"Can you help us? Please?" a desperate, shabbily dressed woman begged the Doctor, clutching at his arm. The Doctor stared at her, as alarmed at her desperation as he was by his own indifferent reaction. She'd found him in the marketplace where he'd been absently strolling, half keeping an eye out for some parts for the TARDIS and half trying to distract himself from his own internal anguish.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not who you need," he told the woman gently, but firmly, while plucking her fingers off the cuff of his coat and turning to walk away. The skies chose that precise moment to open up and thick raindrops began to fall. It was almost a parallel of the woman's desperation and his own dark mood. The Doctor might have thought so, at least, if he were feeling a bit more poetic and lot less cynical.

He ignored the devastated expression on the woman's face and could feel her gaze boring into his back as he stalked back in the direction of the TARDIS. He tried to ignore the niggling feelings of guilt that were pricking at his conscience over turning her away. Then, he became annoyed that he should feel guilty at all. It wasn't like he could be expected to fix all of the universe's troubles. Especially when that universe only ever sought to take away everything he held dear.

The Doctor wasn't even quite sure why the woman had come to him specifically, other than he was obviously an off-worlder. And, being an off-worlder, he was more likely to have access to resources that the locals did not. The residents of Kalira IV were certainly humanoid, but most of them were considerably more slight in stature and dressed in robes and wrappings, sandals and headscarves. Very few of the population had any sort of wealth and wealth meant proper clothing such as he was wearing. He stood out here in his brown pinstripes, sweeping coat, and scuffed trainers. He also supposed he exuded an air of authority. It wasn't the first time someone had come to him for help from out of the blue. But this was the first time that he'd had no interest or intention of interfering.

What good did it do to step in, to get involved and emotionally invested, when it all turned to dust in the end? People still lost their lives, just like nearly everyone on board that doomed space cruise just last week. Out of the thousands aboard, only a handful had survived despite his considerable efforts to save more. Bannakaffalatta, Foon... Astrid. Regardless of his growing bitterness, the Doctor had still cared so much for all of them. Dealing with that whole mess hot on the heels of the Year that Never Was, losing the Master, Jack and Martha leaving him...

The Doctor was at the end of his rope. The past two years (well, it had been two years for him at any rate... did the Year that Never Was count?) hadn't exactly been full of sunshine and puppy dogs anyhow. He still felt the loss of Rose keenly, after all. Martha had never liked it when he brought up his old companion in conversation. Jack had been interested in talking about her, but by the time he'd run into his old friend, the Doctor was well used to pushing thoughts of Rose to the back of his mind. Thinking about her now only brought him more pain.

Rose might not have been able to help him save more lives on board the Titanic, she might not have been able to prevent the Year that Never Was, or save the Master in the end, but she would have been by his side through thick or thin. She would have held his hand and stood with him and helped him shoulder his burdens just like she always had. Her presence had been a balm on his soul and now her absence was a gaping, exposed wound. One shop girl from twenty-first century London had somehow managed to become everything to him. He'd kept her at arms length, worried about what letting her further into his hearts would do to him when he inevitably lost her. What a fool he'd been. 900 years of time and space and he'd never expected that Rose would be forever in his heart anyhow and that all he'd be left with in the end was regret for moments lost.

So, maybe he was bitter. But he felt like he'd earned the right to be a little bitter. He'd also earned the right to say no, which is what he had tried to tell the woman in the marketplace. He knew that the woman had wanted to tell him about the local despot who had taken over this humble community and was now ruling over them all with an iron fist. Since the planet wasn't very technologically savvy, there was not much easy communication between the cities and the central planetary government had no idea what was going on here in this little corner of the world. She had told him that the despot, Jazran, had not stopped at simply taking control of this community. He'd begun taking slaves, taking people from their homes and family, to work in his palace. He showed a preference for young women, barely out of childhood. The woman's own daughter, only fourteen years old, had been taken the night before and she was desperate for any assistance in rescuing.

It was the sort of local trouble he normally wouldn't have hesitated to interfere in. In his present state of mind, it all seemed like just another planetary problem, no different from so many before it. He was rather tired of it all. Of course, if Rose had been with him, she would have pulled on his arm and given him That Look, and it really just wouldn't have been a question. But now, having lost her, and so many after her…Well, he was filled with cold disinterest and he just didn't care anymore. He wanted to melt anonymously into the marketplace and go on about his business. If he didn't get involved, then he wouldn't get hurt.

The Doctor wandered through the marketplace that was emptying now, due to the weather, letting the rain soak through his coat, run down his collar, and plaster his hair to his head. He ran a hand through the wet strands now, pushing it up and off his forehead. He should just head back to the TARDIS, get out of these wet clothes and stop feeling so damned sorry for himself. He should, yet he kept walking, kept revelling in the feel of the raindrops pelting his face.

He was startled out of his morose thoughts by a crowd of people running through the rain, down the middle of the marketplace, headed towards the palace in the centre of the community. They carried torches and various crude weapons and he knew an angry mob when he saw it. He jumped to the side, out of the way, and watched the mob pass with his jaw hanging open. It looked as though they hadn't needed his help after all. He wondered if the woman from the marketplace had found someone else to help her.

