22 October 2013 @ 05:29 pm
fic: The Crafting Room  
Title: The Crafting Room
Pairing: Ten/Rose
Length: ~6k
Genre: Uhhh... two parts fluff, one part angst. (Surprise!)
Summary: Rose gets a glimpse of what the Doctor does while she's asleep.
Author's note: Written for stoprobbers for the TARDIS ficathon approximately nine billion years late. Kudos to goldy_dollar for looking it over despite the shocking lack of vampires, socialites or tennis players in it.
Excerpt: Her lips twisted in amusement; whatever she’d imagined the Doctor did while she slept, that wasn’t quite it. “That’s what you’re doing while I’m asleep? Crafting?”

In the time she’d been on board, Rose had grown used to the complexities of the TARDIS. She knew the rooms didn’t always stay where you’d left them -- that the hallways seemed to shift and change, and that sometimes whole rooms seemed to appear or disappear or remodel themselves entirely. It was part and parcel of having a living spaceship, the Doctor had said, and Rose had got the impression he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Easy enough for you to say, she’d thought grumpily after misplacing her bedroom for the second time. The Doctor always found the room he was looking for on the TARDIS; Rose suspected it had less to do with his sense of direction and more to do with the deep bond he shared with his ship. Frankly, she thought the TARDIS played favourites.

But the longer she spent on the ship, the easier navigating it became. The rooms she was looking for seemed to appear when she wanted them. Sometimes she thought the TARDIS was starting to like her.

“Or she’s decided to take pity on you,” the Doctor had suggested, punctuated by precisely the sort of cheeky grin that made Rose unable to shove him with as much force as he deserved.

Whether it was affection or pity, Rose had grown accustomed to the benefits of a helpful TARDIS, and so when she left her room in the middle of the night to fetch a drink she trusted the door across the hall to lead her to the kitchen.

It didn’t.

Instead the room she entered was one she’d never seen before. High-ceilinged and well lit, it was lined with shelves and desks covered in various bits of metal and wires and bolts. Plenty of tools she could name and several more she couldn’t hung on the walls. At the centre of it all, surrounded by bits and bobs, the Doctor was perched on a stool like an oversized cockatoo. He looked up as she walked in, his glasses sliding to the end of his nose, and Rose froze where she was, one hand still on the doorknob.

“So,” she said, “not the kitchen, then.”

“Nope.” He tilted his head back, the smallest crinkle of concern on his forehead. “Everything alright? Thought you were sleeping.”

“‘M fine, just wanted a drink.” She stepped further into the room and folded her arms across her chest. “Why’s it so cold in here?”

The Doctor set down the bits of wire he was holding and straightened up in his seat. “Yeah, sorry about that. The TARDIS doesn’t keep rooms very warm if I’m the only one who uses them. Saves energy.”

Rose grinned. “You worried about the gas bill?”

“Maybe. You watch out, I’ll start charging for utilities.” He pointed at her in mock reprimand. “I know how long your showers are.”

“You time my showers?”

“I’m a Time Lord, I time everything,” he said matter-of-factly, but Rose thought she saw some additional colour appear in his cheeks.

She walked towards the desk he was sitting at, trailing one hand to run her fingers over the wood of the desk. “So what’s this place, then? Some sort of mad scientist workshop?”

“‘Course not, my evil laboratory’s down the hall.” The Doctor folded his arms and spun on his stool, leaning back against the desk. “No, see, humans, you lot waste an enormous amount of your day sleeping. Those of us with superior biology--” Rose smirked “--have to keep ourselves busy for nine hours. So sometimes I come here and... make things.” He nodded his head to the table behind him.

Her lips twisted in amusement; whatever she’d imagined the Doctor did while she slept, that wasn’t quite it. “That’s what you’re doing while I’m asleep? Crafting?”

“It’s not crafting, it’s just... making things.”

“For fun?”

“Well... yes.”

“Like a hobby?”

“Exactly!”

“Mmmm.” Rose bit her lip in mock concentration. “Sounds a lot like crafting.” He sighed in resignation and she snickered. “You could make me a macaroni collage. Or a paper chain. Or...” She leaned across the desk to get a closer look at the machine closest to him. “What’s this?”

