Summary: Five times the Doctor saw Rose Tyler sleep
The first time it happened was completely accidental, but perhaps not completely unforeseen, given the circumstances of the day.
After all, he'd sent her off with the pretty boy, giving himself the space he needed. Their footsteps and voices faded down the corridors of the TARDIS with Rose's "Yeah, she takes a little getting used to at first" triggering the beginnings of a smile, the edges of his mouth turning up scant millimeters, before the weight of memories pressed down on him again. He found his feet carrying him out of the console room without any thought from him.
In the end, he found himself in the library.
He couldn't fathom why the corridors had led him there, as opposed to his room, but it didn't matter where he was. Self-castigation hardly depended on setting. He'd brood (though he'd never call it that aloud) and by morning he'd be fine – the memories buried beneath a wall of ice to dull the sting. Rose didn't need to see him before then. She wouldn't come looking for him – why would she after today?
Of course, Rose rarely did what he expected.
"I'm not going t' ask if you're alright."
He turned, almost startled by her voice in the library doorway. Caught in his winding thoughts, he hadn't listened for her approaching footsteps.
"Good." He said, turning away from her to stare back into the dark. What else could he say?
He could hear her hair rustling against the collar of her vest top, whisper soft behind him. She was obviously shaking her head.
"Well, it'd be kind of stupid, wouldn't it? Of course you aren't."
He exhaled heavily. "What do you want, Rose?"
"Nothing, just didn't think you needed to be alone."
He clenched his eyes shut. Being alone might not help, but he couldn't (wouldn't) talk about it with Rose. There was no need to verify what he already knew – that his guilt would follow him for the rest of his considerably long life. He wasn't sure he could handle seeing that look in her eye again as she realized what he really was. 'It isn't the one pointing the gun at me!' she had said, accusation in her eyes. Mere moments later, she was holding him as he shook, his memories having caught up with him and overtaken the rage he had felt. Her capacity for forgiveness was endless – and he didn't deserve it.
He could hear her taking a seat in the armchair to his left, the scrape of denim against the tapestry fabric of the chairs. Silently, he watched her tuck one foot beneath her body, settling herself in the seat with one leg bent so her other foot was in the chair. She made no coy gestures as if she was trying to hide the fact she was watching him; in fact she simply settled her chin on her bent knee.
He said nothing, and she didn't ask him to. But the silence hung between them heavily. Eventually, he heard her shift, reaching over for a book on the low table beside the armchair. It hadn't been there before, but at this point, it was hardly a surprise that the TARDIS was fond enough of Rose to give her entertainment while she kept him company. Occasionally, a page turned, but other than that, he was left in complete silence to brood.
He couldn't help but think that silence was a part of him now, as sure as his senses, or as much as his TARDIS was an extension of him. And he'd made it happen. Still, he wasn't alone, not completely.
He cut his eyes over to Rose, taking a look at the girl who had decided to take his loneliness upon herself as a burden. He found that she had shifted further, draping her legs over the chair arm. Her book rested on her legs just below her knees, but it didn't much matter, as she was sound asleep with her head tilted into the chair back, and one hand resting on the pages of the novel.
He couldn't help but smile a bit at the sight.
She'd left the console room almost immediately after the door had closed behind them, despite the fact they had returned hand in hand. Turning knobs and pulling levers, he sent them flying to the vortex, all while Rose stood staring at her feet. Neither seemed capable of breaking the silence that had fallen between them; even though she called his name once, by the time he'd looked up a moment later, she'd clearly decided to keep silent instead.
Later, he found her in an armchair in a room that most would term a lounge, but was more of a furniture storage room. He didn't even bother wondering how she found the room – the TARDIS liked her far more than was normal, so that she gave her a place to hide away now was unsurprising. The chair faced away from the doorway, the only part of her visible was her left hand which was draped over the chair's right arm.
He circled the chair to find her curled up in it, with her feet tucked beneath her body as she pressed the side of her face into the back of the chair. He could see damp trails of mascara on her cheeks. He rested on hand on the back of the chair and watched her for a long moment. He couldn't help but wonder who the tears were for.
