The Doctor watched Rose sleep; he tried to focus simply on the rise and fall of her chest. As long as he was watching her breathe, he could convince himself that she was alive. If he wasn't watching her then he wasn't sure she was still alive; he feared she really had died. If he looked anywhere else but Rose's chest he was convinced she was gone because she was so still….so pale….she didn't look real. She looked like a china doll that had been patched up. Her skin was pale, white, her eyes red and unnatural looking. A large bandage covered her forehead, the only evidence of her procedure; the bandages on her wrists were much more alarming. They reminded him she was here because she had wanted to leave this world forever.
Today had been hell; the Doctor had had a lot of bad days but today listed high on the worst days of his life. Rose had barely been alive by the time that they had reached the infirmary; with shaky, blood covered fingers he had found the dermal regenerator and managed to stop the bleeding and repair the damage. The bandages weren't to stop the bleeding; they were to cover the scars that the Doctor couldn't stand to look at. She had cut so deeply she would have scars permanently, dermal regenerator or not. After he had managed to stop the life threatening bleeding, he made work of the parasite in Rose's brain. That had taken much longer and painstaking to fix than Rose's cuts. He had managed to kill the parasite through radiation and removed it through minimal surgery but the last thing he ever wanted to have to do was brain surgery on Rose. That was several hours ago and she had not yet woken up and the Doctor wondered how her mind would come out of this. He had no way of knowing what her mental state would be when she woke; would she go back to being herself? Would she have brain damage? All of the cases he had read on these parasites ended with the subject dying through alcohol poisoning or drug overdose or other excess means, the parasite removed at autopsy. There was nothing to tell him what to expect when Rose woke up and that terrified him. A simple glance in Rose's mind showed it was very quiet and vacant; it scared him.
The Doctor was frozen at Rose's bedside, with nothing to do but unable to leave her. Jackie sat on Rose's other side, fast asleep in her chair. He had told Jackie nothing until after Rose was stabilized after her surgery; he couldn't waste time until Rose was safe. He had then, reluctantly left Rose long enough to go get Jackie, knowing she had every right to know exactly what was going on. To say that Jackie was hysterical was an understatement; he didn't blame her, he was just as anxious. He had explained Rose's condition, much to Jackie's confusion and she had been so upset that he hadn't even felt bad about slipping some sedative into her water. He knew she had every right to be so upset but he couldn't handle it; not when he'd been so upset himself.
The Doctor took Rose's hand in his own, squeezing hard. Her hands felt so cold and the Doctor laid his head on Rose's chest, seeking to warm her up and also to make himself feel more connected to her. Her heart was beating but it was slowly and lazy…he feared it might stop at any minute. Not surprisingly, he felt tears make their way out of his eyes for the second time that day, running over his cheek and onto Rose's gown.
He thought about Rose's smile; it was so much better than anyone else's. It was bright, warm and could fill a room with happiness just by her being in it. He loved that smile of hers; the small ones that didn't show teeth but were just a gentle turn of the lips, the wide ones that burst off her face, the ones where her tongue peeked between her teeth. He thought about her laugh and how he couldn't be upset when Rose's laugh was in his ears. He thought about a million little things that she did and said and was that made his life living once again. He thought about every moment they had spent together and he cried.
For a long time, Rose felt like she suspended in a haze. All she saw around her were lights and nothingness and for a while that seemed alright. Feelings seemed to be lacking in this strange place, the only thing she was aware of was the sensations of the light and fuzziness. She didn't know why but she felt like she could stay there forever; it wasn't a particularly good place but it was peaceful and that was nice.
But overtime, though how much she had no idea, she began to be pulled from that place. She could feel fear of wondering where she was, confusion of what was happening; most of all she felt pain; her body was practically screaming from it. What seemed very quickly, Rose opened her eyes and found light piercing them.
Rose flinched as she awoke, the fear and pain pressing on her. Her eyes darted around and she sought to figure out what was happening. She tried to speak but she couldn't figure out what words she was trying to use and her tongue seemed stuck.
"Rose! You're awake!"
