It was a quiet night onboard the Tardis. The elation of Doctor's "Everybody lives!" winded down after several dances, and the trio dispersed into the depths of the ship.
The Doctor wasn’t the one to sleep every night. It would be a stretch to say that he slept once a week too. Usually, 6 hours in two weeks did the trick for him, and he preferred to catch the needed respite in one night.
One night to keep him distracted from waiting for Rose to get her much needed sleep and to save him from never-ending boredom without her.
Tinkering wasn’t as fun if she wasn’t around. At first, the Doctor was irritated at her sitting in the console room while he was doing repairs on the Tardis. Rose would talk and talk about everything that happened during their adventures, and all he wanted after said adventures was some peace and quiet. Naturally, after the events in London and 12 months instead of 12 hours, Rose sat down on the small battered seat near the controls and started blabbering on about things said and done in the days gone by.
And, naturally, the Doctor’s temper blew up.
“Don’t you get quiet at all, Rose? Don’t you get tired of all the talking? I thought you’d be out of things to talk after we’ve spent some time in London, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.”
He snapped and regretted it the moment after.
Rose looked like a kicked puppy. There were no tears in her eyes, no; it was the vulnerable expression on her young face that did him in.
He wanted to punch himself.
Really, what was he expecting?
Rose was 19, young and outgoing, talkative and coming from the background where friends and extended family were important. She was promptly plucked out of her life by no one else but him, and the life he plunged her in was a far cry from the one she led before the explosion at Henrick’s.
She needed to come to terms with the events of the past days. It was stressful, and he forgot what it took for humans to stay sane under the strain. The Doctor put Rose through the stress, and now he wouldn’t let her have a proper sit down to try and process the news and affairs of the past week.
He was the one to refuse having a celebratory chit-chat with Rose’s mother, too. She might have felt better and calmer once she talked to someone who understood her (Jackie was new to the extra-terrestrial life, too), and Rose could have vented to her mother to make sense of the changes that happened.
But no, the domestics were too much for him. And now he’d gone and declined the normal human comfort Rose thought he would be able to provide (not literally, of course, she hadn’t asked, she just sat near him and talked).
“Wanker” wasn’t enough to describe his behaviour.
Rose said nothing for several minutes. She fidgeted and played with the cords of the grey hoodie she was wearing in a nervous manner, and her breathing pattern was all funny. Finally, when the Doctor thought that she would cry, she muttered “Sorry” and stood up from the chair in a rush with intentions to go somewhere else.
The Doctor groaned. Way to find a healthy way to communicate with the new companion.
Time to better his human skills.
“Rose, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have lashed out at you. Look, how about this: you go and shower and make us both a cuppa and I’ll meet you in the galley in, say, an hour? You’ll have time to freshen up and I’ll have time to unwind and finish the repairs.”
The girl’s attitude radiated nervousness and insecurity. The Doctor mentally congratulated himself on ruining a chance of nice companionship not a week into meeting his new companion. Still, he persisted. “What do you say, Rose?”
The blonde looked at her wristwatch and scrunched her face when she realised (once again) that they were scorched and had fractures on the glass after the explosion in the Downing Street. Rose bit her lip in hesitant gesture and nodded when she noticed he was looking at her with raised eyebrows. The Doctor smiled sincerely and felt a twinge of disappointment when Rose only pursed her lips in a polite smile and scurried away into the halls of the Tardis.
The Doctor looked at her retreating silhouette and closed his eyes, shaking his head in irritation.
He was a right pillock.
The Doctor finished with repairs and diagnostics fifty minutes later and went straight into his bedroom for a change of jumper and a quick washing-up. Fifty-eight minutes after they’d last spoke, he entered the galley. To his immense relief, Rose was standing near the table pouring boiling water into fine china cups, seemingly marvelled by them. The tea set was a gift from Chinese Emperor in year 3098 for saving the Empire from fire-breathing dragon that was stuck on Earth when its flock was migrating from Mercury to Mars. Poor fella was terrified because the city streets were full of the images of the dragons; yet he couldn’t find his brothers and sisters where it was stuck. The Doctor was able to intercept the “lost and found” signal that the pack emitted and helped Orion IV (the dragon’s name) to locate his next of kin.
