Disclaimer: I don't own the characters that are recogniseable. Any others are mine.
Notes - This will probably end up very deep, dark and depressing. Will involve panic attacks, flashbacks, rage attacks, attempted suicide, diary entires, and naturally a whole lot of talking. Not all on the Doctor's behalf either. Will go into the Doctor's past and explore that. Will involve Torchwood. Will involve Martha and her family (yes, even Leo who wasn't on the Valiant). Will have Doctor/Rose in a one sided kind of way, since Rose won't be returning in this fic, as it is officially AU from Midnight.
Trigger warning. This fic may trigger.
This fic is a serious look at trauma, what it can do to a person, and therapy as a way to deal with it. NOT a crack!fic. You have been warned.
It had been hours of silence before he had been comfortable enough to move from his seat and grab Donna's hand, getting up and moving towards the room in the leisure palace that the TARDIS had parked herself in.
Midnight was one place in the entire Universe he would never ever come back to. He couldn't look outside without shying away from so much as the slightest dark spot on the diamond formations, just in case it was that creature coming back for him. Without wanting it to, his body started to shake again, with just the memory of fear.
Traumatised, that's what he was. The only thing that had gotten to him more than this had been the Time War. Losing Rose had been bad as well, but that wasn't the same thing. That was grief that filled him and seeped into everything he did, and yeah it had been highly traumatic to him as it happened, but it wasn't based on fear. Well, fear, yes, but not terror.
This was...something he hadn't felt he would ever have to deal with again, and the point of fact that he had dealt with it once before, and only managed to get over the worst of it because of Rose, wasn't helping. Would Donna be able to stand being around him? Could he be around her?
He saw a group of humans that ran the place, knowing that an evacuation had been called, not by him, but by Donna who had the decency to explain what had happened, along with the others who had been on board the shuttle. They were bustling about in rather a hurry, and it took all the self control he had not to run in the opposite direction.
He was frightened of them. A bunch of humans. And he knew it was utterly pathetic and stupid and shameful to even think it, but he just wished then and there that the universe wasn't inhabited by them. Well, all but Donna, whose hand in his was the only thing keeping him remotely grounded right now.
Seeming to understand without a word being uttered, Donna led him well around the other people, and away from the huge cavernous rooms, and into the smaller guest suite that the TARDIS was in, waiting in all her blue glory in one corner of the room, doors opened already as if knowing he just didn't have the strength to go searching for his key and not having the gumption left in his body to do anything but place one foot in front of the other.
He was pulled gently inside; the doors closing behind him of the ships own accord, and led down to the corridors on the other side of the console room, to his bedroom, which was the first door they tried.
The old girl was being overly nice. That meant that he wasn't alright. Usually it was all hiding rooms and being playful, but now she was doing her best to make sure everything he needed was waiting and ready.
His pyjamas were laid out on the bed, a steaming cup of cocoa on his bedside table, waiting to be drunk, and his hearts sank as he noticed that there was a strategically placed bucket on the floor in close proximity to his bed.
Now he definitely knew he wasn't alright. The TARDIS, he knew from personal experience from after the Time War, wouldn't stop his nightmares. She could if she thought he was lagging behind too much in rest, but she understood on some basic level, mainly from having humans aboard for a lot of the time, that nightmares were the mind's way of working through troubles. She saw them as a good thing, a healing thing, and yes, usually they were.
Sometimes he hated having a link with the TARDIS. It meant that she knew his mind. And right now, he was so messed up in his head he could barely think a straight logical sentence enough to even bother speaking.
In essence, right now she understood him better than even he did.
His nightmares were going to be intense. Too intense.
Damn it, he hated being sick. He hated remembering what it was like to be afraid to go to sleep to face dreams. He hated being scared of anything. He hated how Donna had seen what he had, and rubbed his back for a bit before leaving so he could get dressed.
She came back in five minutes later, and he still hadn't moved from his spot, staring down at the floor from his sitting point on his bed and wishing it would open up and devour him.
He remembered the complete and utter feelings of hopelessness, of despair, loneliness and helplessness that had come over him after destroying Gallifrey. What he felt now was exactly like that. Because he had something he had loved for so long ripped out and taken away from him.
He had loved his planet. The people he hadn't been too fond of though and he only really missed them when he realised that with them gone everything was just so...silent. He hadn't realised how much he needed their interfering in his life until it was gone.
