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Like Falling in Love, in Reverse 
11th-Aug-2009 03:49 am
DW -- handy despondent
Title: Like Falling in Love, in Reverse
Author: radiantbaby
Characters/Pairings: 10.5, Rose, Jackie
Word Count: 2169
Genre: Gen-ish
Rating: PG
Spoilers: 'Journey's End' [S4]
Summary: 10.5 discovers that Rose has been keeping a major secret from him.
Disclaimer: All your Doctor Who are belong to us Sadly, I own nothing related to Doctor Who. I am just playing around in their sandbox for a bit of fun.
Betas: persiflage_1 and fourzoas

Author Notes: This fic is for the Ficathon: Second Round at bluesuit_fic. The prompt was 'Handy discovers that Rose has been keeping a major secret from him, and is not a happy camper when he finds out exactly what it is' [from malicehaughton]. To be honest, I had quite a bit of trouble writing this, so I hope it turned out all right for her.

Feedback is happy-making, so please leave a word or two if so inclined [even if I am a bit slack in responding, your comments always make my day]. Concrit [and any beta-ish comments] welcomed.


"What are you doing?" he asked softly, walking into the room toward her, his voice barely a whisper above the grinding sounds of machinery around them. He already knew the answer before the words had crossed his lips, of course, feared it even, but there was a small part of him that had hoped somehow he was wrong.

Curiosity had gotten the better of him – as it always had, really -- and he'd followed Rose there that stormy night. He'd walked behind her, surreptitiously shadowing her down long, darkened corridors and hallways, and deep into the bowels of the Torchwood building, to where tangles of wires at his feet reminded him of rooms haunted by men of metal so long before in that other universe –

Once in the room, he watched her before him, the hair standing on end at the nape of his neck as chill made its way up his body. He turned slightly to see her more clearly and watched her as she had hunched over the mess of technology that lay in the corner of the room –

It was the remnants of the cannon – that dimension-hopping device that had brought her to the Doctor many months before, the device that had sealed their fate here.

And she been working on it, he could tell, as suddenly the calluses of her hands and fingers seemed that much more obvious to him, as if pieces of her puzzle were suddenly fitting together before his eyes –

She'd been trying to leave him.

She wailed in frustration, kicking the metal before her as tears streamed down her face. She didn't even seem surprised he was there, too focused on the device before her. "Trying to get home," she replied, her voice somewhat cold as she still dare not look at him, and the words stung far more than perhaps they should.

"Running away? That's no better than him."

"It's not running away; it's where I belong," she snapped at him, her eyes alight with anger and desperation as she finally looked at him.

"You belong with me, Rose," he growled, shaking, but even as he spoke the words, he knew that he was only speaking from his own rage and fear, that he was wrong – she'd always been His.

"I belong with him, not you."

He slid down the wall behind him and onto the floor, running his hand through his hair and wiping the tears that threatened to fall from his eyes. Wrapping his arms around his legs, he pulled them tighter against him, and just stared, almost blankly, at the floor between them.

"I knew it would come to this someday," he offered after several long silent minutes, resignation seeping into the cracks of his words, "but I never knew it would hurt this much."

+ + +

In some ways, he had no idea why he did it, helping her, trying to make the infernal machine work again by attempting to fill in the gaps of her knowledge with his –

Perhaps it was motivated by his anger with Him, the Doctor – anger for hurting her, anger for abandoning them both, or anger for choosing a life for them that was ultimately what neither of them wanted.

Perhaps it was just raw desperation or even petty jealousy over how Rose had actually taken initiative to change things when he had – could – not.

Or perhaps it was because he felt he no longer knew what to do anymore, what his purpose in this life even was, as he helplessly watched his life unravel before him.

Deep inside Torchwood, with optimistic hopes that somehow they could fix the machine, their lives, themselves, they'd fought with the cannon – and one another – for hours that night and soon, succumbing to their inevitable exhaustion and feelings of defeat, they'd made their way back home --


+ + +

"I thought you'd know how to make this work," Rose spat, her own feelings of helplessness written all over her face, as she tossed her tools to the floor. It had been yet another long day of working together on the cannon and the optimism they'd started with was quickly starting to break apart and fade.

