Dr John Smith had been like an angel sent from heaven to the volunteers in the refugee hospital since he had arrived almost four months ago. Nothing was ever too much for him, he preferred to be busy and no situation was ever too difficult for him to deal with, to the point that he had become hero to the volunteers and patients alike.
He flopped down on his bed as Cassie collected her stuff, left when she babysat Rosie, from around the room. He stretched his panther like body out, placing his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. He wondered what he was doing here.
“How long have I been here, Cassie?” he asked “The days just seemed to have melted into one.”
Cassie looked up from packing her bag to answer him. “It’s nearly four months, same as for me. You should be going home next week like me.”
The Doctor thought about what Cassie had said, ‘home’. His home was here with Rosie, it had always been with Rose. He snorted to himself when he realised what he’d thought; there were two different Roses now. He didn’t think he had the right to call the Rose back in London his anymore. He’d lost that right the day he’d told her to go away. He hoped she had forgiven him and moved on with her life. He had hurt her in so many ways and he didn’t want to hurt her anymore. He shifted in his bed to lean on his side.
“Ouch.” He grimaced, searching around under him, and his hand came out holding a toy.
“Rosie has been playing on your bed again.” Cassie smiled. “She’s sleeping in her crib now, she seems a lot better today, more perky.”
The Doctor’s heart clenched. Since he’d picked her up crying all that time ago, he and Rosie had had a bond. She was his and he was hers. She had helped him heal and had given him a purpose in life. He had given her comfort as she fought a disease that more often than not would have killed her by now. With the Doctor’s care, love and attention she appeared to be recovering. He nodded; it was good that she had the strength to come out and play, and maybe soon he could take her out away from the camp for the day, somewhere safe of course.
“John?” Cassie asked interrupting his musings. “I know you don’t receive letters or anything from home, but don’t you have anyone back in London? You know, you could go home for a while, do some visiting and then come back here.”
“I did once,” he replied.
“I messed up. I couldn’t be what I thought she wanted and I ran away. I was a coward, always a coward.” The Doctor sat up straight and threw his legs over the bed and stared across the room to the dirty speckled mirror, taking in his dishevelled appearance.
“You could call her... him?” Cassie tentatively suggested.
The Doctor smiled weakly. “Her. And no, I don’t think I can. I haven’t …” The Doctor suddenly remembered the conversation in the flat the week before he left, when Rose had handed him a phone. He had been so depressed then it hadn’t sunk in. He jumped off the bed and scrambled in his locker for a bag of clothes long since abandoned. Since volunteering his help, he’d worn charity issue scrubs. They had helped his state of mind in the beginning, not having to wear the Time Lord’s clothes and then soon, scrubs had become his standard issue clothing.
“Oh she’s going to kill me,” he muttered, remembering she had asked him to contact her weekly. He’d never done it, he knew now, he remembered. His hand found his trouser pocket and carefully, so Cassie wouldn’t see, pulled out the manila envelope. There inside was the mobile phone and charger. He turned it on and was dismayed to see that it was dead, no signal, no battery life. He slumped back down on his bed, his head in his hands. He’d have to go and see if the boys down in tech could do something with the charger maybe plug it into the solar energy convertor, although he wasn’t sure that his mobile phone counted as emergency services.
“Oh I’m dead,” he repeated.
Cassie, not knowing what to do, but sensing this was important, took the phone and charger out of his hands and walked out of the room.
The Doctor sat there for an hour, the last conversation he’d had with Rose going around and around in his mind. He couldn’t believe he had been so stupid, so foolish as to forget what he’d promised. Back then he didn’t know who he was or where he was meant to be in this life, but he always knew that he loved his Rose and if his memory was serving him correctly she had told him many times that she loved him too. He banged his head repeatedly, berating himself; he was an idiot. Ironically, nearly being blown up by a missile had helped him reassess his life and give him a purpose. Now it seems that purpose was misguided as yet again he had let Rose Tyler down and hurt her.
He heard footsteps along the floor and was startled to see Cassie holding out the phone and the charger.
“It’s not much battery, but it’s enough to send a text or two,” she said. “The boys in communication said they’ll plug it back in later for you. It’ll probably take two days to charge enough for a phone call. You know what these solar things are like.” She gestured around her, letting him know she was going to continue to pack.
The Doctor stood up and wrapped his arms around her and kissed her head. “Thank you Cassie, you’ve been a good friend.”
He picked up the mobile phone and walked out to Rosie’s crib. He sat watching Rosie sleep wondering just what he would say in this text, it had been so long, too long. He couldn’t say he forgot, he couldn’t tell her what he’d been up to and he felt as if she deserved an apology face to face. He stared at the display willing it to write a message by itself.
Finally the Doctor typed in a message and hit send before he could change his mind and erase it.