All in all, it was a story with a happy ending. The dragons were reunited and continued their journey to the milder climate of Mercury and the Emperor’s era was proclaimed to be the golden one as the dragons descended on the Earth in the years of his rule. The grateful Emperor offered the Doctor many treasures and one of his beautiful miniature daughters to marry (the Doctor felt terror running through him just at the thought of marriage), but the Time Lord only nodded, acknowledging such an honour, and told that he gave the vow of loneliness (all the rage on the Earth by early 2680s) and accepted only a delicately crafted china set that was impossible to break.
He could tell Rose was impresses by his story. Her lips moved several times while he was narrating, and he wondered if she would ask him for further details. She didn’t.
The Doctor felt crushed. But he didn’t give up. He prompted the blonde to throw the empty cup on the floor to see what happens. When she didn’t follow the instructions, he stretched his hand to pluck the cup out of her hands only to find Rose’s arms curl around the pretty china protectively. He smiled brightly and grabbed one of the cups out from the cabinet. The Time Lord then threw the delicate piece of china into the nearest wall and heard Rose’s terrified “ah!” when in hit it.
The cup stayed intact and bounced off the wall in a comic way. “Just like in cartoons!” marvelled Rose before giggling.
He swore his hearts soared when the sound of the girl’s laughter echoed in the galley. The ice was broken, and the evening was saved.
That happened about 7 months ago.
Now, though, the Doctor had a new companion on the board, not the best one, though.
Rose was the best; Jack the Captain wasn’t easy to trust to. Yet the Doctor had to deal with the lad because of Rose’s generous heart and merciful soul.
“Always the one to bring the strays in,” he grouched before stepping into the galley.
Noticing that the Captain was in the room two hours into the night, the Doctor was surprised. He thought that all the humans scattered away into their respective rooms to sleep off the exhaustion and the terror of the day in the London Blitz.
Well, Rose was asleep, to be sure. The Doctor really hoped so. The adventures in the 1940s were merry in conclusion, yet the girl went through a lot before the mystery of the nanogenes was resolved. He wondered if there was something she didn’t tell him about. Apart from Jack trying to con her – that the Doctor could guess from the very slight tension between the blonde and the American.
Rose needed her rest, and he was worried she wouldn’t get it if there was something that bothered her. There were times when her troubled mind would make her meander about the Tardis, wake up in the most unexpected places and give him hearts attack every time he would find her out of her bed in the middle of her sleeping cycle. Honestly, he thought he’d regenerate the first night he found her sitting on the bench in the rose garden, completely ignoring him. The Doctor thought he’d bolloxed up some of their conversations before he realised that she was sleepwalking.
The Doctor exhaled forcefully and plonked on the chair by the galley table. He accepted the cup Jack shifted into his direction and both men enjoyed the night-time tea in comfortable silence.
That was, until the Tardis hummed worriedly in the Doctor’s mind, alerting him to the suspicious behaviour of his female companion. The Doctor sighed ruefully, drowned the rest of the tea and slammed the cup onto the table. Jack raised his eyebrows at the sudden change in the mood.
However, mere moments after that, the lad stared, surprised, at the figure in the galley doorway. The Doctor’s shoulders tensed and he turned around to confirm his suspicions.
Rose, covered in nothing but knee-length blue nightgown that was holding on her shoulders with thin straps.
Rose, staring senselessly at the Doctor. Or, rather, through him, as her eyes were glassy and empty and she didn’t seem to notice Jack the Captain at all.
The Doctor heard Jack’s quiet “What the hell?” just as Rose inquired stonily, “Where’s the child?”
The Doctor’s shoulders slumped. It happened again. The events of the day were too much for his young companion’s subconscious, and some issue was left unresolved in that peculiar brain of hers.
He sighed and braced himself. The Doctor felt confusion and tension emanating from Jack but the lad knew better than to ask questions. Yet.
The Time Lord looked into Rose’s impassionate stare and asked the first question. “What child, Rose?”
The blonde stood silent for a minute as if she hadn’t heard him. Finally, she deigned the men with an answer.
