Return To Memory

Chapter 1: The Memory

Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.

Summary: Rose changes everything for him. She would give anything to take away his pain. She just doesn't know that all he wants is her. Ten/Rose

His eyes, haunted by the loss he had just suffered, turned to her. His eighth incarnation stared into her eyes as tears rolled down his cheeks. His pain became hers as he pulled her to him.

Sobs racked her body, she relaxed against him. He straightened, breath calming and hearts slowing. She would bear this pain for him if it meant he could become the man she knew. He released her and before her stood her first Doctor, with goofy ears and a leather jacket. The same pain remained in his eyes- they were the piercing blue eyes she had known, but his hurt was no longer masked. She cried out as he changed before her eyes into her current Doctor.

She knew that this was the pain he hid from her. He hadn't healed since the Time War- he had just learned to hide it better so she wouldn't know how he was suffering. She reached out to him and he turned to look at his burning planet.

She woke.

Rose shot up in bed, shaking from her nightmare. Her pink comforter was tossed on the ground and a cold sweat covered her body. She collapsed back into the pillows, tears still falling down her face.

Why was she having that dream? Over and over, she saw the pain in his eyes. It was beginning to affect her daily life.

Every time he looked at her, she found herself searching for that look in his eyes- tried to reassure herself that it was just a dream. How did she even know what his eighth body even looked like? She had never seen a picture of him before his ninth self. She was sure she had never seen his eyes like that before, so haunted and terrible. She wanted more than anything to know that the man she loved had healed from his wounds of loss.

She got up from her bed and went to the shower, hoping he wouldn't come in and see the sweaty sheets and smell her terror. He didn't know about the nightmares and she didn't want to tell him that it was his pain that haunted her now. She knew he would pile more guilt on his already overburdened conscience.

After her shower she felt much better, as if the water and strawberry-scented soap had washed away the fear. She dressed quickly and headed to the kitchen for some breakfast.

He was there at the table they had gotten on a shopping planet. He had protested the domestic act of picking out a table together, but she won the argument. She had batted her eyes at him and told him that it was so uncomfortable to sit on those stools. She smiled at the memory, her dream fading slowly from her mind at seeing the smile on his face at her appearance.

"Good morning, starshine! The earth says hello!" he grinned over his tea.

She rolled her eyes, going to the toaster to make her breakfast. "If you keep ripping off Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, someone is going to come after you."

He sipped his tea. "And how will they know. We're out here in the vortex, I can do it all I want and there will be no one to hear you complain." He said cheekily.

She sighed, smiling secretly behind her hair. "Now you just sound like a creeper."

He chuckled. "That was my intention. How did you sleep?"

She froze at the question. Did he know about her nightmares? Was she crying out in her sleep? It took her a second to figure out that his question had been completely innocent. These dreams were definitely starting to get to her. "Fine" she squeaked out. Smooth, Rose.

He didn't seem to notice, though. He was fiddling with a…part of some sort. The sonic screwdriver was whirring away as she finished making her tea and toast. He looked up for a moment when she sat down before going back to work.

"What's that?" she asked, taking a bite of her toast.

"I don't really know" he replied, pushing his glasses up his nose as he worked. Her heart warmed at his scruffy look. He was wearing his usual suit, with his hair in every direction. She didn't doubt that he'd been working at that part for the better part of the night. He probably hadn't slept, but he rarely did anyway. She didn't worry too much. It was only when he had dark circles under his eyes that she made him sleep. She knew he feared sleeping. He almost always dreamed of fire and death.

She shouldn't know that. But she did. The TARDIS told her.

She had a bit of a strange relationship with the ship. She didn't speak out loud to it, of course, but they had conversations of sorts. She would often find messages on the mirror in her bathroom after a shower, or notes on the console screen when the Doctor wasn't looking. She felt twinges in her mind, too. She suspected the TARDIS tried to speak to her telepathically, but she didn't have the capabilities to understand the messages. The Doctor did. He often held conversations with the ship. (She wasn't really supposed to know that either.)

It had been one night that she had found the Doctor under the console, crying out in his impromptu nap, that the TARDIS had told her. She had woken him from his slumber and seen the raw pain in his eyes as he came back to reality. He had allowed her to hold him as he caught his breath before standing up and disappearing into the infinite halls of the ship. She heard a beep from the console and glanced up at the monitor. She saw four words that made her heart wrench for him.

He dreams of war.

The clink of his cup against the table brought her back to the present. She sighed at her now soggy toast and cold tea before getting up and throwing them out.

"Are you ok?" the Doctor asked, concerned. She didn't have a chance to reply before he was in her face, running the sonic over her and asking her all sorts of questions….what her favorite animal had to do with her being sick was beyond her.

"I'm fine, Doctor." She said, pushing him away gently. "Just not hungry".

Which was true…sort of. She really just wasn't interested in eating when she was sure she had just glimpsed hidden pain in his eyes.

She didn't know that it was the thought of losing her that caused the pain…she just assumed it was the time war and filed it away in her mind for future torment. "So…where are we going today?"

He pushed his concern back and grinned. "You should go put on that dress you wore for the Julox Coronation. We're going to the Sacred Stone Palace of Korlok IV!"

She grinned back and headed to her room to change, packing a pair of trainers in her purse…just in case.

