Rest, Relaxation and Hopefully Quiet
A Doctor Who fanfic by Ahn-Li Steffraini
Summary: 10thWhump in the way of recovering but no actual whump...just the aftermath in between Christmas Invasion and New Earth.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Doctor Who. I am not making any money. Likely I'm sending someone's kids to college with the stuff I've bought and the DVD's on my shelf...
Regeneration Sickness: Canonically, the prolonged period a Time Lord requires to rest after the traumatic event of regenerating, marked by the insistant need for deep, interrupted, sleep for the first 24 to 36 hours and a prolonged period of fatigue as well as malaise and sometimes confusion.
It was a short walk back to Jackie's apartment, but the Doctor was already feeling it. It wasn't just the cold (which he ordinarily didn't feel) that was settling deep into his bones but also the lethargy. The deep sleep that often came after regeneration was already past. Well, somewhat. Ordinarily he knew a Time Lord would sleep longer than fifteen hours uninterrupted.
He was still in his first fifteen hours, and he could feel the returning weight and exhaustion that was the warning sign of what would likely be the too determined need to put him down for another few hours. The Doctor ordinarily didn't like to sleep - it was a waste of time, really - there was so much to do instead of letting the hours or days go by while laying about in a bed.
He caught himself yawning, and stifled it before anyone caught him doing it.
Rose and Jackie fairly pulled him along, talking excitedly about what they had seen and the Christmas dinner to come. He took a deep, sudden inhale as his breath caught and Rose looked up at him in concern. "Are you all right?" she asked, suddenly seeing how tired he looked again.
Jackie also looked at him and then she took his other arm. "He's not all better, despite what he's showin' is he?" she said. "Come on you. The turkey will take hours and hours to cook and you look dead on your feet. You can have a nap while it's cooking."
He was about to protest but when he opened his mouth he found himself cracking his jaw in a yawn instead, and attempted to talk around it. "No, really... Just need a few hours in the TARDIS and I'll be fine," he finally protested when he could speak clearly enough.
It still came out alarmingly like a drowsy and slurred mumble. They walked the two flights of stairs to Jackie's flat and Rose pushed him back towards the bedroom, Mickey in tow. He caught the vaguely apologetic look from Mickey, but it was buried under the amusement. Cheeky bastard thought it was funny that Jackie was babying him. Him! He was a Time Lord for Rassilon's sake.
A sleepy one that looked at the bed and thought, Those pillows look soft... His eyes nearly closed where he was standing from the mental suggestions that pillows meant sleep and he was so very sleepy all of a sudden. It would be so easy... so nice... to simply... He felt a strong nudge and two sets of arms grasp him and he gasped back to full wakefulness. Rose was looking at him in alarm. "Wait a minute, will you?" she asked, her eyes wide. "At least wait until you're in the bed until you close your blinking eyes!"
She pulled back the blankets, fluffed the pillows and he shuffled over, sitting on the side of the bed. The Doctor kicked off the slippers and slid the dressing robe off of himself. For a long moment he and Rose stared at each other and she finally laughed. "Okay, this is the part where you lie down in the bed and then fall asleep instead of keeling over on the pavement or falling asleep standing up, yeah?" she said, giving him a push on the shoulder.
With a sigh he lay down, resting his head on the pillows.
He didn't remember much else after as sleep took him immediately.
Rose felt her jaw drop in shock. She knew he had been moving a bit slower than normal after fighting off the Sycorax, but this was shocking. Oh granted, the keeling over after minutes of changing his face, and then within minutes of being woken to save them from the Christmas tree from Hell, was shocking in itself. But she had never actually seen anyone literally fall asleep upon their head literally hitting a pillow.
But that was exactly what the Doctor had done. He was just as boneless and limp as when they had hid him on the TARDIS earlier, only now she could hear and see the deep breathing that meant actual sleep and not just the worrying unconsciousness like earlier. His face was also completely relaxed, his mouth slightly open... light snores. This was new, and this was real, true sleep.