“The boy," she pressed, "from the roof. He was there, on the roof.”
The Doctor frowned. The roof?
“I saved Rose from falling off the barrage balloon. She could have caught it on the roof,” the American supplied in a hushed voice.
“Don’t whisper, talk normally,” he snapped, annoyed. The Doctor was strained, and it always made him snappy and snarky when he was under pressure.
Jack shook his head in mild irritation.
Rose turned around abruptly and left the galley.
The men looked at each other and nodded silently before following her lead.
The blue fabric swayed lazily in rhythm of her footsteps, her bare feet made no sound at all in contrast to the heavy steps of the Doctor and Jack. The blonde didn’t seem fazed or exasperated at the Tardis’ attempts at confusing her with many hallways and rooms she wasn’t looking for, but the Doctor sent a silent request to his time ship to let Rose find her destination. Soon after that, the three travellers stepped into the console room, the men three paces after the girl.
When Rose extended her right hand to open the Tardis door, the time ship wailed telepathically in the Doctor’s mind and he asked her to block them.
This time, Rose wasn’t happy. She continued on tugging the doors and when it proved to be pointless, she turned and faced the Doctor.
He was humbled by her act of trust (she trusted him to solve her problems) and he felt a tug at his hearts when he had to decline to help Rose this time.
“Rose, we’re in the Vortex. You can’t go out, it’s not safe,” he explained, patiently.
The blonde looked through him again, her eyes impassive and cold. So unlike Rose when she was awake. Her eyes were never empty, never emotionless. There were always some feelings in her brown eyes: bravery, happiness, adoration, compassion, resolution, anger, even fear, but never impassion and blankness. The Doctor didn’t know how important Rose’s gaze was to him, how he valued her beautiful eyes and the turmoil of emotions behind them until the moments they were lost in the dream state.
“Rose, whom are you looking for?” the Doctor prompted.
“The boy," she answered mechanically.
“Rose, are you searching for Nancy’s boy?” added Jack.
“I’m looking for Nancy’s boy,” she repeated after him slowly.
“Rose, he’s with Nancy now,” soothed Jack.
She didn’t see fit to answer them. She understood that they would be no help in her quest and set off somewhere else suddenly, and the men had nothing to do but follow her.
“Why don’t you just snap her out of it?” asked Jack in loud whisper.
“Told you to stop whispering," replied the Doctor sourly, "she has to wake up on her own or we could try and put her to bed in this state.”
“Yes, we could, but we’d need to actually be in her bedroom, wouldn’t we?” the irritation in Jack’s voice was unveiled.
The Doctor just rolled his eyes. He was not in the mood for this.
“Rose, why are you looking for Jamie?” the Doctor inquired.
“He’s alone, all alone, and in danger. Should have never left the kid in danger. The soldiers, the air raid...,” ah. There it was.
“Poor thing," expressed Jack, "being in the middle must have shocked her. There are no wars in her time, are there?”
“Not in her country, no. Rather peaceful, the decades she came from,” supplied the Doctor. “She’s seen enough of wars and revolutions while travelling with me.”
“Yeah, Doc, but were they alien wars and revolutions?”
“Don’t call me Doc!”
“That means they were. This war is rather close to her century. And those were the people, her people, suffering the devastation of the Blitz.”
The Doctor frowned, thinking about Jack’s words. The lad was right. The Doctor didn’t even consider that seeing World War II with her own eyes would be traumatic for her psyche.
Rose was a person who bounced back easily after disturbing experiences and never dwelled on the bad things for too long if she knew she wouldn’t be able to help. She wasn’t swayed easily out of balance, that’s true, but he should have been more attentive to her that evening.
He was busy celebrating and steaming with jealousy over her inviting Jack onboard, though.
The Time Lord sighed and ran hand over his close-cropped hair. They needed to resume their tea ritual and talk things over by the Tardis’ console in the evenings unless he wanted Rose to roam the halls of the ship during the nights instead of getting much-needed sleep.
It was a long walk, but this time, Rose led them into the infirmary. “The hospital, the hospital," she muttered quietly while looking around the medical room, "he’s not safe here.” She stepped into the adjoined bathroom and went out of there mere seconds after.