He didn't know what was up with her lately. She was tired, he could tell. There were dark circles under her eyes and she had gotten skinnier. He saw a weight in her eyes that shouldn't be there- she looked at him differently.

He knew she loved him, and if he said he didn't love her back he would be a liar. What worried him was the sorrow he saw in her every time she looked at him. It was like she was waiting for him to do something bad. He didn't know what she was expecting, but her eyes held a fear that he hadn't seen until recently. He was worried about her. He didn't want her to hurt on his behalf. He wanted to cause her joy, not suffering.

He hoped that this visit would change things.

He had no idea what fate had in store for them on that planet.

They stepped out of the TARDIS into the morning light. Rose gasped at the beauty of it, feeling the cool breeze ruffle her hair. The white dress she wore twirled around her ankles and the Doctor's warm hand held hers. "It's beautiful" she said.

The wooden door of the TARDIS closed behind them as they began to walk through the tall grass. All around them were trees of a deep purple color. The lush grass was a beautiful green color and among the blades nestled small red flowers. The blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds and the sun glittered through the leaves of the trees. In the distance, nestled in the regal mountains, was a white palace that glistened in the sun. The Doctor glanced at Rose, smiling and relaxed for the first time in weeks. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes sparkled with joy, small hums of contentment occasionally drifting from her lips. Her long dress bared her shoulders to his gaze and fit her waist before flowing smoothly down to her feet, on which she wore gold sandals. He stored her image in his mind, relieved to see her truly smile for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.

Rose felt his eyes on her and turned to him, surprised to see true happiness in his gaze. His mouth was turned up in a smile- not that manic 'I'm hiding things behind this' smile, but a beautiful, contented, smile. She didn't think she had seen him this happy in a long time. He wasn't faking it, either. She knew him well and there was no pain in his eyes this time. She walked a bit closer to his side and felt his hand slip from hers to wrap around her shoulders. Maybe her dreams were wrong. Maybe he really had healed from the loss of his people.

They walked for a long time, enjoying the morning weather and the beauty of the planet. She asked him if they were going to the palace in the distance and was met with a quiet smile. She knew from that smile alone that that was exactly where they were going.

"It's not actually a palace. It's a temple. See, the Korlokians moved to this planet about two thousand years ago. They were a terribly wasteful race and their old planet was dying, polluted beyond salvation. After seeing what they had done to their home, they decided to change their ways if they were given a second chance. I think I was in my seventh regeneration at the time, but I helped them move and taught them how to live without wasting their resources. This is the first time I've been back, and I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised that how well they managed it!" There was a spring in his step and his fingers gently caressed her shoulder as they meandered through the trees, headed vaguely in the direction of the temple.

"What's all that got to do with it being a temple and not a palace?" she asked him teasingly.

He paused for a moment. "Right….weeeelll…sorry! Drifted a bit there. They believe that a goddess gave this new planet to them, and so the first thing they built was a temple to honor her. They call her Caliliana. They brought the last pure stone from their planet and placed it in the sun room of the temple so that she could live there as they inhabited and cared for her planet. Legend says that she has a heart for the unfortunate and the lonely and that she waits in the stone for the perfect wish."

"So…this goddess gives them a planet, and they expect her to be happy living in a rock?" she asked incredulously.

The Doctor laughed. "See, Rose? That's why I picked you! You always ask the right questions!"

She rolled her eyes. "So, we're not really here for the temple. Something's gone wrong? This Caliliana isn't really into living in a rock and now she's gone on a rampage?"

He looked at her, a feigned expression of hurt on his face. "No! Everything's fine here. No wars or anything. Just a nice, happy planet with happy people."

She looked at him skeptically, trying to gauge whether or not he was serious. When all she saw was eager happiness on his face, she accepted his answer and walked a little closer to his side. She loved times like these, where they were both so calm and happy and they could just…be together. Not that they were together. They continued through the lovely forest, enjoying the walk and the warm patches of sunlight that filtered through the trees.

She loved running, but sometimes it was nice to just walk.

After a long bit of comfortable silence, the Doctor wrapped his arm around her shoulders and brought her closer to his side. She relaxed into him, feeling content in his embrace. The question slipped out before she could stop it.

"Doctor, are you happy?"

His arm stiffened around her and she felt his breath hitch. Uh-oh. She really shouldn't have asked that. She waited, tensed for his answer. Soon she felt him relax, his breath leaving in a small sigh.


She looked up at him, shocked at his answer, especially because it took him so long to come up with it. He seemed a bit surprised at his own response. He continued before she could question him.

"When we met, I wasn't…I wasn't me. My planet had just been lost and I didn't know what to do. I was all alone." He went silent for a moment and Rose glanced up at his face, expecting to see that horribly sorrowful look in his eyes. That wasn't what she saw at all. When her gaze met his, all she could see and feel was peace. A smile crossed his face. "But now I have you!" he grinned. "As long as you're with me, I'll be ok."

She smiled back at him and laughed as he started babbling on. She relaxed her head onto his shoulders and closed her eyes, allowing him to lead her through the trees.

A/N: So, what did you think of the first chapter? This will be my first real multi-chapter story, as I pretty much just post one-shots. I haven't had a plot bunny complicated enough for more than one chapter. Let me know what you think!

Much love,