"I hoped I would," he replied.

He ran his fingers along the bits and bobs before him and the texture of the machine reminded him of a more important one he'd once known (and loved). He wasn't sure why, but he felt some strange hope that somehow all the solutions would finally come to him through such touch, through that tactile connection of machine and flesh –

Somehow he knew that was how it always had been with Her, the TARDIS.

"So, what do you know?" Rose asked, trapping him with her gaze, jarring him out of his sad reminiscence for his lost life.

He swallowed hard, but then tried to offer her a smile – a smile that had always worked from Him to calm her, to lighten things between them. "Well…I know the Dewey Decimal System, filing, I'm really good at filing, good at typing, best in Chiswick…" he offered weakly.

She stepped closer to him, reaching up, and her fingers lightly played along his forehead with a touch more tender than they'd shared in months. "Is there nothing of him in there?"

He sucked in a deep breath, almost dizzy from her proximity, and reached up to place his own hand on hers. "Maybe not enough."

+ + +

He watched the smoke –

It trailed outward from the burning ash at the tip of his cigarette, gliding lightly along the curved length of his fingers, until it curled before him in wispy, swirling circles, both in and just beyond his reach –

It reminded him a lot of his life these days.

The patterns emerging intrigued him – patterns always have (it's what had always made her such a good temp, after all) – and his eyes traced the smoky lines, trying to read what they might be telling him, perhaps in languages old and lost. And then, just as quickly, they were blown away, lost to nothingness by the harsh coughs rising up through his throat from his burning lungs –

He quickly pressed out the cigarette before him into a nearby plate and tried to cough away the black smoke that still clung to his lungs like a memory (or like Rose had once clung to him).

He'd tried smoking before, of course, back in school. All the girls did it, really – the naughty ones at least and, oh, how he wanted to be naughty back then -- and he thought it made him look cool. He thought –

No. That wasn't him.

"That'll kill you, you know?"

For a moment it was as if he heard Sylvia's voice admonishing him, so he was surprised when he looked up to see Jackie before him instead. Her shining blue eyes bore deeply into his, tinged with concern and affection that seem painted along the rims, heavy like her make-up, and it was so overwhelming – that much-needed comforting gaze – that he quickly looked down at his hands instead (hands that were failing him, failing Rose, failing everyone…).

She took the seat across from him at the table, and his eyes moved to look at her (more capable) hands instead, watching her fingers as they traced circular patterns on the linoleum of the tabletop, and yet again he tried to understand the meaning – like with the smoke, like with his language –

"Maybe sometimes I want to die," he whispered, his voice hollow and his throat dry from more than just the smoke.

"You don't mean that. You're just having a hard day, love. You'll adjust."

"Will I?" He dared another glance at her, but could still only hold it for a brief moment. He felt as if she could see too much in his eyes if he tried to look at her longer – and he was afraid of the monster she might see there if he did. "It's almost been a year now."

"Things are still difficult with Rose, then?" Jackie asked softly, reaching across the table to rest her hand on his. "I thought things were finally getting better between you two. Would it be easier for you if I don't come round as often right now?"

"No!" he countered, momentarily ashamed by the sudden volume and desperation of his voice, ashamed by how he felt his heart seize with panic at her words, and how does one live with just the one heart, anyway, he still can’t figure out, he still feels that gaping hole in the right side of his chest –

Breathing in deeply, he flipped his hand to curl his fingers into hers, holding her there, holding the one thing he seems able to grasp these last few months, and smiled weakly at her. It's the best he can offer.

"You're almost all I have right now. You're my family," he added, clearing his throat, trying to pour charm instead of sadness into his words, "And, besides, I quite enjoy having tea with you."

"It's about the only time you eat, I reckon," she teased, smiling, trying to soften the edges of the tension that hung in the air. She then reached down to the floor with her free hand to grab the bag of food nestled by her feet and dropped it down onto the table between them. "Go on then, tuck in."

+ + +

Days later, in the middle of the night, as the rain beat hard against the windows, he felt the bed shift with weight as he slept and an arm wrap around his torso.

