It's over! Thank you so much, readers, for sticking with me; commenters, for making my days better; my betas for your awesome patience; and Stuf0flegnds for the original prompt that sparked this whole thing.
Rose woke again with heartbeats under her ear, her leg flung over the Doctor, his arms around her. She smiled as the events of the previous week, of last night in particular, came rushing back. Adjusting her head so she could see his face, she found the Doctor watching her, already awake.
"Sleep well?" he asked. His eyes were bright, and he seemed relaxed.
"Mmm," Rose answered, stretching as best she could without letting go, arching against him, muscles in her thighs and abdomen reminding her they'd been used nicely after a lack of practice. "You?"
"Slept fine, me. Woke up when you decided I needed a blanket in the form of Rose Tyler."
"Not a bad sort of blanket, right?" she asked, pulling her leg upward along his until she reached where he was hard against her inner thigh.
"Not the worst blanket I've had. Bit off center."
"Think I can fix that," she said, rolling atop him properly, arms on either side of the Doctor's. She took a moment to collect herself after she'd repositioned, grinning at him widely when she saw his eyes had grown dark and hooded, his lips parted slightly. "Better?" she let the tip of her tongue show through, and he immediately lifted his head so he could kiss her, neither speaking again until they were quite a bit warmer than they'd started.
After a quick breakfast, the Doctor and Rose made their way to the general store. They entered together and saw Simon and Lea at the counter.
Lea was animated, earnestly explaining something to Simon, pointing at various papers to illustrate her point while he looked at her fondly.
"What if the demand for cloth rises again?" he asked her. "It is hard to tell when we will get another group of folk who think they should be more traditional and make their own clothes."
"It isn't as if the clothes will expire if you have a few extras in stock. They take more time to acquire than the products you can get from within the immersion, so just store the extras in- Oh, hello, Rose, Doctor." Lea smiled at them and came around the counter. "Sorry, didn't hear you come in."
"Good morning," said Rose, letting go of the Doctor's arm to give Lea a hug.
"Did you end up staying at the dance much longer? We went back after we'd talked." She looked toward the men and then lowered her voice. "It was a little too difficult to be alone with him without doing anything, well, you know." She blushed.
"Not ready to go that far?"
Lea looked at Simon again, small smile on her face, cheeks still pink. "He's very traditional in a lot of ways and would regret it without our being married first. Did you... I mean..." She turned a brighter red. "Was being married important to the two of you, before doing... that?"
Simon and the Doctor were speaking, but the Doctor, with his superior hearing, seemed alert, one ear angled toward the women. Rose smiled in his direction, none of her earlier flash of uncertainty resurfacing.
"We didn't really talk about it before," she answered. "We'd already promised forever, though, in our own ways." She remembered his bringing her to the end of her world, remembered thinking they might find their own end surrounded by the Gelth. "So having it be official according to some paperwork, it wasn't really a priority."
The Doctor relaxed, and Rose grinned. She'd need to make sure she talked to her mum before Jackie got a chance to rip into him about marriage. It didn't matter to Rose, not as long as they were together, and she could just see the panic he might show at the level of domestics a wedding would entail.
He turned to face her, a warm expression on his face, his eyes soft and a smile at his lips. He certainly had been handling domestics remarkably well on this trip.
"I can see that, you two following your own rules rather than everybody else's. Simon enjoys rules, being proper, and I typically find them comforting as well, though there is a time and place to follow them."
Rose looked at her friend hopefully. If Lea was on their side in getting the TARDIS back, maybe the TARDIS would be returned sooner than she'd thought.
The Doctor and Simon joined them, and Simon cleared his throat, looking a little uncomfortable.
"I was thinking," he said, "about how you folks want your ship back so you can leave."
"We really do," said Rose. "I mean, it's not that we don't like it here. This town is great, but we never meant to stay."
"And I don't suppose we could convince you to stay for the terms of your impromptu contract?" Simon's tone was resigned, his face neutral as he looked between the Doctor and Rose.
"Not willingly, no," said the Doctor, smiling tightly. Rose laced her fingers with his, and he quickly reciprocated.
"That's what we thought." Simon looked at Lea, and his expression softened. "So," he continued, turning his attention back toward them, "I have a proposition for you."
"I'm all ears," said the Doctor, and Rose fought laughter, listening to Simon.
"There are specific circumstances under which I am allowed to release people from their contracts early without any repercussions, without any confiscation of goods. I'm willing to report that you fall into one of these categories, under the condition that you don't let anybody know the conditions are false."
"We can make ourselves scarce if we get our ship back. Don't plan to advertise your help."
"But what happens if someone finds out on their own?" asked Rose.
"I've agreed to leave with him," said Lea, placing her hand on his arm, "if he's forced to leave early."
"I'd rather not leave," he clarified, "but I've been newly reminded that doing what's proper and doing what's right aren't always the same. Keeping you here when I have the power to let you leave isn't right, and I now feel like I can handle the consequences if the deception is caught."
"Appreciate that," said the Doctor.
"Really," added Rose. "You don't know how much this means to us."
"Being able to travel the stars as often as you like," said Lea, a dreamy look crossing her face, "it must be amazing."
"Fantastic," said Rose, beaming, looking toward the Doctor, who rolled his eyes at her imitation before returning her smile. "But the things that happen when we've landed, those are good, too."
"I can see that being true." Lea smiled.