Rose tip toed out of the room after tucking him in, drawing the drapes to simulate darkness as much as broad daylight would allow and draping the dressing robe within easy reach should the unlikely occur and he actually wake up before dinner. It wasn't likely that he would wake, and it wasn't likely that her footsteps would wake him either as Jackie was making enough noise in the kitchen to wake the dead.
She closed the door, leaving a crack so that she could check in on him. Jackie came out with two cups of tea, and handed one to her daughter. "He fall asleep again?" she asked.
"Yeah, literally when his head hit the pillow," answered Rose with a smile. "He's completely knackered - never seen him like this before."
"Literally?" said Jackie with a coy smile.
"Shut it," countered Rose. "I mean this completely knackered... or even tired. I didn't know he could sleep."
"He actually sleeping now?"
"Yeah, snores and all. Completely boneless like before as well. Dead to the world asleep," said Rose as she sat down to enjoy her tea. "I think we can leave him like that without worrying. He's asleep, yeah? Real sleep."
"Well, if that's the case, let him be," answered Jackie.
Hours later, and while the entire apartment smelled of turkey cooking and the other bits that went with a full turkey dinner, the Doctor had neither stirred nor awoken. Both Jackie and Rose had looked in on him in only mild concern. As far as either could see he was still simply sleeping. He had moved to roll over or shift in position, sometimes, depending on how he was laying, he would snore. Other times he would not. As he didn't appear to be in pain or distress, they left him be. "I wish I knew if this was normal for him," said Rose as she helped her mother in the kitchen. "But I really, really don't."
Jackie shrugged helplessly just as there was a knock on the door and Mickey came in. "Hey, he still sleeping?"
"Yeah, hasn't moved except to roll over," answered Jackie.
"Damn..." mused Mickey.
Moments later there was another knock on the door, one that heralded authority. Jackie looked at them both before going to the door, looking out the peephole as she did so. "Rose," she whispered in alarm. "It's those UNIT fellows!"
Rose swallowed. "There's no point, Mum... they know he's here. They didn't hurt him before when the Slitheen attacked, they likely won't hurt him now."
Jackie opened the door and for a long moment she stared at the men. "Hello?" she asked.
"Good afternoon, madam... that's a lovely smell. Turkey?" asked the man with a smile.
"Yes," she answered warily.
"I'm looking for the Doctor."
"A very specific man... doesn't have another name... simply the Doctor. I believe you know what I'm talking about," he smiled disarmingly. "I don't mean any harm to him. I'm a friend. My name is Dr. Harry Sullivan. I just read the reports from today... can I please come in? This is better discussed inside and in privacy."
Jackie opened the door wider and Harry came in, leaving the other two to guard the door. Jackie closed the door, not used to seeing armed guards outside. "Is he here?" asked Harry, looking from Jackie to Rose.
"Who?" asked Rose.
"Oh come now, Ms. Tyler. You and I both have a mutual friend that goes only by the name 'the Doctor.' And I assure you, I am a friend of his. Like you are," he added meaningfully. "I never had the chance to travel with him - and he did ask me by the way - but I would have very much liked to. Once in a lifetime opportunity that."
Rose blinked but didn't give anything away. "The Prime Minister said he changed faces and when she saw him he was in pyjamas, meaning he had been sleeping something off and that was why we couldn't find him. How long has it been since he changed, my dear? Hours? I bet he's only just regenerated and you have no idea what's wrong with him, do you? He's just asleep when you've never, ever, seen him sleep. And, when he does, he does sleep so, doesn't he? But you're scared for him because you have no idea if he's sick, dying or just sleeping. Am I right?"
