Greetings, everyone. Hoo boy, it's been a long hiatus, hasn't it? Well, if there's anyone out there reading this who read my previous works, anyway. If you haven't, you're probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Anyway, I just wanted to apologize to anyone who had me on alert and expected a Castle fic from me. Alas, since last uploading I have become infected with the disease known as Whovianism, aka an immense love for Doctor Who (d'you like it? I just came up with that one myself, just now.) So on that note, any Castle fans are more than welcome to stop reading now and skip this fic, but if you too have Whovianism then feel free to keep reading!
This is just a little one-shot I had buzzing about in my head for Nine and Rose for some time now. There's no definitive time set, but I figured late Series 1, maybe during Jack's run in the TARDIS. The Doctor wakes up from a Gallifreyan nightmare one night, haunted by the anniversary of the war, and Rose finds him and comforts him.
Burning. Everything burning. He feels the explosion before he hears it, the vibrations so intense they nearly knock him over. And then he hears it, the sound wave the explosion caused. Outside he sees the Dalek spaceships bursting into flames before his eyes, disintegrating, and deep inside he's glad. But the junk floating around outside isn't just Dalek. And that's when it hits him. He killed them. All of them. All of the great Time Lord race, they died to bring about the destruction of the Daleks. And he has killed them.
He looks down at his hands, and in the red light of the alert sirens they appear covered in blood.
He jolted awake, panting. The blankets were tangled around his legs, trapping him in a sweaty cocoon as he flopped back against his pillow. He should have known this would happen. Today's date had been hanging over his head for weeks, pooling dread in his stomach. This was the reason he barely slept… no sleep equaled no nightmares. His body barely needed it, anyway. But now…
The anniversary of the Time War, the day he went from one of millions to the last Time Lord left. And now the nightmares. Always the nightmares. His heartbeats were pounding in his ears, his breathing refusing to slow.
Sitting up, he swung his legs over the edge of the bed, the cool air of his room washing over his bare torso. He rested his head in his hands as the sounds of battle echoed in his mind, the visions all too vivid. His jaw clenches as he reimagines himself pulling that lever again. With a sharp inhalation he jolts to his feet and starts to pace. Around him he can feel the TARDIS humming her concern, but makes no move to acknowledge it. His breathing increases as he spans the room again. While there is no direct correlation of time on the TARDIS, he knows that it's technically too early to be awake. He also knows that sleep isn't going to come.
Hoping to escape for a little while, he leaves his room, pulling on a dark blue jumper as he locks his door. The first place that comes to his mind to go is the library, and so that is what he does. He picks out a book about ancient rituals of the Karrionites, plops himself down in a comfortable chair. He starts to read, but his mind still races and he cannot concentrate. He sat for hours like that, while Rose slept on and the TARDIS sat suspended in the vortex.
Rose awoke to quiet. Sitting up in her bed, she groggily wiped her eyes and looked around. Her room was dark, and it felt early, almost too early to be awake. As she slid a sweater on over her tank top, she looked up. The TARDIS seemed discontented, like something was wrong. She was fine, which meant…
Oh God. She thought. The Doctor. "Where is he?" she asked. "Is he okay?" The TARDIS's background hum kicked up a little in reply, and Rose got a mental image of the library. "Okay, I'm going." As she slipped out of her room the ship also gave her the feeling of suppressed anguish and she picked up her pace. Her Doctor needed her.
Winding through the halls, she came to a pause outside the library door. "How long has he been in here?" she whispered, not wanting to alert him to her presence just yet. Hours. Okay, then. There was only one thing that kept the Doctor up like this—memories of Gallifrey. The pit in her stomach started to form, and she slowly opened the door.
At first, she didn't see him. The room was dim, like he hadn't bothered to turn on any lights, and completely silent. She swallowed, and softly called his name.
"Doctor?" The word echoed throughout the cavernous room. No response. Where is he? Finally she spotted him hunched in a chair by the unlit fireplace. Beneath his blue jumper his thin shoulders were stiff, and as she approached she could hear his ragged breathing.
"Doctor." She approached slowly, and sat down on the floor next to him. He didn't respond, didn't even seem to know she was there.
"Doctor." She gently laid her hand on his forearm, feeling how taunt the tendons were. His hands were fisted. "Doctor." She whispered again. At the sound of her voice, he seemed to jerk back to reality and looked at her with eyes so full of anguish that tears suddenly flooded her own.
