Un-beta'ed and written in a haze of sleep deprivation by an American. You've been warned.
I don't own Doctor Who, ectra, ectra.
Rose Tyler, like any human, enjoys her sleep. She knows the Doctor tends to despair at how much humans need to sleep-and even more at her, who indulges sometimes in more than six to eight hours a night. Dreams are sometimes a nice escape from the bad days they have. Sometimes it's just empty blackness that soothes more than noise and color, but it's the dreams in gold that she seeks when she's troubled.
She started having them just after the Doctor regenerated, and even though she has no proof, she suspects they have something to do with what happened to the Daleks- more than the Doctor singing a song. She didn't remember much of them at first-only a soft gold filter. Then pieces fall together-images and sounds blending into a moving picture.
She finds herself standing on a beach, waves rolling up onto the white sand and lapping at her ankles, as the Doctor cheerfully narrates the past three hundred years of the places history to her even as they run down the beach like reckless children, and she wonders why he isn't out of breath yet-
He's tugging her along some place that she can barely see, and she's laughing at something he's saying, and he grins back down at her, all manic energy and fondness as he leans down, and brushes his lips against hers briefly. Her entire body tingles at the contact, and when she pulls away-
He's trying to be serious with her, but his eyes are all warm amusement as he tugs her down on the ground with him. She can't help but look at him as he watches her intently, brown eyes almost black in the darkness. He takes her face in his hands, and she thinks he's going to kiss her again, but he turns her face towards the sky, and her breath is taken away by how clear the stars are. She's tucked against him tightly, as his voice speaks softly in her ear about the constellations—
A thousand different places, a thousand different times, and the only constant are the hand she holds, and the man with her. He grins broadly down at her, and she beams up at him, and they run and run and run into the gold haze, into a different place, a different time.
And half the time she can't remember what happened in her dreams, just the gold filter, turning even what might have been bleak scenery into a warm glow, and the lingering feeling of happiness.
She lingers in bed awhile after the gold hazed dreams, before she goes to find the real man somewhere in the recesses of his ship, and soon they are off running hand in hand, and there is a whisper of longing in gold for a kiss and a soft word she knows will never happen. She shoves it down as a wishful daydream, and lives in the moment.
Sometimes though, she cannot find comfort in her sleep. Sometimes the dreams in gold are not gently filtered with haze, but turn harsh and blinding like an evil sun and all of the scenes have too much exposure, and it hurts, hurts, hurts. There are images and sounds, and they are running like usual, but there is no laughter as background noise, no starry skies and beautiful beaches.
There is screaming and fire and fear, as his hand is torn away from hers, and he fades into the blinding exposure. She screams and scrambles but gold screen ensnares and burns her and she's lost and he's-
Alive, but no longer holding her hand. The gold exposure is still too strong, and there's a burning in her chest as she watches him take a step towards the TARDIS, and away from her, and all she can do is stand there while he makes excuses and platitudes all without saying goodbye as he leaves her again, disappearing into the too bright burning gold and gone, gone go-
There. Above her. But everything hurts so bad that she can't even breathe right and she can't really make out his face because the light is washing it out, but she can hear the panic and desperation in his voice.
He's clutching her hand this time, which should make her feel better, but it's only making her chest hurt worse. Because this time, he's not the one slipping away, she is. He's begging, his tone rough and desperate and she can't make out what he's saying, but for some reason it's starting to rain. She tries to reach out to him, to give him some sort of comfort, but before her hand can touch his face, the exposure washes it out and she's-
Screaming. It's the sort of pain that doesn't dull your senses, but sharpens so that the hurt is so acute it's unbearable. She can't see because the gold is so bright it hurts her eyes, but she can hear something buzzing and mechanical and voices that are grating and brash, and she's wondering where the Doctor is.
But what feels like an eternity later, she's still blinded by light and in agony as she's burned and beaten and she realizes that the Doctor isn't coming this time. The betrayal hurts more than her body, that he isn't here when she needs him, and oh God he can't have just left her here to die-
He's above her, his eyes wide and panicked as he shakes her, and she hears someone screaming, and wonders who it is, until she realizes it's her. Tears are pouring down her face, and she wonders what's going to happen this time to tear them apart as she shakes in his grasp.
It takes several minutes of hushed nonsense in her ear-something about dogs with no noses, and Festivals of the Sun and Rose, just talk to me, please-for her to realize that there is no blinding light in her room as she's wrapped up in him and her duvet and she smell of space and time in the dark.
She's awake now, and she should feel embarrassed, or make apologies for waking him-if he was even sleeping-or even just say something so that he doesn't panic even more than he clearly already is. But she's too tired to do anything but cling to him for dear life.
They might have been dreams, but she can still feel invisible burns on her skin almost as clearly as she can feel his arms around her, and she needs to anchor herself to this, because this was real, and that wasn't. There are kisses dropped into her hair, and he keeps muttering to her until she stops shaking and her tears have dried.
She finally finds her voice after what seems like hours, and thanks him for being there. She doesn't lie to him and tell him she's okay, he's smart enough to figure out it's a nightmare and there's nothing else she can say to him right now. Rose doesn't explain herself and she's glad that the Doctor doesn't ask, merely tightens his arms around her.
It's not that she doesn't think he'll understand what she's seen-it's that she's afraid that he does. More than that, she's deeply, illogically terrified that this is how he dreams too-in washed out color and vivid detail-and she understands why he never sleeps.
She certainly doesn't want to anymore.
