Part 9: Hold me.
The console room is dark and reeks of desertion; the burnt out panel on the console is still smoking faintly and several of the Doctor's tools lie abandoned on the floor where they were dropped.
"Well?" His voice is harsh and unforgiving, and the room remains drenched in darkness. No lights shine on the console, the central column looks ghostly in its shade.
He circles the room slowly, looking for any sign of life, straining his hearing for any hint of the familiar humming that usually fills the ship. Nothing. The only sound he can hear is the heavy beating of his hearts, and he hears them only because he feels them so painfully tight in his chest.
Then he breaks; he's at the console in one swift movement, griping the side of it and staring into the central pillar as though he can make a change just with the intensity of the anger in his eyes. He starts to pull levers, hit buttons, turns dials violently and without logic and without restraint.
"Come on!" He slams his fist down onto the console. "Where are you?"
There is silence. The air in the room is still and empty and this sends a chill through him. He slumps into a nearby chair, rubbing his hands over his face, tired and defeated.
"Let her go," he pleads, his voice softer. "I know you mean well, but there are other ways. Please…" he knows that his ship is not listening, and his words come out quietly and pointlessly. "You're hurting her…"
He would have given anything to be proved wrong, but the next moment he hears a panicked yell and pounding footsteps, and Jack appears at the door, frantic.
"She's… I dunno, something's wrong you have to –"
The rest of his speech is lost as the Doctor tears past him.
She's still on her bed, her body now thrashing and trembling, hands reaching out for something. He takes her hands in his and climbs on to the bed, kneeling over her, ignoring the blows that her struggling body delivers to him.
His hands on her shoulders, he shakes her, trying to control the violent movements of her body. She turns her head to one side and then the other, the frown on her face deepening, words forming and dying on her lips.
"Wake up." He pushes her into the mattress, desperately trying to keep her still.
Wake up! His words are so strong that he's sure they must have sounded out loud; must be echoing round the walls of her room even now. But Jack, watching helplessly, says nothing.
"No," she mutters shortly, "no."
"Yes." He pushes her harder into the mattress, and she grunts with the force of it.
"Uh… Wh…" he sees, feels the question forming and squeezes his eyes tight shut for a moment, relief and hope colliding painfully inside him.
"That's it, come on, come back to us…"
"What… no!" She thrashes violently against him and he drops down, letting his weight fall onto her, covering her body with his so that she can hardly move at all. She struggles for a moment and then stills.
Come on Rose. He can feel her in his mind, growing stronger, brighter. That's it love, come on.
He reaches for her hands again and brings them up to the pillow, lacing his fingers through hers.Can't…
Yes, you can. Come on, come back. Please.
I bring life. The echo of her voice this time doesn't even come from her, isn't under her control. The words spin around their minds, dancing and mocking, and the Doctor feels fear underneath it all.
He feels that it's hurting her; the touch of her hands seems to transfer everything she's feeling, too much energy running through her and something else that he can't identify, can't quite get hold of. He grasps her hands tighter, trying to draw it out of her and feeling the burning gold light rushing through him. He pushes his body against hers once more, hard, and she jerks awake, gasping as her eyes open and lock onto his. He lets out a breath he hadn't realised he was holding, smiling down at her tentatively.
She looks for a second like she's going to reply, but instead she coughs suddenly and then Jack is there, holding out a glass of water.
The Doctor rolls off her, lying next to her, one hand still holding hers. Jack sits down on the other side of her and for a moment the silence between the three companions is awkward and strained, but then he grins cheekily.
"You know you two, you really oughtta go for drinks or something before you start with the – "
"Yes, thanks Jack."
"Just looking out for my friends," he grins, touching his fingers to his forehead in a mock salute.
"So." The Doctor looks back at Rose, propping his head up on his fist. "What was it?"
"There was…" she frowns, pushing herself up and leaning on her elbows. "It… the dream," she says, her eyes flicking from Jack to the Doctor nervously. "It was like that dream… that dream only I was right there in the centre and I…" her voice is quiet and small though she speaks quickly, and she trails off, studiously avoiding the Doctor's gaze.
"Do you remember what you said?" he asks her softly. He hesitates and then sits up, resting a gentle hand on Rose's stomach.
Jack frowns and shifts on the bed uncomfortably. "Shall I l-"
"No Jack, stay where you are." He glances up at the younger man long enough to flash him a small smile and then looks back at Rose, waiting.
"I don't… no. What?" she asks through a colossal yawn.
Jack smirks. "Must be tiring being unconscious for so long," he grins, and she rolls her eyes.
"You don't look well, Rose."
"I'm fine." She still won't meet his eyes.
"No, you're not. That was a very dangerous thing to do, and if you don't even remember what happened then it was all for nothing anyway…" his voice sounds harder than he meant it to, and she brings her gaze up to meet his, a faint gold light shimmering behind the tears in her eyes.
"I'm sorry," she whispers.
He holds the moment between them, forgetting about Jack for just a second, and then he breaks it, reaching out to her, one hand cupping her cheek gently and the other stroking her hair.
He sighs, looks away and then straight back at her. "Rose…" He kisses her briefly and then rests his forehead against hers. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. I was… I was just worried," he admits, leaning back and glancing at Jack. "You scared us."
"Sorry Jack," she says through another deep yawn.
"Okay Rosie," he laughs. "You should go to sleep. Right?" He looks at the Doctor for confirmation, who nods and stands up.
He half expects her to protest, but she merely curls up on her side and closes her eyes as he folds the duvet over her. She looks peaceful, this time. Calm.
The two men leave the room in silence, Jack pausing to switch off the light as he passes through the door. Out in the corridor, he turns to the Doctor, arms folded, eyes grave.
"What did she say?"
"The same thing she said on Satellite 5 when she brought you back."
"Yeah." He turns and heads towards the console room, sensing somehow that the TARDIS has returned the room to normal.
"You think tha– "
"You may not have been the only one?" Jack nods. "Could be. She'd know." He runs his hand over the console before switching on the monitor, logging on to the TARDIS' computer system. "And she's obviously trying to tell us something…"
"So," Jack says, pulling a second chair up to the console and sitting, waiting for the Doctor to do the same. "We've got some work to do."
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