The Doctor stood there, feeling miserable and useless, and he watched as the crowd passed him by. And then, he caught a flash of something. Pink and yellow. His breath caught and his mind rebelled. His imagination was playing tricks on him because it was impossible.

Drawing up the rear of the crowd of people, walking ever so casually as if it were a sunny day in a broad, green meadow, was the woman he had been dreaming about. She was slender, wearing a smart looking, short trench coat, and dark, skinny jeans with leather boots nearly reaching her knees. Her blonde hair was pulled into a deliberately messy ponytail with wispy ends curling around a face that no longer held the baby fat that he remembered so well.

"Rose," he gasped. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that this was Rose, but how was she here? Had he finally lost his mind? Had he slipped somewhere and hit his head? Was he dreaming this?

Rose walked right up to him, but she wasn't smiling. Dream Rose would have certainly been smiling at him, wouldn't she? No, this Rose looked downright ticked off. Rain ran down her cheeks unchecked, dripping off the ends of the hair framing her face.

"How could you turn your back on them?" she demanded to know.

He blinked confusedly. "What?" he asked. The Doctor was having a hard time catching up, which was just ridiculous. He had a massive Time Lord brain, so surely he should have been able to catch up and figure this out by now.

"These people! That woman earlier asked you for help and you told her no. You just walked away. That's not the Doctor I know. What's happened to you?" she said, poking a finger into his chest. She was definitely angry with him, this Dream Rose.

The answer suddenly came to him. She was his conscience. Yes, this was his guilty conscience come to give him a lashing for not lending a hand. As delusions went, this was a fairly vivid one. Perhaps he had fallen and hit his head after all.

He batted this vision's hand away from his chest. "Listen, I don't know why my subconscious has chosen to torture me with a vision of you, but I've about had it. It's been a really bad couple of years and an even worse couple of weeks. I'm not in the mood to be tormented by a dream, nor do I have to explain myself."

Dream Rose's cheeks flamed red as her eyes narrowed. "You think this is a dream? And what's your excuse for not helping these people? Are they a dream too?"

"I don't have to help everyone," he said, feeling defensive. "Why should I keep giving to the universe when all it does is take from me?"

Dream Rose just stared at him and she looked like she wanted to slap him. "Why? 'Cos it's the right thing to do! That's why!" she countered. He caught the scent of her, standing so close to him. She smelled... his brain whirled. She smelled just like his Rose, which he imagined she would, since this was his dream and all. Still, it muddled his senses and he wanted to give in to this delusion and take her in his arms and never let her go.

"My Doctor would have never turned his back on someone who needed his help," she spat at him, her eyes snapping angrily.

"Well, this Doctor would," he replied with a hard edge to his voice, trying not to let his vision influence his guilt any more. It was bad enough that the universe had it in for him, now it seemed his subconscious did as well.

Her hand flew up, the palm cracking across his cheek so swiftly that he never saw it coming. He reached up to touch his stinging cheek and stared at this apparition, stunned. She looked him up and down as if what she saw displeased her.

"I didn't come clear across the Void to find this poor excuse for a Doctor," she said and she almost looked like she was on the verge of tears.

He ground his teeth, his frustration growing even more. "I don't need a lecture from my subconscious, thank you very much. Now, is there anything else? Maybe you'd like to dredge up the Time War while you're at it?"

"I'm not your subconscious, you prat. I'm Rose. Rose Tyler. D'you remember me at all or is it too hard to pick out a face from the crowd of women you've had traveling with you?" she growled at him, her hands clenched in fists at her side.

"That almost sounds like something my subconscious would come up with," he mumbled. Then, he sighed. "Look, you can't be here. It's impossible." He reached up to push his drenched fringe off his forehead again. The rain was showing no signs of letting up and his clothing was well and truly soaked through by now. Even Dream Rose's ponytail hung limply and her coat was dripping onto the toes of her boots.

"Just stop it," she said emotionally. "I am here, right now. I crossed the Void to be with you and this is greeting I get?"

He stared at her, still not even wanting to dare to believe what she was telling him. "But that's impossible," he retorted.

"So you keep saying," she remarked dryly. "But here I am, and you're acting like the universe's biggest git."

He kept staring for a minute before he reached out and roughly grabbed her hand. He began to stride quickly in the direction he'd been heading before, dragging her along behind him. He needed answers, now, before he suffered this delusion any longer.

"What are you doing?" she demanded, trying to pull her hand from his grasp. It was no use, of course, he had an iron grip. "Where are we going?"

"TARDIS. And you're going to tell me what the hell is going on." The ship was just around the corner, tucked at the end of a mostly sheltered alcove. Rain leaked through here and there, but they were finally mostly out of deluge.

Rose dug in her heels just outside the TARDIS and he stopped, turning to face her. "I'm here," she said in a steely voice. "That's what's going on. One minute, I'm walking through London in the other universe, the next minute I'm here."

"What did you do?" he demanded, grabbing at her arms. His emotions were a maelstrom and he reached for the easiest one: anger. "I told you, two universes would collapse. What have you done?"

