In All Your Beliefs
and prove to me I am not mistaken in
PG-13, gen, Nine, Rose and Jack. The Doctor is looking for
something, or someone.
“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there
must be no tears, no regrets, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs,
and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”
-the First Doctor, The Dalek Invasion of Earth
This is day one.
Except it isn’t, of course – Rose can remember days before this one. Long days,
bleak days, wet and miserably sunny days, days upon days that ultimately blur
into one another, and although she does remember days before even those, days
that were brightly-coloured and possibly involved running for her life, there
was no need to consciously memorise those; they and their colours linger as
everything afterwards fades to grey.
So this can be a day to remember, day one after the day when she decided to
count days again, and she’ll make notches in the door of her room in the TARDIS
and maybe it will all mean something.
She explains it to Jack, and he seems ready to laugh, but he makes no sound and
then she thinks he might cry. Finally he rejects either option; he touches her
lightly on the shoulder and smiles sadly before he walks away.
This is day three.
The Doctor is still out there. Rose leans against the police box door and looks
out across the barren, destroyed landscape. There were buildings here once, she
knows; their shattered shells are sinking into the sand, lapped by the waters of
the river. It’s rising, slowly, imperceptibly, but she can imagine how it will
look, the water spilling out over an entirely flat landscape like a spilled
glass on a table-top.
There is no movement, no sound. Rose waits, but there is no sign of the Doctor.
“He’ll be back when he gets hungry,” Jack says, with a hand on her arm.
She turns and tries to meet his smile. “Yeah, of course he will.”
This is day thirteen.
Rose wakes up because she hears music. Jack again, she thinks; Jack and his
growing obsession with twentieth-century music, but she doesn’t roll over and go
back to sleep. She sits up and the music is louder, but more tinny, as though
coming from a badly-tuned radio, and underneath the chords she thinks she hears
She gets up and the lights don’t come on, but she carries on anyway. She’ll find
Jack, she’ll tell him to turn it down ‘cause people are trying to sleep, but she
can’t hear where it’s coming from, it seems to coming from everywhere at once.
Someone jumps out. She screams, and closes her eyes; she would run or fight or
something, but she doesn’t remember those things any more.
“It’s only me!” A voice from the darkness, clear and Northern, and his arms are
around her, gently steering her back to bed. “It’s only me. You were
“I heard someone crying,” she says thickly, eyes closed as he guides her. “I
did, I heard...”
“Hush.” He’s taking her back to her room, and she’s glad of his comforting
weight behind her because the world seems to be spinning beneath her feet. Step
by step, round the corners, along the corridors and through her door with the
notches on it. Somehow he’s got her onto the bed and tucked her up, she’s asleep
before her eyes are quite closed, and maybe he was right and she was
sleepwalking all along.
In the morning she thinks it was a dream, because there is no sign the Doctor
was ever there.
This is day seventeen.
A city once stood on the barren flatlands by the river, and in her darker
moments Rose tries to imagine what happened to it. It was torn to pieces by some
great power, some invisible menace that emerged from the sky and laid waste to
all it surveyed. There are scars as though from high energy beams on the remains
of the walls – in passing, Rose wonders when she learnt to recognise such things
– and shards of fallen glass underfoot that suggest past explosions. Rose tried
exploring the remains of the streets on those first few days, but the bleakness
and strangeness got to her in the end. It took Jack longer, but now he stays
When night falls the Doctor comes back. He is silent, as he always is now, and
takes a bunch of bananas and a water bottle with him before he goes out again.
This is day twenty.
Jack is playing Glenn Miller again. Roused from fitful dozing, Rose gets up,
walking across her room and out, the floor cool against her bare feet. The
console room is quiet, so she pads along the TARDIS corridors until she finds
him, and she stands in the doorway watching as he dances happily to the music.
He sees her but doesn’t stop, catching her eye and winking as he extravagantly
dips an invisible partner, twirling and stepping until he’s close enough for her
to touch. She takes his hand and they dance together, awkwardly, as though
missing an integral part of the rhythm.
She’s moving with him, but she’s tired, almost half-asleep; the music is lovely
and reminds her all the more viscerally of wartime London, and then she’s crying
harder than she’s cried in her life, only silently, so the tears drip to the
floor in time with the dance.
This is day twenty-one.
“We could go,” Rose says suddenly. They are watching the Doctor recede over the
sand flats, his stride becoming less decisive the farther he walks.
Jack turns round to look at the console, and Rose follows his gaze. They’ve seen
him do it a dozen times, both of them; the levers he pulls and buttons he
presses and the way the central column ought to rise and fall. They could do it.
Jack is still looking at it. “Without him?”
It’s not as though they haven’t tried talking to him, waylaying him, threatening
him, crying over him; it’s not as if they haven’t tried. But he evades them
effortlessly, letting the ship hide him as she wants, and it was days before
they even realised he was coming back at night. Now the most they see of him is
a passing glance, as he comes and goes on the strange quest only he understands.
Jack suddenly grins broadly. “You’re kidding.”
“Yeah,” she says, quickly. “Yeah, course I am.”
This is day twenty-four.
“Christ!” Jack kicks the console, his eyes darkened. “Jesus fucking Christ! What
does he want? Who’s he looking for?”
Rose stares at him. “I don’t know. I don’t know!”
“I’m going after him.” Jack is moving as he says it; it is the work of a moment
for him to push the door open and run out across the sand.
“Don’t leave me,” says Rose, too softly to be heard, and then resigns herself to
it. Rolling up her jeans, she starts out in pursuit.
After a moment she begins to realise how much of a French farce it has become;
they are the only three living beings aside from the birds for miles, and the
Doctor can hardly fail to hear the two sets of flapping footsteps following his.
