Be Near Me

Disclaimer: Never is, and never shall be, mine. Doctor Who belongs to the BBC and, at the moment, RTD. The excepts of poems in each chapter are from Tennyson's 'In Memoriam'. (And actually the inspiration to use the poems is thanks to rosa acicularis)

Characters: Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler, and a few Other Characters.

Rating & Warnings: T; Mild swearing, and older (sometimes angsty) themes.

Genre: Angst, Drama, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Romance.

Timeline: After 'The Age of Steel'.

Summary: When Rose falls seriously ill with a rare alien disease, there's no way out. There's no cure. No medication that will work. No way of saving her. But the Doctor's stubborn. And there's no way he's waiting for her time to just... run out. Five chapters total.

A.N: The chapters may take a little longer than I'm used to, to get up, because they're longer ones than I usually write.

Chapter One
As The Blood Creeps

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

– – –

She tasted the blood before she saw any.

She woke, and instead of the usual crisp, dry taste of Saliva, there was the metallic, and slightly tangy, taste of blood in her mouth. She scrunched her face up, sticking and un-sticking her tongue against the roof of her mouth. She swallowed, and immediately regretted the action when a warm sour sensation ran down her throat.

Perhaps she had bitten her tongue in her sleep, she thought to herself with a frown. She had never done that before, but then there was a time when she had never traveled in a time machine with a man who could change his face before either. So there was a first time for everything.

Sighing, Rose clambered out of the warm sanctuary of her bed and padded over to the bathroom. She grabbed a glass from the side of the sink and filled it with cool water, before pressing it to her lips. She swashed the water around her mouth and spat it into back into the sink, recoiling, slightly shocked, when she saw the amount of wet red water spinning toward the plughole. If honest, she hadn't expected a small bite of her tongue produce quite so much of the disgusting red stuff.

Rose took another gulp of water, repeating the process, and feeling her mild worry subsiding when she saw much less red water, and a little more clear. She swallowed much of the rest of the water, before wandering back into her room to change. She briefly wondered about crawling back into bed, caught over with an unexpected tiredness. Then again, although it was early (or it was at least, it was on her body clock) she had no doubt that the Doctor was just jumping on the balls of his feet in the console room, in rabid anticipation to get out of the vortex, and on into some unknown, most probably dangerous, evil villain-clad adventure.

That thought in mind, Rose changed quickly into her usual jeans, top and hoodie, and bounced quickly through the TARDIS corridors to the console room. The Doctor was exactly where she expected him to be (leaning over the TARDIS, busily pulling knobs and dials, most probably setting the coordinates for their next outing) and he was, indeed, jumping up and down on the balls of his feet. His heels briefly holding his weight, before he rolled it onto his toes.

She watched him for a while, enjoying the way his wild brown hair flailed about as he crossed his hands from button to lever. Her lips twitched upward, as she heard him mumble something as he twiddled a certain dial before letting out a loud cry of 'aha!' and bounding over to the TARDIS console screen. Rose shifted her weight and leaned against the wall, a little surprised he hadn't noticed her yet seeing as his Timelord ears were usually so acute to any movement, small or mighty.

She watched as he gazed at the screen, his glasses perched on the end of his nose. She couldn't help but smile at the sight of his concentrating features. She stepped forward, about to finally let him know of her presence in the room, when an unfamiliar wave of vertigo sent the world (or at least the TARDIS) spinning for a few whirlwind seconds. She gripped quickly at the wall behind her, deciding it would definitely be best not to topple ungracefully to the floor – especially with the Doctor a few meters away.

"Rose?" said a voice. Oh, okay maybe not a few meters away anymore. God knows how he got in front of her so quickly, but he was already steadying her, gripping her forearms tightly, and giving her that concerned gaze he'd mastered so well. "You okay there?"

She looked at him – all soft, small freckles; big, brown hair; dark rimmed specs; and concerned frown – and gave him a smile she hoped was reassuring, though it felt oddly put on for some reason, especially when her vision clouded a little again; the TARDIS feeling a little like she did when she was spinning them both to one of their dangerous destinations.

