Author's Note: One of a few stories found from way back in April '06. Set just after New Earth. Little inspiration in the writing technique from a Stephen King novel I was reading at that time - can't remember which!
She sat with her back to one of the various supports in the control room, staring at nothing and only half-listening to the low, comforting humming of the TARDIS. TARDIS knew how she felt. So did the Doctor, who was leaning against the rail, eyeing her speculatively.
Cassandra had left more than just an echo of herself. In each of them was a faint memory of her, the sick woman and each other. Vague hints of feelings that they weren't quite sure were there. But foremost was the melancholic remembrance of the woman's thoughts as she had spent so long in the 'pods'. The emotions (cold dark need pain) that had flooded through her, and the realisation of what it was to touch and be touched as all thoughts from Cassandra, Rosa and the Doctor had entered and remained with her. The thoughts were not active – they were never active when they were carried through so many people; they stayed lightly in the subconscious waiting to be washed away by fresh memories like footprints in the sand, remaining only until the next wave filled them with new grains.
"Don't let them linger."
Rose lifted her head and allowed her gaze to focus on his face. "Let what linger?"
"The memories. (fear hatred pain need) They'll pass soon. They're only brief insights into other minds. Cassandra's may stay for longer, because she was actively in your mind, but mine and the other woman's will fade soon."
She nodded numbly. "Touch. That was all they wanted."
He strolled over to sit next to her, leaning on his knees to look at her. "Sometimes it's just the simplest thing. The five senses are the most important."
(smell sound light taste)
"But to go that long without ever being touched..."
He raised his hand, fingers splayed out slightly, towards her. She hesitated, then allowed her hand to meet his, (brush skim slide graze feel) fingertip to fingertip, palm to palm.
"It's only human to want to feel Rose. To want to be touched."
(need want feel touch)
But as their hands clasped together and they slipped back into thoughtful silence, he couldn't help but wonder why he was feeling that need too.