Ruby woke up to the sight of stars. She had been too tired to notice them when she had gone to sleep, but as she woke up and turned her head towards the ceiling, all she could see through the glass roof was stars. Even though Ruby knew that it would be nothing more than a projection because according to her watch it was 9 AM, it was still a beautiful thing to look at. The Doctor's entire ship was beautiful from the old-fashioned leather chairs to the console unit. Every single bedroom she had checked out was beautiful, but for some reason this one had appealed to her the most. A part of her almost regretted that she couldn't stay here for longer because she still hadn't made up her mind about what she was going to do next.
Ruby threw the duvet aside and walked into the adjoining bathroom. It had everything she could possibly need: toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, even hair spray. The TARDIS was better than any hotel she had ever stayed at. It really was a shame that she couldn't stay.
Once she had had a shower and changed her clothes, Ruby packed her things into her small backpack and headed out onto the corridor where she started to hear a strange sound. It was almost as if. . .
Ruby stuck her head around the corner and her suspicion was soon confirmed. The Doctor sat on the stairs and during the night he had swapped his burgundy velvet coat for the attire of a homeless person: plaid trousers, an old, faded t-shirt and a hoodie with holes in it. And he also had a guitar propped up on his lap that he was playing at a really loud volume. Thank God the TARDIS walls were apparently soundproof because otherwise she would have been woken up in a really nasty way.
"Do Time Lords usually have a midlife crisis around the age of 2000?" she shouted at him over the sound of the music. What was that? Black Sabbath?
The music ceased and the Doctor raised his head to look at her. A smile spread across his face when he saw her and he immediately jumped into a standing position. "Oh, good. You're up. I've got a surprise for you."
"I hate surprises," she remarked, frowning at the Doctor while he set his guitar aside, propping it up carefully on the nearest chair.
"No one hates surprises," he said and turned around to look at her, "Did you sleep well?"
"Very well," Ruby confirmed with a smile, "Your ship is the best hotel I've ever been to. Five stars."
The TARDIS gurgled in response and Ruby looked up at the console unit.
The Doctor buried his hands deep into his trouser pocket and there was a sort of expectant look on his face as if he was waiting for Ruby to do or say something. She knew she should thank him, but saying thank you would be the beginning of a goodbye and Ruby wasn't quite ready for it yet. She knew she had to leave, but she didn't want to leave right now. Not yet. Not so soon. Once she had stepped out of that box the Doctor would fly off and Ruby would never see him again. The nutter. The weird alien. She liked him despite all of that.
"So, uhm," she paused, "Thanks for letting me crash here."
The Doctor smiled in response. "My pleasure. After all, I've got all those unused rooms."
"You could take turns," she suggested with a laugh, "Sleep in a different room every night."
"Ah, I don't sleep that much," he replied, "Usually I just nod off in my chair for a nap. Or even standing up when a pudding brain is talking."
Ruby giggled. "You're crazy," she said, "I like that."
Without thinking about it any further Ruby stepped forward and flung her arms around the Doctor's neck in a tight hug. He stiffened up under her touch, but a moment later she felt his hands around her back as well.
"Thank you," she repeated in earnest before she released him from the embrace.
The Doctor frowned at her. "I believe you've already said that."
"Not just for the bed," Ruby smiled sincerely, "Yesterday was the craziest day of my life and I'll never forget that. I've learned that aliens exist, that time travel is possible, I've seen Jack the Ripper and Margaret Thatcher and Romans. That is more than most people can say about themselves. Thank you for bringing me along."
"Thank you for coming along."
Ruby sighed as she looked at him. She had to go even though from now on a part of her would always wonder what the strange man in the blue box was up to at the moment.
"Will I ever see you again?" she asked him.
The Doctor responded with a frown. "Are you saying goodbye?"
"Ah, Ruby Smith," he chuckled, "Don't say goodbye. You make it sound so final."
"Okay," he breathed in confusion. What was he on about? Ruby thought she might never find out. "See you later?"
The Doctor smiled and nodded. It was now or never.
Ruby held on tight to her backpack while she turned around and headed towards the door. She couldn't stay. She wasn't even sure she wanted to stay and the Doctor had also said that she couldn't travel with him. It was a goodbye, whether he wanted to admit that or not.
Ruby reached for the door handle of the TARDIS and pulled right before the breath got caught in her lungs at the sight in front of her.
It wasn't 9 AM. It wasn't the street. Not London. Outside the TARDIS, right in front of her eyes, was nothing. Nothing but the infinity of space.
"I did mention a surprise," the Doctor remarked from behind her.
Ruby took a deep breath, trying to wrap her head around the fact that she was in a police box. Floating. In space. She was actually in space. Ruby swallowed hard.
"Surprise abduction more like it," she mumbled.
The Doctor and Ruby will be back soon in the next story "Nemesis": The Doctor and Ruby find themselves stranded on an abandoned spaceship and in the company of space pirates. With the TARDIS refusing to leave and all other exit strategies failing they need to figure out who sent the ship on this course to fly straight into a black hole and what cargo it holds that the creators thought too dangerous to ever escape or fall into the hands of other people.
Thank you for all the lovely reviews! I am so happy that you've enjoyed the story because it's really one that I am immensely proud of. I know that most people don't wanna read sci-fi fanfictions to a sci-fi show, especially if they feature an original character, but thank you so much for giving it a go :) I will post the next Ruby story soon-ish.