Title: Expendable
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Ross Jenkins
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: PG-13
Table: writers_choice
Prompt: #398, Dangerous
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or Ross Jenkins, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


"Ross, what in the hell were you thinking?" the Doctor burst out as the two of them entered the Tardis. "You could have been killed! I think it took ten years off my life -- at the very least -- when you jumped in front of me and pushed me back!"

"I was thinking about saving your life!" Ross flashed back at him, a scowl on his handsome features. "What did you want me to do, Doctor? Stand there and think that you were going to die in front of my eye, and regenerate into an entirely different man?"

The Time Lord sighed, slumping against the Tardis' console and closing his eyes. He knew that Ross had done what anyone who cared for him would have done; he couldn't fault his young lover for wanting to save his life. But it hadn't been necessary.

"I could have told you that I wasn't going to be killed, Ross. If you had simply done as I asked you to do and stayed behind me --" he began, only to be cut off as Ross spoke again, his voice rising and drowning out the world that the Doctor had been speaking.

"I wasn't going to stand there and watch the man I love die!" Ross growled, banging his fist down on the console. The Doctor winced as he did so, knowing that the Tardis wouldn't appreciate it, but Ross didn't appear to see his action.

"What did you expect me to do? Obey you like some mindless automaton? Just because I was a soldier who knew how to obey orders, that doesn't mean that I'm going to stand back and let someone I care about die!" Ross continued, his voice rising in volume.

"Ross, calm down!" The Doctor raised his hands in front of him in a gesture of surrender. "You've made your point. I don't blame you for wanting to help me -- but I wasn't going to be killed. That wasn't an actual gun that was pointed at me, as you found out."

"I know that now," Ross told him, still sounding irritable. "But I didn't know it then. I was so sure you were going to die -- and I couldn't that happen. I know you love me, Doctor, but I'm expendable. You're not. You never will be."

"No, Ross, you're not," the Doctor said softly, moving forward to take his boyfriend's hands in his own ."Do you think I went back in time to rescue you from what would have been your fate just to lose you like this? You'll never be expendable in my eyes."

Ross looked down at their clasped hands, then back up at the Doctor, his expression softening. "I know how you feel, Doctor," he said softly, squeezing the Time Lord's hands gently. "I'm the same way about you. I don't think we'll ever agree on which of us is the more expendable."

"Maybe neither of us are," the Time Lord told him with a wan smile. "I don't want to argue about this, Ross. I know that you feel you're here to protect me -- but I feel just as strongly that I need to protect you. And you're much more vulnerable than I am."

"No, I'm not," Ross told him, his voice quiet and firm. "Yes, I'm human and I have a shorter life span than you do. But I'm a trained soldier, Doctor. I know how to take care of myself -- better than you might think. I might be young, but I know what I'm doing out there."

"I know you do," the Doctor said, sighing as he dropped Ross' hands and headed for one of the chairs in front of the Tardis' viewscreen, sitting down and looking up at his boyfriend. "But that doesn't stop me from worrying when you throw yourself into dangerous situations."

"Don't you think I feel the same way when you do that?" Ross retorted, shaking his head. He sank down into a chair next to the Doctor, not taking his eyes from the Time Lord's face. "Doctor, every time you do something I know is dangerous, I die a little inside."

"I don't want you to feel like that, sweetheart," the Doctor said, his voice soft and gentle. "This is what I do, Ross. I'm a time traveler. I see the universe, and when I find situations that are .... wrong in some way, I try to fix them. It's what I've always done."

"And I know you've been doing this for centuries," Ross said with a nod. "But that doesn't stop me from being scared to death when I think you're in danger. And even if you want me to protect myself, my first priority is always going to be to protect you."

"I doubt that we'll ever agree on which one of us needs protecting more," the Doctor told him, shaking his head and sighing ruefully. "I just want you to promise me something, Ross. Please promise me that you won't rush to put yourself into a dangerous situation again."

"I can only promise you that if you give me the same promise, Doctor." Ross stood up, placing his hands on the Doctor's shoulders and gazing steadily into the other man's eyes. "I want you to promise me that you won't go running into trouble any more than you have to."

The Doctor sighed, nodding reluctantly. "All right, I'll try not to," he said, his gaze meeting Ross'. "But I'm not sure that I can promise you that, Ross. You know how trouble seems to follow me wherever I go. I don't think it's in my nature to consciously avoid it."

Ross laughed at that, shaking his head as he straightened up and held out a hand to his lover. "I don't think you could completely avoid trouble no matter how much you tried to, Doctor. But don't go running for it, will you? I want us to grow old together, you know."

As he said it, he realized that it wasn't going to happen. He himself would grow old and die -- but the Doctor wouldn't age at the same rate. He would still be young and beautiful when Ross was an old man -- and for a moment, Ross felt a flash of resentment.

It was gone just as soon as it had appeared, and he felt guilty for ever having experienced it. There was no reason for him to resent the Doctor for what he was. He loved this man, utterly and completely, for exactly who and what he was. He wouldn't change a single thing about his lover.

"Neither of us are expendable, Ross," the Doctor said, his dark gaze still holding Ross' as he got to his feet and slid his hand into the younger man's grasp. "I want us both to be around for a very long time to come. And to be together, in every way possible."

Ross nodded, feeling his throat tighten a little at the Time Lord's words. The Doctor loved him and wanted him here; he shouldn't be surprised that the other man was upset that he'd put himself into the path of danger. But he would keep doing so, if the situation called for it.

He wasn't going to let the Doctor take all the risks. He was here to be this man's lover and companion -- and to watch his back when it was needed. It was a responsibility that he took very seriously -- and one that he intended to live up to.

The Doctor might think that he wasn't expendable, but Ross had no illusions. He wasn't expendable to the Time Lord -- but of the two of them, the world could go on without him. It might not, without the Doctor. He knew that if it came down to that, he would sacrifice himself for this man.

"I'll always be here with you, for as long as I can be," he whispered, drawing the Doctor into his arms. He hugged the Time Lord close against him, his lips brushing the other man's cheek. "I'll be with you for all of my life, Doctor. You never have to worry about that."

He would make those words come true, Ross told himself as his lips met the Doctor's. No matter what kinds of dangerous situations might come their way in the future, he would make it through them all -- and he was sure that the Doctor would do the same.