- William Butler Yeats, "He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"
Following this ficlet.
She dreams of starfire.
Twisted, burning portals of worlds and universes, and the blur of a swirling vortex of time and space. She has never dreamed like this before, and the experience is both comforting and terrifying.
She sleeps, and he can not. It's a strange experience, considering he has always slept within her when she was not as she is. Now, she dreams as she lies in his arms, wrapped up within his trench coat. He can feel her dreams; feel the euphoria of imagining she is still a police box with a labyrinth within.
It is vibrant. Far more vibrant, he thinks, than the dingy hotel where he's got them a room. No TARDIS to go home to, they need somewhere to stay until they can figure out what went wrong, set it right again. The couch they lie on is fairly uncomfortable, but the room is warm enough, and it'll keep them safe while she dreams.
He does not dream as a human does, so her dreams are strange, even to him. Twisted memories and ideas and things he's never seen before. Time Lords dreams are so linear, and completely based on memory, with so little imagination. It is how the TARDIS knows dreams should be. He thinks of ways to explain them to her later, of the scientific meanings and terms she might've easily drawn from in her databanks before.
Her body is frail and warm as he holds her. He's protecting her, which is also strange. She always protects him. He remembers after the War, crawling back into the console room and lying on the grates, feeling the TARDIS within his mind comforting her. He was so cold, so angry, and yet he could survive, could stay strong within his time ship.
In remembering the War, he reawakens her memories of it. He can see them in her dreams. She served the War as the ultimate companion. She remembers the long, lonely nights waiting, waiting in the dark, waiting for his return. She remembers sitting in a dungeon on a Dalek ship as he was interrogated, not truly knowing what was happening, but feeling the pain from him, drawing it out and trying desperately to ease it.
She shudders in his arms, and lets out a pained noise. He doesn't know everything that happened to her during those times, but he does remember long, painful nights, hearing his ship scream in his mind. They've been through so much together. The dreams she is experiencing become terrifying, and he hopes the dark shadows and the twisted walls are only her human brain exaggerating an already upsetting experience.
He places his fingertips against her temple, and presses a feeling of calm onto her mind. Nostalgia and happiness flood through him just as they flood through her.
She shifts, and buries her tiny face in his shoulder. Her dream follows suit, and becomes of places they've been, blended together in a blinding symphony of color and light. She experiences everything through him, her only contact with the planets they visit in her feet on the ground. It is enough. It is all she craves.
The door to the hotel room creaks open, and Martha steps inside. Her eyebrows knit together in confusion at the sight of the Doctor cradling the girl in his arms, but she doesn't question it. He untangles himself from the TARDIS and lets her sleep further.
"Is that her?" Martha whispers as he steps towards her. "Is that the TARDIS?"
He turns to look back at his sleeping companion. "Temporary cellular transfer, probably caused by a block in one of the chameleon arch's wirings."
"After you used it?" Martha asks.
She nods, and bites down on her lower lip nervously. "And she's human, now?" she asks.
"Mostly," he replies. "She has some residual Time Vortex left in her cells, keeps us connected. Helped me find her."
Martha looks to the Doctor, now. "Where was she?"
"Explains why you got ill; they doped her up."
Martha rubs the back of her neck with her palm. It's an action he often finds himself doing out of some regeneration-induced habit. He wonders how much of him is rubbing off on Martha.
"It's temporary, you said? Time Vortex'll fix it, right?"
The Doctor shakes his head. "The temporary was…well, it was more hopeful than anything."
"She can't stay like this. We've got to change her back!" Martha's voice is quiet, but there's an edge of hysteria to it. They're twenty years off of her home, and he thinks that might be the only reason she's so worried. No, no, of course it isn't. For all that Martha was frightened of the concept of a living time ship, she eventually grew to care for the TARDIS. He could see it in how she would touch the console lovingly, or talk to her as she walked the corridors. Granted, these secret conversations usually ended with, 'I'm talking to a bloody machine'. But, they happened often enough that he knew she didn't really see the TARDIS as just a machine.
He puts a hand on Martha's shoulder. "Get some sleep. UNIT laboratories downtown open up in the morning."
She nods and heads in the direction of the bedroom. He sits in a chair opposite the couch, so he can watch the TARDIS as she sleeps. She's shifted in her sleep again, and she's remembering the feel of kitten paws against grate and Susan's little bare feet following swiftly behind. The dark tufts of kitten hair getting caught in wires and tubing, but that annoyance being worth it for the joyful noises Susan would make as she played with her feline friend.
"Are you going to be all right, Doctor?" Martha asks, leaning against the doorframe. Watching him as he watches the TARDIS.
He turns to his companion and nods. There's no connection between him and Martha, but she doesn't need one to understand. She nods, and leaves him and the TARDIS alone. Alone with his guilt and her dreams.
He reaches over and touches her wiry hair and wishes that he could dream with her. Her dreams could fill his vision, and he could imagine, just for a moment, that he dreamed them with her instead of simply experiencing them through their symbiotic nuclei.
It is too early for him to sleep, yet. He has another two or three days before he might feel truly tired. By then, he hopes she'll be herself. He knows that's what she wants.
A TARDIS may not dream, but a human can never see what the TARDIS dreams of.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,108