It looked a little like a small toaster, though there was only one slot at the top. Instinct and curiosity taking over, she reached out and brushed the side of it with the tips of her fingers. At her touch it sprang to life; bright light shone out the top, projecting a huge image in the air in front of them. It looked like a mountain range, but the colours were wrong -- bright reds and oranges, like an inverted photo. The picture hung in the air for a split second, then flickered and disappeared.

“Whoa,” she said softly, the last traces of teasing melting away. “What happened?”

“That was a... glitch,” he answered. There was something in his voice she couldn’t place, and he reached out to take her hand and pull it back from the machine.

Her fingers threaded through his like muscle memory. “What is it?” she asked, gesturing towards the box.

“It’s a... work in progress. Found it in one of the storerooms, been fixing it up, tweaking it a bit.” He frowned. “Still needs some work.”

“Oh.” She tugged his arm. “Show me tomorrow?”

“You shouldn’t rush a craftsman, Rose.”

Though she rolled her eyes, she couldn’t help smiling back. “Oh, come on, we both know you love showing off. Besides, you’ve still got a good five hours to kill, Mr Superior Biology.”

Well...” The Doctor hesitated, wavering on the spot, so Rose raised her eyebrows and smiled innocently. With a belaboured sigh, he nodded. “All right.”

Her smile widened. “Can’t wait. See you in the morning.” She slipped her hand out of his and walked back towards the door, but paused in the doorway to look back. “Doctor?”

“Mmm?”

“Impress me.”

The Doctor stood a little straighter, and a familiarly smug expression washed over his features. “Oh, Rose Tyler, just you wait.”

---

Rose woke up most mornings on the TARDIS excited to start the day. The one guarantee in the ever-changing life she and the Doctor lead was that each day was bound to be interesting. Travelling with the Doctor meant even ordinary outings weren’t so simple; ice cream wasn’t just ice cream, it was a flavour-changing sundae from Europa in 4350. There was no better alarm clock than not knowing what part of the universe you’d be seeing that day.

Still, it surprised even Rose that when she woke the next morning, the thing she was most eager to see was what the Doctor had built.

She knew, rationally, that whatever it was, it’d been something he worked on to pass the time and probably little more than that. It certainly wasn’t anything he’d set out to make for her, specifically. There wasn’t even any novelty to the Doctor building something; she’d seen him cobble together countless gadgets, ranging in sophistication from truly complex to something worthy of Macguyver.

But something about getting to see what he did when she wasn’t around roused the butterflies in her stomach. They were good mates, her and the Doctor. Best mates, even. Ever since Christmas, the Doctor had been even more familiar with her, more relaxed, more chatty -- and far more handsy, too, though truthfully she didn’t mind. But he was still a man shrouded in layers, and she felt a thrill every time she managed to get a peek underneath.

(Metaphorically speaking, of course. Not literal layers, though actually he wore a lot of those too, and if she was being perfectly honest she supposed she wouldn’t mind--)

“Rose?”

The Doctor sprung up behind her just as she was shutting the door to her room, yanking her away from her half-formed thoughts. He’d changed his tie, his glasses were gone, and he was watching her with a rare expression: the usual eagerness to showboat and impress was tempered with uncertainty.

Rose bit back a smile. Was he nervous?

“You ready?” he asked.

“Yeah.” She paused. “Are you?”

He puffed up the way he always did when she insulted his pride. “Of course.” Then he reached down and -- on instinct, Rose supposed -- took her hand to lead her across the hall.

The door he opened didn’t lead to the same room she’d seen last night.

Well, it did, technically -- she could see the benches and shelves and tools were all the same. The look of the room, though, had completely changed. The bright overhead lighting was off, and instead the room was dimly lit, like a movie theatre. The air had warmed to the comfortable temperature she was used to, and the clutter from the desks had been cleared away, leaving only the toaster-like object from last night sitting at the centre of the table. Even the simple wooden stool had been replaced with a high-backed cushioned chair.

Rose gaped as she followed him towards the chair, her mouth open half in awe and half in suspicion. “Did the TARDIS do this, or did you?”

