Rose was worried about the Doctor. He’d been acting weird ever since she had been injured on Talliman 2. Sometimes the Doctor paid a steep personal price when things went wrong. Because he was so successful hiding his demons oftentimes his friends didn’t know he needed help. She knew the burdens he carried, that the demons sometimes got the better of him and she always watched for changes in his habits so she could intervene to help him because he would never ask for help. He didn’t think he deserved it.
Apparently something had gone wrong with the time lines relating to Talliman 2 and the Doctor said the consequences could not be allowed to ripple through time and space. He didn’t say what he had seen in the time lines but she knew he was worried. Thankfully he had isolated the pivotal moment things had gone wrong and had actually landed at the proper time and as a result they were able to slightly delay the arrival of Talliman 2’s first alien visitors which meant they would be greeted by open minded leaders as opposed to those who had been hostile in the time line that was not supposed to happen. All this had to be done covertly as she and the Doctor were aliens too.
Unfortunately Rose had decided to break her cover to protect one of the locals from the diversionary fire her and the Doctor had started. Her alien appearance resulted in hysteria and she was bludgeoned with burning logs from said diversionary fire. She had experienced bad burns and several broken bones before the Doctor reached her and scared off the offenders. Fixing the consequences of her action meant he had been forced to delay getting her to the TARDIS and as a result her condition had worsened. As soon as the time line was reestablished he had been frantic to get her to the infirmary for treatment. She would never forget his stressed face, hyper active movements and his utter terror he would lose her. True it had been a tough couple days for her but once she got back to the ship she floated euphoric from the painkillers he had administered. Later, once she was safely past any danger, he had driven her bonkers with his hovering and tests and constantly watching her. Finally, feeling suffocated, she had been sharp with him to leave her alone. She had escaped to the observatory but she found all she could do was play back the stricken look of hurt on his face. Resolved to apologize to him she had gone to find him.
As she approached the console room she could hear him murmuring to himself something about parts not being right. She stepped into the control room cheerfully offering her apology, “Doctor, I’m sorry. ....
Looking around her mouth dropped open as she took in the Doctor, an anxious, dishevelled, hollow-eyed Doctor sitting at one end of a giant tarp he had spread on the console room floor. Every square inch of the tarp was covered in mechanical parts, bits and bobs, metal, plastic, rubber, electronics, tools, scanners. Rose knew the Doctor’s rhythms and she knew something was wrong. Careful not to step on anything she walked around the tarp to sit quietly beside him cross-legged.
“Hiya Doctor, watcha doin’?” She asked slipping her hand in his.
He startled looking at her with wide eyes. He was breathing in shallow pants and Rose could see he was in the middle of ‘flight or fight’ panic, a total anxiety attack.
Finally he whispered, “I tried to put them back together but I can’t, I can’t figure it out. Everything is all jumbled up. What if I can’t do it? What if she won’t work anymore?”
She wrapped her arm around his shoulder and shushed him softly running her fingers through his hair. To help calm him she breathed through her nose in long draws so he could feel her breath on his neck hoping he would unconsciously synchronize his breathing to hers. He slumped sideways against her closing his eyes and she was worried.
“Doctor can you tell me what all this stuff is? she asked softly.
Still leaning against her, eyes closed in exhaustion, he murmured, “Galley appliances.”
Interesting thought Rose as she had assumed when he said ‘she won’t work anymore’ he was referring to the TARDIS. What ‘she’ did he mean? Quite sure there was more here than met the eye she resolved to tread lightly. For the moment she was grateful the TARDIS was ok and relieved it was only appliances whose lives had been sacrificed to the Doctor’s ceaseless tinkering. He tinkered habitually but for different reasons. It could be because he truly had to fix something or because he was bored, was making something useful or as a way to avoid dealing with his feelings or anxieties. Bingo on the latter she thought. Now he needed her care and he was all she cared about anyway.
Speaking softly her fingers gently brushing his cheek she said, “Don’t worry about the appliances Doctor. I have an idea. Let’s gather up the four corners of the tarp, tie a big rope around it and chuck it in a black hole yeah?” She continued to sooth him with her hands. “Imagine how much fun it would be. A bit wasteful mind you but I am not letting these appliances upset you ok? We can get new ones.”