Had he become that small a man? The kind that would prefer her to have missed him rather than her own father, a man she'd never had the chance to know? He wasn't sure he had an answer for that. And if he did, he wasn't sure that he would like it.
He looked down at her hair; it was half falling from the gathered style of the day in the dim light the TARDIS gave every room by default. She had all but called him jealous today and he wondered if that would have been better than the words she'd used.
"You're not the most important man in my life" she had shouted at him after he'd questioned her intentions in asking him to bring her then. The breath in his lungs escaped in a sudden rush as he recollected the realization that she called him out in a way he never expected. He was completely unused to being unimportant- and more than that, he wasn't entirely prepared for how desperately uncomfortable the mere idea of being unimportant to her made him.
She'd unintentionally made him realize just how important she was to him in that moment.
He recognized that he loved her; that was long since done, but until that moment of blinding fear, he hadn't known how he desperately wanted her to love him. She was important, too important to him really, more than he could possibly express, and he wanted to be equally important to her.
He let his hand slip down from where it rested on the top of the chair back to run lightly across her hair. She shifted slightly, rolling her shoulders and moving her head as though she was trying to burrow further into the soft fabric of the chair.
It was frightening how much of him was tied up in this little human girl. A stupid ape he called her, but really she was so much more than that.
Stupid occasionally, but then, if he was honest everyone in the universe was compared to him.
That was outclassed by far by the other things she was. Brave; the first time he'd met her alone told him that. Compassionate as well; caring enough to want to save everyone, and wasn't that ultimately what had caused today? It was a fault that he couldn't begin to hate in her. Observant; she often saw things that he didn't (or couldn't, he reminded himself thinking of Utah not so very long ago).
But most of all, she was human – and he wasn't sure anymore that was something he loved or regretted.
He watched her sleep a moment more before removing his hand from her hair and disappearing out the door, carrying that sobering thought with him.
When he found her with her head pillowed on the crook of her crossed arms and the fingers of one hand loosely curled around the base of a mug of tea gone cold, his chest tightened. Even asleep she was lovely, but aside from the rush of affection the mere sight of her always brought, there was more than a little guilt. Directly across from her sat a second mug of tea with an open sleeve of biscuits beside it. She hadn't come after him to complete their post-adventure ritual, instead she'd waited for him to decide he wanted to do the things they always did together, despite the fact he'd let her down in more ways than one in the past week alone.
Silently, he slid into the seat on the opposite side of the table and wrapped a hand around the mug, checking its temperature without taking his gaze off of Rose.
That told him how long she'd been waiting- much longer than she should have before coming to look for him. Still, a vindictive, self-loathing part of him pointed out it wasn't as if he'd acted much like a friend lately, so perhaps it wasn't really a surprise that she wouldn't come looking for him. He'd pushed her away (and in doing so said almost too much) and when she resisted that, he ran. The memory of the first time he'd seen her sleep came to him unbidden. After her initial statement of purpose, she'd said nothing, merely offering silent companionship.
When did she start giving him space when he wanted to brood? He cast his mind back, looking for the first time in the great swathes of his memory.
This was the first time. He narrowed his eyes and watched her sleep as though that would answer all the questions he suddenly yearned to have answers for. As he followed her breathing, his own falling in sync almost immediately, he wondered why she would give him space now.
Even before he'd regenerated, when he'd appeared much more given to brooding, she hadn't left him alone. Now, that he had learned to rely on her comfort, she did? The thought did not make sense. She'd let Mickey lead her away without a fuss earlier, had said nothing to him, and waited in the kitchen with tea instead of bringing it with her to find him. That was not in any way like the Rose he knew – the Rose that didn't back down for anything, that pushed him to admit things, that wouldn't ever leave him alone for his own good.
Could she think that Reinette was a replacement for her? The idea was utterly ludicrous to him; for all that Reinette had been lovely in many ways, she wasn't Rose and certainly couldn't have stayed long even if she had made it back to the TARDIS. But still, with it only hours behind them, it was the only explanation for her change in behavior that he could muster.
