His voice was low and angry. She thought that he resembled a scared animal; a hurt, wounded creature, so big yet so vulnerable; and he was intimidating her to leave him alone. To wallow in his grief and to lick the wounds on his own.
Like she would ever let that happen.
“You shouldn’t be alone right now,” Rose dared to edge a little closer to the Doctor, carefully stepping over the threshold. She noticed his back tensing.
He didn’t want her here. Would it be wiser to leave him be and wait until the tempest is over, or would it be cowardly of her to be scared away by his intimidating tactics?
That was the question.
“Have you got trouble with your hearing? I told you to go away!” the Doctor’s voice was bitter enough to sting, but Rose wouldn’t be swayed so easily.
“You don’t have to face this alone,” she supplied carefully.
Suddenly, he turned his face towards her, blue eyes glistening dangerously, maliciously, and Rose felt the sudden urge to step back, to seek cover.
She wouldn’t though. That’s exactly what the Doctor wanted, and while she was taken aback by the expression on his face, Rose knew that the Doctor shouldn’t be alone. The Tardis was there. She was there. The whole Universe was better with two, didn’t they agree upon that some odd months ago?
Rose dared to step closer to put a hesitant hand on his jumper-clad back. The muscles roiled beneath the scratchy woollen surface, and she swore the man was coiled like a spring.
It was the moment the Doctor chose to explode.
“I never asked for your help!” rarely had she heard him succumbing to yelling, the Doctor was all about quiet danger and low voice, alarming his enemies not with booming speeches and deafening tirades but with the intense frightening look in his ancient eyes and threatening flexing of his fingers.
There was this thing about Rose and the yelling, though. She had never liked it when people raised their voices at her. And it wasn’t like she was about to let this supposedly impressive bloke act like a git, even if he was hurting.
“Oi! You! Stop sulking, you’ve got me! What happened to ‘ better with two ’, anyway?” the blonde stepped closer to his form, curled almost pityingly on the edge of the bench. They were on board of the Tardis alright, seeking shelter in one of the Tardis’ gardens, listening to the babbling of a small waterfall hidden somewhere behind the lilac bushes. The Doctor’s fingers were twisted almost painfully in his lap, and he hang his head so low, as if the weight of the world was pulling him down, down the pit of the misery. Rose supposed that that was the case. The Doctor was the guardian of the universe, the healer of the wounds that the Time War had inflicted upon the matter of time and space, and Rose held no illusions about her place in understanding even a thousandth part of what he had experiences in his lifetime.
However, the point that she was there, right beside him, still stood.
Thinking about that, Rose sat down quietly next to his dejected-looking body. When he had made no move to push her away verbally or physically, the girl slipped even closer to him and put two arms around his stiff shoulders.
The air in the garden stopped moving. The sound of the running waterfall eased away; the lush lilac bushes ceased their trembling.
Then the Doctor exhaled. A long, suffering puff of the air left his lungs, and he relaxed noticeably in her arms.
Rose breathed out in relief, too. She hadn’t overstepped the line. Thank God.
No words were needed, really. What do you say to the alien bloke whose planet was destroyed, wiped out of time, who was supposedly the killer of his own species and hundreds of other creatures and worlds around the Universe? Not that that Rose saw the Doctor through a prism of a killer, no matter what he told her, she was hardly the one to judge or blame him for saving the entire Universe, her own planet including.
Still, it pained him, scorned his ashamed soul and broken spirit when they had landed on a planet emitting a S.O.S. signal in order to offer help to the people who needed it. It turned out that the part of the people (Rose came up with the decision to use the word ‘people’ for anyone who resembled her own species) were wiped out in the aftershocks of the Time War, and that resulted in the genetic imbalance that left the community inhabiting that planet in losing their ability to reproduce. The poor nation was on the brink of extinction, and, of course, the Doctor took all the blame willingly. The days that followed were long and dull and filled with silent hope and dread equally while the Doctor was working in the provided laboratory for a solution. Rose felt useless and inadequate, partly from being shut down by the Doctor and partly from witnessing grim, devastated faces of the families whose last ray of hope of surviving depended on the cure the Time Lord was to provide. She blundered about the small town (the whole planet was a town, because it was a very small planet, and it didn’t make much sense as the town the size of the city was supposed to be considered a city or a megapolis; however, the buildings were not big and imposing, there were two-story cottages here and there, and all other constructions reminded her of small towns Rose saw in TV-series on the telly). The locals invited her to their houses and marvelled at her appearance, they were terribly welcoming and kind-hearted, still, Rose didn’t feel as exhilarated and happy as she used to all the times she stepped on the alien soil before.