But he doesn’t turn, and strangely, neither does Jack. Rose follows. It’s what
She knows she is going to be left behind; perhaps in response to his tails, the
Doctor has set a particularly fast pace and even Jack is struggling to keep up.
Undaunted for the moment, Rose goes on, reasoning that she can’t lose them as
long they leave their heavy footprints in the sand. She walks comfortably,
letting them get closer and closer to the horizon. Seagulls wheel and call,
sometimes diving close enough for her to see their small, cruel eyes.
When the Doctor’s footprints begin to cross Jack’s, Rose runs. She runs for
longer than she thought she could, even with all her practice running from the
enemy, and when she comes to a stop, her breathing is ragged and uneven. Her
companions are about ten metres away, the towers of the ruined city rising
Neither Jack or the Doctor seems to realise she is there at all. The Doctor has
stopped walking, facing away from her, and Jack is advancing on him, his face
oddly calm. “Doctor,” he says.
The Doctor turns, and Jack hits him. It’s clear he wasn’t expecting it; he
lurches to one side and falls to his knees.
Jack moves forwards. “No!” shouts Rose, but her voice seems to drift away on the
breeze from the water and Jack has forced the Doctor down, flat on his back on
the sand. Jack is sitting on him, staring down at him, and it would be funny if
it wasn’t all so horrible.
“Doctor,” says Jack again, clearly so Rose can hear. “I don’t know who she was.
I don’t even pretend to know. Your wife, your daughter, your lover, someone you
fucked once and left hanging, I don’t know. But one thing I do know: she’s
not here. She’s not here. No-one’s here. This is nowhere, do you understand?
You – we – can’t stay here forever looking for something that isn’t here any
The Doctor has not tried to throw Jack off. He is lying back, his fingers curled
into loose claws, and his eyes have closed.
“You’re right,” he says in shaking, low tones, and Rose wants to cry again.
“This isn’t the place.”
He opens his eyes then, and Rose forgets about ever thinking he could pass for
human. The Time Lord known as the Doctor looks straight up at the sky, and
This is day one.
The TARDIS materialises in a flurry of displaced sand on the embankment, and the
breeze picks up as they open the outside door. The Doctor is impatient but
cheerful, tapping his feet as Rose darts back to get a scarf, and then she’s
back, Jack closes and locks the door and they set out, away from the river.
They are in the city of New London, the Doctor tells them as they walk, in the
mid-twenty-second century. To Rose’s eyes, it seems too small compared with the
city she was born in, with a lower skyline and too few people. But the streets
are broad and tree-lined, everywhere she looks there is greenery, even children
playing, and the air is clean. She could live here, she decides. More than that,
she likes the idea of her family and her friends growing old among this beauty.
They pass a building with strange scarring on the walls, as though the bricks
themselves were once melted and fused, and the Doctor stops and runs his finger
across it. “Daleks,” he says, and Rose nods; Jack glances from one to the other
and decides not to say anything. Whenever they came, it was a long time ago.
They walk onwards, towards the city’s centre down the long straight road, but
before they can quite reach the end, the Doctor takes them off on a side-road, a
hidden turning that leads somewhere more residential. Rose frowns to herself. It
seems this is not just a simple excursion; the Doctor is heading somewhere in
particular. He mutters to himself, something about galactic coordinates and the
infallibility of the TARDIS, and she looks up to exchange smiles with Jack. They
both know the Doctor will tell them when he’s good and ready and not before.
Finally, he stops in the middle of the road, looks around him, walks in a circle
twice, and then settles on a direction, motioning for them to follow. “Come on,
you two.” And he’s led them to an ordinary house in an ordinary street, and
while Rose knows they are in the twenty-second century, in her future, it seems
The Doctor rings the doorbell. While they are waiting for it to be answered,
Jack joins Rose in looking around them at the quiet garden with its gently
swaying flowers. “Old girlfriend, Doctor?” he asks.
“Not quite.” The Doctor grins at him, and the door opens.
A woman stands there, about Rose’s height, with large, dark eyes and wearing an
apron. Something about the way she stands reminds Rose of someone. When she
speaks, her voice is melodic with a clear British accent. “Can I help you?”
“Susan,” says the Doctor softly. “Susan Campbell. It is Campbell, isn’t it?”
“Yes...” She takes a step back. “Do I know you?”
“Yes, my dear, you do.” The Doctor is not smiling; Rose would say he looked
scared, if he ever looked scared.
She stops, and then reaches out, her hand moving swiftly to cup the Doctor’s
cheek. He submits to the touch, and Rose thinks perhaps Jack’s guess wasn’t that
far off, after all.
The moment stretches out. “I said I’d come back,” says the Doctor, suddenly.
“Yes,” she agrees. “You did. And it is really you, isn’t it?”
Rose sees the tenderness of the touch, as the woman – Susan – takes the Doctor’s
hand, but she can’t understand it, won’t understand it, until she hears Susan
say, naturally, “Grandfather?”
Rose laughs, suddenly. “You have a family,” she accuses the Doctor, giggling.
“Your secret – your big secret! – is that you have a family!”
She is still smiling as she notices children’s toys strewn around the garden,
the small footprints in the flowerbeds. She wonders what will happen when Jack
tries to flirt with this particular alien woman, if the Doctor will try to kill
him. She almost hopes to find out.
“Come in,” says Susan at last. She moves, and Rose realises it’s the Doctor whom
Susan reminds her of; something about that stance, that air of being able to
cope with absolutely everything the universe throws at her. “Come and meet my
Jack and Rose go in; the Doctor lingers a moment to stay as close to Susan as he
can. Before he steps inside, he looks up at the sky, clear and blue and new.
In the darkness, the black edges at the fringes of reality, the Reapers are
ready and waiting.