Jackie's mouth had dropped open in shock and Rose's eyes had widened. "I am right," Harry nodded as he realized it. "Listen to me, my girl. It's normal so long as he appears to be sleeping normally. He's perfectly all right and what is going on is normal. For him. It's not the first time it's happened and, hopefully, if another situation comes up where he needs to do it it's not the last. Now... let's have a seat, and I'll check in on him and make sure. I've gone through this a few times with him and I have a fairly good idea of what to expect and, if something is going wrong, what to look for and possibly how to help him through it."
Rose looked at him. "He's done this before then?" she asked.
Harry smiled. "Oh yes, and it's as alarming and frightening each time. For him and for those involved. It's not easy on his system - actually it's very, very traumatic both physically and mentally. Which is why he's so exhausted right now and likely sleeping it all off."
"How long is he going to be like this?" asked Jackie in concern.
"Well, the first twenty four to thirty six hours will see him sleep in a dead to the world, don't wake him at any costs, sleep. You can wake him, but it tends to add a few hours to that recovery period. He'll be moody and grumpy but that's because the first bit he's sleepy, groggy and feeling a bit sick and uncomfortable. It's best to just leave the Time Lord to sleep that all off," answered Harry as he sat down in the chair. "Hello, sir, I'm Dr. Harry Sullivan."
"This is Mickey," introduced Rose as Mickey gave a short wave.
"Ah, nice to meet you," Harry took a breath. "Now where was I? Oh yes... once he's slept off that initial period, he'll wake up. He'll still be tired and feeling a bit under the weather, likely still a bit moody. Again, it's not that he's moody per se, but he's still feeling pretty miserable and under the weather. He'll still sleep, but now he'll be awake too and easier woken if you need him for anything. And it's okay to actually wake him at this point. If he feels like sleeping, let him sleep. It'll do him a world of good and speed up the second part of getting over what he always called "Regeneration Sickness." Not to mention, considering how tetchy he'll be, he'll be easier to live with while he's sleeping. He'll sleep at night like a normal human, and take long sleeps in the day too, like a normal man recovering from a bad cold. And that's a good analogy for it. Treat him like that and your lives will be much easier for it."
Rose leaned forward. "How do you know all this?" she asked.
"As I said - I've seen him do this a few times. Hell, the first time I met him was minutes after a regeneration. Each time he did the same as he's likely doing now. Speaking of which, where is he, the TARDIS?" asked Harry.
Rose pointed to the guest room. "The TARDIS in there?"
Jackie looked scandalized. "If he ever landed that thing in my house I would kick his arse."
Harry blinked in shock. "You mean he's sleeping in there? Not on the TARDIS? In a bed? A normal bed?"
"Yeah, we came back here after we got off that Sycorax ship. The TARDIS is down the street a way," answered Rose. "He didn't say anything about going back to the TARDIS at all, actually. Fell asleep, literally, when his head hit the pillow. Hasn't moved except to roll over for the last six hours."
Harry jumped up, quietly pushed open the door and strode into the bedroom. Rose and Jackie followed, and while Rose walked into the room and the other side of the bed, Jackie stayed at the door. The Doctor had rolled back onto his back, one arm draped over his eyes, the other laid limply and flat out across the bed. He was, again, softly snoring. Harry rubbed the listening part of his stethoscope and laid it on one side of the Doctor's chest, and then the other before moving it around to listen to his breathing as well. He drew the blankets back up over the Doctor's chest, before motioning for Rose to follow him outside the room again. He closed the door and turned to her. "Why isn't he sleeping in the Zero Room of the TARDIS?"
"I... I have no idea. I never even heard of that room..." she admitted. "Wouldn't he have gone there?"
"One would think so," answered Harry. "And that's what concerns me. He really should have headed there first thing and then put himself in the Vortex. But he didn't."
"Maybe he didn't have time?" asked Jackie.
"Oh, he could have - the Vortex is that place between time and space. He could have stayed there until he recovered completely and then popped back into existence in what would have seemed mere moments later to us," answered Harry. "But instead he chooses to stay here, with a family and on Earth."
