It's where he went when it got dark, in the cool and the quiet of the night when the dark could hide all noises and the darkness hid the corners of the TARDIS, when he couldn't keep working, keep going, keep himself busy, he'd go and hide there.

Never for long, just what he could steal. That's what they were, stolen lost moments, a moment where he could pretend it was the past and he was just sitting there waiting for her to come back from making tea or having a shower or getting a book, closing his eyes against the dust and blocking the smell of abandonment the room had.

This time was different.

He sat there surrounded by her and her smell and her clothes and her books and everything her, ignoring the little touches of him that had crept in. He'd move them, his glasses, his books, if he hadn't known how much she had loved the little things creeping in. But it was her he was there for, her he needed to see and hear and feel and grieve for. This wasn't anything unusual, much as he tried to tell himself otherwise he did spend a lot of time in her room.

It was today that was different.

She would have been twenty three.

No, she is twenty three. Today she is twenty three, today, out there, Jackie will organise a party and Rose will put on a dress and a smile and act happy. Be happy. She was with her family after all, what if she really was happy? That would be a good thing right, she'd be carefree and young and happy and have the whole of her life ahead of her, safe and free... What if she didn't have the ache in her chest that he had in his, the pain as if his hearts were being clawed out, constantly, repeatedly, never ending ache that threatened to split his head and his chest in two... Of course that would be a good thing.

Yet selfishly, he wanted her to feel that too.

It would mean she had cared, she hadn't forgotten, she had loved...

She'd even told him, sobbed it out on those last desperate minutes.

He couldn't let that go.

But how could he hold onto it when she was human, she was a tiny human from a tiny planet in a tiny galaxy and he was a Timelord and that's not how she should feel, she should have never... He should have never...

But if he was somehow given the chance to take it all back, to change it all so he never met her, never blew up Henrik's, never took hold of her hand and told her to run, never took her so far and so fast from home she didn't stop, never looked back... He wouldn't.

He was selfish.

He tried to tell himself it was for her, that he'd seen the look in her eyes as she stared at the skies of an alien world and the smile on her face as she'd turned to him. He'd set her free, free from the dull boring monotonous Earth world and life she'd lived, taught her how to live and laugh and be free.

It wasn't a lie.

But he couldn't give up his memories, his last thing to hold onto when everything seemed to bleak and too dark and too much for him to deal with, he could close his eyes and she was there and she could help him through it, she always did.

He'd thought he was teaching her, showing her what life was really like.

All along she'd been teaching him.

How to smile, really smile without regrets, how to laugh through anything, because it was all possible with her at his side, how to live in the present, not the past, how to truly forgive and implicitly trust, without doubting. How to love, and love with everything he had, with every thought and feeling and motion, and through this how to finally release himself from the tortures of his past, his people, his family.

And now he could feel her teachings slipping from his head, slowly trickling away as he began to doubt again.

It wasn't just that he missed her, because he did, of course he did, he loved her and missed her and he knew she knew that.

The other demons were coming back as well.

The ones she'd had to work so hard to free him of.

She would have hated to see him like this.

And it's only that thought that was stopping him from giving up completely.