Donna took a step towards him, determination flashed on her face. Adrenalin flooded into his system, and before he could stop himself he had ran into his bathroom and into a corner, just hoping to get away from Donna who had done nothing but look at him.
He couldn't catch his breath, and had ended up resorting to having his respiratory bypass system kick into gear so he could get air into his lungs.
It hadn't helped calm the anxiety attack though. It lasted for 10 minutes. Shorter than the last one he had had when the rescue squad had arrived to get them out of the situation.
At least this time he hadn't ended up screaming until he hurt his throat.
He couldn't stop shaking.
Five minutes afterwards, there was a knock on the door. It took him a few seconds to remember he had told her about his last panic attack. How come she always knew?
He cleared his throat, knowing it was now or never to start talking again. "Yeah...sorry. It's not locked." He hadn't even thought to lock the door behind him. If he had been in any real danger, he'd be dead.
His hearts beat a little bit faster after that thought. The door slowly opened, and Donna poked her head in, worry clear in her eyes. "Come on. The TARDIS is keeping your cocoa hot for you. Have that. It'll warm your insides up a bit."
Taking a deep breath, he got up from his awful hiding spot, and made his way back into his room. Donna was right, of course. The cocoa was still steaming, and his pyjamas were still laying there on his bed, ready for him to get into.
He didn't think he had any energy left in him to try, and his hands were shaking too much to attempt buttons right now. To his utter shame, Donna had decided that it was up to her to get him dressed in his night things, and had picked up the shirt, unbuttoning it herself.
He shook his head, in some silent gesture that he didn't want to change clothes; he didn't want to go to sleep. He wouldn't mind the cocoa though, but he found he couldn't hold the cup steady enough to drink it.
Instinct took over. He threw the mug at the wall, not caring about the mess, threw himself on his bed and started bawling like a two year old having a temper tantrum.
He couldn't do anything right! He couldn't have a drink, he couldn't change himself...he really was that hopeless. That helpless. He wondered if this time, he'd ever be able to escape from the shame of it.
He felt like he had been violated. His mind wasn't his, his body wasn't his, and his voice wasn't his. It had taken over, and there hadn't been a damn thing he could have done to stop it, and he tried. So hard he tried to stop it, to force it out, but it was stronger than he was.
He looked at her, tear tracks still wet on his face, though the tears had stopped falling and she must have been able to see the sick realisation in his eyes, because hers widened and she let out an involuntary gasp of knowing. "Did they...?" she asked, gesturing slightly with one hand, indicating his body.
He shook his head. "No, not like that."
The wild thought that he wanted to thump her when the next thing she did was sigh in relief, shook him just as much as the anxiety.
Oh god, he was becoming those humans on the bus.
He buried his head in his pillow, ashamed at the way he was handling this, ashamed at not handling it. How the hell could he have let something like this happen in the first place?! He had shields up to stop this kind of thing from happening, and that still hadn't stopped it.
Had his shields dropped? He did that every now and again, reaching out to try and feel something with that part of himself. Maybe the humans had been right, maybe it had all been his fault.
Donna's hand was rubbing circles on his back, and it was nice, so he let her continue doing it. Sooner than he expected, he was almost asleep, which was weird really as his body was still on an adrenalin high, which he still hadn't come down from.
Slowly and carefully, she undressed him and pulled on his pyjamas. His state of mind was a bit better than it had been, and it didn't so much embarrass him as feel slightly comforting, which was probably the reason why he didn't kick up a fuss about it.
The moment she went to leave though tension ran through his body and he started shaking again. "No! Donna, please don't leave."
She smiled and shook her head. "I'll be back, just getting some more cocoa. It's cold in here."
Oh, yes of course. His room was a lower temperature than the rest of the TARDIS, because it was his. She had complained of it being too cold after she had gotten back on board too, and he remembered that it was because the TARDIS had automatically dropped it for his comfort when he hadn't had a companion with him.
He nodded, and waited and wondered if she had been lying. But she came back a few minutes later, two more cups of hot cocoa in her hands, and a warm jumper on. "How could you not notice how cold it is in here?"
He shrugged, glad that after his little fit he wasn't shaking as bad and could at least drink the cocoa himself. "It's at a natural temperature for me. Gallifrey was a lot colder than Earth."