The Doctor didn’t answer, and whether that was a confession or not, Rose wasn’t sure. Instead he led her by the hand to the chair and motioned for her to sit. When she did, he swooped to one side, looming over her with one arm on the back of her chair. “Rose Tyler, are you ready to be impressed?”

Rose lifted her chin and raised her eyebrows defiantly. “Bring it on.”

The Doctor’s face broke out in a smile. “Brilliant,” he said. “Now close your eyes.”

Rose obeyed immediately, then wondered with a rush of embarrassment what that said about her; if Mickey or Shareen had done the same, she’d at least have asked why. Her trust in the Doctor was on another level.

Maybe that just came with the territory when you spent most days saving each other’s lives.

“Right,” said the Doctor. She could hear him move away from her and start to fiddle with the machine. “Do you remember when we went to Woman Wept? The flash-frozen sea, with those big tall waves of ice?”

“Yeah.” Of course, she wanted to add but didn’t. Maybe flash-frozen seas weren’t as memorable to Time Lords.

“Good,” he said, and she thought she could hear a smile. “Can you picture it, in your mind?”

She could. At the time she’d thought Woman Wept might be the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. By midnight, the light from its two moons had the blue ice glowing under the hundreds of alien constellations sparkling overhead. Now that she’d been travelling for so long, she knew she’d never be able to pick a single most beautiful sight... but she imagined Woman Wept would always be near the top.

“Got it?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Good,” he said again. “Here.”

He took one of her hands in both of his, gently unfolding her fingers and holding up her palm. It was strange, she thought, how intimate that felt; they held hands every day, but with her eyes closed she suddenly felt hyper-aware of his long, cool fingers against her skin. Something cold was placed in her hand, and he wrapped her fingers around what felt like a metal tube.

“Hold that,” he said, taking his hands off hers. “Keep picturing it.”

Suddenly she could see a bright light against the back of her eyelids, and she scrunched up her forehead in confusion.

“All right,” he said, his voice suddenly back at her ear, making the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. “Open your eyes.”

When she did, her mouth fell open, too.

Projected in the air in front of them, just like the mountain range the night before, was the image of a vast stretch of frozen ocean. It was remarkably detailed -- it had the reflection of the moonlight off the ice, the dark shadows underneath the crests of the frozen waves, the vast number of stars dotting the sky. It was Woman Wept, as she remembered it.

Exactly as she remembered it, in fact.

“But that was in my head,” she said, pointing at it with her free hand. “How’s it doing that?”

“Slight telepathic field, conducted through the sensor in your hand, projecting your memory in front of you.” He said it all with the smug voice he always used when he knew he’d impressed her, and she could feel him watching her reaction closely. “Pretty good, isn’t it?”

“Not bad,” was all she said, but she couldn’t keep the tone of wonder out of her voice. “You made this?”

“Not exactly.” He half-sat on the arm of her chair, draping one arm around the back of it. Rose found herself simultaneously wondering why he didn’t grab a chair of his own and glad that he hadn’t. “It’s old technology -- well, new for you, I suppose, but old in the grand scheme of the universe. Developed in 2346, it was designed for use in court trials. They’d call eyewitnesses to the stand and rather than have them describe what they’d seen, they’d project those memories as images for the judge and jury.

“Trouble is, of course, eyewitness testimony isn’t particularly accurate, and these pictures are taken from memories, not facts. Throwing it up in front of the jury like that made it seem more convincing than it should be. Like a polygraph test, it could be manipulated, distorted, misleading, create a false sense of confidence in a witness’ testimony. By 2400 it was banned in legal systems around the globe.”

“Wow,” was all Rose managed. She was still transfixed by the shot of Woman Wept, her own mental image being broadcast to the public. “So what happened?”

“Oh, the technology floated around for some time after that, privatized and modified and repurposed, but never quite the same. It’s interesting technology for a race without telepathy, even if it is rubbish as evidence, and it was popular for weddings, funerals... there was even a misguided decision to install one at a memorial statue in Madrid. This one here--” he pointed to the desk “--is one of the earlier models from the 2360s. Picked it up, ooh, a few hundred years ago in a junkyard. Forgot I had it until I found it again the other night. I thought it...” He tugged at his ear and shrugged. “Well, I just thought it might be interesting.”

