So, here's another one-shot. Don't own the Doctor. If I did, he would be mine and mine only. I'm allowed to dream, right?
The Doctor's eyes slid open. Why had he woken? He sat up, casting his eyes around his darkened room as they slowly adjusted to the gloom. Nothing seemed to be out of place, and there was no sound that he could hear from where he was. His eyes caught a brief flicker of a light in the corner. The TARDIS? Had the TARDIS woken him? Why would she do that…?
The light flickered again. She was telling him something. He watched the corner for a moment, before swinging himself off his bed and shrugging on his jacket from where he had discarded it before he fell asleep the night before. After a moment's hesitation, he decided against shoes, as barefoot was quieter down the TARDIS' halls.
Screwdriver…sonic screwdriver…where for art thou sonic…there, in his pocket. Good. Just in case. Creeping down the corridor, which had been lit dimly by his ship when he stepped into it, the Doctor still couldn't hear anything. He paused outside the door to Rose's bedroom, but all was still within. He placed a hand on the door, but decided against entering. Best not to disturb her.
Continuing to the console room (as the TARDIS was lighting the appropriate corridors whenever he came to a junction, so as to illuminate the path to whatever was wrong, and he had soon recognised the path he was treading) the Doctor wondered what could be so wrong to make the TARDIS wake him.
Had someone come in? No, they were in the void…an emergency signal of some kind? Possible. He stopped as he heard a noise ahead. An unusually loud and sharp intake of breath, shaky and unstable. Rose.
So she wasn't asleep, as he had thought. She was up, awake, and in the console room. Why? She usually slept well. Mind you, the events of the past few days had definitely been taxing for them both. An impossible planet, Satan…the Doctor suppressed a shudder as he remembered Scooti's lifeless body floating away towards the back hole. The entire ordeal had been unnerving.
The Doctor was facing the door to the console room, unsure of whether to enter. Rose was up, yes, but she had not come to him – whatever it was, why ever she had woken, she had let him sleep. Maybe he should leave it that way. Maybe she didn't want to be disturbed. But then again, he would've continued to sleep had it not been for his ship – the TARDIS obviously thought Rose needed him. If he couldn't trust his ship's judgement, then what?
He pushed the door open. The console room was dimly lit with the usual greeny-blue light, and everything appeared still. Apart from Rose, that is. He could see part of her, where she was sitting on the floor grilling, leaning against the console itself. Her knees were up under her chin, with her arms wrapped around them. She had been crying – telltale marks of dried tears adorned her cheeks.
She had been in bed, the Doctor saw, as she was wearing pyjamas. He suddenly thought of what he himself must looks like – ruffled pinstripes and no shoes. Biting back an embarrassed laugh, the Doctor stepped into the room and closed the door softly behind him. Rose looked up at the noise.
He smiled at her, coming over to lean on the railing across from her. "Can't sleep?"
She wiped her eyes hurriedly. "No…I mean yes…"
The Doctor arched an eyebrow as she looked back up at him, tears still imminent in her eyes. "Are you alright?"
Rose bit her lip. "I had…oh god, it sounds so childish…I had a bad dream. A nightmare." She dropped her eyes from his. "That's all. That's it, stupidly."
"What was it?" the Doctor asked quietly. He knew Rose – a nightmare would have to be pretty bad to do this to her.
Rose opened her mouth to speak, but as she recalled the dream to explain it, emotion took over and she started crying again, burying her head onto her curled up knees. She heard the Doctor move, and felt his arms around her as he sat next to her. She couldn't stop crying…she wanted to be strong…but how can you be strong against the dead?
They sat together, leaning against the console, as she cried. The Doctor let her sob in his arms, knew this was what she needed. He didn't know how a dream could be so bad, but was now thankful the TARDIS had woken him. She had needed him.
Slowly, Rose's sobs quietened as she composed herself. Raising her head to stare forward, she whispered, "I dreamed of him. Toby. I dreamed of his death…he was screaming…" She looked like she was about to cry again, but after a moment she look a breath and continued to talk. "Toby and the Beast. I…I killed him, Doctor…" A few tears slipped down her cheeks.
The Doctor tightened his embrace. "Rose, you didn't kill anyone."
