The TARDIS at Night

The older he got, the younger he was; grandfather, father and now the Doctor seemed to be playing older brother to his companions, all quite capable of taking care of themselves, but deciding that they'd be better off listening to him. Most of the time.

He knew what family was, and his family travelled with him, the only one that he ever needed. But he wasn't quite sure what to do when he discovered that one of his family had been trying to kill him.

He didn't need much sleep, so he paced the dim corridors, murmuring occasionally to his ship.

The Doctor's first instinct was to leave Turlough alone, to let him come to terms with his decisions in his own time. But his own concerns were surreptitiously pushing themselves through his thoughts, demanding answers, and he found himself hovering outside Turlough's door.

And so recently it had been Adric's door. It was Tegan who had given Turlough this room, recalled the Doctor. As if she had immediately decided that she was never going to like him, and had given him this room so she'd always have a reason to think of him as an intruder.

He knocked gently, and poked his head around the door without waiting for a response.

Turlough was curled on top of his bed, eyes closed, breathing slow. The Doctor frowned, knowing that he should leave.

Turlough was clearly exhausted, his pale skin emphasising the dark circles under his eyes. And though he still wore his old school uniform, the blazer had been flung over a chair. Without it, he looked even thinner, more vulnerable. There was movement beneath his eyelids; he was dreaming, but from the slight frown creasing his forehead, the Doctor guessed that he had found no comfort there.

One arm was bent under his head, cushioning it, the fingers tightly curled into a fist. Even now he had a strange sort of tightly wound pride, and, left to himself, he would bury this whole…incident along with the rest of his past.

The Doctor took a deep breath and sat down on the chair by the bed. The long creak of the age-old springs was enough to wake Turlough. His eyes opened, bright blue and fixed on the Doctor.

His brow creased, as he struggled to sit up. "Is something wrong?" he asked, his voice too loud. "Has the TARDIS landed?"

The Doctor shook his head. "No," he said. "I just thought that we should talk."

"Oh." Turlough turned his head away, and slumped awkwardly back down onto the bed. For a few minutes it seemed as though he would simply go back to sleep, having silently dismissed the Doctor from his thoughts.

But eventually he said, "Do we have to?"

"I thought that you might have some questions," the Doctor said gently.

For a long moment Turlough stared at him, unblinking, as though trying to decide whether or not the Doctor was joking. "I tried to kill you," he said.

"Yes, well, we all make mistakes." He reached out a hand, and placed it over Turlough's, clasping it firmly in his grasp. "And I did forgive you."

Turlough looked down at his hand, as though it belonged to someone else. "I wouldn't," he muttered. "I wasn't even very good at it."

"Obviously," said the Doctor dryly, refraining from a smile. His expression became serious again. "But I'm inclined to believe that's because you didn't want to go through with it."

"What was it?" asked Turlough quickly. "Enlightenment, I mean? What did I give up?"

"The choice was always more important than the object," the Doctor told him.

"I know. I remember. But what was it?"

"The same," the Doctor said with a shrug. "Choices: the power and the freedom to make them."

"And the wisdom?"

"No, I'm afraid not. Though that might have come in time." He paused. "It was never meant for Eternals though, or Trions."

Turlough's grip tightened, his eyes drifted towards the corner where he kept his easel, his watercolours, his oils and brushes and half-finished paintings. "It was beautiful," he said. "I could feel it, inside my mind. Warm, and calm, and glowing. It was perfect." He paused, and flexed the fingers of his other hand, staring at the tiny burn scars that had been the price of his communication with the Black Guardian. "Exactly like the Guardian's crystal."

"Not quite," corrected the Doctor. "The Guardian's was lying." Turlough's fingers tightened around his, and he lowered his eyes.

He's deceived so often, the Doctor realised, that he expects nothing but deceit in return.

"Doesn't matter," Turlough said, his head shaking a little. "I couldn't have," He paused, taking a faltering breath. "I was never very good with guilt; I just wanted to get off that stupid planet."

"I know the feeling," the Doctor admitted, reaching out. "It seems to be a popular world for exiles."

Turlough met his eyes, understanding dawning. "Not just a renegade then?"

The Doctor shook his head. "I'm afraid not. Put on trial and sentenced to exile." Turlough's features tightened, almost imperceptibly. "For interfering," added the Doctor with no small degree of relish.

"Doesn't seem to have changed you much."

"Only my perspective."

"I still just want to go home, I think."

"Even after they left you on Earth?"

"I don't think I have anywhere else to be," said Turlough. "And this is a time machine…" The eager tone trailed off as he caught the Doctor's expression.

"I won't judge you on your past," he said. "But I won't help you to change it either."

There was an uncomfortable silence that stretched for several long moments, before Turlough said, "How's Tegan?"

For the briefest moment the Doctor look surprised. "She'll be alright. She's been through worse."

"But the Mariner…he got inside her head, read her thoughts…"

"Like I said," insisted the Doctor, "she's been through worse."

The silence again, and the Doctor realised that his fingers were still laced through Turlough's, but it was his fingers that were clenched tightly around the Doctor's hand.

"I know you two have your difficulties," said the Doctor, finally. "But this is my ship, and you are welcome here for as long as you choose to stay."

"Thank you," said Turlough, in such an off-hand way that it was obvious how much he meant it.

"You should sleep," the Doctor told him.

Turlough shrugged. "I'd rather not. My subconscious doesn't seem to be a very happy place, at the moment."

"Then you should rest," said the Doctor. He stood up, but still did not release Turlough's hand. "Come with me."

They moved together through the corridors, lights dimmed for the TARDIS's artificial night, but there was still enough illumination to see. Turlough had explored a great deal of the TARDIS during his first few days aboard, usually under the watchful eye of the Black Guardian, but this area was new to him.

Finally the Doctor stopped, pushing open the single door at the end of a long, lonely corridor. The room before him smelt of roses and was a pale, softly glowing pink.

As soon as Turlough stepped inside, he felt a calmness descend over him. His thoughts stilled, and he wasn't quite so afraid anymore.

"It's not quite as good as the original," said the Doctor apologetically. "I'm afraid that was destroyed some time ago. I've been working on this new one whenever I've had a spare moment."

"I don't understand," admitted Turlough. "What is it? I feel so…different."

"A zero room. We're cut off from the outside universe. It's usually used when a Time Lord has a regeneration crises, in order to help the process along; help him organise his thoughts." He looked down at Turlough, standing beside him, his eyes wide. "It's also useful when one has some reflecting to do."

Turlough stepped further into the room, closing his eyes and breathing deeply.

Quietly, the Doctor left the room, closing the door and leaving Turlough to his thoughts.