"What's wrong?" she moved her hand from his arm to his cheek, and held it there, hoping to comfort him. All he did was squeeze his eyes shut and move away.
"Flayari." He murmured. She recognized the word as Gallifreyan, but had no idea what it meant. She also wondered why the TARDIS hadn't translated it.
"Fire." He said. "It means fire. According to the Gallifreyan calendar, today's the anniversary of the end of the Time War." His voice broke.
Rose sucked in a breath. Oh Doctor… Now she knew why he was so broken. Why he couldn't sleep. Why he had that look on his face and written across his body. Anguish. Heartbreak. Guilt, above all. She stood up and moved the book that sat on the arm of his chair to make enough room for her to sit. She placed her hand on his shoulder, and he looked up at her with wet eyes.
"Oh Rose. Today… Today's date was the day I… my people died. I killed them. They're all dead, at my hand!"
"Shh." She tried to comfort him. "I know. You did what you had to. You have to remember that."
He didn't seem to hear her, and the look in his eyes said that he was far away, lost in Gallifreyan memories—not the good ones, either.
"They're all dead because of me…." His whisper was tight, like his vocal cords were being restricted. She moved her hand from his shoulder to his face, running it across his cheek to the back of his head. At the motion, he turned to face her again. His shoulders shook once, like a sob he held back. Rose was at a loss as to what to do. Not in a million years could she ever fathom the pain and guilt that he was going through, not even a fraction of it.
"Listen to me." She paused until he met her eyes. "I don't have a clue what you're feeling right now, I'll admit that. And I'm not going to try to understand, because it wouldn't be my place. But I want you to know I'm here. I'm right here, and I won't go anywhere as long as you need me." Her eyes started pooling with tears as she finished, placing both hands on his cheeks now to cradle his broken face between her palms.
He brought his hands up, lacing his fingers around her wrists, his hands looking huge compared to her small arms. "My Rose…." He murmured. He rested his forehead against hers, and she forced her breathing to stay at a normal level despite his proximity. She may have feelings for him, but now was most definitely not the time. "Thank you. You're so brave."
She pulled back a little, just enough to look squarely into his eyes. "There's no reason for me to be. We're not in a life-or-death situation here. We're just talkin', in the library."
"Maybe so. You're always in a life-or-death situation with me. I'm not exactly the safest person to be around." He half-smiled, trying to joke, but the mirth didn't quite make it to his eyes.
"Don't matter t'me. I'm always safe when I'm with you. Our circumstances may be dangerous, but I know you'll protect me."
"I'd do anything to protect you," he replied. He suddenly stood, the movement nearly knocking Rose back onto her rear. He caught her arm, though, and helped her stand. "Here," he said, leading her over to a nearby couch. "This way we can both sit." And sit they did, with him against the armrest and her tucked up against his side. She could hear his hearts beating in a rhythm just slightly fast, and the longer they sat there the more they slowed.
"Thank you, Rose, for being here. How did you know to find me?"
She shifted her head against his arm. "Woke up and could tell somethin' was wrong. TARDIS led me here."
She heard the smile in his voice. "That old girl. Always there." The background hum kicked up a little at that, like she was listening.
Rose paused, remembering something. "Why didn't the TARDIS translate Gallifreyan word you spoke earlier? I thought she translated everything."
"TARDIS translation matrix doesn't cover Gallifreyan. Figured we'd never need it to, since we all spoke it ourselves."
The two were quiet for a minute, and then Rose adjusted her head to look up at him. "Are you feeling better?"
His smile was sad. "I'm never better, Rose. I just choose not to think about it for a while. I'm…it's always there, the guilt of what I've done. But right now, Rose, yes. I'm better."
"Mmh." She rested her head on his shoulder again, sleep starting to fog the corners of her brain again. "Tha's good." As she drifted off, she felt him press a kiss to the top of her head, making here feel warm from head to toe. Just before she fell asleep he whispered,
"My Rose… my precious girl. Thank you."
I hope you all liked it. If you did, please review and tell me so. If you didn't, well, review anyway and tell me so. :p For any of you who are wondering, I found the Gallifreyan word for fire—if indeed it is the word for fire—by Googling something along the lines of "how to speak Gallifreyan." I got a whole list of words and a few phrases that had been translated. I haven't been to the site in months, though I should be able to find it again if anyone wants. And I promise, I haven't given up on Castle and hopefully there'll be more of those fics from me in the future. Kinda tricky now that we actually have canon relationships to deal with, eh? ;)