Summary: The Doctor shows Rose a room in the TARDIS he's never shown anyone.
"Doctor?" Rose called, peering into the kitchen. Despite Rose's hope, the kitchen appeared to be empty of any Doctor-like form. There wasn't even a cooling cup of tea on the counter to betray his presence.
In fact, the Doctor was not in any of the rooms Rose had searched thus far. He was not in the console room, the wardrobe, or the med bay. Nor was he in the arboretum, the extinct bird sanctuary, the pool, or the garden – any of them.
Rose found no trace of him in his bedroom either, the sheets on the bed unrumpled and pristine. This was not, in itself, unusual, since the Doctor rarely found a need to make use of his bed, but Rose did find the lack of mechanical parts and grease in the room disturbing. It almost looked like the Doctor had tidied up, something he only did when trying to escape troubling thoughts.
Rose huffed and turned from the bedroom door, closing it quietly behind her. "Where are you?" she muttered. She ran a gentle hand along the wall. "Can you help me find him?" she asked quietly.
The ship hummed in response. All the lights in the corridor in which she stood suddenly went out, save for a single bulb glowing like a beacon a fair distance down the hall.
"Thanks," she said and made her way towards the light.
She had an idea what troublesome thoughts were plaguing the Doctor. Their latest adventure had landed them on Grovox, not in the golden period of enlightenment and culture as planned, but right in the middle of a planetary civil war. The Doctor and Rose both did what they could to bring an end to the conflict, but their efforts fell on deaf ears and hardened hearts.
Not everyone can be saved. And sometimes, people are so hell-bent on destruction that absolutely nothing can stop them.
Afterwards, when they had barely escaped the destruction with their lives, they stood in the TARDIS staring at the rubble that had once been a planet full of life. Rose said nothing, merely held his hand, trying to dispel the shadows behind his eyes through touch.
It didn't work. He stalked off, leaving her standing in the wake of death alone. She didn't wait long before trying to follow.
Rose made her way towards the one door illuminated by the TARDIS. The door was unremarkable, looking like so many others in the ship. Turning the knob, she stepped across the threshold, once more treading bravely into the unknown.
"Oh," she breathed. She stood upon the crest of a mountain range, an entire world spread out before her as far as the eye could see. The sky was orange with one moon hung high and the other just rising with the dawn. In the distance she could see a domed-city, its tall spires majestically reaching towards the heavens.
"Oh," she said again and reached out to prop herself on a nearby tree. The bark felt odd under her fingers and she gazed up into its bough. Silvery leaves shimmered in the light reflecting a kaleidoscope of colors.
But before she could appreciate the view, he was there, towering over her, trying to intimidate. "What are you doing here?" he snapped.
Rose pushed herself straight and looked him in the eyes. "Looking for you."
"Who asked you to?" he demanded, using his body to try and steer her towards the door.
"I was worried about you!" Rose snapped back, easily dodging him. "What is this place?" she asked in a gentler tone. "It's beautiful."
The Doctor paused, crossing his arms protectively over his chest. "A memory," he finally answered.
He was quiet for several moments before his struggle escaped him in one short breath. "I've never shown this to anyone." He looked at her and offered his hand. "It would be you that forces me to bare all my secrets."
She grinned at him and grabbed his hand without hesitation. "So, a memory?" she prodded.
He nodded. "Yes. An image of my home. The TARDIS created it for me after…well, after."
Rose gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.
"It helps me remember," he said. "Because someone should. In the centuries to come Grovox will be explored and remembered. Remembered badly and incorrectly, but still remembered. But Gallifrey…" He trailed off, and Rose could see him struggling with the words. She remained quiet.
"I am the only remnant. Me and the TARDIS," he said. "There will be no archeological missions, no badly written anthropological treatises, no professors arguing pointlessly about what religious significance a garden gnome had to the culture, no type of memory. I destroyed everything in the Time War. Gone. As if it never existed. All to save the universe." His voice grew rough with the emotion he tried to keep at bay.
"Thank you," Rose replied, and gave his hand another squeeze.
The Doctor looked at her in surprise. "What?"
"For this," she gestured with her hand indicating the entirety of Gallifrey. "For showing me. For saving us." He protested; he was a murderer, a slayer of worlds, an unforgivable Time Lord, all things she had heard him say before. She rode over his protests, stating what she knew to be true. "You gave up everything to save us and no one knows. It should be said."
The Doctor stared at her, quieted and speechless for a moment, before the corners of his mouth turned slightly up and he gave her hand a squeeze. They stood together in the growing dawn paying tribute to the selfless sacrifice of an entire world, and when he finally spoke, the shadows she had seen gathering in his blue eyes were not gone, but lessened. "It should be remembered," he said.
"Yes," she said softly, gazing at the glass-domed city glinting in the sunlight and committing it all to memory. "It will," she promised.