Rose whipped her head around painfully and saw the Doctor sitting beside her. She didn't know why this surprised her but for some reason it did.
"I'm so glad…..how are you feeling?" the Doctor asked, hope in his red eyes. He looked like he had been crying and that made Rose feel even more confused. The Doctor didn't cry.
"I…..what…what's going on? What…..happened?" Rose asked in confusion. She put a hand to her pounding head and rubbed it. The Doctor put a hand on her shoulder and forced her to lay flat. He suddenly looked very sad at her question.
"Do you not remember your…..accident?" he asked hesitantly, as if he might startle her with the question.
Accident? Rose's mind searched around in the recesses for relevant information but she was coming up empty. She realized she had a bandage where her hand was on her head as well as on her wrists. By the expression on the Doctor's face she could only assume something really bad had happened to her. She began to feel a sense of panic settle in on her; she felt like she could remember it at the tip of her mind but she couldn't bring it into focus. "No…no, it's all fuzzy" Rose admitted.
The Doctor looked down at his lap and he wouldn't look back up at Rose as he began to speak which worried her further. "Rose, you tried to…you tried to commit suicide" the Doctor said, his voice cracking with emotion. "You slit your wrists…I just found you in time"
Rose looked down at her bandaged wrists and felt her throat closing in. "Why…why would I do that?" she asked in horror. There were plenty of times that she had considered it in the past but she had never gone through with it. Why would she do it now when she was traveling with the Doctor and things were finally looking up?
The Doctor looked up and she could see tears in his eyes; the sight made her fearful. "I don't know" the Doctor said. "Do you remember anything about the past few days?"
Rose tried to think; the last thing she could clearly remember was their trip to Pada, being chased away by the natives there. She felt like that had been a while ago and she forced her mind to go back. Bits and pieces of memory came back to her but they things that she was fearful of; things she had said angrily that she didn't intend to say both to her mum and the Doctor. Drinking again…purging again…..
"Why?" she asked, tears coming to her eyes as the horror of it washed over her. "All those things I did…said…Doctor…oh, I'm so sorry"
The Doctor shook his head vigorously. "Rose, you have nothing to be sorry about" he said, taking one of her hands in his own and squeezing reassuringly. "You weren't yourself"
Rose felt guilt press on her; she was herself, those were just the parts of herself that she didn't share with anyone. The things she could remember were just the ugly truth.
"You picked up a parasite" the Doctor explained. "When you got that bruise on your arm from the Padas' slingshots your skin was broken and it allowed a small parasite in the dust there to enter your bloodstream. I didn't realize because it was undetectable by most scans but it made its way to your brain; feeds off of your emotional responses. The more time went on, the more extreme the emotions became. It made you feel everything, both good and bad, to the extreme. When you…"the Doctor paused, as if composing himself "when you tried to kill yourself, the TARDIS alerted me to the danger. I repaired the damage to your body and then I had to remove the parasite. It's gone"
Rose put her hand to the bandage on her head. Her head was throbbing and it was all so much to take in. She felt like she was on the verge of panic but she held back. The idea what some creature, some thing was living in her head was terrifying.
The Doctor seemed to sense that it was all overwhelming her and he gave her a small smile even though it seemed forced. "Why don't you rest?" the Doctor urged. "Your head had been through a lot. Get some sleep and we'll discuss it more later, alright?"
"Alright" Rose relented, her eyes already beginning to droop at the suggestion of sleep. She felt the Doctor's hand still in hers and she gave it a weak squeeze back. "Thanks for saving me" she said tiredly before drifting off. She could hear the Doctor say something in response but she couldn't hear clearly what.
Rose spent the next few days in the infirmary, asleep most of the time but tormented by thoughts and her aching head when she was awake. Her mum and the Doctor hovered over her every need while she recovered and while she was thankful for their concern, she hardly felt like she deserved any of it. The longer that she remained awake, the more she began to remember things she had said and done to both of them and she didn't think she deserved to have them doting over her. She acted horrible under the parasite's influence and while the Doctor assured her that she didn't have any control over that, she felt like she should always be responsible for her own actions. It alarmed her how quickly she had went from completely fine to utterly mad; while she knew the universe was full of terrible illnesses and diseases, she had never experienced one before until now and it had nearly killed her.