"I did! I watched him get pulled into the black hole…"
"No, Rose. No, you didn't…" He tried to calm her as she started to shake again, stroking one hand down her hair. "Toby died as soon as the Beast first possessed him. The Toby we knew was dead throughout the whole ordeal."
Rose didn't seem to be listening. "I'm a murderer. His blood is on my hands." She looked at them as if she expected them to be stained red. It was all her fault. He had died in front of her…because of her…
The Doctor put Rose's hands between his own. "Rose, look at me."
She closed her eyes to him, trying to block the screaming.
"Look at me."
She did so, flicking her eyes open and meeting his gaze.
"Rose Tyler. You did not kill him. Toby was already dead, long before you did anything. All you did was save the universe. You saved Zach, and Danny, and yourself. You rid the universe of the most feared and dreaded demon in mythology and religion. I'm telling the absolute truth. You are not a murderer, you are a hero."
He kissed her forehead gently. "Don't let this weigh on your mind. Nightmares may be scary, but they can't hurt you. Now, tell me your dream."
Rose nodded, her lips pressed tightly together. "I was…I was on the ship. Their ship, the rocket. But I was in the captain's chair, flying it, and I was alone, right? And Toby…Toby was outside the window. Like, normal Toby. And he was screaming…" Rose lapsed into silence. The Doctor waited for her to go on.
"I couldn't help him. Then the… the black hole behind him turned into the Beast…it…oh, god…it consumed him and started talking about how I'd murdered him. How I killed an innocent man…and you were there…"
She looked at the Doctor in fear, moving out of his arms and standing, fingers running down her arms in an insecure gesture. The Doctor stood slowly, concern across his face. "Rose…?"
"You said…you said I was a murderer. And you could never forgive me, and how you hated me for it." Tears were running down her face silently at the memory.
The Doctor came over to her and pulled her into a tight embrace. "Rose, you know that isn't true. I can never hate you. And I think you were the bravest human in that rocket. You kept your head, dealt with the Beast. Why can't you see that?" Why can't you see what I see?
Rose leant against him, taking comfort in his presence. There was a moment of gentle silence. "Did I wake you?"
"Nah. Let's just say someone thought you needed help." He pointed discreetly at the console when Rose looked confused. "She woke me. Not you. Why did you come here?"
"I don't know. I needed comfort. Didn't wanna wake you – how stupid, being woken by an ape over a dream. I thought of here – just sorta felt right. It keeps replaying in my head. I shot the window – it was like instinct took over. And I was so depressed about losing you, it felt like it didn't matter." She sighed. "Now I'm gonna wake everyday with the thought that I killed someone."
There was another bout of silence, before the Doctor spoke. "I know how you feel. You think you are responsible for the death of one. Imagine knowing that you killed your entire race. Everyday, I wake from sleep, sometimes from dreams of fire and Gallifrey. It hurts – but then I look at you. You remind me of what I have to live for now. The past should be respected, not forgotten – but not lived in, either."
Rose mentally berated herself. How could she say that to him? The weight of one death against the weight of millions – how could she bring up Gallifrey, albeit unwittingly?
"I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to bring up Gallifrey."
He shook his head. "No matter. But you should know…" he turned to her and put his hand against her cheek. "You saved more people than you lost. Sacrifices have to be made, sometimes…and Toby would've known this. Any little part of him that was still there when the Beast was would have been screaming for death. It wasn't murder – it was justice for the Beast and mercy for Toby." I wish I could say the same for my ghosts…Rose nodded, placing her hand on top of his, finding comfort in the touch. "Yeah. You're right."
The Doctor smiled at her, his brave human. "You go get some sleep, okay?"
"Okay. But only if you do, too. I'm not having you stay here with your own ghosts."
The Doctor gave her a small, sad smile. "Everyone has ghosts. I just have a few more, that's all."
"And then you have somewhere around seven billion people who lived because of you. Remember that, too."
"You know what? You're right." He smiled at her, a smile that reached his eyes.
Rose grinned back at him, taking the lead from the console room and back into the labyrinth of corridors.
They both slept in Rose's bed for the rest of the night, the Doctor's arm draped over Rose, her hand in his; they slept peacefully, serenely and deeply, as their subconscious minds took comfort and pleasure in the nearness of the other.
Well, I'll admit that was a little different to what I expected to write. Ah well. Hope you enjoyed it – reviews appreciated!