Warnings: Um, humour despite allusions to a horrific injury. And Rose is frankly kind of high (which explains the first warning), so drug references.
Author's Notes: Goes AU during the episode 'Rose'. Written for the prompt: "Ten/Rose - Rose doesn't believe the Doctor is real."
She wakes to something warm pressing against her forehead and a high-pitched buzzing sound emanating from somewhere just off to her right.
Rose mumbles something inaudible and reaches out automatically to slap at her alarm clock, but her hand meets nothing but air no matter how much she gropes around. Confused, she opens her eyes just in time to see a hand withdrawing from her face, taking the warmth with it. The sound stops on its own a second later, and a dim blue light that's coming from just out of her line of sight dies away, making the room suddenly even darker.
In the distance she can hear the constant noises of bustle that she's grown sadly used to over the past weeks. Right. Of course. No wonder she can't find her alarm clock, or the bedside table it should be propped on. This isn't her bedroom.
At first she wonders idly why the nurse didn't turn the light on to check on her; they don't usually seem to care all that much about waking her up whenever they feel like it. But though it takes her a second of squinting, even through the shadows she can see that the hand that was just touching her is attached to a long arm covered in a suit that doesn't look like any nurse's uniform she's ever seen. She follows the line of that arm up to a broad shoulder, a thin neck, a stubble-covered chin, and, finally, an almost anxious-looking face that's staring right back at her even more intently than she's studying him.
By now she knows all the staff that work in this ward. He's not one of them.
She should probably scream, or at least press the call button. But although every instinct should be telling her that shouting for help is the only smart thing to do when she catches some strange man touching her in bed in the middle of the night, she's not feeling particularly afraid of him. She's not feeling anything much at all, for that matter.
It takes her a moment to figure out just why that's so peculiar.
She's feeling nothing. Nothing at all. No pain. It feels like it's been far too long since she could say that.
It's as though the entire weight of her own body and all the suffering attached to it has been lifted from her. She feels like she's floating, and it's wonderful.
Dreaming, she decides. She must be dreaming. Either that or they've switched her back to morphine and cranked it right the hell up, in which case, her doctor has just become her favourite person in the whole wide world, because wow.
The way the man is hovering over her silently like some kind of ethereal being only seems to confirm the feeling of unreality. Though she could swear she can actually feel how the mattress beside her dips when he leans against it.
He reaches towards her again, and she doesn't try to stop him. It's been so long since anyone's touched her without making the pain spike – or since anyone other than her Mum or the various nurses and doctors, with their so-professional hands, has touched her at all, for that matter – that she sort of wants to find out whether it's possible to feel sensations other than pain in her sleep.
But he seems to have something very different in mind, unfortunately. "I'm sorry," is the very first thing he says to her, lightly stroking a small patch of unmarked skin just on the inside of her elbow. Yep, she can definitely feel that.
"I'm so sorry," he continues. "This is my fault, you know. Well, no, you don't know, since you don't even know who I am. That's why I'm telling you, obviously. Still. It won't be any consolation to you, but I managed to blow myself up that night as well, and even worse than you. I'm still rather surprised I survived, more or less. The experience wasn't something I'd wish even on my worst enemies, and let me tell you, if my enemies don't deserve it, then no one does. I'd certainly go back and spare you that if I could, but that would be a paradox, and we can't have that."
She has no idea what he's talking about, and not just because he's rambling. The only 'that night' that comes to mind – that ever comes to her mind anymore, and far too often – is that night, and he certainly doesn't look like he was caught up in the blast. Not looking like that, with hair that perfect. No matter how much everyone tries so hard to convince her otherwise – and no matter that he's currently gazing at her as if she's something beautiful – Rose knows she looks like she's just done ten rounds with an open-flame oven. He, on the other hand, doesn't appear to have a single scratch on him. She might be annoyed about that, except he's so nice to look at.
"I know it doesn't really look like I got myself blown up," he says, as if he can read her mind. Maybe he can; he's apparently something her brain has conjured up, after all. "But I looked a lot different then. You might say I've had to have some heavy work done on myself recently."
Well then. Forget her own doctor. If he introduces her to his plastic surgeon, then that person will most definitely become her favourite person on the planet, because damn that's some good work. She'd love to get his or her number.
Pity she's just imagining this whole thing.