After three days of almost constant hovering, though, Rose insisted on having the Doctor take her to her own room. He moved the TARDIS so that it was sitting in the middle of her and Jackie's living room, insisting that she was still recovering and "shouldn't be walking a marathon' and helped her walk the short distance to her room. Her mum had, very reluctantly, been convinced to finally go to her own bedroom and have a proper sleep that wasn't in the chair by her bedside that had been her bed for the past few days.
With the Doctor's arm around her, Rose made the short travel to her bed, grateful when she could finally sit down. She wouldn't admit it to the Doctor but the trip actually had been quite taxing on her; she couldn't wait until she was back at full strength. Rose lay back in bed, propping her pillows up so that she could half sit, half lay down. The Doctor was furtively tucking the covers around her in bed and Rose smiled at the sight.
"Need anything?" he asked for probably the 100th time that day. His face was eager and whiling to help.
"Just some sleep…..that seems like all I ever need these days" Rose said. "I'll be glad to be up and running again"
"Your body has been through a lot…take it easy. We are in no hurry to get running right away" The Doctor assured her.
Rose laughed slightly at that. "We're in no hurry to get going?" she asked in disbelief. "You? No, surely you are itching to get going. I know how you love domestics"
The Doctor looked sad for a moment. "I want you to be well…however long that takes" he said, his voice filled with seriousness like he never held. As quick as it came, it was gone. "Besides…tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I suppose I did promise you" he gave her a wide smile.
Rose smiled; she had completely forgotten about the holidays but a quiet Christmas at home with her mum and the Doctor, doing domestics…that might be just perfect. "Well, yes you did promise me" she said with a smile. "Can't go breaking that"
There was a long pause and the smile faded from the Doctor's face. "Before you go to sleep, can we talk Rose?" he asked, his voice neutral but holding the promise of seriousness coming soon.
Rose looked down at her lap, her hands worrying the hem of her shirt. The sleeves on this shirt weren't long enough and occasionally she would get a peak of her wrists; the Doctor had done a lot of good for her wounds but there were still thick pink scars and they made her feel sick. She pulled at the sleeves. "What do you want to talk about?" she asked nervously. She knew it must have something to do with what had happened and though he'd been with her constantly, they hadn't actually discussed what had happened much. She was not eager to even think about it, much less discuss it.
"We need to talk about some of the things you did and said while you were under the parasite's influence" the Doctor said cautiously.
"Well…it made me a bit crazy didn't it?" Rose said with a hysterical smile. "I can't really be blamed for what happened, right? That crazy thing inside me made me do that…so what's there to discuss?" Rose knew she was rambling but she didn't care; maybe if she kept talking it would prevent the Doctor from talking and they could not have this discussion.
"Rose" the Doctor cautioned, stopping her. He looked up at her and his blue eyes pierced hers, looking into her very soul it felt like. "That's the thing….the parasite doesn't create any feelings. It only takes the ones you already have and makes them stronger. It takes latent feeling and brings them to the surface.
Rose squirmed under the Doctor's gaze, looking from him and away several times. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, feigning ignorance. She didn't want to have this discussion; if they were to have this discussion, then she would have to tell the Doctor what she was really like deep down inside, what dark secrets her past had. If he could see her for what she was, what would keep him from finding someone less flaky and weak for his companion?
"It means what you said and did was real" the Doctor said. He took Rose's hand in his own. He turned her arm so that her scar was visible. He traced his finger along it, sorrow on his face. "It means this was real"
Rose pulled back her hand, hiding the evidence. "I never would have done it" she said defensively. "Not without that stupid…..creature making me do it….."
"But you have thought about it" the Doctor said. It was a statement, not a question.
Rose felt her cheeks turn red; she suddenly felt very exposed. "I don't want to talk about this" she said, closing off. She lay down on her side, turning so that her back was facing the Doctor. Maybe if she pretended to be asleep he would leave. He already seemed to know more than she was whiling to share. How could she look him in the eyes and talk about the dark times? The times of her life where she had felt completely worthless, like ending her life really was the only option?