"Yeah," Rose said quickly, putting all her weight against the wall in a way she hoped was relaxed enough so he wouldn't feel the need to hold her like a toddler, but also in a way she knew would steady her. "Just got a bit dizzy. Bit unsteady there."

"Looked like you were going to faint to me," the Doctor amended, taking his hands from her arms and looking at her thoughtfully, but so intently it appeared he was trying to x-ray her with his eyes.

Rose shook her head. "Nah, I'm fine." Which was actually true now; the wave of dizziness had gone, and the TARDIS felt still again.

He frowned slightly, head tilted. "Sure?"

She nodded determinedly. "'Course. Now, where're we going?" The Doctor continued to gaze at her for a few seconds, his eyes shifting over her body, up and down, as if he was trying to do his own little self assessment right then and there on the spot. Which was something Rose thought was fairly ridicules to be honest. "C'mon," she insisted. "I know it's difficult, but I think it's time to stop staring at me. And maybe set the TARDIS into some nice little unknown, so we can save another planet. It's a full time job, you should know."

The Doctor expression shifted to slightly bemused and his eyes stopped on her face, locking her eyes. "Believe me, I do know." It appeared he saw no reason to keep Rose in the vortex, put her in the infirmary, or whatever else he'd decide to do if she were sick, and his attention turned to the console, bounding over to hold one of the levers.

Rose followed immediately, stopping by his side and beaming up at him. "Where to then?"

"Ah-ha," he said, with a giant grin. "Where would be the fun in telling you yet? A surprise, I think, would do nicely right now." And with that, he pulled down the lever and the TARDIS shuddered to a spinning start.

When the shaking had stopped, and Rose was able to let go of the console without falling flat on her face, the Doctor promptly laced her hand in his and they hopped down the grating to the door. "Oh, and by the way," he said abruptly, whipping round and grinning at her as they reached the door. "I did see you watching me before." He raised his eyebrows, and his grin widened. "Can't blame you for looking of course, but that gives you no reason to stare. No doubt you were dribbling – all over the floor, too, I'll bet!"

Rose was momentarily caught off guard, her mouth opening and closing in a second of mortification before she brought back her bearings and just decided to smirk at him. "Stare? Nah, I think it was more like a brief ogle, you know like you do in the zoo, at a zebra. Or a tortoise."

As expected, the Doctor's grin faded, his expression changing to slightly offended. "Oi, what do you mean tortoise? When have I ever resembled a tortoise, Rose? Am I slow? Am I terribly wrinkled? I don't think so." His arms cross defiantly across his chest and Rose had to resist both rolling her eyes and bursting out laughing at the same time. "I am faster than a cheetah, and I would say the few lines I have are pretty good considering my age. But then I do –"

"Yeah, yeah. I know." Rose waved a hand quickly, interrupting him; she knew it would be best to stop him before he went into major babble mode. "You moisturize." Then she frowned at him. "But faster than a cheetah...?"

He sighed. "I meant my brain Rose."

"Oh, right... course," she said, with a small degree of sarcasm. "Well, if it makes you feel better then no, Doctor, you do not resemble a tortoise." She thought for a moment. "Or a zebra actually. Now, are we going to see where we've landed, or are we just gonna stand by the door nattering for the next few hours and leave visiting some probably wonderful planet for another time?"

The Doctor brought his finger to his chin, his brow creasing as if thinking that question very thoroughly through. "I'll go with the first option I think," he said finally, a wide smile pulling through his features.

Then with the usual, yet always exciting, air of revealing something magnificent and beautiful, he slowly opened the door for Rose. She stepped outside and gave a prompt awe struck gasp, her eyes widening, her lips forming an astonished oval smile.

They had landed on something of a metal balcony on top of a tall glass tower structure. Below, the landscape stretched in front of them; wide and far, plains and hills of fresh and beautiful flowers; roses and lilies, sunflowers and bluebell; plastering the hills as far as the eye could see. The sky was a wonderful copper red, mixed in swirls with a deep scarring purple moving through the red like whirling clouds.