She nodded, and took a seat beside him on the bed, sipping her chocolate and sighing at the warmth it must be infusing within her. "I'm glad you talked to me today, you know. You don't normally talk about the important stuff."
"I'm crap at it. Really, I am. I've never been able to do so. And believe me, you're not the first to tell me I don't talk about the important things."
She snorted into her cup. "Didn't think I was. Make a habit of it, don't you."
He grimaced. "Yeah, I suppose..."
They lapsed into silence, finishing off their drinks, and he found himself warm and sleepy after it.
"Maybe you should talk to someone about all this crap you don't talk to others about. I mean, you know, a professional."
He dropped his mug and stared at her wide eyed. "What, you mean like a psychologist?"
She nodded, bent down to pick up his mug, and put them both on the bed side table. "Yeah. I was talking to Martha not long ago on the phone. It's kind of nice to have someone who knows about time travel and going into space and aliens and things like that. It was after The Library and I told her about what I said to you, you know, about "Alright" being Time Lord for anything but. She told me you did that to her. Probably did it to Rose too. She said that her family and her, they go to see a therapist that works for UNIT. Something about a...valiant."
The Doctor closed his eyes and took a deep breath, but didn't say anything. He wasn't particularly in the mood for talking right then. Not with this conversation going on. Donna didn't seem to mind. She launched off into telling him more instead.
"Fine, be quiet. But really, it's a good idea. They send this guy out to talk to aliens that are left behind, or have crashed and things like that. So, it isn't like he'd think you crazy for saying you are one. He'd probably want some kind of proof though. Don't worry, it's destroyed afterwards I hear. You know, blood tests if they look human. Pretty sure the two hearts will qualify. Yet again, they do already know you there as an alien, so hey. You're set with that."
He nodded slightly, because UNIT have known for decades that he was an alien. One that wasn't about to go destroying the Earth at any rate. For the most part, he was on friendly terms with them, even if his views did still clash with theirs after all these years. He just really didn't think he'd be able to talk about things like the Time War, or what happened to him today in any greater detail than he already had.
He had locked up the memories of the War so tightly in his mind, that he was afraid to poke at it lest he ripped open the progress he had made in healing that wound. Now he had another thing to do that with.
He had been finding it easier to talk about things he hadn't been able to before. He had sat down with Martha and told her a bit about what Gallifrey looked like. He had told Donna about his kids and how much he missed them.
Maybe it was her empathy shining through, but he found it a lot easier to talk to Donna about things that hurt than any other person he had been with since the War. He hadn't even felt that comfortable talking about things with Rose, and he had loved her.
He shifted slightly. He wasn't too keen on opening those thoughts up, but maybe Donna was right. His hands begun twisting in his lap, showing off how uncomfortable he was feeling with this, but he needed to give some kind of answer, but he really wasn't sure what would do in this scenario. He shrugged and the first thing out of his mouth was such a weak argument against it. "I don't have money...don't you have to pay therapists for their time?"
Donna smiled at him, and he knew that he should have said something else, because she was taking that as an affirmative that he'd go. "Nah, sure they'd make an exception for you. They all already know you're off your rocker, and they still idolise the ground you walk on."
"Off my rocker?"
She nodded. "Oh yeah, completely crazy you are, but maybe if you just talk about the things that you don't you'll feel better."
He made a face, because he wasn't sure if it was just her trying to make him smile or if he really was crazy, though he did act a bit like it sometimes. In this incarnation he wore mania like a comfortable pair of well worn shoes, but that didn't mean he was.
He knew his last form was a bit of a nutter. Yet again, he had survived a War that had wiped everything about his people out of the time line. He had good reason to be nuts he thought.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, and looked out of the corner of his eyes to Donna sitting next to him. "I...wouldn't know what to do or say or anything like that..."
She turned to him and she was beaming at him. "Oh the first time is a bunch of questions. Just answer truthfully and go with it. It's after that you can worry."
He looked at her with an eyebrow raised and she shrugged. "My dad died a few days after the Christmas you met me. Mum was a wreck for weeks, Gramps had come to live in, and I was still upset about Lance. Needless to say that after a while they told me to go see a shrink. Have you ever tried disobeying my mum?"
He couldn't help it, a small chuckle made it past his lips and he shook his head. "I confess, since meeting Rose's mum, I'm a little scared of meeting them. Since Jackie, I've had every mother of a Companion slap me. I don't want to make it another one."