All the same, she decides that there are worse things to dream up than a good-looking man willing to touch her when she looks like this, especially given that her boyfriend hasn't been able to bring himself to lay so much as a finger nearer than two feet from her since it happened.
She could also be dreaming of better things, though, than lying in the same damn bed she's been more or less confined to since she was moved to the Burn Unit. If she's going to be pain-free for the duration, then she might as well at least go for a walk outside or something. And surely if this drug haze or whatever it is can make her hallucinate him into existence, it can't be too difficult to also dream up a restaurant that's open at three in the morning. She could really go for some chips right now. Even imaginary chips would do.
As she rolls over and begins to rise from the bed, he grabs her arm to help her. It feels odd to have his fingertips brushing over the scars without causing agony. It's nice, though, particularly when he lets her lean against him slightly once she's fully upright; she might not be in pain, but she has to admit she's rather tired.
When she goes to pull the line out of her arm, he stops her.
"No, no, believe me, you'll want to keep that in. Though you should be careful, because I hear it tends to result in a certain level of wooziness."
No kidding, she thinks. She in a constant state of wanting to laugh out loud at absolutely nothing. Woozy is an understatement. It's then that Rose finally notices that whatever her I.V. is hooked up to definitely can't be any kind of meds she's ever been given.
"What's up with the rainbow juice?" she asks. Just staring into the swirling colours inside the bag is like being on a strange acid trip.
"You can thank the year one billion and seven hundred for that little medical advance. The doctors in this century might not be much to talk of, but give it a couple of thousand millennia and you humans definitely come into your own."
"Oh, okay. Good to know," she says. Cute, but crazy. Shame.
"This particular medicine's only a temporary stop-gap to keep you from feeling any pain, though. The pain is still technically there. It's not a solution."
Even more of a shame. She's definitely loving this feeling and wants to hang onto it.
"But you could come with me," he offers. "If you'll agree, I can stop the pain for good. You only need to let me take you away from here."
It occurs to her precisely how morbid that sounds, and what it might actually mean. She promptly feels a bit weak in the legs. She's suddenly experiencing a sort of numbness beyond the mere lack of physical pain, and is surprised she doesn't fall back down on the bed, hard, at the very thought of it.
"Ah," Rose says tonelessly. "All right. I think I get what this is now... You know, you're really not what I expected the Grim Reaper to look like." Nor did she expect death to feel quite this good.
"You're not dying," he says, sounding almost desperately adamant about that. "Not any time soon, if I have anything to say about it, and trust me, I will be saying something about it. I'm not about to let you die because of my stupid mistake."
"Oh." Rose breathes out heavily. "Well that's good. I mean, all right, life hasn't been so great as of late, sure, but... I'm only nineteen. I haven't even had time to get a decent job. Or any job, I s'pose, considerin' how my last one... well. And seriously, Jimmy Stone can't really be the longest relationship I ever get to have, right? That'd be rubbish."
"Well, if you'll just let me put things right, you can look forward to a nice, long life. Well, maybe not long in the grand scheme of things; you are human, after all. But long enough to go off and fall in love with someone who doesn't have a name that sounds alarmingly like an aging rock star's. I mean, you'll be good as new soon enough. No, better than that. And I'll bring you right back here afterwards, don't worry."
If that's what you want, he doesn't say, but she hears it anyway. Or maybe she just wants to hear it. Running away with him forever sounds like quite the plan.
"Yeah, all right. But if we're goin' somewhere, I'd better at least get changed."
"Oh, no, never mind that. There are plenty of extra clothes where we're going. Besides, nothing wrong with a hospital gown. They're all the fashion in some societies out there, trust me."
And she does trust him, strangely. Oh, not necessarily about the hospital gown thing – that's just weird – but in general. Maybe it's just because he only exists inside the security of her own mind, but he makes her feel safe. And when he takes her free hand in his, it feels strangely right.
She lets him lead her down the hallway, dragging the I.V. behind her, and actually smiling for once.
Rose realises that for the first time since the brief half-second when she witnessed the walls of Henrik's exploding in on her, she truly feels like things might be all right.
She has no idea where he thinks he's taking her, but whether or not this is really just a figment of her imagination, she'll happily follow him anywhere.
Even into the blue box that's bizarrely appeared crammed into the supply cupboard.