Summary: They say silence is a great healer. The Doctor says that's rubbish. He's tried silent, he's tried enigmatic, he's tried avoidance. None of it has ever worked. He just misses her more now.
When Amy sleeps, he paces the halls. He wanders in search of nothing, just filling his head with the silence he prefers. This version of his TARDIS is quieter, more apt to shut down and rest during what Amy refers to as "night time".
He misses the noise.
He misses a lot of things.
But that's not the real reason he wanders. That's not the reason he fills his mind with silence. The reason he preoccupies himself with repairs that aren't necessary and books he can virtually quote.
Sometimes he stops. Three doors down, left at the laundry, past the kitchen, fourth door on the left. He stops there. Stops and stares at the one door he can't bear to open.
The silence helps to fight back the memories. It reminds him that no one else is there.
But this night, this night is different. Tonight he thinks that he won't stop by that door. Tonight he thinks he'll walk straight past it and go to the library. He'll find a book that he's never read, or at least hasn't yet memorized. Tonight he won't bothered by the silence.
It doesn't happen.
Because tonight Amy couldn't sleep. Tonight Amy decided to walk the halls of the TARDIS, to explore her new, temporary home. Tonight it was Amy who would stop and stare at the door, who would wonder at the circular carvings that had been burned into the wood. Tonight Amy would push open the door the Doctor hadn't dared to touch in over three years.
And tonight the Doctor would find her standing in the centre of the room. Of her room. Of Rose's room. Of the one room no one was ever meant to enter, to look upon, to ruin the image of Rose standing there, cheeky smile and mussed hair. Amy was not meant to be in there.
He's never used that tone with her. Never commanded her to do something; never dared her with his voice to defy him.
"Get out. You shouldn't be in here."
"Who's room is this? Is this River's?"
"I said get out. Now."
His voice is ice. His vision blurred by fire. He wants her gone. Needs her to leave.
But she won't budge, won't leave out of fear. He's scaring her and he doesn't care.
"Doctor, you're scaring me."
"You shouldn't be in here."
"Why not? What's wrong?"
"This is private. Get out."
His words are softer. Sad, no longer furious. That seems to be enough to get her to move.
But he doesn't notice as she moves around him, as she tries to exit without touching him, without inciting another wave of fear. He doesn't notice the quiet of the room, the silence dulling his mind. He doesn't notice the pain he feels.
He never came into this room. Not ever. After she was taken, he closed the door and left it closed. He didn't want to see it.
Maybe he was afraid that seeing it so empty, so silent and dull, would make it real. Rose was gone. Forever.
Maybe he didn't want to be reminded of her. Didn't want to see all her clothes, see the pictures they took and the memories she had left with him.
Maybe he didn't want to forget the last image he had of her in there. A self assured, beautiful woman, laughing as she got her things ready. Still happy from their last adventure, excited to see her mum. Hair a bit mussed and smile firmly affixed to her face.
They say silence is a great healer.
The Doctor says that's rubbish.
He's kept silent, pushed it all down and hid away his thoughts and his pains. He's tried silent, he's tried enigmatic, he's tried avoidance. None of it has ever worked.
He thought that he was over her. He thought that he had moved on, moved past her. He thought a regeneration would be enough to snap those neurons out of place, to make him stop feeling all these things that he's been feeling for her.
It didn't work.
He just misses her more now. And he's better at ignoring it. Maybe.
The console room has always been the best place to go to think, to forget, to ignore, to do anything really. And that's why he went back there now.
Of course she's there. Doing the same maybe. Or waiting for him. Neutral territory.
"So... you wanna talk?"
"Well tough. Who's room is that?"
"Was. And it's none of your business."
"Well," she walks in front of his way, keeping him from getting to the console, "You don't get a choice. That room looks like a shrine. You're waiting for someone to come back. Who is that?"
"An old friend. And she's not coming back."
"Who is she?"
The word's a whisper. A strange raspy sound. Amy thought that, maybe, this is what he sounds like when he cries.
"She's a friend. Was a friend. A good friend. But she's gone and that's that."
"Obviously not. Better friend than me?"
"That's not a fair question."
"That's a yes."
"No it's not. You're a different kind of friend."
"She was a girlfriend? How many of them do you have!"
"No, she wasn't a girlfriend. She- she's... she was just... Rose. She..." He prefers the silence method. But maybe it's time to tell this story. "She saved me. In so many ways... She was my best mate. She travelled with me for a long time."
"Why did she leave?"
"She didn't... She was taken away from me. By chance." He tries not to think of that day, what happened. He tries not to remember the fear on her face. He tries not to think of the anguish in his heart as he watched, powerless to help her. He tries not to cry as he remembers.
"Taken where? Couldn't you save her?"
"She was safe. Stuck in an alternate reality, but safe. With her mum and dad... and Mickey. Didn't need to be saved."
"She's still there?"