"Don't have a lot of luck with meeting the family then?"
He shook his head. "Not really. Wonder why I even started meeting the families of my Companions in the first place. Rose's was the first..."
"It's 'cause you're lonely Doctor. Everyone wants to feel like they fit in somewhere."
He snorted and shook his head. "Yeah, well, maybe that's the problem. I never have fitted in anywhere. Not even at home did I fit in."
She nudged him and put a hand around his shoulders. "Yeah, that's probably why you have shocking people skills."
He managed to look offended, even though he knew she was telling the truth. "Oi!"
She didn't bother giving him an answer to that, instead she squeezed his shoulder, and pushed him slightly to lie down. Even though he still didn't want to go to sleep, he was finding that the cocoa was doing its job a bit better than he thought it would and he yawned widely as he noticed his exhaustion.
"I'll stay with you until you're asleep, but don't expect to find me in here when you wake up. I do have to sleep myself you now."
He grumbled slightly, his eyes closing and staying that way. He was left alone then, in the dark, in the cold, in the diamonds...
He woke up screaming an hour later, absolutely sure that the creature, whatever the hell it was, was in the room with him, hiding in a corner, ready to throw him out of an invisible airlock in the TARDIS. It took him a few long minutes to remember that his ship would automatically keep him in and safe from any outside influence, and would have alerted him to an alien presence that wasn't Donna.
He spent the first 10 minutes after waking trying to keep the cocoa he had drunk in his stomach. He managed it which he was very thankful of, though he thought it rather nice that even though the panic of the nightmare had faded, the bucket was still there, just in case.
The way he was going with his track record of panic attacks that day, anything could set one off. The nausea was bad enough without having to suffer through more panic.
He got out of bed and almost ran to Donna's room, needing the heat, comfort and friendship she could give him. He found her in bed, not asleep, not yet as it was still early in the night, but reading. Since meeting Agatha Christie, Donna had been methodically going through his book collection of hers.
She looked up and frowned at him, and he just couldn't take that look right then. He turned tail and decided that he'd spend the rest of the night period working on the TARDIS. Unfortunately, the TARDIS had ideas of her own, and wouldn't let him anywhere near her circuitry.
Donna found him a minute after he had found out his ship's disobedience, and stopped him from going after the hammer. Not the mallet, which had a softer head than a normal one would, but the steel headed hammer, used only for repair work.
"Doctor, stop it. Come on sit down over here and calm down a bit. Hurting the TARDIS isn't going to change anything."
He blinked and the hammer fell out of his hands to clatter loudly on the grating. He looked down at his hands, before covering his face with them. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, I'm sorry!"
The TARDIS gently hummed in his head in what was meant to be a comforting gesture, but with his mind so utterly wrecked from something that had gotten inside and done god knew what, he could feel his body start to shake again, and hoped to whoever was listening that he wasn't about to have another panic attack.
The link with his ship softened to the point where he could only just tell that she was there, but nothing else was coming through. It felt like a part of him had been ripped away.
"I'm sorry, girl, but I can't...I can't..."
The monitor lit up with Gallifreyan words that made no sense to Donna who had stated time and again that she thought the screen was broken because it didn't translate what she thought of as a bunch of circles and lines. He hadn't bothered telling her why.
The TARDIS was trying her best not to upset him further, could still communicate even if her point wouldn't get across as clearly without feeling it, and she was telling him not to apologise. To a point, she had felt the attack as it had happened, and was just as worried as Donna seemed to be.
His ship sounded more and more like his Companions, it was mildly frightening...
He took himself over to the seat, sunk down onto it and kept his head buried in his hands. "What's wrong with me?" he whispered, and though he hadn't meant to say it out loud, he soon had been wrapped in a hug by Donna.
"Come on, don't think like that," she said and he couldn't help but wish that there was any other way to feel.
"I can't help it..."
The hug tightened around him and he heard Donna sigh before she planted her chin on the top of his head. "I know."
And maybe she did.
He took a deep breath, leaned into her arms and decided that he was comfortable there. "Donna...I'm afraid." He knew the instant he had said it that she would take it the wrong way, but didn't elaborate on what exactly he was afraid about, but in the end it really didn't matter. Her arms squeezed gently for a few seconds, before she let go of him.
She looked at him and smiled. "I know."
In that second he decided that he would take Donna up on her suggestion.