“It is,” she said earnestly, finally tearing her gaze away from the image to look at him. “Doctor, it’s amazing.”

The smile he gave her was simple and soft, nowhere near the wide Cheshire grin he was capable of, but it was warm and genuine and somehow more valuable.

With considerable effort she looked away from him and turned her attention back to the image of Woman Wept, which had lost some of its clarity and now resembled a snowy television screen. She wondered if it was because she’d become distracted, and loosened her grip on the sensor.

“So how does it work, anyway? If people’s memories aren’t perfect, how comes the picture’s so clear?”

“Stronger memories make clearer pictures,” he explained. “Important ones, usually -- the ones with sentimental value or emotional significance. Sometimes one part of the image is clearer than the rest -- a particular item or building or person you remember vividly against an indistinct background.” He nodded towards her image of Woman Wept, now fading. “Try something else.”

Rose bit her lip in thought and closed her eyes, rummaging through her recollections for something that would be clear without being revealing; the last thing she wanted displayed for the Doctor was her awkward first kiss on Shareen’s sofa, or that time in year 8 when she got her period a week early in the middle of Miss Cole’s maths class. Broadcasting your thoughts, she realized, could be hazardous.

Finally she settled on the view of Earth from the observation deck on Platform One. It seemed so long ago; she’d been a bundle of excitement and uncertainty and nerves, utterly unprepared for what she’d embarked on. Aliens, time travel, narrowly avoiding death -- it was all second nature to her, now, but she could still remember how she’d felt looking down at Earth from its orbit for the first time.

When she opened her eyes again, the view of a “classic” Earth illuminated by a dying sun hung in the air in front of her.

“Ah, Platform One,” the Doctor said, nodding in approval. “Good choice.”

Just as she was about to thank him, the image of Earth started to flicker. A different picture was blinking in, too fast at first for Rose to decipher. It was difficult to look at, and she squinted as the picture jumped around.

“Sorry,” said the Doctor, “that’s not--”

He leaned forward to reach for the machine, but the image stabilized before he could touch it, and he froze. Platform One was gone; she was now looking at herself, smiling, hair blowing in her face.

On reflex she said, “That’s not mine.”

“No, it’s mine.” Once again he sounded unusually shy. “I was testing it last night. Sometimes it cycles through previous images, I’m not sure why.” He hopped to his feet and walked to the table, peering closely at the machine and reaching for his sonic screwdriver while he muttered about cache troubles. “Hang on a minute.”

Rose was still staring at the image of herself. In it she was smiling from ear to ear, even as her hair was suspended in a windswept mess around her face. The picture was so clear and so accurate it might as well have been a mirror, were it not for the difference in pose and scale. It was a little uncomfortable, really, seeing her own likeness projected so large and so close.

Strangest of all, though, was that she couldn’t figure out where this memory was from. She could tell from her own hairstyle it was within the last year or so -- since Christmas, at least -- and she knew from the wind she must have been outside. But it was as if the rest of the scene had been stripped away; there was no background to the photo, no landscape or skyline she could see to help her place it. Whatever else might belong in the memory was a nondescript blur.

She frowned. Where had they been that the only clear part of his memory was her?

“When was that?” she asked.

But the Doctor was bent over the machine, lost in thought. “Aha!” He pointed the screwdriver at the back and it whirred on. “This should do it.”

The picture changed again, but not to Platform One; instead a dozen other images were fighting to push through all at once, flickering between each other rapidly. Instinctively Rose leaned forward, squinting, trying to decipher the pictures. They changed too fast for her to get a clear glimpse of any, but she thought she saw herself several times in the mix. In some she wasn’t even facing the imaginary camera.

“…Or not,” said the Doctor bluntly, standing up and scratching the back of his neck in perplexity.

Mixed into the melee were other places and faces she didn’t know. The mountain range from earlier was back, too, easily recognizable by the shock of orange and red. The flash of images was almost dizzying.

