So the Doctor took Rose to Barcelona, and Barcelona was definitely lovely. But something was off, and Rose couldn’t shake off an uneasy feeling. The Doctor was talking as he normally was, and seemed like he was trying to act normal, but Rose sensed that he was not all there. It worried her, and while she tried to keep herself acting normal, she knew they could both feel the tension.
“Rose?” The Doctor turned to face her, and she jolted out of her reverie.
“Yes, Doctor?” Rose tried to shake the uneasy feeling off, feeling almost awkward when they made eye contact. It was evident from the way his features tensed that he felt the same way. He turned away.
“Nothing. You were just staring into space.” The Doctor began to walk again, for they were both heading toward the TARDIS to leave Barcelona. Rose squirmed a bit, almost feeling like she shouldn’t be holding his hand. Even though he had not died when they had faced the Daleks, something in him had certainly changed. It frightened her, because she could not quite place what it was.
The TARDIS was angry. It had been a while since she had been angry. The last time she had been seriously angry, it had been the fault of Anti-Time, and Zagreus, and an incredibly complicated series of events. There was no Anti-Time this time, however, no Zagreus. It was simple, pure anger.
The Doctor would think it petty, perhaps, but it was the Doctor she was angry with. Her beloved thief, the man she had stolen…and it had gotten to the point that he wanted to die. Not just regenerate, die. She had caught a glimpse of his mind, when he had taken her essence from Rose. It hurt her terribly to see what was inside; he was so desperate just for everything to end.
What angered her most was that he had so much to lose, were he to die on purpose. He had Rose, and heaven knew the girl loved him. The TARDIS was very fond of Rose, for she was so good for him, helping him heal. And for Rassilon’s sake, the Doctor had the TARDIS. The one being in the entire universe that knew him all the way through, that loved him more than any flesh-form ever could. It infuriated her that he wanted to die completely, and leave her alone and wasting away. On no account would she let him do this, no matter what it took.
Rose and the Doctor slipped inside the TARDIS, and Rose was trying to get the uneasy feeling out of her mind, trying to act like she always had. The Doctor brushed right past her without saying anything, heading down a corridor, and she blinked, a little hurt. He had been cold and brusque sometimes, but he had never outright tried to get away from her.
“Doctor!” She made her way after him, stumbling as the TARDIS gave a shudder. She braced herself against the console, and then started after him again, stepping into the corridor she had saw him walk into. “Doctor! Where are you going - ” Rose gasped and nearly tripped as the entire TARDIS suddenly went dark, blackness flooding everything she could see. She heard no reply from the Doctor, and felt around for a wall, startled.
“Doctor, the lights are all gone! Please come back! Follow my voice!” There was no answer. The only answer was a low hum from the TARDIS that she imagined was supposed to be comforting, but it only felt ominous to her.
The Doctor briefly wondered if he had finally died, absolutely spontaneously and painlessly. He swore under his breath when he realized that all the lights had gone off, and that he was still as alive and kicking as ever. He felt around for a wall, bracing himself against it.
“What are you doing, old girl…?” He knelt down and listened to the floor, but could only hear a hum from the center of the ship, far away from where he was. “If you are really commenting on how Rose and I are getting along, we need to have a serious talk.” There was a brief silence, and the TARDIS suddenly jolted violently, throwing him to the ground. He swore again, trying to pick himself up. “Okay, so not about Rose. What the hell are you throwing a tantrum about, then?”
The TARDIS gave a hiss, trembling a little. The Doctor felt as if he should already know what she was angry about, but could not think of anything.
Rose didn’t know how long she had been in the darkness. She was wandering down the corridor in the dark, running her hand along the wall to keep herself on track, looking for the Doctor. She called out his name every so often, but heard no reply. She kept her pace slow, determinedly walking, but she was beginning to give up on calling for the Doctor, especially if he was in a bad enough mood to try to get away from her. So she talked to the TARDIS instead.
“I’m frightened, TARDIS.” It felt strange to talk to a machine, but anything was better than hearing only her own footsteps, and the occasional rattling and shaking from the other end of the TARDIS. “The Doctor’s been different, and I’m worried about him.” The TARDIS gave a slight hum in response, and Rose felt as if the TARDIS was agreeing with her.
“I wish you could speak, and could tell me what was bothering him. I have ideas, but I don’t want to think about them…” Rose was murmuring softly now, half listening for the Doctor. There was a long silence, the TARDIS either distracted by something else, or choosing not to reply to her.
Finally, she took a deep breath, and whispered, “It seems as if he wants to die.”