But the Doctor didn't leave; he moved from where he was sitting and came to lay down on the bed behind her. He put one hand on her shoulder but he kept a respectable distance so not to startle her; when he spoke, his voice was sad. "Rose…more than once over the past few days you told me that I don't listen to you" he said. "I want to make sure that isn't a problem anymore. I want to make sure I'm listening to everything you need to say…and everything you don't want to say"
"Why do you want me to talk about this?" Rose asked desperately. Why was he making her divulge all of her dark secrets? They were ugly and they needed to stay hidden where she had always kept them.
"Because a few days ago I saw you making yourself sick because you thought you were fat. I had to drag you out of bar completely insensible…and I found you in a puddle of your own blood" the Doctor said, sorrow making his voice crack in several places. "None of that is okay and I'm not going to ignore any of that"
Rose felt tears in her eyes and she wiped at them as they ran down the side of her face. "Things used to be bad…..before you showed up" Rose said sadly. She didn't want to talk about it but it seemed not as bad when she didn't have to stare directly at him. "I used to feel some of those things but I really don't anymore"
It was partly a lie and the Doctor knew it. "That's rubbish…..if you really didn't feel those things then they wouldn't have shown up under the influence of the parasite. So, be honest with me." The Doctor said firmly but lovingly. "You said that you never would have killed yourself without the parasite's influence…..but you thought about it. Maybe you even tried it"
The Doctor left a long pause, giving Rose a chance to speak but she didn't. When she didn't speak, the Doctor said, "It's alright Rose…..I've thought about it too, you know"
Rose was surprised; she had thought about ending her life because it wasn't worth living. She had once been in such a dark place that she had thought no one cared about her and that with her worthlessness she was going nowhere. Though she had seen plenty of pain in the Doctor's eyes, pain that spoke of things he didn't speak of, she couldn't imagine that he, with the universe as his playground and all the wonderful things that he had done, could ever feel like he needed to end his life, that the world was better off without him. "Why?" she asked, her voice quiet.
"For the same reason as you, I expect" the Doctor said. "Pain…..sometimes your own mind can be your worst enemy. Sometimes the pain gets so much that there doesn't seem to be any other way than to simply end it all. It's a solution but it's not the answer and I hope you would never really do that because you matter, Rose"
"Sure I do" Rose said with a cynical laugh. "Now I do, but I didn't then" It was the truth; she could remember now that her memory had come back, the desperation and fear that had gone into her attempting suicide. At the time in her haze she had been convinced that the Doctor would leave her on her Earth, back with her dull life and lack of potential. With the Doctor she was able to save people and see the universe. She mattered then when she never had before.
The Doctor turned Rose toward him, holding onto her shoulder roughly so she had to look at him. His face was pained and intense, holding back an emotion on his face that she couldn't read.
"Rose, you can't believe that" the Doctor said. "I can't let you believe that the only reason you matter is because you travel with me because that simply isn't true. The goodness in you, the ability to care so deeply, your compassion for everyone no matter who they are is what you are made of. You've always been that beautiful person inside and I have nothing to do with that. You are special, you matter"
Rose started to cry and she didn't know what was wrong with her. Her head hurt like mad and her emotions, though much more stable, were still very suggestible. The Doctor put his arms around her and pulled her to him. She buried her face into his leather jacket and cried until she couldn't cry anymore. She always knew the Doctor cared and he thought more of her than she deserved. But to hear him say it meant so much to her; she knew he thought the situation was serious if he was saying it to her face.
After she had finished crying, she simply lay in his arms, enjoying the feel of his arms around her. She was mortified when she thought about how she had thrown herself at him over the past few days. She was glad that he hadn't commented on yet but she knew at some point they would have to discuss it. Right now she was content to just lie in his arms.
"I'm glad you found me…..I'm glad you stopped me" she said, holding onto his arms as she breathed in the scent on his jumper.