Rose thought back for a moment, remembering what she had been told and fought with herself on whether to tell this already well informed man something else. Then again, maybe he already knew. Jackie and Mickey could see her indecision as she chewed her lip, her fingers on her chin as she stared in the bedroom at the sleeping Doctor. Harry picked up on it. "What is it?" he asked.
"What if he couldn't? What if this Zero Room, as you called it, wasn't on the TARDIS anymore?" she asked. "What if it had been destroyed and he never had the chance to rebuild it before this happened?"
Harry blinked in alarm. "That could never happen. So long as the Eye of Harmony is intact, there is a Zero Room - and the Eye of Harmony basically fuels the TARDIS."
Rose blinked, realizing the horrible truth. "And if there wasn't an Eye of Harmony?"
"I... I don't see how there'd be a TARDIS but then again I don't profess to know anything of his technology. All I cared about, as a Doctor myself, was the health of my patient and that meant learning what I could of his biology and how to care for him," answered Harry honestly. "Why would you say that?"
"Does it need charging?" asked Mickey, picking up on Rose's train of thought. "Like at a Rift?"
"What? No... the TARDIS never needs to be charged, or fueled. It's not like a car... oh... why would you ask that? Why... did he ever have to fuel the TARDIS?" asked Harry in horror.
Rose nodded, "Yeah, once. In Cardiff on the Rift there. He had to give the TARDIS around twenty four hours... and every so often he'd have to do the same thing again. Had something to do with not being able to use what he used to use... and he'd lost a few things on the TARDIS that he'd occasionally swear at losing in that language of his because of it."
Harry nodded somberly. "That's why he's sleeping it off here instead of on the TARDIS. There is no Eye of Harmony and no Zero Room to recover in. Damn," he swore softly, then sighed. "All right then. Here's the plan with him. First, when did he regenerate in the first place? How many hours has it been?"
Rose thought for a moment. "We arrived back here, on Earth, yesterday afternoon at around three ish, and he had maybe been 'in his new face' for minutes."
"All right, and it's around one now, so less than twenty four hours," Harry mused, then thought for a moment. "Okay. But, he also has been woken at least once, and for at least an hour, which, if I remember correctly adds a few hours onto the initial period of sleep and his recovery. Was he woken at any other time?"
Rose nodded and Harry winced. "Twice? Okay, then in that case he'll liked sleep for at least six more hours, which will mean he'll wake up around seven or eight tonight," he answered. "Don't wake him anymore until he wakes on his own. Then you can start the clock on the other part of his recovery, which is the man with a bad cold type. See if you can get him to sleep again tonight around nine or ten. I know that means he will have only been up for a few hours before going to bed again, but he does need - and will want - the sleep. Tomorrow morning, if he hasn't woken on his own, you can wake him for breakfast and see if you can get him to eat anything. And then, as I said, keep an eye on him, let him sleep and rest as he wants, don't let him push himself and he's fine... just fine..."
"How long will that be?" asked Jackie.
"Oh, around a week, give or take a day or so," answered Harry. "You'll know it's done when he's back to normal and his personality has a chance to settle. Oh, that's the other thing. I don't know what he was like before but he's going to be slightly different. That's normal too. He's still the Doctor - his core personality will never change - but certain little things will. For instance, each time he regenerates he will not like the same clothes, or maybe the same foods... everything is new again for him and he'll be using that week to get used to it. Again, this, for him, is completely normal. I've gone through it twice with him and each time was... well... interesting to say the least. He gets moody, or tetchy, he's likely needing a kip again but is too proud to admit it. Wait it out, he'll find a place to sleep on his own or his body will shut him down... which ever comes first."
Harry looked in on him one more time before turning to them with a nod. "Well, I should be off before someone comes looking for me. Have a good night and good luck with him. Tell him I said hello and to call me. Not that he will, but still, just tell him anyway," Harry said, and with that he let Jackie lead him back to the door and he left again.