After a few days, the Doctor was able to put together a vaccine that would be needed done regularly every time before conceiving a child, and shared the formula and other quaint details with the rest of the population. For the first time since they started travelling together, Rose witnessed the Doctor scribbling the Tardis phone number on a piece of paper and encouraged the people to find him if the vaccine didn’t work. So much for not doing domestics, Rose mused affectionately.
Now, however, it was up to her to bestow some carefully masked affection towards her very own Time Lord. Her best mate. The bloke who presented her the space and the starts and the worlds on a silver platter. The man whom she had secretly loved.
So that’s what how that evening had found the human girl and the last of the Time Lords on the board of the beautiful Tardis. No words were uttered, and none were needed, really. Rose was sitting next to the Doctor, gently stroking his back, letting him compartmentalise the events of the past few days. A little later he realised he was enjoying the massage Rose decided to treat him to, and, surprisingly, he hadn’t protested as much as he would have before. Her firm grip on his neck, fragile arms massaging away the knots of fear, devastation, helplessness and regret; the soothing movement of her palms up and down his neck; the quiet yet strained breathing pattern. The Doctor realised with a startle that she was afraid of his attitude. It washed over him like a gust of Arctic air. Rose should never be afraid of him, or his words, or his actions!
Therefore, he made himself relax further, humming appreciatively when she hit the spot that pained him the most. After some time, he finally felt Rose breathe more freely, her hands became less tense, and she leaned in closer into his personal space, providing the aura of warmth and comfort.
When the Doctor felt he had used enough of her kindness; he caught her hands gently in his own and muttered a quiet ‘thank you’. He couldn’t quite meet Rose’s eyes yet, but he couldn’t let her go for now, too. That’s how they found themselves in the galley, enjoying several cups of tea and their shared company. The Doctor thought himself a lucky bastard because his blonde companion didn’t impose and hadn’t asked a single thing of him. She spoke of the most trivial things the whole evening, asked him silly questions about physics and the nature of some planets, told him about the good times she lived through before meeting him.
After the tea was drunk and the cups were washed and dried with their united attempts, Rose had walked him to his room’s door and squeezed his hands gingerly. She stood on her tiptoes then, and planted a demure kiss on his cheek. The blonde smiled shyly and turned around to walk to her own room surely to catch up on some much-needed rest and thinking about the days’ events. The Doctor indulged her nurturing actions by pretending to go into the room to have a restorative kip. She didn’t need to know he wouldn’t be sleeping that night. Or the night after that night, for that matter.
Still, he couldn’t help but feel grateful for having found such a great person to share his adventures with. His hearts were filled with warmth once again after such a long time of loneliness and suffering, and a hope of loving again heated his soul. He needed to be careful about that. He couldn’t let Rose be scared away by his ardour (my, Rose and him were reading too much Austen lately, both of them). Her compassionate and nurturing persona didn’t need his broken and ugly character, she was only providing him comfort out of her endless empathy and gratitude. Rose couldn’t love him, she just couldn’t. Such a young soul, so innocent and full of life...
No, better not to dwell on those dark thoughts. Rassilon knows there are a lot of them swirling in his mind already. The Tardis needed his care, too. His loyal companion, his ever-present friend.
And, thinking so, the Doctor spread his shoulders, changed clothes and went on tinkering with the Tardis.
The door to her room closed behind her. Rose slumped heavily on it, breathing out in shudders. The scalding tears pooled in her eyes, and she let them out, grateful for privacy.
Now it was time to take care of herself, too.