"I am too…if I had lost you Rose…" the Doctor said, his voice breaking. "I owe it to the TARDIS really…..she's the one that told me you were in trouble and where to find you"
"You'll have to thank her for me" Rose said, nestling against the Doctor.
"She knows how you feel" the Doctor said, "She was in quite a state over you"
"She was?" Rose asked in surprise.
"Of course she was…..she cares about you a lot" the Doctor said. "Almost as much as me"
Rose felt a flutter of nerves in her belly; she thought about saying something about how she had tried and somewhat succeeded in kissing him but she didn't. The Doctor cared about her; it wasn't a fact that she felt like she could easily accept but she wanted to. She could tell by his tone that he meant it. "I'm not sure why you want a mess like me around" she said with humorous self-deprecation.
Rose felt the Doctor's hands on her cheeks, pulling her face away from his chest so that he could look into her eyes. "You are hardly a mess Rose" he said with a wide smile. "Remember what I said once…I only take the best. And I've got you"
Rose felt her face blush; she remembered it vividly. She had felt so proud when the Doctor had told Adam he only would accept the best and that she apparently was the best. Rose closed her eyes in embarrassment, finding it hard to look at him. "Doctor…..don't….." she tried to protest the compliment but the Doctor cut her off.
"Rose….don't try to brush this off" the Doctor insisted. He looked away, appearing embarrassed but he continued. "I…..this isn't easy for me to say….all of this is difficult. But I want to tell you because it's obvious from the past few days that you don't know"
Rose felt her heart skip a beat; the Doctor was never sentimental. He never discussed feelings; not even close. His telling her that she mattered and she was important was already so much. What more could he possibly say? "I don't know what?" she asked, feeling a little breathless.
The Doctor paused, a war going on behind his eyes. "You don't know how special you are" he said finally. "You don't know that you are funny and caring and loving. You don't know that you are beautiful…..so beautiful. You don't know that people love you and need you. Worst of all, you don't know that I think all those things about you."
Rose was sure her heart stopped at those words. The Doctor never spoke so openly; surely he couldn't really think those things about her. A time lord, with the entire universe at his disposal couldn't possibly believe that she was all those things. And certainly he couldn't love her. She was about to protest when the Doctor grabbed her arm, pulling her sleeve down to expose her cut wrist. She tried to pull back but he wouldn't let her. When she looked into his eyes, she saw tears. It was something she would never have thought to see there.
"You can't do this" The Doctor said, his finger traced along Rose's scar, his voice was raw, desperate. "You can't do this ever again"
The Doctor was crying now, actually properly crying, tears running down his cheeks. His face was an inch from hers, the emotional tension between them nearly unbearable.
"But you said you almost did….." Rose said, trying to get her arm free. Still no luck. "Why is it so different from me?"
The Doctor's hold on her wrist was strong; it hurt a little bit actually but he was afraid to let go. "It's different because you are the one that stopped me…you are the only thing that stopped me from doing and maybe that's no reason to you but I need you and I can't let you ever do this again. I'm never, ever going to leave you and you can't leave me because I need you too much!"
Rose felt tears on her own face again. Finally, he released her wrist and her hands went to hold his face. "I won't! I promise I won't" Rose said, her voice cracking with emotion, her heart full of sadness and happiness and disbelief and a million other things.
Before Rose saw it coming, the Doctor closed the space between them and kissed her. It wasn't anything like the desperate kisses that she had given him the past few days. It was fast and fiery, full of hands in hair and rolling around on the bed. And it was one hundred percent fantastic.
That night, Jackie insisted that three of them have dinner back at her and Rose's flat. Since she had nearly walked in on his and Rose's wonderful episode in her room, he had thought it best to just agree with her and go. He'd been so happy that he hadn't even minded having Chinese and watching telly; it was domestic but he was over the moon.
Rose was alright…finally she was alright…He was so relieved that she had pulled through fine that he didn't care how long he had to spend here doing domestics. The parasite was gone, Rose was healthy…..she had almost died but now she was alright and that was fantastic.