Once the door was closed Jackie turned to them and said, "And you said there was no one call for help. That Dr. Sullivan would have been mighty useful yesterday when he was burning up with that damn fever!"
Rose put up her hands. "I didn't know I could call for help or even who to call!" she exclaimed, before dropping her voice down again. "But I do now."
It was torture waiting for him to wake up. There was nothing open to pass the time by shopping and nothing on TV. Rose tried to read but found herself checking in on him on the hour, every hour. At seven-thirty, Jackie turned the heat on the oven down to maintain the warmth of the cooked turkey and started working on the rest of the meal so that it would be cooked by around eight.
The sun dipped and the dark of night fell in the evening. Rose heard a shuffle from the bedroom, as well as the sound of the mattress springs creaking as all the weight on them focused to one side of the bed. As well as the sound of a very vocal yawn and creaking of muscles and joints that had been so very still for nearly twelve hours. Rose looked up as the crumpled and messy haired form as still somewhat sleepy looking Doctor shuffled his way from the bedroom and across the the bathroom. He acknowledged Rose with a half smile and a brightening in his still sleep dulled eyes before disappearing again.
Jackie came out of the kitchen at the sound of the bathroom door being closed and said, "Was that him?"
Rose nodded. "He's awake... somewhat. Can you start some tea? He looks like he could use it."
A few minutes later the Doctor came out of the bathroom, his hair a bit more tamed but still messy if not the tangled mess it had been before. His eyes and face seemed a bit cleaner if not for the still very present five o'clock shadow. Jackie came out and stared at him. "Oh, there you are. How are you feeling now?"
The Doctor took a few moments to reply, as if cobwebs or cotton balls still plagued his mind from his extended sleep. "All right," he answered finally, his voice soft, and still a bit sleepy sounding.
"You want some tea? I put the kettle on," she said gently, seeing the not-quite-awake look in his eyes.
This woke him a bit. "Oh yes. Please. Tea would be fant...fa... ah... tea would be brilliant," he answered before visibly, underneath closed lips, running his tongue along his teeth.
Rose wondered if she'd ever hear the word 'fantastic' from him again. Dr. Sullivan had warned them about the marginal change and she realized that 'fantastic' may be one of the things changing. He sat down in chair near Jackie's fireplace and unconsciously leaned towards it, his eyes closing halfway as he put his legs up on a stool and wrapped the dressing gown around him closer. "You want a throw?" asked Rose.
He opened his eyes. "I'm sorry?" he asked.
"Do you want a throw over your legs?" she asked again.
"No, I'm fine," he answered quietly.
"Are you falling back to sleep on me?" she asked, amused.
He smiled then, not bothering to open his eyes completely as he leaned back. She decided to ignore his answer and took a throw from the back of the couch to put on his legs and feet. "Just as a word of advice," she said. "It would be a good idea to wait until after dinner and tea before passing back out on us again."
"Time Lords do not pass out," he answered, a hint of his former self showing through even if there was an amused sound to it.
Jackie came back out, making a tutting sound as she gave him his tea and then she personally made sure he was comfortable with the chair, the throw, even a pillow and a better stool to lift and rest his legs and feet on. Then she personally made sure the TV was pointed in his direction and the remote in his hand. "Here, you lump," she said. "Stay awake for a bit, will you?"
Rose moved to the end of the couch nearest his chair and leaned on the arm of the couch and closer to him. He was far more awake for the tea now and, while he didn't seem to be in a mood to chat or talk, he was letting Rose pick what she wanted to watch and, once she had retrieved it, in the mood to tinker with his sonic screwdriver and a broken device from his leather jacket. Finally, he spoke up. "I think I might give the jacket to Mickey. I don't know what I'll do with it. It doesn't fit this frame very well and I have no idea if I'd wear it even if it did still fit me."
Blinking in shock she looked at him. "But you love that jacket."
"Loved... oh yes... I never did explain to you..."
