A/N: Just something that fell out of my brain last night when I couldn't sleep. Dunno if I'll continue with it or not. This is just sort of how I imagined Rose's initial reaction to... well, you know. She's a rational girl, right?
"So where was I…. Oh that's right! Barcelona!"
At that precise moment about a billion thoughts were trying to force themselves through Rose Tyler's brain; but curiosity about a planet possessed of olfactory-impaired canines was not one of them. Well, to be fair, perhaps it was one of the minor considerations jumbled up in there, but it was rather overwhelmingly shouted down by other such concerns as, 'What the hell just happened,' and 'Dear god I am really freaked out right now.' Her fingernails dug into the coral support column, clinging to the TARDIS for dear sanity as her heart thudded somewhere in the vicinity of her throat.
The Doctor – was it the Doctor? Had to be; he'd been standing right there just a second ago saying good-bye, and then she'd watched his whole body go up in sort of a burning golden light; she'd seen his features contort and resettle themselves, the ears shrink, the hair grow out – and then he was standing there, looking a bit disoriented, and now he was flashing her a big winning smile, and she had no idea how she was supposed to react.
She was spared the decision when, in the next moment, his eyes rolled back in his head and he pitched bonelessly forward onto the metal grating of the floor.
That jolted her out of her state of shock. "Doctor!" she shouted, letting go the column and dropping to her knees beside his prone form. She grabbed hold of his shoulders and tried to shake him awake. The battered leather jacket slid loosely under her hands, now evidently a good size too large for his frame; but no response was forthcoming from the man wearing it. She rolled him over with a grunt of effort and tried very hard not to look at his face as she bent over him and held her breath, listening intently for his own while her fingers probed his neck for a pulse.
She felt the warmth of a faint exhalation on her cheek just a moment before she finally found the trip-hammer thudding of his binary vascular system under her fingers. All right, so he was alive.
Relief, at this realization, momentarily flooded over the other emotions battling for dominance, and then quite naturally turned itself over to annoyance. "Could have given me a bit more warning," she scolded his insensate form, which was now grinning stupidly at the ceiling and offered no manner of witty retort.
This in turn led to a chain of jumbled thoughts. Gave you about as much warning as he could, silly girl. Well no, not really, he'd had, after all, a whole year at least, wherein at any time he could have mentioned, 'Oh by the way, Time Lords don't die, we just turn into different people.' But maybe he didn't want to freak you out. Well, fat lot of good that plan did him, yeah? Well it's not like he was planning to run into a half-million Daleks and…
Rose frowned. And what? She pressed the side of her fist against her forehead, trying to remember. Dammit: she'd been home; he'd sent her home, the great bloody git; the great… wonderful man… he'd sent her away with his TARDIS forever and ever just to save her, and—
Rose didn't realize she was crying until she choked on a sob. She dragged her hand down her face until she was biting down on clenched knuckles, trying to control the great shuddering paroxysms of unexpected grief that wracked her body. He had died for her. She had come back in spite of his selfless attempt to save her, and he had died for her.
Except he hadn't died, had he? She sniffled loudly and wiped her nose with the back of her right hand, the left moving of its own accord to rest hesitantly on his chest. She could feel his hearts racing; feel the gentle rise and fall of his ribcage under her hand as he breathed. Whatever had just happened, it had obviously taken a lot out of him. Maybe he just needed a good solid sleep.
Yes, that was it. He'd rest up, regain his strength, and then he'd wake up and laugh and she'd smack him right across that new face of his for giving her such a scare. This thought was heartening, and she even managed a faint smile as she dared to brush an errant lock of his feathery hair away from his forehead.
It didn't seem quite right to just leave him lying here on the control room floor; but it wasn't as if she could carry him to his room either. He looked a bit slimmer but every bit as tall as he'd always been. If Jack were here they might have been able to manage it between the two of them, but—
Oh, god. Jack.
Where was Jack? She couldn't believe the Doctor would have left him behind. Was he dead, then? Her brain refused to accept that. Somehow the Doctor had beaten the Daleks; so Jack couldn't be dead. Just couldn't. Right. Well, they were in a time machine. Soon as the Doctor was up and about again, they'd go right back to the scene of the crime and collect him. She nodded authoritatively to herself.
In the meantime…
"Sorry Doctor, but you're a bit old to ride piggyback," she told him as she arranged his splayed limbs into more comfortable positions, straightening his legs and folding his hands over his chest. At least eight hundred years too old, she thought, with a slightly hysterical mental giggle. At least now she knew how he did it. Wondered how many times he'd done this in order to get up to nine centuries. At least a couple dozen, she guessed, given the way he ran around looking for trouble.
She chewed on her lip and considered his peacefully comatose form for some moments, then decided she could chance leaving his side for a few minutes. "Don't go anywhere," she admonished, and slipped into the inner rooms of the TARDIS.
The TARDIS, who, bless her old telepathic mechanical soul, knew just what she was looking for, and placed the linen closet just a short jog down the hallway. Beaming mental waves of gratitude to the ship (she hoped), Rose snatched up a pillow and blanket and returned to the control room, arranging the former gently under the Doctor's head, and draping the latter over his body. Not that he ever seemed to get uncomfortably hot or cold; but it just seemed the right thing to do. At least now he looked like he'd just decided to camp out in the control room, rather than collapse there.
At a loss, now, of what else to do, she sank to the floor and sat cross-legged beside him, absently stroking his arm. "I'll be here when you wake up," she promised.
Long before her vigil was through, she had crumpled over and dropped off in exhaustion, her head and one arm pillowed on his chest in a protective curl. The TARDIS considerately dimmed the lights and stilled her engines, leaving the soft sound of her passengers' tandem breaths to echo in the quiet room.