On top of all of that, he had kissed Rose. This time it had been right; Rose hadn't been infected by a parasite making her do things she didn't really want to. All through dinner he could see her looking at him from the corner of his eye and he was slightly embarrassed by the happy little flutter in his stomach when he looked up and met her eyes. This young, pink and yellow human had affected him in ways that he never would have thought possible. But then again, he'd had an inkling what he was getting himself in from the very beginning. She had always been different; after all, he never asked someone to travel with him twice. Just Rose.
The past week had seemed like an awful nightmare that he couldn't get past. Rose's sudden illness and the horror of her suicide attempt. Even now, it stung his eyes to see the scars still on her wrists. The only thing that helped was the smile that she had on her face. The Doctor had always been afraid something terrible would happen to Rose in their travels. A million different scenarios visited him in his nightmares that ended in Rose's demise. None of them had been compared to the terror of her taking her own life. He still couldn't stop himself from muttering thanks to the TARDIS over and over again for intervention in the matter. The Doctor had got to Rose when it was almost too late.
After dinner was over, the Doctor saw Rose slip out the door and into the hallway. Looking for any excuse to get out of the flat, he followed her. When he stepped out into the hallway, he saw Rose leaning against the railing and looking out at the city. The sun was beginning to set and it cast a bright glow on her skin, the wind blowing slightly through her hair. Though she had been so sick a few days ago, she looked full of color and healthy now though he couldn't help but notice that she pulled absently as the sleeves of her shirt as she looked out. It seemed to be a habit she developing now.
The Doctor walked next to Rose who glanced at him from the corner of her eye. They stood in comfortable silence for several minutes, taking in the sight of the setting sun. The Doctor watched the orange and yellow of the sunset mixing together and wasn't sure that he had ever quite enjoyed an Earth sunset as much as he did this one; he hadn't been this content in a long time.
The Doctor placed his hand on the railing next to Rose's; feeling a tugging somewhere in his chest, he slid his hand over so that it covered Rose's. She surprised him by using his hand to pull him into a deep hug. Rose's hands slipped under his jacket and she pressed herself against his chest, holding so tightly she might have been afraid of losing him. The Doctor wrapped his arms around Rose, breathing in a sigh of relief; everything from the sweet way she smelled to the way he could feel her warmth radiating through his jumper was heightened.
"We're a right mess, aren't we Doctor?" Rose said, with a small laugh, surprising him. She looked up at him but she didn't pull away from the hug. He could feel her fingers moving in gentle circles along his back.
"A mess…..what do you mean?" The Doctor asked. "We're fantastic" He left his arms around her and he was glad when she stayed close to him.
"You think everything's fantastic" Rose said with a small smile. The Doctor was glad to see it.
"But this really is" The Doctor said. Rose smiled like he was teasing but he put his hands on Rose's face and tilted it so that she was looking at him. He wanted her to know that he was serious. "I've been so, so worried about you" he said with emotion. "So very worried. To have to you here well is most fantastic."
Rose closed her eyes, leaning into the Doctor's hands. "So…its gone completely, right?" she asked, a trace of worry in her voice. "It won't come back right?"
"I promise it is gone, removed" The Doctor said. "It's in a jar in the infirmary, if you'd like to see it" He said with humor. He was glad when Rose laughed softly.
"No…I'll take your word for it" She said. She looked up into the Doctor's eyes. She studied him for a long time before she said, "Are you really sure that you want someone broken as me?"
The Doctor gave her a warm smile. "I am completely and utterly sure that I want you Rose Tyler" he said with enthusiasm. "Everyone, on every planet and in every time is broken. But you are the best and most amazing version of broken I have ever met and you are the only one that has ever been able to hold me together" He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. When he looked back at her, her eyes were glassy with tears.
"Really?" She asked, her voice breaking slightly even though it was obvious that she was trying to keep it from breaking. For the first time, the Doctor was convinced that she was actually starting to believe it.
"Really" he said, pulling his amazing, beautiful and perfectly human girl into the warmest hug he could manage.
Well, that's the end! Thanks to everyone that read and reviewed my little fic :)