"Don't have to," she answered, grinning mischievously. "Had a really good Doctor explain to us what to expect this week and how to nurse you back to health."
"He was a nice man. Came right over, although we weren't expecting him," she continued, ignoring his shocked look. "Listened to your chest to make sure both were beatin' and that you were breathing okay. You were out to lunch..."
"Nice man, too... said to get you to call him more often. Not that you would, but he said to tell you anyway," she poked his arm. "His name was Dr. Harry Sullivan."
"What... oh! Harry! Rassilon... haven't seen him in years. Always did wonder what..." the Doctor stopped as he caught up with what she meant. "He came to check on me, did he? And just what did Harry say to do?"
"Well, that waking you twice before you woke on your own was horrendously bad and to make that better to let you sleep until you woke on your own. He was dead on right on when you'd likely wake up," she answered truthfully, then she poked him again. "And then that you're likely going to be sleeping more than awake for around a week but that's okay, although now you can be woken if we have to wake you. And that rest and quiet is what you need. That this... this... is normal."
The Doctor nodded somberly. "Fact of life for a Time Lord, this," he answered, with a sigh. "Can you forgive me for not telling you earlier?"
"Yeah, I can," she answered as she leaned up and smoothed his hair back.
Now that she could see clearly and straight into his eyes she could see the barely hidden tiredness still in them. "I don't believe it. You've been sleeping for nearly thirty hours straight and from the look of it you could sleep more," she said in shock. "That's it, mister, after dinner you are going back to bed."
He smiled slightly. "I was planning on it," he admitted, letting himself yawn. "However, before I do I think I'll move the TARDIS closer and maybe kill some time going through the wardrobe."
"No taking off," she warned.
"Wouldn't dream of it. Don't think she would let me and I don't think I could maintain that degree of concentration," he answered, frowning at the admission as he finished his tea and stood up, stretched and then slid on the slippers.
Rose went and told her mother, who tutted disapprovingly before wrapping the Doctor up in a winter coat and scarf, and a proper set of boots. Rose walked him to the TARDIS and once inside the warmth of the TARDIS he did move it closer to the apartment - right at the bottom of the stairs up to Jackie's flat - before he moved back to the wardrobe and Rose called to him to tell him she was going to help her mother with dinner.
They were sitting down to dinner when the door opened again and Rose looked up to see the Doctor, now clean shaven and fully dressed in blue pin stripe suit and brown trench coat. He grinned, although she could see the exhaustion still in his eyes and she grinned back. Jackie pulled him to a chair and he sat down, joining them for dinner.
It wasn't until after he had let them down by telling them the snow was ash, and then telling Rose that he still would love for her to travel with him, that he allowed himself to be pulled back up to the flat. Rose had grabbed the overnight bag that she had found just inside the doors of the TARDIS and looked inside.
The pajamas were in there, as was a small kit for personal care. She left him to it and when he came out, back in the dressing robe (only his own now, not Howard's) and pajamas. Rose had given the borrowed set back to her Mum. He returned to the chair he had been in, and watched TV with them awhile before it became very obvious that the Time Lord was falling asleep, and already dozing where he sat. Rose shook his shoulder and woke him from his light sleep and he looked up at her. "Come on, you, time for bed," said Rose as she helped him up and led him to the guest room. "Good night."
"G'night," was his mumbled reply as he wandered back into the room.
She waited until he was settled - and deeply asleep again - before going to her own room to sleep.
The next morning she was woken by the shrill scream of the kettle whistle. When she wandered out she found him, fully dressed and alert, making the tea and reading the morning paper. It was so normal and domestic that she froze in the doorway in shock. "Good morning, Rose," he greeted as he sat down and went back to reading, the glasses on his face.