“What is this even going to accomplish? You’re just keeping me in the dark, and away from Rose?” The Doctor didn’t bother to keep his voice down, he knew he was far enough back in the TARDIS that not even Rose could hear him, if she was still in the console room. The TARDIS made a huffing sound that almost sounded almost like she was scolding him.
“Just because I wanted to get away from her for a moment to clear my head doesn’t mean I wanted to get away from her completely!” The Doctor slammed a fist against the wall, and the TARDIS jerked wildly, throwing him against the wall. He recoiled from the wall, for the TARDIS seemed to have made her metal blazingly hot. It did not glow and provide him light; of course it wouldn’t. When the TARDIS was angry, she was spiteful.
“And now you’ve gone and burned me, that’s polite.” The Doctor stood up, trying to move to the center of the hall so he would not be near the scalding metal. The TARDIS made a hissing sound, but the Doctor ignored it. He turned his head toward the source of the heat, suddenly wondering. The heat almost seemed to dance in front of him, and he knew he was hallucinating, for how could it be visible, if it hadn’t been before? If he touched it long enough, he could…oh, but that would almost be too easy. He watched the heat waves glimmer before him, mesmerized.
The TARDIS knew what he wanted to do, but she knew this had been coming the moment she had threatened him with something that could actually hurt him. She knew she could relinquish the heat at any time, but she wanted to keep him sufficiently captivated, for the moment. She kept humming and hissing to Rose in the meantime, hoping Rose would follow the noise, which she had thus far. She was guiding them closer and closer together now, wanting Rose to see this.
She felt the girl walk along her corridors, feeling along the walls. The Doctor continued to stare at the wall of scalding metal, hesitant, but very tempted. Finally, she felt Rose beginning to approach him, and she hummed softly, making sure the wall that Rose touched was always a normal temperature.
Then she made the wall’s heat fluctuate just a little, flickering like a flame.
The Doctor felt the flickering heat, and it jolted him out of his trance. He suddenly began to panic, knowing that the TARDIS was going to take his only way out away, and that he had stalled too long. He rushed at the wall, pressing himself against the hot metal, just as the TARDIS’s lights turned on. He screamed as the metal burned, but it felt almost cleansing, purging him of everything that the war had done to him. White hot metal, burning away everything that had caused him pain. He could hardly see the lights, and just barely heard Rose’s horrified scream.
Rose could not fathom what he was doing, or why, but she knew she had to stop him.
“You big bleedin’ idiot!” Rose ran forward as soon as the lights came on and tugged him away from the metal, falling backward as he stumbled into her. She shrieked and tried to dodge the other side of the metal wall, afraid it would be just as hot, but it did not harm her. The Doctor cried out in pain, and Rose saw the wall of the TARDIS flicker back to its normal color, the heat disappearing. She cradled the Doctor in her arms, horrified at the burns she saw.
“What on Earth did you think you were doing?” Rose was nearly hysterical, feeling sick at the thought that she had been correct, that the Doctor had wanted to die. The Doctor stumbled upward without a word, Rose following behind to support him. She looked up at the inside of the TARDIS, terribly angry at her as well.
“Why would you let him do that? He could have died! You were going to let him die!” Rose tried to hurry the Doctor along, knowing that the automated medbay would be able to help him. The TARDIS merely hummed slightly, and she heard the Doctor murmur something.
“Wanted to give me a taste of it, I think…” He muttered hazily, his wounds scalded and bleeding. “I wanted it so much…she wasn’t going to let me, anyway.” Rose didn’t dare ask what he meant, for she felt as if she already knew. After a while, the Doctor spoke.
“…and I saw what I would lose. Who I would lose.” The Doctor looked at her for a moment, shaking, and Rose could barely keep him up. She flushed for a moment, and then mentally chastised herself. He wasn’t just talking about her, he was talking about the TARDIS as well. She steered him without a word to the medbay area, setting him down on a bed, letting the resident nanogenes do their work. She sat by his bedside, shaking, almost afraid of the TARDIS now. She leaned down and murmured into his ear.
“You’re gonna get better. All right? You’ve got me, and you’ve got her. No more of this funny business, yeah?” Her voice was trembling, but she tried to keep it as steady as she could. “Stay with me, Doctor. Please.”
The Doctor said nothing, but one of his bandaged hands reached for hers. She held it gently so as not to provoke a wound, but in her mind, she was holding onto his hand as tightly as she could. This was one of the most terrifying things she had gone through with the Doctor, and she knew if she was sensible, she’d leave before he did something rash again, possibly hurting her too.
But she couldn’t leave. He was the Doctor, and he needed her.