The TARDIS was materialising late at night, so the Doctor was doing it away from all the houses. It wheezed into being on disused land out of town, between bracken and sedge grass where only nocturnal things lived. It wouldn’t have occurred to her to do this before, to make sure she wouldn’t wake things with her machine. She had to do annoying things a bit, surely? She wouldn’t be the Doctor if she stopped.
As she stepped out to the freezing air her pager beeped again, and she gave a groan that would have woken up anything that had still been asleep. She almost didn’t look at it then decided she had to anyway, but there was just a formal message telling her the shift was over. Someone else would be on duty now, someone better at it. She wouldn’t have to do it again for several thousands of years.
She walked to their house through the cold and the rain, in clothes that weren’t good for the weather. Sometimes Lorna would stay awake long after she pretended to sleep, but that night everything was quiet as the Doctor let herself in. It was for the best, in a way, that they didn’t see. In the morning she’d show them what she’d bought them and say it was a present and not an apology, and if they’d all slept for long enough they’d be able to pretend that was true.
Sometimes legends of the Doctor would ask if she really slept, but the people who’d written them hadn’t seen the way she’d looked that night. She collapsed on the sofa in all of her ordinary clothes, and all the monsters in the world could never have got her to wake.
In her dreams she thought of another world, where everything she could do to save anyone might only make everything worse, and just before she woke up she wasn’t sure it was another world at all…
...She’d never thought her nightmares would ever become like a human’s.