Did Rose really not know? He wasn't sure he could say the words this time around, even to himself while she slept, but it didn't mean he didn't feel it at all.
He was scared – he could admit that now. It was so easy to get caught up in running with her that he had almost forgotten. Then Mickey had called and he'd been reminded. It hurt to remember that she would be gone so very soon in the larger scheme of things.
He exhaled heavily and let his palms cover his forehead, the heels of them digging into his eyes with an uncomfortable pressure. After a moment, he looked at Rose's blond head again before reaching out to brush his fingers across the back of her visible hand.
He leaned in closer before whispering sadly. "You know, don't you Rose? I – you have to know."
It was early morning when she finally fell asleep. He couldn't blame her for feeling uneasy here, not under the circumstances.
He watched her silently, seeing her chest rise and fall in a steady rhythm. He'd trapped her, trapped himself. He couldn't reach the TARDIS, and - his thoughts stopped dead. He shuddered a little at the thought of a house, but without the TARDIS he had nowhere to go; no money either, and dependent on where the team had come from precisely, no real prospects of getting any for some time.
He let himself collapse heavily into the single chair in the room. It was sparse, only a bed, something resembling a dresser and a desk and chair – living quarters for someone who had a goal and no time for anything else, not for someone at loose ends attempting to find one. His eyes flickered back to Rose, still sleeping steadily. He turned slightly, facing the door as if he wasn't contemplating the situation they were found in suddenly.
The bed itself only looked marginally more comfortable than some of the benches and bunks in the numerous prison cells they were acquainted with across the universe. Of course, those were rarely ever used, as they tended to break out as soon as it was physically possible to do so. He could hear Rose shift and his eyes drifted back to watch her. After a long moment, she stilled again, having rolled onto her side, her breathing slipping back into the steady rhythm of sleep.
He exhaled heavily. No running now. Even if they did, there was nowhere to go. His hands crept into his trouser pockets as he considered for a moment taking inventory of the contents. Not four hours ago, they had sat at a table and discussed a mortgage, and for all his "I'm dying" commentary, he'd do it. He would take care of her, at least until she acclimatized to a life in a different time (because, knowing Rose Tyler, that would be as long as she'd let him. For a moment, it was startling to realize that he wanted to take care of her, if it came to that). His fingers flexed in the cavernous insides of his trouser pockets, drifting over a tangle of wiring that he had picked up at some point before he decided against the idea and pulling his hand out.
He stood, crossing the room in five strides, before turning and retracing his path. Again. And again. After a dozen trips, he shrugged off his jacket and laid it on the chair before sitting on the end of the bed below Rose's feet. His head felt heavy, a part of him looking for the TARDIS – there was just enough residual connection that he could faintly feel her in the depths of the planet. Wherever she was, she hadn't died yet, probably wouldn't until the impossible orbit they were in collapsed, and that was almost a certainty.
He wasn't looking forward to that day. That would certainly break him, even more so than he already was. At least he wouldn't be alone, he supposed, Rose would be there.
He shifted slowly, making sure not to wake Rose, until he had managed to fit his body between hers and the wall. He wouldn't sleep tonight, but staring at the ceiling would be a change from pacing the room, which he'd done for hours now.
"Doctor?" Rose slurred sleepily, shifting beside him as though she was going to sit up.
"I'm here Rose, go back to sleep."
She turned over to face him, a clumsy movement that made it clear she wasn't actually awake yet. He threaded his arm around her shoulders, and almost immediately he could feel her breathing shift back into the rhythm of full sleep.
She curled into his quasi-embrace, and he instinctively tightened his grip. Readjusting to linear living would be difficult he was sure, but at this moment, he was almost certain it would be worth it.
He pressed a kiss into her hair as she slept with her head pillowed on his chest right above his heart. Her hand lay on opposite side. The ring on her finger glinted in the moonlight shining through their open window. He couldn't help but smile at the sight. It was such a little thing, meaningless in many ways, but he couldn't deny that he loved the claim it showed he had.
"I love you, Rose." He whispered to her, as she snuggled in closer.
Pressing one last kiss into his wife's hair, the Doctor finally joined her in sleep.