A Hand To Hold

by songfordecem [Reviews - 3]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Hurt/Comfort

She guessed it was just one of those nights. It would figure that after relaxing all day at the spa she would be wide awake when she actually went to sleep. After fumbling with sheets, attempting to re-read her favorite Agatha Christie novel, and staring blankly at the ceiling of her room in the TARDIS, she decided to just go for a stroll.

She hadn’t done that in a while, a midnight stroll through the TARDIS. Well, to be fair, she didn’t know if it was midnight or not but it was still her favorite thing to do when she couldn’t sleep.

She had always gotten along with the old girl. I think the TARDIS appreciated having someone aboard who could speak for her. Not in a literal sense, but there was always a hum of agreement whenever Donna called him out on his nonsense followed by some muttering about how she always took Donna’s side and that they were always ganging up on him.

She didn’t always take them where they wanted to go but she always took them where they needed to go. Tonight was no exception. Tonight, the walk about the TARDIS took Donna right past the Doctor’s study.

She knew he didn’t sleep much, what with the being a Time Lord and some rubbish about only needing to sleep an hour or two each night, if that. So she wasn’t surprised that the light was on. But something felt off. Something felt different.

"Doctor?" There he sat, on the small sofa, with this thousand yard stare, a look she’d only seen an on a few occasions, and all of them bad. Still in his pinstripes, his jacket was thrown over the nearby chair haphazardly, his tie loosened even more so than usual, and his hair in a right state. "Doctor, what’s wrong?"

There was still no change. No movement, he barely even blinked. Just kept staring at a spot on the wall, eyes so empty yet so full of pain. She’d have thought he was dead if not for the subtle rise and fall of his chest under his blue oxford. She padded over next to him, sat down, and told him to shift over, not even getting so much as a grunt in response. She slipped her arm under his and wove her fingers through his. The hand lay lifeless in hers for a moment before she felt him squeeze back, almost painfully.

She would have asked him to stop, but she was just happy he was showing at least some form of life, some sign that he was there with her. Even if this was all that he was going to give, maybe it was all he needed, just and hand to hold, someone to be there. She squeezed back.

His voice was thick. "I miss her."

She drew in a deep breath and ran her thumb soothingly over his. "I know." She knew, of course, she knew but there was more to it than that tonight. He was scared today. For the first time in a long time, he was truly and genuinely scared. He lost control and was completely helpless to do anything about it. She didn’t know just how close they were but she knew they meant a lot to each other. Being alone on that shuttle, and alone with his thoughts now, she just had the sense that all he wanted at this moment was to curl into his Rose and just be held.

"It hurts without her. Every day." She could only imagine the pain he felt, going through lifetime after lifetime seeing the ones you love die before you. But to have that all taken away, knowing that you won’t even have those years together, cruelly robbed of so many memories. It was enough to make anyone mad. He bottled it up and carried on but everyone has their breaking point. Everyone eventually caves and this was the first time he showed any sign of his true grief to Donna. He had always had those brief moments, but none as crippling as this.

"Tell me about her." She softly smiled. He turned to her, giving her a puzzled look, his eyes finally meeting hers. She could see a thousand lifetimes of pain in those eyes. He took a shaky breath before swallowing hard, his grip tightening even more.

He rested his head against her shoulder, slowly letting himself lean into her. "We met in a basement of a department store, being chased by these…"

The more he talked, he more he relaxed, eventually ending up with his head resting on her lap. His words grew farther and farther apart as he slowly drifted off to sleep, her fingers lightly brushing his hair.

They didn’t talk about that night afterwards. They didn’t need to, really. It was understood. Always was, really. As much as he liked to pretend that he was fine on his own, as much as he insisted he was alright, he really did need someone. Someone to make him think twice. Someone to call him on his bullshit. Someone to pull him back from the edge. Someone to just hold his hand. Someone he could count on. She’d always be there for him whether he need a slap or a hug, she’d be there and he couldn’t have been more grateful to have found a best friend like Donna Noble.