Rose realized her mouth had fallen open and snapped it shut. She felt as though she’d stumbled across a photo album she wasn’t meant to see. “Are these all yours?” she asked quietly.

The Doctor didn’t hear her – or at least he pretended not to. But his posture was stiff, his right arm holding the screwdriver like a sword ready to be drawn, and Rose supposed that was answer enough. He turned his head towards her and frowned, staring at the sensor she still gripped in her hand.

“Maybe you should let that go,” he said.

She set the sensor down on the arm of her chair, and soon enough the blitz of images slowed to a stop, landing on the mountain range again. The whole room glowed with red-orange light.

Now that the rush of images had stopped, Rose could see the details. There were two suns lighting up the orange sky, one already hanging high while the second had just begun to creep into view. The mountainsides were so red she thought for a moment they were on fire, but there was no smoke in the air. Clusters of glistening silver dotted the base of the mountains and the valley below.

“That’s a planet, yeah?” she asked without needing confirmation. “It’s beautiful.”

“Yeah.” The usual bounce in his voice had been replaced by a quiet reverence.

“Can we go?” She wanted to see it up close, wanted to know whether the red of the mountains came from rocks or foliage, wanted to see what the clumps of silver were—

“No.”

It wasn’t a harsh refusal; in fact he sounded regretful. Still, it startled Rose. There were very few things he denied her, and she couldn’t remember him ever refusing to take her somewhere – even when perhaps he should have.

Then realization slammed into her.

Not a planet. His planet.

With a sickly sensation in her stomach, Rose turned her attention to the Doctor. He was standing fixed where he had been, staring at the image in the air. The tension in his shoulders was gone, replaced with a slump that gave him an uncharacteristic look of defeat. This new face of his, usually so animated and so youthful, suddenly looked very old.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly.

This time he might really not have heard her. Fixed in place with a thousand-yard stare, he looked light-years away, and it was a long moment before he spoke.

“These machines are made for humans,” he began, in the low voice he used to explain unfortunate realities of the universe. “Time Lords are different: better memories, stronger telepathy. The machine gets overwhelmed, starts picking out memories on its own.” He spoke to her without looking at her, his eyes still fixed on the projection in the air. “I thought it’d be fine if you were the one using it.” He lifted one shoulder in a half-hearted shrug. “Guess not.”

Rose nibbled the inside of her lip, unsure what to do. She wanted to say something, to express solidarity somehow, but all the platitudes that came to mind felt inadequate on her tongue. Anyone would find it difficult to be blindsided by their own memories; for someone like the Doctor, who kept so many things under lock and key, the shock must be even worse. Earlier the chance to get a glimpse at the things he kept hidden had seemed exhilarating -- now she felt sorry for ever thinking it. She wanted to be told and shown these things because he trusted her, not because they’d been plundered from his subconscious by a faulty machine.

As the Doctor closed his eyes and took a deep breath, Rose slid to the edge of her chair and reached out, wrapping her hand around his. He exhaled and the projection vanished, plunging the room into near-darkness. He opened his eyes to stare at the empty air, and his fingers tightened around hers.

With a gentle tug, Rose guided him away from the table and back towards her chair. He perched himself on the arm of her chair without a word, and Rose let go of his hand to slide her arm around his waist. She leaned into him, her fingers curling around the thin material of his suit jacket, hoping the solid reality of her presence would offer him comfort that words couldn’t. The Doctor’s hand traced up her back and around her shoulder, pulling her into a sideways embrace. They sat that way in the darkness for moment, his long fingers splayed across the top of her arm, her cheek nestled against the fabric of his suit.

With no small amount of guilt she found herself wondering about the images she’d seen: the nameless planet he’d once called home, the faces of people who must have come and gone before her. She thought of Mickey choosing to stay behind in another world, of watching her father die on the ground by her feet. Imagining those losses magnified by nine hundred years sent a shiver down her back, and she crossed her other arm around his stomach and laced her fingers together to close the hug, willing him to understand the unspoken I’m here in every touch. For a moment he was still, and Rose held her breath, hoping he wasn’t about to retreat into himself as he had a tendency to do.

