They walked to the medical unit without speaking, Rose could feel the Doctor's fingers tight around her own. Too tight, truth be told, but after the years in the parallel world, maybe it could never be too much again.
She sat on the bed in the medical bay watching him as he moved around the room. 'Doctor…' she said hesitantly. She saw him stiffen, but he kept his back to her. She went on, 'Are you okay?'
'Am I okay? He repeated. 'You were dragged across time and reality – not to mention the void - by a key and you're asking if I'm okay?'
He just knew she was shrugging as she said, 'Yeah.'
He turned around and smiled at her ''Course I am.' He moved over to her and jumped up on the bed beside her, fiddling with something in his hands and swinging his long legs gently. Rose looked down at his trainers.
'How did I get here?'
He didn't answer for a long moment, and when he did, his voice was low. 'The TARDIS was afraid, so very afraid, so she reached out. Couldn't find me, didn't want to – I let him steal her, let him cannibalise her. So she reached further than she should, calling for another TARDIS, probably.'
'But you said there aren't any more TARDISes,' Rose said, still watching his shoes.
'No. No more TARDISes, no more Time Lords. She found the next best thing…'
Rose looked up to find him staring at her intently. 'And what's that?'
'The Bad Wolf.'
Rose slid off the bed and turned to look at him. 'You said it was all gone. You died…'
'I'm sorry,' he murmured, 'I'm so sorry.'
"How am I still alive, then?'
He jumped down off the bed, misjudging the distance a bit and ending up standing too close again. 'I don't know,' he said softly.
Her jaw set. 'Look inside my head again.' He shook his head. 'I need to know if I'm going to be okay. If I'm still me,' she said.
'Rose, I… can't.'
'Can any of this fancy stuff in here tell me that?' He shook his head again. 'Then you tell me! Doctor…' she trailed off, his name a plea on her lips.
Hesitantly, he raised his fingertips to her head again. For an endless moment, her mind flared gold and he was terrified. He could feel himself burning in the light. Then it receded, becoming the gentle light of the control room at night, backed by the breathy hum of the TARDIS and he could sense Rose.
His hearts lurched as he felt her tumult of feeling. Fear for him, because he looked so broken; the terror at the thought he might send her away, that she might not be herself anymore and, over and above it all, incandescent job at simply being here, with him, on the TARDIS. Home. He felt the word, rather than heard it.
Too late the Doctor realised he'd become so immersed in her that he'd let his guard down. Unable to stop herself, Rose Tyler surged into his mind, bringing with her the eerie light of the TARDIS' heart.
Before he could stop her she saw the events of the last year played out across his mind. Felt his dark triumph as the telepathic field restored him, lifting him off the ground. Felt the sheer agony of the Master's death. Then, because she was Rose, she reached out, twining her mind around the broken parts of his, holding him together.
Then he saw her, waking up in her… office?... the TARDIS key that she never set aside pulling away from her, towards the ceiling. The key was glowing, the light oscillating in time with the sound of the TARDIS that was still just on the edge of hearing. Rose closed her eyes for a moment, just a moment, but when they opened again they were glowing gold. Not the bright, terrifying gold he'd seen on Satellite 5, but definitely the same hue.
Then she was on the TARDIS, although it was different. Red. The Paradox Machine. Her eyes were normal now, and utterly terrified. She called out for him and he felt himself almost wanting to answer her, here and now.
Suddenly, the Paradox Machine lurched, throwing Rose against the console. 8.02am the Doctor thought.
Rose drew her hand away quickly, as though burned and where it had been there was a livid handprint, slowly fading away. Looking around at the suddenly terrifyingly alive machine, Rose headed away from the console room, further into the ship. He felt her fear at the difference she'd seen. No doors, just endless corridors – like a nightmare, she thought. Finally, there was a door, just in front of her, slightly ajar. She ran for it and it closed just as she made it through.
That's my room! The Doctor thought. You never said you were in my room!
The very next image was of Rose waking up on his bed. She could hear them, billions of voices calling his name. It was something she could feel – a physical pull. And underneath and around the sound of his name – a countdown, making its way inexorably to zero. Dreamlike, she wandered out of the room, through the Paradox machine and out through the doors.
Winding her way through the Valiant, no one gave her a second look, she reached the flight deck and opened the doors. He could feel her burning, see the gold in her eyes. He saw himself restored, but sensed the moment that the restoration faltered. He'd been too preoccupied at the time to notice the one voice missing that he really needed to hear.
He felt Rose begin to burn, sensed the gold in her eyes. I want you safe. My Doctor… The golden light flared in her mind once more.
The Doctor was dimly aware of the back of his legs hitting the bed behind him as the golden light built up in his mind. His fingers were still pressed to her temples and he found himself unable to sever the link. He sensed her reining it in, keeping it away from him and again marvelled at her control. Far away, he heard himself moan as she reached for him and pulled her self closer. Then there was nothing but the feeling of her lips against his.