Jack fidgeted with some equipment on the table, feeling uneasy, while Rose perused the cupboards and cabinets in the med bay. The Doctor had no idea why Rose was be looking for a child in the cupboard. The sleepwalking made her illogical and unsettled; still, she persisted. She stood on her knees to check under the metallic table where Jack stood and, when she found no Jamie there, she stood up...
And banged her head on said table. Hard. The Doctor actually flinched while Jack uttered a sympathetic “ah”.
“Ow! Bloody hell! The hell is going on here? Fuck! Who the fuck put that there?” the Doctor’s eyebrows rose up to his hairline as the string of expletives fell from Rose’s lips. Well, well, well, if someone wasn’t cranky after being woken up abruptly.
Jack chuckled and pulled Rose up from the floor. The Time Lord walked over to her and cradled her head in his hands while checking for injuries. The girl stood there, unmoving, blinking owlishly in the bright light of the infirmary.
The Doctor tsked.
“A nice gash you’ve earned there while playing hide and seek. Come, sit here,” he pointed to the couch covered with paper sheet. Rose shuddered slightly and the Doctor smiled affectionately. Rose hated hospitals and playing doctor, especially because she played the role of the patient all the time.
The Doctor pulled out dermal regenerator from one of the cabinets and an antiseptic spray.
She squirmed when he sprayed the antiseptic solution over her wound and he blew on the injury slightly. Rose smiled playfully, “Enjoying playing the doctor, aren’t ya?”
The Doctor smiled sadly. “I’d rather you weren’t hurt, Rose," he spoke solemnly, "but I’m glad to be the one treating you. Hold still for a moment, this will sting,” he pulled out the regenerator and brandished it like a weapon humorously. The girl groaned.
“Ugh! Hate the stinging part.”
“Do you need Jack to help hold your head in place?”
The Captain wiggled his eyebrows flirtatiously from where he stood in the room.
Rose curved her lips in a lopsided smile. “Nah, don’t fuss, I’ll manage.” With a couple of hissy “ah!” and several of the Doctor’s “almost there” the mending was finished. Rose muttered “thank you” as she trailed her fingers over the newly-repaired skin and started.
“So,” the Time Lord parroted.
“Did I do it again, then?" queried Rose sheepishly, "did I go on a sleepwalking tour?”
Jack was silent as he watched the Doctor and Rose interact but moved closer to lean onto the bed where Rose was sitting.
“That you did. Do you remember what you were looking for, Rose?” he asked while searching her eyes.
The brown eyes met the icy-blue ones steadily as the blonde frowned. “No, I don’t. Was I looking for something?”
“Someone,” supplied Jack.
Rose turned her head to look at him questionably then uttered, “I honestly don’t remember,” and ran her right hand over dishevelled locks.
“It’s alright, Rose,” placated the Doctor.
Silence fell over the people sitting in the infirmary and Rose started fidgeting in unease.
“Okay, whom was I looking for?”
“You were distressed in need to find Jamie...”
“What? Nancy’s boy?”
Rose mulled over the new information while the men waited. When she came up with nothing to say, Jack spoke seriously.
“First time visiting war, eh, Rose? Must’ve been stressful.”
Rose felt herself becoming defensive, “Not the first war visit, me,” she replied confidently. “We help out in the war at least once in two weeks, the Doctor and me.” Jack marvelled at the fact that the Doctor and Rose were sometimes speaking in similar speech patterns.
She looked up at the Doctor towering over her for confirmation. He pursed his lips and told, “First time travelling to the war in your own past, Rose.”
Rose looked into his eyes, still not understanding what this whole conversation was about.
“Did you ever get lost, Rosie? As a kid, maybe?”
She pulled a face and shook her head, fringe falling over her eyes. She blew at it, irritated.