"Rose?" he whispered, startled, his voice gravelly with sleep. It had been months since they shared a room, a bed, and her presence was almost too much for him in that moment.

"I'm so sorry," she replied, her own voice rough with exhaustion.

"You sound like him, now."

"Just as well, you always sound more like Donna these days," she said with a mirthless chuckle, burying her face into the nape of his neck.

It was then that he could feel the warm wetness of her tears.

"What's wrong?" he asked softly, turning to face her, just barely able to make out her face in the semi-darkness of his room.

"Been thinking. About the cannon."

"Rose, I'm sorry, I'm really trying – "

"No, don’t apologize. You've been the only one keeping me sane right now. And that's the thing. Even though I could tell you were upset with me for trying to get back to him, you still did your best to help me. Being with you so much these past few days, working on this together, has made me realize that I'm working on the wrong thing."

"Wrong thing?"

"He left me, he left us. He didn't try to work on things to keep us with him, he just left again, ran away, off to the other universe. I don’t know why fate brought me together with him again. Maybe I needed to see him again to understand that I could no longer be with him. Maybe I needed to see that he'd moved on."

"Rose – "

"The thing is, I never moved on. It's like I never left that beach and stayed only focused on him. But you know what, I bet he's not only focused on me. In fact, I know that's not the case. He tried to tell me that I couldn't be with him forever once, but I refused to believe him. Somehow now, though, I understand what he meant. We had our time together, but time moves on."

"He always loved you, you know. He's just – "

"Not human."

"Yeah, a big old space dunce."

"Yeah," she laughed, the first laugh he'd heard from her in ages, and it caused him to laugh as well, caught up in the moment. "You know, I've been longing for him so long, I forgot what I have right here."

She leaned forward, and he felt the brush of her lips against his. "Rose," he said, placing his hand on her shoulder to stop her. "I can't."

"Can't? But I thought – "

"I've been thinking, too. And I think that while I care for you very much, I can't be with you that way. Rose, you need to move forward, find yourself, figure out who you are outside of the life you had with the Doctor. I'm only just an anchor away from that growth, I'll only drag you back down."

"I don't want to lose you too."

"You won't. Not ever. I'll always be here for you, but as your friend. I need to find out who I am too, you know. I need to get out there and explore the world."

"Where will you go first?" she asked, her sadness creeping back into her voice.

"Egypt," he said, wrapping an arm around her to pull her tightly to him, trying to ease her. "Yes, Egypt."
11th-Aug-2009 08:31 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this so much!

There's a great balance to this, as a character study with both 10.5 & Rose trying to figure out who they are in light of who they were. I loved the humanity that shone through with 10.5, and revelation that Rose comes to in the end.

The style in which this is written really draws in all your senses in the best way.

Also, the bits with Jackie! I'd have to think that she would be there, helping him get through the rough bits of being in that new universe...
11th-Aug-2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. I think it's an interesting (and probably more realistic) take on their relationship. I loved the bits of Donna coming through and his relationship with Jackie. Really wonderful stuff.
11th-Aug-2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
Very, very good!
11th-Aug-2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
It always amazes me when people write Handy & Rose as all flowers and rainbows and luvvy-wuvvy because I don't see them being like that AT ALL. She RAN AWAY from him towards the TARDIS as it dematerialised on that beach - you're not telling me he's not going to be hurt by that, and that she, selfish as she is, won't hurt him like that again.

Nice to see this more realistic take on matters, and thank goodness Jackie's there for him even when Rose isn't...
11th-Aug-2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Ahh... what everyone else said! Yeppers!
12th-Aug-2009 12:04 am (UTC)
:D Thank you! This fit the prompt lovely. I like how it is different from other post JE stories in that Rose realises that she's been an idiot and makes up for it in the end. I can't seem to get to that point in my stories, which always ends in disaster for all involved.

I also like how they decided to stay friends. And that Egypt line at the end was probably the biggest Donna moment he has and was both hopeful and sad at the same time.
12th-Aug-2009 12:19 am (UTC)
This was beautiful and painful and felt quite true to the characters, even if it isn't how I normally envision Handy and Rose living out their lives. Great work.
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