“Good night, Adam,” she said firmly, shutting the door behind her. She’d done what she always seemed to do. Latched on to the nearest pretty boy, taken his sob story, and asked the Doctor to bring him along as a new diversion. But Adam was already getting on her nerves, with his pretentious talk and his easy dismissals of anything she had to say.
Besides, she was genuinely worried about the Doctor. She’d never seen him look as frightened as he had down in that bunker. He had aimed a gun at her, something she never thought him capable of, because of the Dalek. He seemed so unsure when talking about the end of the Time War; not nearly as sure as he’d been before, when he’d taken her to see her planet burn and told her of how he lost all his people.
She went back to the console room, but he wasn’t there. The kitchen was just as empty. She pressed a hand against the wall, feeling the TARDIS’s worried hum to match her own.
She pressed the door to the library open, surprised to find it dimmer than it usually was. She could barely make out the Doctor on the couch, shoulders hunched and head hanging down.
Before she could say anything to him, she could feel his eyes on her. “Thought you’d be with your new boyfriend.”
The thickness in his voice made her shiver, but she pressed it down, moving farther into the room. “He’s not my boyfriend, Doctor. Just thought we should give him a chance to see the stars like he always wanted.”
“You don’t owe him any favors.” His words were practically a growl. “He left you down there.”
“So did you,” she reminded.
A strangled sound came out of him and he dropped his head into his hands, raking his fingers over his scalp. Startled, she wasn’t sure if she should step back or closer. “Hey, Doctor, it’s alright.” She placed a hand on his shoulder.
He shook her hand off, hunching down farther into himself. “Don’t, Rose. You’re right. I left you down there, with that thing. It would’ve killed you without even a second thought. I abandoned you even though I promised I’d keep you safe and then I threatened you with a gun. I’m a monster, Rose. I ought to take you home right now.”
Her heart flopped at his words, but she recognized the fear in his voice, the loneliness, the desperation. Before she could overthink it, she curled her fingers around his cheeks, forcing him to look at her as she knelt in front of him. “Listen to me, Doctor.” He tried to jerk away again, but she slid her hands down to the lapels of his jacket, keeping him in place. “No, you listen to me now. I meant what I said earlier, right after the doors closed. It’s not your fault. What’s my life against millions of others? You made the right choice.”
He stared at her with stormy eyes, not saying anything, not hardly breathing.
“You knew more than me what kind of killer the Dalek was. You did what you had to do. And hey, look, I’m still here. The Dalek didn’t kill me. It changed and it only wanted to kill itself. You took care of me, just like you promised, yeah? I’m still here.”
His eyes squeezed shut, but his hand had fallen to her wrist, keeping her hand against his chest. “It’s my fault they’re all gone, Rose. I locked them all in with the Daleks just like I did with you today. But unlike you, they didn’t make it out. They’re all gone and it’s all my fault. I’m gonna be the death of you one day, too.”
She pushed closer to him, angling herself so she could squeeze between his legs and wrap her arms around his neck. She didn’t know what she could say. There weren’t any words to make this better. Locking her in today had sparked all the regret and guilt of whatever he’d had to do to his own people. She couldn’t even imagine something like that. But she had to find a way to let him know that he wasn’t alone anymore.
His hands lowered to her waist, pulling her up and into his lap. He moved his arms around her, keeping her tightly to him as he buried his face in her shoulder. She traced gentle patterns on the back of his neck, one arm wrapped securely around his shoulders.
“’m sorry, Rose.”
“Shh,” she murmured, choked as she struggled against her tears. She pressed her cheek to the top of his head, tightening her hold on him. His shaking shoulders showed her just how much he was fighting against tears. “I forgive you.”
He let out a choked sob and squeezed her impossibly tight. Her heart broke as she started rocking them back and forth.
No matter what happened from there on out, she couldn’t ever leave him. He needed her, just as surely as she needed him. She would just have to prove to him that she’d never leave.