"Beautiful," Rose murmured, one hand on the balcony rail and the other intertwined with the Doctor as she looked out at the landscape.

"Certainly is!" she heard him exclaim with that wonderful excitement of deep knowledge plastered in his voice. "It's called the Takaisiphuratola of the greater Barahasanabarah," he said with a steady clicking of his tongues and using some syllables Rose didn't think she'd ever heard before. "But thats's a tad long so most people just call it the 'Flower Planet'."

Rose grinned. "Most people? That means just you, I'm guessing."

"Rose, I'm insulted," he puffed, in mock outrage. "I'll have you know that I can say Takaisiphuratola of the greater Barahasanabarah quite easily thank you very much, and it is very much everyone else who's at the speaking disadvantage. I'd like to see you try it," he challenged, and though her gaze was still on the flowers expanding through the landscape, she could tell he was grinning.

"Fine," Rose declared. "Takasipha... Tak – Takaisiphura... tola," she struggled, "of the greater... Bara-has-ana-bar... something, something..."

The Doctor rolled his eyes (she couldn't see him, but she was quite sure that's what he was doing). "Close enough," he muttered.

"Told ya," she said with a cocky laugh.

"Indeed," he muttered, and she was surprised to hear a frown in his voice. She looked up at him then, to find him watching her, his brow now furred and skin tight. He pointed in vague indication of her face. "Your lip... it's bleeding," he told her.

Rose's hand swiped to her mouth, and she felt a warm, wet dampness on her lower lip. She took it back and looked at her fingers, seeing the deep red colour even more deep and red against her, for some reason, pale hand. "Oh!" she started, startled by how much blood was really there.

The Doctor was still frowning at her. "But there's no cut," he said.

Rose wasn't really listening though; she could taste the metallic tang in her mouth again. Now that she thought about it, she'd tasted it before, but had been too struck over by the excitement and awe of the new planet so she hadn't really noticed.

Then she detected the bile of blood rising in her throat; she could feel it, along with the salty, crisp starting of a heaving tickle in her throat. She felt an eruption of blood and air leave her mouth as she coughed, hitting her hand nicely in the palm and leaving a sticky, red mess. "Pretty sure that shouldn't be happening," she muttered, staring at her hand.

The Doctor was close by her side in one short second. His arm was around her shoulders, as if to steady her, and at first she had no idea why, her focus was nothing outside the large flecks of blood on her hand. Then, she teetered too far left and the Doctor was holding her quickly more securely. She realized then that the lightheadedness had returned. She tried to steady herself, but ended up falling back into the Doctor's chest. She leaned back into him, waiting for the wave of blind dizziness to fade.

The Doctor was saying something, and there was panic in his voice. His hands tightened on her arms at an awkward angle, his face looking desperately into hers. But for the life of her, Rose could not hear or register what he was saying, concentrating too hard on trying to regain her resolve. Then, as quickly as it came, the vertigo disappeared. The world stopped spinning at the same moment a striking blue light appeared in front of her face, and a metal pulse rang against her neck. The sonic screwdriver, she quickly reminded herself.

Rose blinked a few times, as the Doctor pulled the screwdriver away. "I'm okay, I'm okay now," she quickly assured him, now that she could fully see his worried features inches from hers. The Doctor stood in front of her, glancing from the sonic screwdriver to her face with a heavy frown in place. "Sorry," she muttered, shaking her head in annoyance, "I'm alright now... Dunno what happened there."

"Again," he said, with a deepening frown, "it looked like you were going to faint." He stared at her resolutely, his features heavy with concern. His eyes were dark, and much wider than usual; to be honest it was making Rose a little more worried than she already was. "You were coughing up blood, Rose."

"I know," she replied, glancing back down at her hand before shaking her head quickly and wiping it swiftly on her jeans. She looked up at him. "What your screwdriver say?"

