Beta: The amazing and talented ganeris
Rating: PG for this chapter, will be R later
Summary: Which is better, the dream or the nightmare?
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and I make no money off of their obvious love and desire for each other.
Author's Notes: Written for the time_and_chips ficathon, anywhere but Cardiff.
Prompt: Deva Loka (paradise planet of the Kinda), August 3, 2266
Part 1: (Chapter 1),
He who delights in solitude is either a wild beast or a god. ~ Sir Francis Bacon
The Doctor’s striking features are illuminated only by starlight when Rose finally finds him again hours later; staring out into the vast expanse of space though one of the TARDIS’s many inconceivable windows. Like Rose, he’s obviously showered and changed, dark hair once again combed down close to his skull, his angular jaw clean shaven. The battered leather jacket that is so much a part of him wraps around his broad form, all but concealing the material underneath. He’s wearing the maroon jumper now, this time sans wrinkles, and his feet, which stand a shoulder’s width apart, are encased in their usual Doc Martin boots. His emotional armor is back in place, both leather clad arms crossed in front of his chest, inviting no company. He seems to Rose like a statue made of flesh and bone: immobile, and immovable.
He remains still as Rose enters what can only be described as some sort of observation deck. The “window,” she realizes, is actually more like a glass wall; somehow giving the viewer a glimpse of the outside, despite the TARDIS’s wooden exterior. Her pink trainers tread lightly on the metal floor, making little sound, but they still somehow manage to alert the Doctor to her arrival. He continues to stare out at the stars, unchanged by her presence but for a slight slumping of the shoulders. The silence is so deafening that Rose nearly jumps out of her skin when he finally speaks. “I’m sorry.”
She knows she should be angry, knows that a simple apology shouldn’t be enough to make up for all the awful things he said to her. He’d insulted her, frightened her and shut her out, all capital offences when it came to friendship. But what really hurt, what she should really punish him for, was that he’d made her want him, and then he’d made her feel a fool. But the apology is so heartfelt, the words spoken so softly, that it bolsters both Rose’s mercy and her courage. So she closes the gap between them in a few quick strides, coming to stand beside him.
He still doesn’t look at her, so curling her fingers around one masculine forearm, Rose tugs determinedly, until he gives in and uncrosses his arms. She then takes one of his large hands in her’s, intertwining their fingers and squeezing lightly. They stand there for a few moments, just staring out into space.
“Don’t think I’ll ever get used to this view,” she finally says, awe lacing her voice. “It’s so beautiful.”
The Doctor looks down at their entwined fingers, still not meeting her gaze, but it’s a vast improvement nonetheless. “Yes, it is,” he replies, rubbing his thumb along the surface of her short fingernails.
“Can you name them all?”
“Hardly,” he says, gently squeezing her hand, “that would make me a god, and I’d never want that job; too much responsibility.”
Rose thinks the weight on her friend’s shoulders could rival anyone’s, deity or not, but decides to leave it unsaid. Taking a deep breath Rose bolsters her courage, finally getting to the point. “What was that all about this morning? Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I was angry, and I took it out on you. I shouldn’t have done that."
After the violent display he’d subjected her to earlier he owes her a better explanation. “That much I got, Doctor. What I don’t know is why.”
Air puffs out of the Doctor’s nose, more of a snort than a bitter laugh really, but Rose decides there isn’t much of a difference. “I must have nodded off last night,” he says, once more staring out into the black. “Never was much for sleep, should have known better.”
“So you had a bad dream then?” Rose rubs her free palm down one of his arms, smoothing down the leather. She can’t even begin to imagine the nightmares of a man forced to watch his whole civilization burn to ashes.
“No, Rose,” he says, his smile tight and far from reaching his eyes. “Not a bad dream. I’m used to those. Take a nightmare any day me, and show it where to go while I’m at it?”
Rose purses her lips, determined to hear this out. “Tell me.”
“For a little while, Rose,” he says, his Northern accent almost inaudible, “they were alive.”
He nods, squeezing both eyes shut and breathing deeply, as if trying to gain back some composure. The Doctor’s voice nearly breaks as he continues. “They were calling me home.”
Rose has to bite the inside of her cheek, keeping back a broken sob, as his words pierce right through her heart. This she understands. How many times as a child had she dreamed that her father was still alive, that her family was whole, only to awaken and find her mother in bed with some bloke who’d only be her boyfriend for about a minute? How much more painful would it be for the Doctor, whose whole world was gone? He’s right, she decides, feeling her eyes burn insistently as she determinedly holds back the tears. Rose would take the nightmares any day; at least that way when you wake up, the reality is better.
“So I dream,” he continues, voice growing bitter once more, “and then I wake up, and stupid git that I am, think that maybe there’s some truth to it.”
“That’s what you were doing in the kitchen,” Rose realizes, “you were searching for them, in your mind?”
“But I was wrong,” he says, once again staring out into the stars, his emotions pushed low. “There’s no one else left. I’m alone.”
The Doctor’s pain is too raw for Rose to handle anymore, so she moves around to face him and reaching up to gently grasp his chin, forces him to meet her gaze. “You’ve got me.”
He smiles, and this time it does reach his eyes, and the pain in them seems to recede just a bit. “Yeah, I do,” he says, drawing her to him, wrapping himself around her.
Rose slides her arms under the Doctor’s jacket and around his waist, feeling the soft wool against her palms as she clings to him, desperate to banish his demons. She breathes deeply, pressing her face into his shoulder as he rubs one smooth cheek against her yellow hair. And if Rose wishes she could reach under his jumper and feel the cool skin underneath, or that he’d lean down just far enough for her to kiss him in that tempting place where his shoulder meets his neck, then she ignores it. Rose is here to give comfort, and he’s taking it, and if that’s all he’ll ever want from her it’ll be enough. It has to be enough, because this is home and she’s not leaving.
Desperate to change the subject lest she fall ever more maudlin, Rose pulls back gently, resting her hands just below the Doctor’s shoulders. She grips his biceps lightly and flashes a cheeky grin, her pink little tongue peeking out of the side of her mouth for a second. “Tell you what?”
“What?” he plays along, chuckling softly.
“I say we stop moping about and you take me someplace beautiful. What do you say?”
This time his smile could stop traffic. “Fantastic.”