Elyne woke up suddenly. She was shaking and sweating. She was back aboard the Tardis for one week now and she was happy. The Doctor and Nardole were nice, appointments with Jade went well and she could sleep in her own bed. A warm bed.
But lately, she could not sleep without having nightmares. Always the same. Always a monster chasing her. She could not see the whole beast, but it had long skinny arms and claws. She was always waking up when the thing was about to perforate her eyes.
She stayed a moment staring at her lamp. Stars were passing through the it. She loved stars, looking at them was soothing. She hoped the Doctor would take her to see them again. Slowly, fear faded away and she could fell asleep again.
The Doctor was sitting on his armchair, drinking some tea while he was reading. He liked night, the only moment where he could enjoy time for himself quietly. No students. No workmates. No Nardole.
Now he was hungry. He stood up and walked to the kitchen, but he saw Elyne's room. Usually her room was a bit farther, but the Tardis moved it here, for whatever reason. He softly opened the door and watched inside. He saw Elyne in the bed, she looked asleep. He was about to close the door when he heard a whimper.
"Elyne ?" he called.
She did not answer. But she was crying. The Doctor walked inside and sat next to her on the bed.
"Hush, it's alright." he whispered rubbing her back.
Suddenly, the little girl sat up and started crying out. Instinctly, the Doctor pulled her in his arms, holding her like baby.
"It's okay little one." he whispered in her ear.
Elyne kept sobbing, still under shock. The Doctor could feel her shaking. He stood up and started walking around the room, slighty bouncing to calm her down. He did not really know what else to do.
"Doctor." she whined, slowly waking up.
"I'm here," he kissed her forehead. "You are safe in my arms."
Gradually, after a lot of bouncing and sweet words, sobs turned into short and fast breaths. The Doctor put Elyne back in bed, but a little hand held on his shirt.
"Stay," Elyne begged. "Please."
The Doctor smiled.
"Of course little one."
He managed to get comfortable into the small bed and covered both of them. He lied down on his side and wrapped Elyne in his arms. She held one of his hands and stared back at her lamp.
"Can we see stars again ?" she mumbled.
The Doctor felt his hearts twinge. There was so much he would love to show to this child. So many marvels. And he was stuck on Earth. He sighed and kissed her head.
"Yes we will." he promised.
The next night, Elyne refused to go to bed. She stood in front of the Doctor's room holding her plush and called for him.
"Please," she cried, "I want to stay with you."
The Doctor sighed and rubbed his face. Of course he did not mind comforting her but he did not want her to sleep in his room for a long time. He did not know how to deal with her yet. And he knew human's children had to be more independant early. But she was not human.
So he tried to find informations about Igneoses's offsprings. He read children needed their parents' heat for two Igneos years, to survive and balance their own temperature. Now he knew why Elyne was so clingy with him. Luckily, she was half-human, that's how she survived the lack of contact until now, but she looked pathetic. Traumas were one thing, but she also lacked some physical development. She was four years old, one year for Igneos equaled seven years on Earth, she still was a toddler.
"Fine." he consented, " But just for tonight." he warned.
The child nodded and raised her arms up to him. The Timelord picked her up and put her in his bed. As he got comfortable, he felt her nuzzling against his stomach. He stared down at her. It was the cutest thing he saw for a long time.
He could not be mad at her, actually he would let her stay with him as long as she needed to recover.
For the next three nights, Elyne stayed in her room. But the Doctor could see she was not sleeping. She looked exhausted. The bags under her eyes rivaled his own.
"We knew it would happen." stated Jade.
"She only sleeps when I'm with her." the Doctor sighed.
Jade turned to Elyne, who was about to fall asleep against the Doctor.
"The Doctor is pretty reassuring, right ?" she asked.
"And his belly is soft to sleep on." Elyne shyly said, looking down at her feet as she nervously stirred them.
Jade chuckled when the Doctor poked his own stomach, skeptical. Then he lovingly smiled at the little girl, she was so innocent.
"Does it bother you ?"
"Of course not."
"Then stay with her." she simply said. "There's nothing wrong co-sleeping with his child from time to time and in Elyne's case, it seems vital for now. Don't worry, it will return to normal naturally."
"I know." the Doctor was just affraid to do something wrong with her. He did not take care of a child for centuries and this child was already broken.
This night, Elyne was in her bed shaking once more. She wanted to go to the Doctor. He had say she could come to him everytime she needed it, but she still was affraid to bother him. So she took a deep breath and hugged Dexter close to her chest, hoping this night would be better.
Then she heard the door opening.
"Hey little one." whispered the Doctor.
She sat up and stared at her guardian.
"Still can't sleep ?"
She shook her head. She saw him bitting his lips, he looked concerned.