Then, with a squeeze, the Doctor pulled her closer -- closer than was necessary, close enough to hear the soft samba of his hearts -- and Rose bit the inside of her lip to keep herself from smiling. It wasn’t that moments like this were rare, exactly -- in truth they were becoming more frequent. But they still felt special, somehow, and in a way she treasured them even more than memories of Platform One or Woman Wept. As much as she loved travelling and running and barrelling head first into every danger the universe had to offer, as much as she fed off the adrenaline and the energy and the ever-changing scenery, sitting there in the quiet darkness of the TARDIS with the Doctor’s arm around her, the gentle rhythm of his breathing rocking her head up and down… it was nice.

Really, really nice.

She twisted her neck to peer up at him, studying him as best she could in the dim lighting. It was hard to imagine that there’d ever been a time when she’d been uncertain of that face or the man wearing it. Now she thought she could recreate it from memory and get a picture even clearer than the one of Woman Wept.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “For showing me this.”

The Doctor looked down at her, his face breaking into a warm smile that she couldn’t help but return. “Oh, Rose Tyler.” He paused on her name, savouring every syllable. “This was nothing.”

She just had time to notice the manic gleam in his eye before he shot to his feet and out of her grip. All frenetic energy and long limbs, he spun to the front of her chair and leaned over her again, his toothy grin beaming at her through the darkness. The melancholy of moments before and the earlier nervousness had melted off him, replaced by the pride Rose had come to associate with the most impressive of TARDIS trips.

“I can do you much better than some old memories,” he said, waving a dismissive hand. “I can give you new ones.” He raised his eyebrows, his expression undeniably cocky now. “There’s a planet on the edge of the Mala galaxy with amazing rock formations, beautiful sunsets – and giant creatures that look rather like flying manta rays.” He moved in closer, and Rose’s breath hitched. “What do you think?”

She swallowed and sat up straighter in her chair, adopting an expression to match his. “I think it sounds like you’re still trying to impress me.”

Trying?” yelped the Doctor incredulously. He stood up to his full height and puffed up his shoulders. “Rubbish! Do or do not, Rose Tyler.” He took both her hands in his and hoisted her out of her chair and onto her feet. “And I daresay I’ve done.”

He let go of one hand in order to bound towards the doorway, trailing Rose along behind him and yammering away about climate and human sensitivity and that she’d probably need a coat. Rose allowed him to lead her with a smile on her face, but looked back over her shoulder as they reached the doorway. She doubted she’d be spending time in here again, and that was fine, really -- but she was glad she’d gotten to see it once.

Maybe the TARDIS really had taken a shine to her.


---


---

The Doctor leaned forward over the workbench with his tongue wedged between his teeth in concentration, the back leg of his stool lifting off the ground. It was, he thought, rather irksome that replacing a sonic screwdriver that had been tragically lost to radiation required the use of a regular screwdriver and several very small screws, though the frustration at least doubled as motivation to finish. Trying to spin the last screw into place made him grateful for sonic technology the same way travelling by car or plane made him grateful for the TARDIS, and with just a little bit more precision…

“Aha!” he said aloud, though there was no one there to hear it, holding the new sonic aloft in triumph.

And then the stool tipped over beneath him, sending them both clattering to the ground.

Nursing new bruises to both his dignity and his backside, the Doctor groaned, realized that in the fall the screwdriver had slipped from his hands, and groaned again. It was nowhere near where he’d landed; it must have rolled somewhere when he fell. Looking around, he could just make out the tip of the screwdriver peeking out from beneath a shelf of old projects. He pushed himself up and strode over to it, grabbing the screwdriver from underneath with one hand and using the shelf as leverage to hoist himself back up. Straightening up, he blew the dust off the sonic and was just moving to slip it into his pocket when something on the shelf beside him caught his eye. There on the top shelf, buried under a thin layer of dust, was a faulty piece of old Earth technology. He’d forgotten it was there. He’d barely been in this room at all, really, ever since…

One hand reached out unconsciously, hovering centimetres above the sensor. Rationally, he knew he ought to leave it alone. Nothing good would come of it. He knew the sorts of memories the machine would choose this time, the same ones he fought every hour to keep buried because to do anything else made it hard to breathe even with a respiratory bypass, because with the whole of time and space at his disposal there was no sense focusing on the scant handful of minutes and hours and days he couldn’t reach, the small portion of past events he couldn’t change, and—

His fingers gave the sensor the gentlest of touches and the machine sprang to life, projecting into the air precisely what the Doctor had known it would.