"At any rate," said Simon, gesturing toward his office, "your ship is right this way."
"Seriously?" asked Rose. "It's been in your office the whole time?"
Simon ran a hand through his hair as they walked. "In a way. I've two offices. It was most convenient to have them connected. That way," he said, moving a stack of papers from his desk and lifting a panel Rose couldn't see until after it was moving, "nobody gets suspicious if I have to attend to additional duties during regular work hours."
He typed in a long series of numbers on the newly-revealed keypad; Rose lost count after fifteen, the practiced movements of his hands making it difficult to discern individual buttons as they were pressed. Inaudibly, a larger panel in the floor opened at the back of the office.
She glanced at the Doctor. They'd been so close to the TARDIS the whole time. Would he be upset they hadn't found it earlier?
His expression was one of relief.
"I've disabled the shielding just to your ship," said Simon, closing the desk panel and starting down the stairway that had been revealed. "Don't try to touch anything else down here. Some of the items are potentially dangerous, hence the individual shields."
In the large, artificially lit, windowless basement, was an assortment of gadgets, advanced-looking transports, and many forms of televisions. In front of her, the Doctor walked straight toward the TARDIS, stepping into the ship without a word, leaving the door open behind him.
"I guess we'll be off, then," said Rose turning toward Lea and Simon. "Thanks, for helping us out while we were here, and for risking your job to help us leave."
"Do be careful," said Lea, reaching forward to wrap Rose in a hug, "and maybe try to avoid getting stranded somewhere less pleasant."
"We'll try," she said, smiling.
"Safe travels," said Simon, nodding, taking Lea's hand.
"Thanks," said Rose again. "I hope everything works out right for you two. You deserve it."
"You're welcome to come visit again," offered Lea. Simon looked unsure.
"I don't think we'll be back here. I mean, it's great, but just in case we got stuck again, yeah? But maybe we can find you after your contracts are up."
Simon looked a little more comfortable with this. "We'll be the only Bartls in Priatsk."
Lea pinkened and grinned widely at Simon.
"I'll remember that," said Rose. "Thank you again, for everything." She hugged Lea once more, then turned and walked onto the TARDIS for the first time in a very eventful week.
She waved at Simon and Lea one last time, then shut the door behind her. The Doctor was at the console, moving from one station to the next, seeming intent on making sure everything looked right.
"Can we take off with the obstruction field keeping things from working right?" she asked, approaching the jump seat.
"Of course," said the Doctor, moving around the console to another set of levers. "The field can't affect anything beyond the door. We'll be able to leave momentarily."
"That's good," said Rose, taking a breath. It was good to be back in the TARDIS. The week had been long, different, weird, good, and challenging, from the moment the TARDIS had been replaced by horses and a cart. "Oh! What about the horses?" asked Rose.
The Doctor's hands stilled. "What?"
"We dropped the horses off at the stable and never went back and got them."
He turned to look at her, face blank. "You're not taking any more strays on board."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Don't think a horse would much care for that. But what's gonna happen to them?"
"Either Simon Bartl will give them to the next person who arrives with the wrong sort of transport," he said, resuming his actions on the console, "or the stablemaster will repossess them to repay what he's owed for boarding. They'll be treated well enough either way."
"Okay." She moved to stand next to the Doctor. "Can I help?" She gestured at the console.
The Doctor looked at her, then nodded. He pointed to a lever in front of her. "When I say, push that forward."
"Right," she said, putting her hand on it and waiting as he moved around the console again.
"Now," he said, and she pushed it forward, the Doctor grinning at her obvious delight. The ship shuddered, then stopped. "Back in the vortex," he said, walking around to where she stood and leaning back against the console, arms crossed. "Powell Estate next?"
"Well, actually," she said, playing with an earring, "I thought maybe we could go somewhere else first. Maybe find something new before we go see my mum."
"Changed your mind?"
She shrugged. "Figured maybe we'd had enough of the domestic for a little while."
His expression softened, his eyes warm. "Come here," he said gruffly, uncrossing his arms, and Rose stepped into his embrace. "One adventure, then we'll go see your mum."
"What?" asked the Doctor.
"Just picturing her face when she sees us together again."
The Doctor tensed slightly, and Rose pulled far enough away to see his face.
"Not gonna slap me again, is she?"
Rose laughed again, then leaned forward to press a kiss to his lips.
"She shouldn't, not so long as you land us at the right time. Besides, she was already sure we were shagging."
"Let's not talk about shagging and your mother in the same sentence."
"How about we stop talking about my mum, then?" she said, kissing him once more, and he proved his agreement by eagerly returning the kiss.
She cleared her throat a few minutes later, her cheeks warm. "Maybe we can check out the bedrooms before that adventure? You know, make sure nothing changed while we were gone?"
The unguarded simmer of heat in his gaze reflected just how much had changed since they'd been here last. She was glad they still seemed to be themselves, still the Doctor and Rose, just with some additional activities they could share together.
"That sounds fantastic," said the Doctor, and Rose wholeheartedly agreed.
krashingkritter: The setting came first, and when I needed two characters to put in it, these two just made sense :) Firefly is my other favorite show. I'm definitely up to sequels in this 'verse!
Guest: Thank you!
Hediru: I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks :)
Blue Stone Shining Wolf: It was definitely supposed to be a love scene and not just sex, so I'm glad that came through :) Thank you again!