"Yeah..." There's more story in his sigh, more he wants to say, but he's sure that the words would just blur into nonsense.
"You can't travel to other realities."
"No, not since... No."
"Not since what?"
They're always so curious, his companions. So many questions. Too much stubbornness. His next companion will be a mute.
He can feel her eyes burning into his neck. Can feel the next question on her tongue and empathy in her heart. He knows that she means well. He also knows that she's just selfishly curious.
"So what will happen to Rose in the alternate reality?"
"She'll live her life with him." He didn't mean to say it like that- with that accent on "him" and a scowl on his face. He didn't even mean to bring up "him", the man who got everything. The perfect version of him. He hates him.
No, not hate- he saves that for the Daleks. He envies him. He's eternally jealous of him. And he hates him, just a little bit.
"Whom and it's not important."
"Yes it is. This is bothering you. You can talk to me, get it all off your chest. Vent to your heart's desire."
"I don't want to vent! I don't want to talk about Rose or my clone or the life he gets or what I gave up! I don't want to talk about everything I've lost! I just want to move on!"
Where that explosion came from, he really doesn't know. Because he spoke honestly- he didn't want to talk about it. He never had wanted to talk about it. He wanted to forget, to move forward. He almost wanted to erase Rose from his memories, to erase that pain from his hearts, but he'd never be able to do something so awful.
He can tell that he shocked her. He can tell that he's scared her again- she certainly didn't expect one harmless room, one old friend to make him so angry, to bring out a rage he hasn't allowed himself to feel in years.
She's silent for a long time. A word is trying to form on her lips and he wonders which part of that outburst has stuck in her mind. He images it will be "clone".
"What did you give up?"
Guess he was wrong.
"I gave up Rose."
She's confused; he doesn't blame her.
"But I thought you said she was taken. It wasn't in your control."
He doesn't want to talk about this. He doesn't want to think of Canary Warf, of the Dalek invasion, of Bad Wolf Bay. He doesn't want to talk.
And yet he does. "The first time it wasn't. She chose to stay with me, to help me, while her friend and parents went to the alternate reality. She helped me get rid of the Daleks and the Cybermen but she slipped. She lost her grip and almost fell into the Void. But her father saved her, brought her to live in the alternate reality... I burnt up a sun to say goodbye." He wonders if it sounds poetic to Amy, what he just said, because it just sounds desperately stupid to him.
"When the Daleks tried to destroy all of reality, they broke down the walls between universes. They let Rose travel from her reality to ours... She found me. She tried so hard and looked for so long, and she found me..." He tries to smile with the memory. He tries to grab a hold of that flicker of hope and elation and something else he refuses to name, but it slips away. "Through... freak actions, a clone of me was created. But a human close- a human Doctor. He was... exactly perfect for her. Almost exactly me, a few quirks different. One heart. One life."
He pauses to see her reaction. Hopes she doesn't have any questions. Then he continues.
"I could have taken her with me. We could have travelled together, forever, just like she wanted. Like she promised. The old team. I wanted that so badly. But I needed to do what was best for her. She could live on with her family, with the clone. He could give her a proper life, one she deserved. Kids and all that. She didn't need me, not any more... I had a chance to... I could of... It doesn't matter."
"Could have what?"
Old eyes meet young and, for a long time, he just stares at her. He wants to say it. Wants to admit what he should have said all those years ago. What he never got the chance to say the first time. He wants Amy to know everything about Rose, everything about how wonderful she was. How she reminds him of her. How torn he was when she left. How much he-
"Told her what?"
His lips part and his tongue moves forward to form the words. But he has no air to say them. No will to make it happen.
He just shakes his head.
"That you loved her?" It wouldn't have taken a genius to figure that out, and yet he's surprised that the words came from Amy's mouth. He just looks at her with nothing to say. "You still love her." Something seems to break in Amy's face. A ghost of confusion clouds her eyes. "What about River?"
He wants to laugh at that. Wants to break down in tears at the absurdity. He barely knows River. He's barely thoughts about the extent of the relationship he will one day have with her. He can't stop thinking about Rose. Can't move past her. Can't think of anyone as more than just a passing friend. Because he misses Rose.
"I don't know," he finally admits.
"Can you burn up another sun? Talk to Rose?"
He shakes his head. Oh, of course he could. He knows that there are still some cracks out there, still sealing up. He knows he could do it. Knows that he's been tempted in the past. Knows that he has so much he wants to say, so much he wants to check up on.
But he won't. He won't for the same reason he won't walk through that door. Won't speak her name. Won't ever admit-
"Nah. Besides, we've got better places to go today! Have I taken you to Women Wept yet? Or Barcelona? Oh! How about to see the Beatles? That would be fun, yeah, the Beatles I think today."
He thinks she lets him off easy, that she'll leave him be for a time. She's not done talking about Rose and neither is he. Maybe it is time to talk. Maybe his regeneration did jiggle around a few neurons, just not the ones he was expecting.