping the door shut can’t be untied without sounding an alarm.” She followed his finger as he pointed to a spot above their cell. Long tubes of carefully hollowed branches hung in bunches together. A gust of wind would cause them to knock against one another like wooden chimes. Unfortunately, touching the ropes knotted over the entryway to the cell would cause the same sort of sound.
“Very resourceful,” the Doctor observed, nodding at the wood chimes.
“Very unfortunate,” Rose countered.
The Doctor smiled again, as if nothing in the universe were amiss, and threw his arm around Rose’s shoulders, pulling her close. “Don’t worry so much, Rose. I don’t think we’ll be put to death just yet.”
She forced a laugh and rested her head on his chest. “You’re so reassuring, Doctor,” she replied, trying to keep the dry sarcasm out of her voice.
They sat in silence like that for several minutes. Even though the Doctor appeared to be resting, she knew he was watching the comings and goings of the camp. If there was a chance of escape, Rose knew he would find it. For now, she was content to be intact and wrapped beneath his arm with her body pressed against his side. The slow rise and fall of his even breaths lulled her into a deep sense of security. As long as her Doctor was by her side, nothing too terrible could happen.
“We’re being held hostage by a tribe of aliens on an unknown planet and you’re dozing off,” the Doctor said, his voice slightly amused.
Roused out of the sleepy ether she was swimming in, she nestled closer to him. “I’ve had a long day,” she said in her defense. “Besides, you’re warm and you make a nice pillow.”
“Oh,” he replied, looking down at the top of her head. “Good to know I’ve got uses. Never mind the TARDIS and the whole Time Lord bit. I’m a nice pillow for Rose Tyler to sleep on.”
Rose smiled and buried her face in his leather jacket. She loved these moments when she was able to touch him, be close to him. They didn’t come often enough, though the Doctor never seemed shy about taking her hand or hugging her. She loved it even if the contact was not romantic in any way. Her heart beat sped up at the thought of the Doctor touching her with more than friendly affection.
“Looks like they’re all off to bed for the night,” the Doctor whispered a moment later, interrupting Rose’s fantasies.
“Any chance of escaping?” she whispered back.
“Don’t think so. Guards are still stationed around us.”
The forest was already very dark, but she felt as if the sun had not completely set yet. The tall trees filtered out almost all the light from the sky. Squinting, she was able to make out a blurry figure standing guard a couple meters away. “I can’t believe we’re going to have to sleep on the ground,” she muttered, shifting to stretch out on the springy moss beneath them.
“Well,” the Doctor replied, lying down beside her, “I am
a nice pillow, or so I hear.”
Rose laughed softly under her breath and laid her head on the Doctor’s outstretched arm. He easily pulled her into his side, and she was able to more comfortably rest her head on his shoulder. Placing a hand on top of his chest, she let the gentle rhythm of his breathing lull her to sleep again.