Chapter 11 - A Strange Box

"Evening, Rose!" the Doctor said, cheerfully. So cheerfully in fact, that Rose was sure that he hadn't sounded that happy since they were last on the TARDIS, a good few weeks back.

"'ello, you! What took you so long?!" she said from the kitchen. She heard footsteps from behind her, and turned around to see the Doctor, who was carrying a large cube shaped box.

"This!" he said, enthusiastically. He placed it down on the kitchen counter and patted it. "This is what took me so long."

The box was about a foot long and a foot wide. It was covered in a mixture of strange patterns in deep blues, pretty purples and whites and it was glowing softly, which gave it an eerie, but beautiful finish. It somehow had the sense of being aged and decrepit, but at the same time, it looked new and modern. Rose was almost sure she could hear the sound of distant, delicate music.

"It's beautiful," she said, not taking her eyes off the fascinating object. "It looks alien. What is it? Where did you get it?"

"One of my coworkers, DI Stevenson, well his wife, who's a scientist, found it in one of her labs. Nobody knew how it got there or anything. She ran scans, but the readings were off the scale. So, she took it home to do some more work on it. Steve told me about it, and I said that I could help. I told him that I have special equipment at home, far in advance of the science labs, and that I've seen something like it before, so I went around to their house after work and they let me take it home," he said, speaking at a hundred miles an hour as he usually did when he was explaining something.

"So you know what it is? And they let you take it, just like that?" she said.

"Don't act so surprised! I'm brilliant, why wouldn't they let me take it?" he said, looking slightly offended.

"Yeah, I know, but they don't know that. What is it, anyway?" she said, letting her finger trace the mystical patterns on the box.

"I believe it's some kind of very clever alien technology. You don't see things like this on Earth. But, I'll need to run some tests on it, to be sure exactly what it is," he said. He picked up the box, and took it to the living room. Rose followed him and they sat down on the sofa.

All of a sudden, they heard a vicious hissing noise. For one terrible moment, Rose thought it was the box deciding to blow up, but it took her less than a second to realise that the sound was coming from the kitchen.

"I forgot about dinner!" she said, leaping up from the sofa. She dashed through the door and quickly turned the hob temperature down. Then, she wiped up the mess that had spilt over the side of the pot, before dishing up the dinner.

"Aha!" the Doctor yelled, making Rose jump while she was serving up the stew. She went to find out what he had got so excited about. "I know what it is!" he said, excitedly, as she entered the room. His sleeves were rolled up, he had his thick rimmed glasses on and he was spinning his sonic screwdriver in his hand. Rose stopped in her tracks and stood there, staring at him. She loved those glasses, almost as much as she loved his tousled hair. The way he had rolled his shirt sleeves up made her stomach do somersaults. He just looked so... "Rose?" he said, breaking her out of her thoughts.

"Hmm?" she said, sealing her lips that she'd just realised were open.

"Are you okay? You looked-,"

"I'm fine," she said, bluntly. "What did you wanna say?"

"This cube thing is what is known as a Dream Box," he said, gesturing to the box that was sat on his lap. "Legend has it, that if you look into a Dream Box for too long, it will try to kill you through a series of thoughts. But I'm sure that's just a myth," he said, tapping the box.

"How can a box try to kill someone with their own thoughts?" she said. "Sounds silly if you ask me."

"I don't know. As I said, it's probably a myth. The stories are very old, and even if they were true, it probably wouldn't have the same effect on people today. Still, you never know, so don't go trying to find out how to open this thing," he said, standing up.

"Okay, I won't! Don't wanna end up thinking myself to death," she said, grinning.

"We certainly don't!" he said.

"Right then, dinner?"

"That would be lovely, Rose Tyler," he said, with a smile.

As Rose got ready for bed, the Doctor announced that he would also be going to sleep that night as he hadn't had any for a while. Luckily, they had bought another mattress just days before, so the Doctor could sleep in his own room, rather than on the sofa.

They said goodnight, then went to their rooms. Their separate rooms. Rose wished that they could sleep together every night. After she'd had a nightmare on their first day in 1987, she had laid in the Doctor's arms all night long. She just wished that they could be together like that all the time, but she knew that would never happen.

Rose was half asleep, when she heard some curious noises. Strange, mystical music danced around her bedroom. The harmonies surrounding her were dainty, like fairies' footsteps. It was alluring and beautiful and made her feel like she was in some kind of dream. Perhaps she was; she didn't know for certain. Before she knew what she was doing, she was getting out of bed and walking towards her door in a daze.

She opened her bedroom door to reveal that the Dream Box, which was sitting on the middle of the living room floor, was glowing brightly, sending purples, pinks and blues swirling around the room. The top of the box was open, but the light burning inside of it was so bright that she couldn't see anything inside. As she crept closer to it, the strange music filled her head and she couldn't think of anything but the box, the lights, the music... She reached out with her hand, attempting to touch the lights.

Suddenly, she felt two hands on her shoulders which pulled her back roughly. The person behind her lost their balance, and they ended up pulling Rose onto the floor in a heap with them. The rough landing suddenly brought her back to reality.

"Rose, what the hell are you doing?" the Doctor said, from behind her.

"I- I don't know," she said, shaking her head. "I was... I'm just getting a glass of water." She knew that she wasn't, but she couldn't understand why else she would be walking around in the middle of the night.

"Why were you looking at the box?" he said, still holding Rose on his lap. She looked over to it. She tried her very best to think back to what had just happened, but she just felt dizzy and saw nothing but a blur in her memory. Hadn't there been lights and music just a second before? Or had she been dreaming?

"I was?" she said, frowning, "I don't think I was."

"It certainly looked like it to me," he said, sounding unconvinced. Rose shuffled off his lap and turned around to look at him.

"It looked different," she said, not even realising why she was saying it, or what she was talking about.

"What looked different? The box?" he asked, softly.

"Yes. No. I don't know. The box, maybe," she said. Her head was becoming tight and clammy, and she just wanted to be back in bed.

"Are you sure? I didn't see anything," he said.

"I don't know," she said. Her brow furrowed in confusion. She knew that she was looking at the Doctor, but he kept going fuzzy and out of focus. She saw him take out his sonic screwdriver.

"Something tells me you're not just sleepy," he said. He glanced at the Dream Box. "Rose, just lie down for me a minute," he said, using his hands to gently push her onto her back. She saw his blurry figure kneel next to her and he used his sonic screwdriver to scan her body. Then, he peered at his screwdriver and frowned at the results. "Well, you must have been sleep walking. Nothing abnormal's showing up on the scans, and you know how accurate my sonic is. C'mon, let's get you back to bed." He helped her up and walked her to her bed, where he lay her down and said goodnight.