Rose Tyler.

Not a single memory – all of her, her smile, her eyes, her hair, her hands. The images were changing quickly, flickering faster than strobe light, and the Doctor caught all of them, recognized every smile and laugh and frown and tear as they were catalogued in his big Time Lord brain. It was like watching his time with her in fast-forward, a flashback clip show of a period in his life that had once seemed infinite and now seemed impossibly brief.

He stood transfixed, unable to look away from the onslaught and barely able to breathe. If seeing Gallifrey those months ago had torn the stitches from a fresh wound, this was open heart surgery without anesthetic. He wanted to look away and he wanted to stand there forever, drinking in the sight of her until he drowned.

Still just an image, he thought, his own words echoing back at him with painful clarity.

No touch.

He lifted his hand off the sensor and finally the barrage of images slowed, coming to rest on a single memory. It was not, as the Doctor had feared, an image from a cold beach or a windswept white room; instead, the image of Rose that hung in the air with lifelike clarity was from this very room, with her arms wrapped around his stomach and her head against his chest, smiling serenely up at him.

He could remember the sting of having Gallifrey thrown up unbidden before him, but more than that he remembered the balm Rose had provided. It was a gift she’d had from the day they met, a compassionate heart that illuminated everyone around her. It had been so nice to have her there at that moment, to feel her warm and real beside him, vanquishing his loneliness with a simple gesture. In the swirling vastness of a cold, chaotic universe, Rose Tyler was a beacon.

The fingers of his empty hand flexed and clenched. The TARDIS suddenly felt very cold.

With monumental effort, he wrenched his gaze away from the projection and focused on the machine itself. The truth was that he didn’t need it; every detail in those memories lay safeguarded in his mind, tucked away in a dusty mental box. It was imperative that they stayed there, leaving the tantalizing past out of sight where it belonged. There was nothing more dangerous to a Time Lord than nostalgia.

Besides, he was a busy man with the entire universe at his beck and call. Innumerable planets and people and times were waiting to be experienced at the flick of a switch. There was no sense in looking back. He’d move on, in time. He always did.

He just wished, sometimes, that the TARDIS allowed him to skip ahead in his personal timeline.

One day, he knew, he’d be able to study the memories of Rose without the cold hand of grief choking him. Until then, he had no use for such a sentimental machine on his TARDIS. Squaring his shoulders, the Doctor lifted his brand new sonic screwdriver and sent the machine erupting in a shower of sparks. The image of Rose Tyler disappeared unceremoniously from the air.

Tucking the screwdriver into his breast pocket, he turned to leave. Perhaps he ought to find Martha Jones. He hadn’t got the chance to thank her, earlier, for saving his life. What harm could a single trip do?

The Doctor stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind him.

--

 
 
 
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Hannah: Ten & Rose; new new doctorfirstofoct on October 22nd, 2013 09:51 pm (UTC)
the Doctor was perched on a stool like an oversized cockatoo

You could just resist, could you?

“I’m a Time Lord, I time everything,”

d i r t y

If seeing Gallifrey those months ago had torn the stitches from a fresh wound, this was open heart surgery without anesthetic.

i love this analogy. love it. love it. love it.

Still just an image, he thought, his own words echoing back at him with painful clarity.

No touch


ouch.


I'm so glad you finally posted this, and I'm even more glad that it meant that I finally got to read the not-depressing-at-all coda! No seriously, I think you more than captured s3 Ten, with the slight edge that is more TRB/S&J with more of the obvious grief, than say how he is at the end of s3. It's definitely still an open wound in the beginning and I think you conveyed that very well here. He's resigned himself to his life of misery, but can't quite hide it as well as he does in the future? Anyway, it definitely worked for me.