God, he was gorgeous. His last self had not been bad, but this one was painful to look at. She was amazed she hadn't noticed the dichotomy that made this one up. He was tall, very tall... perhaps an inch or two on the last... but rail thin with long, tapered and slender fingers and well manicured finger nails. His face was made up of sharp planes but was still very attractive and pleasing. His sandy brown hair was long, not overly long like a girl's, but still long and messy, but in a catwalk model haute couture way.
He was a constant blur of motion, constantly fiddling or fidgeting, as if he couldn't quite get comfortable in his own skin, but she got the feeling that would be a long term thing. He had brown eyes instead of the ice blue, and instead of the calm and stormy these danced with curiosity and a bit of joy. Perfect teeth - which was pleased to note she got to see more often as this one smiled a whole lot more than the last, and whole lot wider. He grinned at her, seeing her appraising eye. "What?"
"You look so different," she said.
His face fell.
"Not in a bad way!" she back tracked. "Oh, I liked the old you but the new you has some nice aspects too."
And a nice ass, now that she had moved beside him to get her own cup of tea. Yes, nice aspects indeed. He twisted around to regard her with the wide eyes of a man not sure he knew what she meant, and not sure if he wanted to know while desperately needing to at the same time. "So you haven't changed your mind?" he asked.
"Of course I haven't," she said. "Stop being so paranoid. Of course I'll still go with you. But, as that Dr. Sullivan said, give it a bit, will ya? We both need to adjust to this change, yeah?"
A few hours later, she caught him yawning. About a half an hour after that, he was in that same chair by Jackie's fire, napping away in the afternoon sun underneath the throw and leaning into a pillow. He was still fully dressed, and easily woken, even if he was groggy and sleepy. For that week, although the sleeps got progressively shorter, he fell into a pattern where he would wake at around seven in the morning, pester the hell out of Jackie until ten when Rose finally woke at nine. He'd sit with Rose for awhile, then fall asleep around ten, wake up around noon. He'd help Jackie in the kitchen or keep Mickey company, then come back around one or two, fall asleep like a cat in the sun until four or five. He'd stay awake for a few hours, then fall asleep again around seven or eight, wake long enough to watch evening TV with Rose and Mickey until eleven at which point he'd retire for the night, although he had been falling asleep since ten.
A few days into it, and the morning nap and late afternoon nap vanished, although he'd retire earlier by about an hour at night.
A few days more, the afternoon nap shortened by half. Then the next day it disappeared entirely. Rose suspected he was getting close to wanting to travel as he got more fidgety, although, despite what she remembered of the old Doctor, he still slept at night like everyone else.
She knew he was near being ready to when Mickey went home, and she and Jackie went to bed and he didn't. Oh, she caught him sleeping when she got up in the night to go get a glass of water, but he was up before Jackie in the morning and bouncing on his heels.
By this time a week had passed since Christmas and it was a day into the New Year. That day he took his overnight bag back into the TARDIS and the signs of him sleeping, at all, had completely vanished from Jackie's flat. Rose still slept, as did Jackie, but when they retired for the night he went back into the TARDIS and worked underneath the console.
A few days later he came to her and said, "I was thinking, instead of the planet Barcelona, I could take you someplace else? I was thinking..."
"Uh oh," said Rose, rolling her eyes.
"Oi!" he protested. "Anyway. I think it's time we started traveling again. Not that I don't mind visiting sometimes but I, ah..."
She smiled sadly. She had suspected he was close to wanting to leave. Now she knew it was time. He was suitably recovered and rested from regenerating. He wanted to move on. Now. "Just let me tell Mum, yeah?" she said.
He nodded and let her do so.
A few hours later she came into the console room and dropped her pack on the floor. "So where are we going now?"
He looked up from the console and, with a pang, she realized that where he was standing was the last place the old Doctor had stood before he had regenerated. That same lean on the console too. Then again, he was still the Doctor. He hadn't changed that much. He smiled, a twinkle reaching his eye. "Farther than we've ever gone before," he answered before flicking a switch as the dematerialization sequence started.
~ FIN ~