The third shade of gold she dreams in she begins to suspect it's a bit more than a dream. The impression is fleeting in her mind, but it's an undercurrent even as she gazes around the console room of the TARDIS.
It's different this time-no more grates and coral. An unfamiliar man stands at the console-bowtie and blue eyes, but they eyes are still filled with star fire and sadness that makes them unmistakably his. Something inside her tells her that this in the in the future, and she feels a pang of regret. But he is not alone, and that eases it, a little. There is a red haired woman and a gangly man with him, and none of them seem to realize that she's standing right beside the pair. The Doctor is talking animatedly about something, but she can't quite make out the words.
The gold is pale, an almost translucent overlay to the scene, instead of blinding light or a fuzzy haze, and something within her tells her that the difference is important.
She is watching the scene play, as they plunge out into a new world, and she lingers for a moment in the TARDIS, reminiscing fondly. She likes this new look, but she prefers the way she knew it. The humming of the ship deepens at the thought, but there's a gentle shove for her to go outside. She's bemused at that, but she obediently begins to follow after the trio-petting the door before she leaves. The hum lightens, and there is the fleeting feeling of pleasure and melancholy, reassurance and bemusement. The combination is unexpected, but she continues on her way, letting herself puzzle over it as she walks after them.
She finds them not too far off, the Doctor is in the middle of explaining something, gesticulating wildly as the woman laughs at him, and the man looks worried. She takes the moment to really look at him, and realizes with a pang why this feels so wrong-she isn't actually there. The thought hurts her, but it isn't as sharp as she expected it to be-there is something whispering in the back of her mind, an explanation to why she's sad but not quite, but it's gone before she grasps it.
So she's gone now. And so is her Doctor-her new, now old, one. She takes in the banter which she can't hear, but she can hear the cadences-the woman is mirthful and accusing, the Doctor is defending himself, amused, and the man continues to be worried.
He's happy, she realizes suddenly. Actually, genuinely happy. He's still full of energy, but it is no longer manic, no longer a mask to hide sadness. There's a pang again, of wistfulness as she watches them charge off-well, the Doctor and the redhead do. The man follows after them with a resigned sort of amusement-and thinks of the time she promised him forever. But he's not alone, she tells herself as she heads after them, intrigued. She heads down the hill to the village they were visiting, and down to the street.
It's Earth, she knows, a good deal before the 21st century, but she doesn't know when or where. She turns down the alley she thought she saw the man turn into-
the TARDIS again, with the Doctor standing by the console, looking intently at her. There's a thrill in her stomach, followed quickly by the fleeting feeling before that this time tells her that this isn't right. No, she realizes belatedly, not at her. He can't see her. Through her then.
She turns around, to see who could make the Doctor look at them so intensely, and finds an unfamiliar woman with curly hair in an evening gown. She's smiling mysteriously at the Doctor, but there's no denying the affection in her eyes. She approaches him, and the Doctor smiles softly, even if the look he gives her only gets more intent. If Rose had any doubt who this woman was to this Doctor, it was gone the moment he leaned down and kissed her. Suddenly, Rose felt very, very uncomfortable. She looked away from the pair, feeling like she was watching something very private, though it was not more than a chaste kiss.
There was a melancholy that swelled in her that threatened to churn into sadness and jealousy, but there was that whisper again, louder this time. The TARDIS hum accompanied it, deep and soothing, and she heard a voice calling her name.
She glances on last time at the couple-the Doctor has his arms draped around her, and their foreheads are pressed together. Every inch of him looks at ease as the woman half smirks up at him, and the melancholy washes through her again, but it's mixed with a wistful sort of contentment.
The gold haze has faded completely as the two stand in full color before her, and something in the TARDIS humming tells her that this is important. She desperate to find out what it is, but her name is called again; in a voice that sounds like home and love, and she doesn't know why, but she knows that she cannot resist it's owner any longer. She turns away with a whispered goodbye to the Doctor, and-
Opens her eyes to sunlight filtering through a window, and painfully familiar face inches from her own. There is a fond smile plastered there, and brown eyes are warm and amused as she blinks blearily at him as his face crumples to worry, his hands finding her face. Warm brown eyes darken as he frowns, thumbs stroking her cheeks, as she realizes she's crying. The gentle voice of the Doctor-her Doctor-is worried and soothing as he brushes tears away from her face. Her heart is aching, but it is not with pain.
She has not dreamed in gold for many years, not since she'd landed in Bad Wolf Bay. It is a bitter sweet reminder of her time in her old universe, with the Last of the Time Lords. The Doctor, but not her Doctor. Her Doctor was here, wrapping her up in his arms and drying her eyes.
Years ago, when her Doctor had first arrived here, she had told him of the dreams in gold, wistful at their sharp absence from her life since she was stuck her. The last remains of the Time Vortex being in her, he told her, a mix of worry and awe. He'd gone on a long tangent then, about how she never should have had those dreams, never seen the things she'd dreamed.
Not dreams, possibilities. Potentials. She held all of time at her fingertips, and her dreams were echoes; remains of all that was, all that could have been, might have been.
And, on the very rare occasion, all that would come to pass.
Her heart breaks and heals for the Doctor for the last time, as she smiles up at her Doctor despite his concerned eyes, and tells him that she is absolutely fantastic.
And she is, as she sends the last of her love for the Time Lord and his blue box into the stars.
Far off in the deep of space and time, the TARDIS ceases to sing her final song to the Bad Wolf.
Rose Tyler no longer dreams in gold.