Part Twelve — Healing Things
Mickey had left for work, since the TARDIS had appeared at 6:27am on the dot and he needed to be in by 7. After seeing him off, Jackie took one look at all three yawning members of the TARDIS crew and decreed that it was bedtime, and no she didn’t care that it was morning outside, and no she would not listen to any arguments.
Rose and Jack reluctantly left her in the infirmary, where the Doctor seemed willing enough to stretch out on one of the diagnostic beds for a nap. Between Jackie and the TARDIS’s infirmary monitoring systems, they both felt like they could finally leave the Doctor’s side without spending every moment away worrying about him.
Once they had gone off to bed, Jackie settled into a nearby chair with a magazine to keep watch as the Doctor nodded off. Several hours, four magazines, another cup of tea, and a confusing trip to the bathroom where she almost got lost later, Jackie noticed that the Doctor was no longer sleeping peacefully.
He’d curled up protectively around himself, huddling under the light blanket. She watched with horror as he flinched and whimpered unconsciously, as if someone was hitting him. Dropping her latest magazine, she hurried to his side.
“What didn’t Rose tell me? What happened to you?” she asked concernedly.
Knowing the only way to reach him was his sense of touch, she gently stroked his cheek and then started to trace her M. She could tell when the repeated action finally woke him from the nightmare, because he tentatively reached out for her hand and gripped her wrist at her pulse point.
It was a gesture she’d seen him use before, though she didn’t really understand it, and she hadn’t the heart to pull away even after he fell back asleep and she had stopped tracing the M on his cheek. Instead, she stretched out to reach the chair and pull it over, then settled in beside him so he could keep his grip on her wrist.
The TARDIS, satisfied, decided not to disturb Rose and Jack. The Doctor was again sleeping peacefully, and the others needed to rest as well. More importantly, the ancient time ship approved of Jackie’s concerned care for the Doctor.
He woke properly a couple of hours later, just as Jackie was dozing off from lack of anything more interesting to do. He startled her by sitting up and pulling her into his arms, hugging her gratefully.
He couldn’t seem to muster the sense of the absurd that would have been a more characteristic reaction to his 900 year old alien self being mothered by a middle aged human woman from twenty first century Earth. Instead, he found himself wrapping his arms around her, actually seeking the warmth of her touch.
She’d been able to pull him so easily from his nightmare simply because she had not been present for the events that precipitated it. He knew, with untouchable certainty, that Jackie Tyler’s presence could not be faked, could never be connected to those dark and terrifying days he'd spent in that cell, under the control of a sadistic alien and a chemical blindfold.
He hadn’t forgotten being slapped by somebody’s mother for the first time in his entire impressively long and well-traveled life, but the novel idea of easily trusting someone’s touch had him clinging to her almost desperately.
“It’s alright, sweetheart. I’m here,” she couldn’t help but say, despite knowing that he couldn’t hear her. She held him in return, one hand gently carding through the hair at the back of his head, until he released her with a shy smile.
Then he was up and using the walls to feel his way to the door. She followed him, figuring he probably shouldn’t be wandering on his own. He made his way unerringly to the kitchen, which somehow didn’t surprise Jackie in the least despite how lost she’d gotten in the winding corridors.
She took his hand to trace a T there, and he nodded before settling himself in his customary chair at the table. She busied herself with the kettle, and then the teacups, and then nearly dropped one of them when she heard him gasp and turned to see what he was doing.
The delighted, manic grin was back, and she watched in shock as he held his hand over the banana where it still sat on the table. He was somehow causing it to go from unripe green to ripe yellow to overripe black and back around again, a childlike look of wonder on his face.
She tore out of the kitchen, screaming for Rose.
Rose and Jack, who were just waking up, found her in the hallway with a teacup in one hand, incoherently babbling about magic and bananas. They dashed to the kitchen, where the Doctor was still happily aging, de-aging, and re-aging the banana over and over again.
“Time sense!” Rose and Jack chorused, mobbing the Doctor and breaking his concentration.
He didn’t mind, didn’t even flinch. He knew it was them and he knew they were as happy as he was. They enjoyed a good group hug for a few minutes, reveling in touching each other without any of the fear and pain that had been following them all around for days.
Things snowballed after that. Later that evening, the Doctor sat absentmindedly shifting the banana through its personal timeline once more. It took an excessive amount of energy and concentration to bend local time in that way, but it was too much fun to play with his newly returned time sense to worry about such practical concerns.
He suddenly stopped the banana when it was perfectly ripe, and then proceeded to tear the skin off and tentatively take a bite.
Jack, who had been sitting in the kitchen, silently keeping him company, saw his hopeful look and called out for Rose.
She and her mum came running just as the Doctor took another large bite, tearing the rest of the skin off, moving the banana around in his mouth with his tongue, obviously trying to taste it as fully as he could.
The three of them, and Mickey, who wandered in a moment later, watched in awe as the Doctor made a five minute production of eating the banana, licking every last bit of it off of his fingers, looking incredibly pleased with himself.
“Bananas are good,” he whispered softly when he was done.
Rose and Jack mobbed him again, ignoring his surprised squeak, shouting and laughing joyfully.
Jackie and Mickey shared a joyful hug of their own, watching the others celebrate.
The Doctor’s next whispered comment was lost amongst all the noise, but Jackie saw his lips move and called out, “Shush! He’s saying something!”
They quieted and Doctor repeated himself, still not speaking in much more than a whisper as he softly admitted, “I can hear you.”
“You can hear us?” Rose breathed.
“I can hear you,” he repeated.
“You can hear us!” Jack shouted.
He joyfully shouted back, “I can hear you!”
As they tangled themselves up in another group hug, all three of them were crying tears of relief, hope, and joy.
Then, almost anticlimactically, blinking back his own tears, the Doctor casually reached up and deftly wiped a tear off of Jack’s face. Jack blinked at him, and the Doctor blinked back.
Watching this, Rose squealed, “You can see, too! They’re all back!”
Rose and Jack suddenly felt the composite telepathic brush that had been missing since the TARDIS had pulled back out of the Doctor’s mind.
Whole / healed / relief / gratitude.
Then the TARDIS pulled back to her normal distance again, since the Doctor’s returned senses left too little room in his once again busy mind for them to safely maintain such a closely interwoven connection.
The TARDIS crew dissolved back into happy tears and laughter. Jack, in his inimitable way, alternated between trying to kiss Rose and the Doctor, who both delighted in making a game of ducking while still remaining tangled up together. He wound up kissing chins and noses and eyebrows, if not the lips he was aiming for. It didn’t seem to bother him too much.
Jackie and Mickey, unaware of the telepathy, nevertheless completely understood their emotional reaction.
A moment later, with a priceless look of disgust on his face, the Doctor commented, “I think I need to go brush my teeth.”
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