“No, I didn’t. Mum wouldn’t let me out of her sight, it was a headache for me to ask her to go somewhere alone until I was 12. She’d always walk me to school and back and wouldn’t let me go to the shops to buy the sugar we’d run out of without her. I rebelled at 12, though, the kids were starting to snicker at me when my mum saw me to school in the morning. She’s been like that ever since Lanny, Maria’s kid from the apartment downstairs, was missing for two days, the police found him barely alive, dehydrated and freezing, and his mum was frantic, and he was so scared of being alone again...oh!”
The penny dropped.
Jack hugged Rose with one arm while the Doctor glowered silently at the Captain’s actions.
“You remembered the traumatic experience from your past, Rosie, and it piled onto the stress of the gas masks and war and the lost kid...,” continued Jack.
“Your brain decided to ignore the fact that Jamie was safe and sound in his mother’s arms last time we saw them,” cut the Doctor in.
Rose just stared ahead of her, processing the information. How strange. Why in the world would her brain conjure up that long-lost scenario of Lanny getting lost and terrified?
The Doctor put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “It must’ve shocked you hard enough at the time. Nothing surprising about it, really. You and your bleeding heart. Helping the poor, losing sleep over lost kids, picking the strays...,” the Doctor looked into Jack’s direction.
Jack let out an indignant “hey!” and the trio laughed merrily.
Until Rose realised that it was quite chilly in the med bay and she was wearing...
“Ah!” she shrieked and crossed her hands over her chest. Her body was letting her know it was cold and the thin blue gown her mother gave her for Christmas did nothing to hide the evidence of said cold.
The Doctor blushed and averted his eyes before going over to one of the cabinets and pulling a cotton robe from there. Jack offered his uniform jacket like a gentleman, but the Time Lord’s glare from across the room made him smirk and put up his arms in mock surrender. Rose smiled, satisfied. She didn’t believe that the Doctor’s “hands off Rose attitude” was purely because he didn’t trust Jack.
The blonde knew how an interested man acted when the girl he fancied was in danger of being pursued by some other bloke. She suppressed a knowing smile. Let the Doctor hide his intentions for some longer. Not too long, mind. Rose would combust from the tension, and the appearance of the provocative Captain would do nothing to help the situation. Well, she says nothing...maybe a healthy dose of jealousy would finally make the Doctor make his move.
Rose accepted the robe and wasn’t fazed at all – she got used to the Tardis being prepared for anything. She really loved and appreciated the Time ship, and the Tardis hummed merrily in her mind when Rose thought about that.
“Do you need me to make your blood run hot, Rosie?” offered Jack innocently.
The Doctor scowled and told him to shut up. Rose giggled as she threw the gown over her shoulders and jumped off the bed carefully.
“Well, boys...I need to catch on my beauty sleep. See ya tomorrow, yes?” she gave them her brand tongue-touched smile and enjoyed the Doctor’s reaction.
He seemed unable to avert his eyes.
“I’ll walk you to your room,” he offered after a moment. Rose rolled her eyes good-naturedly but allowed him to do just that before wishing goodnight to Jack.
The walk to her room was quiet and filled with gentle awkwardness. The Doctor felt well out of his depth and wanted to ask Rose if she was okay but knew she would moan about him fussing over her unnecessarily like she always did. So, he decided to wish her pleasant dreams and get on with his night-time tinkering with the Tardis.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Rose?” Great. The Doctor went on and asked the bloody question when they reached her bedroom’s door.
Rose pinched his jacketed arm lightly and beamed at him. “I’m fine, Doctor, don’t worry. Your therapy session helped. Thanks for that," she bit her lip and he followed the gesture hungrily with his eyes, "and thanks for putting up with my quirks,” Rose hesitated a moment before standing on her toes and pressing a quick kiss on his cheek and disappearing behind the door of her room mere seconds after that.
The Doctor smiled and touched the spot she kissed carefully. He sighed, enamoured and feeling like the luckiest man on Earth, then shook his head and went on to the console room, ignoring the Tardis’s jolly chiming in his mind.
Come tomorrow, they would visit Nancy and the kids in her care six months after the war was over. Come tomorrow, Rose would squeeze his hand, teary-eyed, looking at the peaceful family the orphans and Nancy built for themselves. Come tomorrow, the issue would be resolved and wouldn’t bother his Rose anymore.
Tomorrow would be full of promises from them both.