Sixth in a series – the sequel to: 'Big Bang', 'Terraform', 'Evolution', 'Plague' and 'Revelations'. Standalone but its getting harder to write them that way so you may want to read the others. Or not...

Disclaimer: Inspired by, dedicated to and in the greatest respect of Doctor Who and Torchwood.


Wil should have been there when the world exploded.

No, really! I suspect you're smirking but seriously, you see, she had a ticket.

Visiting family in Berlin, Wil Beinert had decided to attend a performance by the Berlin Philharmonic. Her little sister, Aloysia, was an oboist with the orchestra and Wil had been looking forward to the concert; a rare treat to watch and hear her sister play.

At an insanely early age Aloysia had picked up a recorder that had been left laying about the house and proved a prodigy. During her childhood she accumulated proficiency in other woodwinds and as a teenager she became a sought after member of various regional chamber groups.

It was a proud day for the Beinert family when Aloysia was engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic as their principal oboe. At only 24 years of age, she was extremely humble about her new, prestigious position as well as her astonishing artistry; her humility was one of numerous reasons she was adored by many.

Her playing was exemplified by the expression of extraordinarily high dynamic and timbral ranges, and her instrument's voice was always majestic and stately. Beyond that, the emotions she kept so carefully controlled in her personal life poured out unimpeded into her music.

She was equally gifted on both the modern oboe and the baroque. One of her most prized possessions had been a fragile historical instrument made in Germany during the late 17th century; usually displayed in a glass case in her apartment, she had recently played it for a recording of Telemann and Vivaldi pieces with The Salzburg Baroque Chamber Orchestra.

Ah, dear reader. You've doubtless noticed the use of past tense – words like 'was' and 'had been' – when referring to Aloysia.

The evening of the concert Wil had unexpectedly been called away to a sick friend's bedside. It was an unwelcome situtation but a 'no brainer' in Wil's mind. There would be other opportunities to see her sister play, and in fact the Berlin Philharmonic would be performing at the Barbican Centre during their upcoming world tour. Wil fantasized about taking Jack and her other colleagues to the London concert and proudly showing off her precious little sister.

So Wil's ticket stayed unused in her bag that evening when, during the opening bars of Tchaikovsky's Marche Slave, the Berliner Philharmonie concert hall exploded, obliterating the orchestra, its conductor, and an audience of over 2000.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch (as they say)…

The Doctor and Rose retreated to what the Time Lord had declared "a happily benign planet." Slowly circling a lonely sun in a distant part of a remote galaxy, he'd characterized it as "safe, quiet and dull," and with no "space monsters." In fact, it had no sentient life whatsoever.

What it did have were joyful little furry creatures with large shiny round eyes living in the tall grasses near where the TARDIS had taken up residence. Rose had christened them "hamsters" although they were not at all even remotely like hamsters ("As good a name as any!" The Doctor pronounced).

They made a sound somewhere between a chirp and a purr, and Rose soon discovered if she sat quietly enough for long enough they would eventually mosey up to her, happily settle into the various nooks and crannies of her body, and fall asleep. She found strange comfort in that – sitting in the sun, hosting one or more small slumbering creatures, and sometimes closing her own eyes and dozing off, too.

It was blissfully peaceful.

For The Doctor peace and comfort were not so easily attained.

Rose and he had discussed at length, perhaps ad naseum, what had happened to him on the Shrake homeworld. Thankfully, at least in Rose's mind, The Doctor did not clearly remember much of what surely had been a terrible and terrifying experience.

It was a blessing, Rose believed, to not be plagued by horrors beyond imagining.

But while the florid bruises slowly dissipated and he regained some of his lost weight, the color in his cheeks failed to return. And his eyes, instead of their usual bright curiosity and high humor, were dark and sad – even haunted at times – haunted especially at those times he thought she wasn't looking.

Rose noticed he spent a lot of time by himself, and he slept more than he ever had in the past. Never overtly excluding her, he would go for long walks on his own – walks sometimes lasting many hours. Once he was gone all night and Rose became frantic with worry. He returned at sunrise the next morning, full of apologies that time had simply gotten away from him while he was walking beneath the constellations of their current home.

Chin resting on open palm, he would sit alone for long periods of time in the TARDIS, his legs spread out across the floor and his back against a wall. To be sure, he was looking inward instead of outward, and Rose found herself wondering what it was he saw.

In their new open environment of full disclosure she knelt down beside him on the floor one day and asked what he was 'staring' at.

"Nothing," he morosely responded. "I don't see much at all. If anything, it's emptiness. Not darkness or light. Not good or bad, happy or sad, right or wrong. Everything is just gray… Just a lot of nothingness…

"Ah, Rose, I don't know; I don't feel any pressing need to over-analyze or push myself in one direction or another. In fact, I don't seem to feel much at all." He inhaled slowly, paused and then continued.

"It's just that I'm so tired and this," he opened his arms wide and looked down at himself, "seems to be the only thing I have the energy to do right now."

She looked at him, smiled, and stroked his hair.

At first, and for quite a long while, she hopefully thought the sleep, the solitary walks, and what she imagined was meditation, were all part of his healing process.

But then she became less sure as further signs of recovery failed to materialize.

So Rose found herself, one sunny day, laying on her back in an aromatic field not far from the TARDIS, her knees up in the air and a 'hamster' snuggled between her waist and the inside of her elbow, wondering what she could possibly do with a clinically depressed Time Lord.

During one of their earlier conversations The Doctor had told of his concern for her after they'd left Wil for dead in the Brave Woman galaxy. He had known finding "outside" help for Rose's declining mental health would be impossible, and that it was up to him alone to make sure she got the support and care she needed.

It had been an odd and uncomfortable discussion but eye-opening nonetheless. Rose had never seen things in quite that light before. Most people had friends or family they could go to when they needed to talk about their troubles. For her, she could count the number of such people on one hand – in fact, on two fingers of one hand. Besides The Doctor himself, first she had her mum, and second she had Jack. Neither of them, for wildly different reasons, were ideal confidants.

The Doctor, as far as she knew, had even fewer. Other than her, he had Jack. And Jack, because of his intense and complicated relationship with the Time Lord, was a potential land mine when it came to being considered an intimate.

It was not as if they couldn't trust Jack Harkness, Rose believed. It was more like Jack couldn't trust himself when it came to The Doctor.

Then Rose remembered Wil Beinert. In the grand scheme of things, she hadn't known her for very long, and their history had been nothing if not complex. Still, when she reflected on the woman, the resultant feelings were overwhelmingly warm and pleasant. A good sign; perhaps Wil could be counted the third in Rose's small and highly prized group of close friends.

It was unclear whether Wil could be included as part of a similar group for The Doctor. While not truly ambivalent, his feelings for her were intricate and multifaceted. Rose had trouble imagining The Doctor confiding in Wil. But she'd been known to be wrong in the past…

Rose sighed and gently shifted her position, trying not to disturb her slumbering little friend.

In the end, the next move would have to be The Doctor's. She would not push or prod him. Her job, right at the moment, was to provide comfort and reassurance. She closed her eyes and found herself wondering what he was currently doing…

As if reading her mind, her furry companion looked up, chirped softly and ran off into the grass. Rose stood, stretched, and headed back towards the ship.