The Doctor tore his gaze from Rose and looked back down at the screwdriver in hand. He stared at it, frowning, and ran a hand through his hair, looking utterly befuddled. "I don't know. It – it won't... it can't be –" Still frowning, and clearly annoyed, he banged it twice on the rail of the balcony.

"Oh, 'cause that'll help," Rose muttered sarcastically.

"Working," the Doctor finished. He sighed, put the appliance back in his pocket and took Rose's hand. "Come on."

"Where're we going?" Rose asked, though she already knew the answer.

"The infirmary," the Doctor replied shortly.

Rose thought about arguing; the view was very beautiful on this 'flower planet' and she'd definitely prefer it to the blank, white walls of the infirmary, plus she felt fine now, better than fine really. But she knew better than to argue, and that blood had frightened her a little. Well, more than a little actually.

The Doctor led Rose back inside the TARDIS, and his pace was so quick he was practically jogging and dragging her along. "But what did the screwdriver say?" Rose asked, as they entered the bright, white infirmary room.

The Doctor didn't answer, taking Rose to the bed and turning to search through some of the various medical equipment by the bed. "Sit," he ordered, not looking at her but pointing in vague indication of the bed.

Rose didn't move. "Doctor," she said in a tone she hoped was hard. "Tell me what the screwdriver said? It must have said something about what was wrong."

He didn't turn back to look at her. "Sit," he repeated, and his hand was still pointing at the bed.

"I'm not your poodle, you know!" she cried, now thoroughly annoyed at the Timelord.

The Doctor sighed, but instead of apologizing like she expected him to, he turned around, put his hands on either side of her waist, picked her up, and plonked her on the infirmary bed.

Rose gritted her teeth. "Doctor, if you don't tell me what the hell that thing said right now –!"

"Nothing," he interrupted.

"What?" She stared at him, confused.

"The screwdriver said..." he sighed and leaned against the bed, staring at her, "it said there's nothing physically wrong with you."

"But, I just..." She frowned, and and found herself pointing to her mouth for reasons she wasn't sure. "There was blood..."

"I know," he said. "Clearly there is something wrong, and there's some – I don't know – malfunction with the sonic screwdriver." He turned back to the medical things on the side, his hands variously picking up a few up, and apparently putting other bits together. "Don't worry, I'll just run a few tests. We'll find out what's going on. I'll just take some blood, have a bit of a poker about, and you'll be as right as rain in no time at all! ...Right as rain? Whoever came up with that saying? Hmm, a gardener I expect. Right as rain. All you humans ever seem to do is complain about the rain, and then you have the spunk to contradict yourselves and come up with the saying 'as right as rain'... confusing species, you lot are."

Rose was trying hard to concentrate on the Doctor's words, but her attention was caught by the now familiar rising metallic iron tang in her mouth. "Doctor?" she said softly, with hidden panic.

He turned back to her, "Don't worry, Rose. We'll be back on the 'flower planet' in no time at –" He stopped abruptly, and she found him staring at her face. Slowly and steadily he reached a free hand to touch her lip. When he brought it back, his fingers were stained with her blood.

It was this time to no surprise to her when the Doctor's face swam unsteady in front of her, a wave of spinning dizziness sending her vision whirling and clouded for a third time. Rose used the bed she sat on to steady herself, feeling a sudden willingness to fall, close her eyes and give in to the darkness. She resisted though, trying to focus on the Doctor's worried words, and terrified frown.

This time though, it didn't seem to want to disappear, and her mouth was filling with blood she had no choice but to swallow. The throaty feel in her chest made her want to cough, but she resisted, trying to keep it all down. The Doctor's face swam in front of her, hazy and disfigured. He was saying something urgently, but she could not pinpoint the words. She thought he might have been telling her to 'stay with him' but she couldn't understand the meaning of the words, for where else she could be going? She was staying right here, near to him. But he was fading... and glassy... his face and chest in her blurry vision.

The flecks of blood on his chest was the last she saw before she succumbed to the darkness. And the loud, throaty bark of a cough was the last thing she felt erupt from her lungs before everything went black.

To be continued...

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