Some hours had passed since the two had retreated into the TARDIS, back when Rose Tyler had rubbed away her tears and assured him she would be fine. If the Doctor could’ve thought of something to say, he would have, but his tongue had been glued to the roof of his mouth as he watched Rose retreat down the corridor towards her bedroom.
He paced in circles around the centerpiece of his ship, uselessly fighting the images of tear-tracked cheeks that plagued his mind. Her tangled blond hair— the sheer vulnerability in her eyes when she had last looked at him. It was all his fault, of course. If he had simply told her no, that they shouldn’t cross timelines—that it was too risky—then they could have both escaped the entire affair unscathed. If only he could say no to her.
She must be sleeping by now. All was quiet in the TARDIS, and the green glow of the time rotor seemed to have dimmed. Gripping the console with tense fingers, the Doctor leaned forward wearily. He exhaled with resignation, and was about to shrug out of his leather jacket for an early night when he heard her voice behind him.
He turned cautiously, and saw that she had let down her hair and changed into that ratty hand-me-down hoodie of hers that had one of her cousin’s initials—B.W.—spray-painted carelessly across the back. Her eyes were tired but no longer puffy.
“Doctor, I was wondering—” she bit her lip as she hesitated, and he crossed his arms as he let her take her time, curious as to what she could think there was left to discuss. “—could we fix Adam’s head?”
Well, that was unexpected. The Doctor snorted. “Honestly, Rose... Time travel has its responsibilities, and when Adam put personal gain first he became a hazard.” He frowned. “Where did this idea come from, anyway?”
Rose’s cheeks flushed before her gaze fell to the floor, and sudden understanding hit the Doctor in the gut. Long seconds of silence lay stagnant between them, but her eyes drifted back to his. They pleaded. “Sometimes you learn responsibility the hard way.”
His lips tightened into a thin line, and without speaking he promptly turned and started working the controls and dials of the console switchboard. After the central column heaved up and down with the usual TARDIS groaning he stopped, leaning heavily with both hands against the coral frame. After a moment soft footsteps tapped the grating behind him and he felt Rose’s hand press gently on his arm.
“Thank you,” she whispered. The Doctor straightened to meet her eyes gently and nodded. After his hand reached for hers, they moved towards the door together.