She watched him carefully noting his continued listlessness. Even his hair lacked its typical enthusiasm but his eyes were now open. He was listening.
“Doctor, sometimes I think I’m not fair to you. To me you’re brilliant and you always come up with something to save our butts but that puts a lot of pressure on you always expecting you to save the day, find the solutions. No one’s invincible Doctor. You need some rest then we can organize a most wonderful appliance disposal extravaganza.” She ran her hand up his back and massaged the muscles along the shoulder closest to her free arm. “You look after me all the time so now let me look after you. Will you come to my room with me for a sleep. I’ll watch over you ok?”
The Doctor nodded and lifted himself slowly off the floor as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Rose got to her feet quickly and tucked one shoulder under his placing her arm across his back and heading them down the corridor. When they got there he just stood unmoving. Rose moved behind him sliding his jacket down his arms then in front of him unbuttoning his shirt matter of factly. She left his undershirt on and told him to ditch his trousers as he’d be more comfortable in his pants. It worried her that he remained non verbal operating like an automaton.
Rose turned down the bedding for him. “Slide in Doctor and take your rest.” He got into her bed and watched her as she moved to a chair beside the bed and smiled her reassurance at him.
It almost startled her when he softly asked, “What did I do wrong Rose? Why did you send me away. Why don’t you want to be with me anymore?”
The look in his luminous eyes broke her heart. She had hurt him badly. He had been so concerned about her his anxiety had led him to misinterpret her rebuff as much more significant than she had intended it. She had to fix it. This called for extreme measures.
She stood and the Doctor, misunderstanding her move, raised his arms toward her saying, “I’m sorry Rose whatever I’ve done, please don’t go!”
She just wanted to cry at the look on his face. “Doctor, I’m not going anywhere,” she said stripping off her jeans, “and it’s me who owes you an apology.” She lifted the blankets and slid in beside him reaching for him. “I was rude to you when you were only trying to make sure I was ok? I didn’t understand how worried you were about me and how much stress you were under. I’m so sorry Doctor. I would never leave you!” She hugged him fiercely and thank the stars he responded hugging her back.
It was clear to her he was not letting her go anytime soon but at last she sensed he was calming and less tense. And of course there was no place she would rather be than safe in his arms, surrounded by his scent but she wanted him to be totally confident about her commitment to him.
“Doctor can you do the telepathy thing on me. I want you to know exactly how I feel about you and before you say no because you think I’m against it. I’m not. In fact I like the idea of you being in my mind. So don’t worry and just do it ok?”
He trembled taking her face in his hands. “Rose you are my shelter,” he murmured.
Her love for him hit him like a tidal wave washing over him sweeping away his fears and doubts. She was similarly overwhelmed by his love and devotion for her but for the first time she realized how stressful Talliman 2 had been for him. It wasn’t just the hundreds of variables he had to control and the complexities he had to analyze in that operation but it was her. Knowing she had been hurt, hearing her screams and having to choose between her and the time lines. No wonder he had been stressed out and no wonder he misinterpreted her rebuff thinking she didn’t want anything to do with him because he had given priority to fixing the time line. She made sure he knew that she would never expect him or blame him for choosing to protect the universe ahead of her.
He withdrew from her mind. When she opened her eyes she saw his hair was sticking up again and his smile could have powered a large stadium. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her and it was everything to her and he knew it.
“Doctor, I have an idea. Can we do the mind meld thing like Time Lords do so you can communicate with me when we’re on a mission? Maybe you wouldn’t have to worry about me so much.”
“Now that’s an idea worth exploring,” he replied enthusiastically but before he could go on a giant yawn engulfed his face.
Rose laughed. “Looks like you need sleep mighty Time Lord. Let’s talk about it over breakfast.”
He nodded snuggling into her. “Just so you know Rose, I plan on having you for breakfast!” He smacked his lips and promptly fell into a deep sleep leaving Rose wide awake for hours thinking about his comment.
Several days later the Doctor put all the appliances back together in ninety-four minutes.