She saw it once, just lying out in the open. Normally, it would be tucked safely in its own place, hidden away. But, lack of sleep had made the Doctor careless. He had just left it sitting on one of the tables, out in the middle of the library.
Rose crept toward it, as if, if she weren't careful, it would suddenly run and hide, as the Doctor himself sometimes did when the same subject came up in conversation, or just in his thoughts. When she was close enough, she slowly reached out a hand to touch the cover of the thick book. She ran her fingers, feather-light, over the letters embossed there, wondering how many of the tome's pages were written in the Doctor's own hand: "A History of the Time War."
It looked old, and yet too new at the same time, telling of how long the conflict had gone on, of how recent the scars still were for the Doctor.
A tiny part of Rose wanted to open the book, of course. Curiosity was a part of her nature, part of what had led her to run into the TARDIS what seemed like so long ago, leaving family and friends behind, in a way. But, she didn't lift the cover. The Doctor had told her a few things here and there about Gallifrey. Maybe, someday, he would tell her more. She could be content with that.
All the same, she started guiltily, like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, when a voice said softly, "You can look at it, if you want."
Rose turned to face the Doctor, cheeks coloring. He went on, never looking her in the eye, reaching for the book, holding it carefully, as if it were dangwrous. He looked at it, looked past it, with hatred and sorrow in his eyes. She knew the hatred wasn't really aimed at the Daleks, but at the war in general, at himself.
"It's not pretty, obviously. I never wanted to tell you about it before, because…"
It hurts too much, Rose's mind adds. The Doctor finishes with a different, though equally honest, statement.
"I was afraid…afraid that you'd never look at me the same way, after."
Rose smiles up at him, gently takes the book from his hands, sets it back on the table, and wraps her arms around him.
"I don't need to see it," is her quiet reply. "You can talk to me about anything. But, I don't need more than that."
The Doctor tries to smile at her, though his eyes are still sad and far away. He returns the embrace and they stand like that for a moment, before the Doctor pulls away and walks to one of the sofas in the room. He sits down and pats the place next to him. Rose joins him and waits patiently as he sits, silent, for another minute.
"I've told you about the forests on Gallifrey," he begins. Rose nods, then leans into him, letting her head rest on his shoulder. Times like these are some of her favorites, when the Doctor opens up just a little and lets her peak past the walls he so often hides behind. "Well," he continues, "there was this one spot a…friend and I used to go to, when we were little. We kept all our prize possessions there." He grins faintly. "Just little bits of rubbish. But, we would use them when we went on 'adventures.' Time Lords were just supposed to be observers, but that was our dream, when we were young, to go out and see the universe, maybe change it for the better." The Doctor's eyes are far away again, and a bit sad. But, a small smile pulls his lips up as he goes on. "I remember this one time…"
The TARDIS hums softly, listening with a bittersweet murmur as her thief recounts his days on the beautiful planet of Gallifrey. The ship is happy, though, that he at last has someone he is willing to tell the old stories to. For a long time now, the Doctor has borne the weight of remembering alone. The old ship is glad he is finally willing to share that weight, even if it is just bit by bit.