"Do you want to see the stars ?" he asked.
Elyne happily nodded and got up to follow the Doctor. He gently scooped her up in his arms and walked to the console room.
"I will take you somewhere, but don't tell Nardole anything about it okay ?"
Elyne nodded and put her index on his mouth.
"Very good." The Doctor smiled and pulled the lever.
Elyne gasped as the Tardis started to roar and shaking, luckily, it quickly stopped. She held tighter on the Doctor as he hurried to the exit. When he opened the door, she was knocked out by the sight. They were in deep space, it looked like a firework, so many colors. And there was two moons in front of them, how amazing ! The Doctor did not look outside though, he only watched at the innocent child in his arms. The amazement on her face was so precious.
"Let's watch this in a more comfortable position." he said as he closed the door. He smiled when Elyne whined. "I will show you a magic room."
"Magic for real ?"
"Of course for real !" he played indignation.
It had been a long time since the last time he went to the Tardis' observatory. He quickly setted up a comfortable spot with a blanket to sir on and pulled Elyne on his lap. Then he used his sonic screwdriver to activate some set up. The wall and the ceiling slowly faded away to let them see the space outside. The Doctor only stroked the little girl's head while she enjoyed the sight peacefully. After a moment, she moved and lied down resting her head on the Doctor's belly. He guessed she was looking for heat so he let her do.
"Doctor." she mumbled.
"Mm'gonna fall asleep."
"Go ahead little one."
Elyne yawned, hugged Dexter and snuggled herself deeper against her guardian. The Doctor tenderly watched her slowly fall asleep. He stayed here a moment, holding her close to him. He could feel her heat passing through his body. Maybe she was more Igneos physicaly he thought. His own temperature was not as warm as an adult Igneos to help Elyne to balance her own. He needed to find a surrogate. Then he looked down at the cuddly toy.
"Okay," he declared, "I can try."
When Elyne woke up the next morning, she felt fully rested. She yawned and stretched herself. But something was missing. Where was Dexter ? She looked under the blankets, under her bed. He was not here. She went to the console room to find the Doctor.
"Good morning little one."
Elyne hugged his legs, rubbing her eyes.
"Goo'mornin'." she yawned.
Her eyes lighten up when the Doctor handed her Dexter. She let go a small squeak as she happily hugged him tight. The plush felt different. Not in a bad way though. It was releasing warmth now, it felt good.
"Do you want it a bit warmer ?" the Doctor asked. He added heat sensors inside the toy, now it would deliver the right amout of heat to help Elyne during night. Let's see if it works.
Elyne shook her head. "It's fine, thank you."
"You're welcome." he softly smiled. It was the least he could do. He wished he could do more.
That following night, Elyne fell asleep pretty quickly. But another nightmare woke her up abruptly some hours later. She hid under her pillow and started to cry, she was so scared and she did not know how to make it better. The Doctor made so much for her and she felt guilty, she did not want to bother him more, so she tried to calm herself down. In vain. She finally got up and walked to the Doctor's room. She knocked once.
"Doctor ?" She shyly called.
The child stood there, watching around her and sobbing. She wiped her face with her sleeve and walked through the Tardis' corridors, pulling Dexter by one paw. She did not know it, but the Tardis always made sure she could find the Doctor, that was how she found him in the library.
"Nightmares ?" asked the Doctor.
Elyne nodded. When she heard him sigh, more tears ran down her cheek. She angered him.
"Hey don't cry." The Doctor knelt down in front of her and wiped her tears with his thumbs.
"Mm'sorry." she whimpered.
"Why ?" he frowned.
" 'cause I still do nigh'mares." she tried to tell then broke in sob again.
" Please don't cry, you did nothing wrong."
His tone was soft, he sounded almost sad. Oh no she upsetted him. It only made her cry even more, she was too tired to deal with all her emotions, she totally broke down.
"I know you don' want I sleep with you but I'm so scared," she sobbed. "Please don' be mad, I want to be with you."
It was too much for the Doctor, seeing her in so much pain broke his hearts.
"Oh dear, come here."
He took her in his arms and started rubbing her back. He knew talking was useless now, it was better to wait the sobbing stop. He walked around, rocking her for almost one hour before she calmed down.
"Now can we talk ?" he whispered.
The little girl weakly nodded against his shoulder.
"Would it help if I stay in your room at tonight ?"
As soon as the Doctor lied down on her bed, Elyne snuggled against his side. The Doctor smiled when she tried to embrace his waist with her tiny arm, so he pulled her closer to him. Even after she felt asleep, the Doctor did not let go of his precious charge. Everytime she came to snuggle against him, he looked at her with amazement.
"I wasn't a father for a really long time," he whispered. "Please, be patient with me."