Can't wait to read future fic of yours! ;)

And hey! This didn't even have to do with cloen's sideburns or the coat. I was beginning to think you were really weird for always writing about those things.
Kali: dw :: ten :: all by myself_thirty2flavors on October 24th, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)
Ten is just very birdlike. People usually compare him to a rodent but he looks way more like a bird.

I think you more than captured s3 Ten, with the slight edge that is more TRB/S&J with more of the obvious grief, than say how he is at the end of s3.

Yeah, I think in early s3 especially he's very raw with grief but also still totally "It's cool it's cool I'm fine I'm fine nbd" which is sort of an interesting but fine line to walk -- like I think on some level he knows he's a hot mess but he also figures if he just ignores it it will go away. Which, uh, as we know clearly doesn't work and instead just ends up sabotaging his friendship with Martha. (Sorry Martha.)

alephlacunaz on October 22nd, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
Attttttt laaaaaaaaaaaaaast

There was no better alarm clock than not knowing what part of the universe you’d be seeing that day.

I really loved this line.
Kali_thirty2flavors on October 22nd, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
It could fit so easily into your tourguide AU.

Actually, I thought about this for longer than 5 seconds, and it would make no sense in a tourguide AU at all. So.

Edited at 2013-10-22 10:47 pm (UTC)
fannishliss: Rose/Ten Dark!fannishliss on October 23rd, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
this fic was just wonderful. I love the glimpse of the Doctor's crafting room. The sudden loss of Rose was shocking. Great impact!
"I am Scottish. I can complain about things!"dw_10rosefan on October 23rd, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
That was beautiful!
cyandevilcyandevil on October 23rd, 2013 07:08 am (UTC)
AAAHHHHHHH!!!! ALL the angst!!!! It's like you've never left writing fanfic at all!! The characterization and the flow is very you!!! I love it!!!

Here's wishing there's more to come in terms of future fics from you!!!
Rosa | ¯\(ºдಠ)/¯: current (1)rosaxx50 on October 23rd, 2013 09:40 am (UTC)
All my love, I had forgotten how much I loved Doctor/Rose fic. Their romantic tension is stunning, not to mention the imagery with Gallifrey and Women Wept.

The Doctor only focusing on her to the exclusion of the rest of the world, that made me both sad and gleeful.

Now I'm nostalgic for the old school otp :(

*Goes to tumblr to reblog gifs.*
Opal: DWM: hugshinyopals on October 23rd, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
I LOOOOOOOVE YOUUUUU. also this fic.

you are amazing with words in a way I can only dream of being. I don't really know how to explain this because I am often terrible with words but this entire fic gave me some incredibly strong visual sensations in a way that written words rarely do. especially at the end where Ten is seeing his memories of Rose - that was beautifully written.

I love how you write Ten from Rose's perspective - there's a fair dose of the silliness and pomposity (lol @ 'cockatoo' and that sort of thing) but at the same time he is as appealing as DT on screen and you can see why she likes him. And the serious side too - just enough of a glimpse into his head before he runs away from it.

and aww, poor bb ten. I am sorry your life sucks. IT WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO DO SO.
Circe: Ten/Rose kissesredcirce on January 3rd, 2014 08:11 am (UTC)
This was such a lovely slice of Season 2. You pretty much nailed their relationship at this point in time. I love how they're obviously so head over heels for each other but still very tentative and shy about the other one noticing. Loved the switching of perspectives so you get a bit of each's view on the other. I also enjoyed Rose's empathy and instincts, Rose being the only clear thing in his memory (I'm surprised hearts don't shoot out of his eyes when he looks at her) and Rose being confused about it, and the references to her getting along better with the TARDIS. I also liked the hug being almost romantic but not quite, just like their relationship.

And, like everyone else, I loved the description of the Doctor as like a oversized cockatoo.

It was very sweet and sort of cozy, until you get to the end. Sorry, Ten. Great fic!

(Also, I know this is awful, but during the entire last section, I was wondering if he was traveling with Martha yet or not. Because I can totally see him angsting about the aloneness of his existance with Martha like two rooms over. )
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