Her eyes flashed angrily. "I didn't do anything! Listen to me, dammit! I was minding my own business one minute when I started to feel a tingling. I stopped and braced myself against a wall. When I opened my eyes, I was here. This planet, this time, this marketplace," she explained. "I saw you tell the woman in the marketplace that you wouldn't help her. So I decided to pick up your slack. I'm good at instigating a mob, me."

He raised his eyebrows. "Wait... wait, wait, wait. One thing at a time. A tingling? Did you notice anything else?"

"I shut my eyes; it was starting to hurt. It was almost like a headache, but all over. I thought maybe I saw a glow," she said, shrugging.

He rocked back on his heels. A glow. Tingling. His mind raced with the possibilities. Right now, however, the biggest piece of news on his mind was Rose. Rose was standing here, right in front of him. His mind still rebelled at the impossibility of it, but... here she was! Was he going to believe his mind or his own two eyes?

He reached forward, his eyes on his fingers as they touched her arm, felt her warmth through his fingertips. "You're... real?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

"I'm as real as you are, Doctor," she told him, reaching out with her own hand to touch his arm. He felt the pressure of her fingers through the layers of soaked fabric and it felt real. It had to be real. Could he maybe have gotten it wrong? Maybe the universe was going to give him something he wanted for a change?

"Rose," he breathed and he raised his eyes to hers for perhaps the first time since he'd run into her. She met his gaze and he saw her then. It was her; she was here with him. He didn't fully understand it, but he didn't have to. The evidence was right before his eyes.

Slowly, he reached up to trace her face as she watched him, eyes intent, the smallest of frowns still formed by her lips. He smoothed his thumb across them, wanting to see that smile, the one that made everything in his world perfect again.

Rose trembled a little before she pulled away from his touch. "I'm still upset with you," she told him. "How could you turn your back on these people? What happened to change you?"

The Doctor huffed and pulled on his ear as he turned away from her. His shoulders were now slumped in defeat. She was disappointed with him and that stung in a way he hadn't expected it would. He'd known he was attached to her, emotionally, but he hadn't expected her opinion of him to matter so much. "A lot of things happened, Rose."

"Tell me?" she pleaded. "Because this isn't like you."

"Can we at least go into the TARDIS? We need to get out of these wet clothes and get comfortable?" he asked. He needed a few moments to gather his thoughts and emotions. His hearts were pounding so hard in his chest that he was afraid of what he might do or what he might reveal if they stayed out in this dank alley too much longer.

He noticed her smirking at him and replayed what he'd just said in his head. His eyes widened. "Oh! Oh, no, I didn't mean that. Not that that isn't absolutely brilliant. I just- I don't want you to catch a cold!"

Rose looked at the TARDIS with a wistful expression and nodded. The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors, letting them both inside. She gave him a small smile as she approached the console, pausing to stroke the central column. "I missed the old girl," she murmured.

The Doctor stood with his hands shoved into his coat pockets. "The feeling was mutual."

Rose shivered and she suddenly looked very young. And very cold. "Your room is right where it always was," he told her. "You should go get a warm shower and some dry clothes."

She nodded and her eyes traveled over him, which caused his blood to heat in a way it hadn't in far too long. "Same for you," she said. He nodded at her and she told him she'd meet him in the library after she was dried off. He watched her walk down the corridor before walking to his own room for a warm shower and a change into some dry clothes.

His mind still raced with the impossibility of the situation. How could she come to be here with him? And, an even better question was, how could he bear to have let her out of his sight for even just a moment?

The broken locks were a warning you got inside my head

I tried my best to be guarded, I'm an open book instead

I still see your reflection inside of my eyes

That are looking for a purpose, they're still looking for life

- "Broken" by Lifehouse

Rose's bedroom really was just where it always had been and not a thing had changed either. Even the pyjamas Rose had worn the night before she'd been lost to Pete's World were still draped across the duvet. It was almost... surreal. It'd been 5 years for her in Pete's World. And those had been five very long and very lonely years.

To be back here, on the TARDIS, in her old room, with the Doctor just down the corridor was nothing less than incredible. What she'd told the Doctor out in the alleyway was accurate. She'd been walking to her flat from the tube station when the tingling and pain had overwhelmed her. She'd felt pulled in about a million different directions for several agonising moments. Then... she'd been here.

Sighing, Rose entered her ensuite and turned the shower taps on, making sure the temperature was set as warm as she could stand it. She felt suddenly chilled to the bone with damp rainwater. With shaking fingers, she removed her boots and socks and set them on the floor next to the door. She peeled the drenched trench coat from her torso and set it on counter. Her blouse was mostly dry, thank goodness, so she decided to tackle her jeans next. They would be difficult enough to get out of when they were bone dry, but with them soaking wet... it was going to be a challenge. She walked back into her room to grab a chair so she could sit to remove them.

Standing just inside the door to her room was the Doctor. Rose was so startled to find him there that it took her a moment to realise that he was out of breath and looking very rumpled. In fact, he looked more rumpled than she'd ever seen him. And considerably more undressed.

He was wearing only his trousers and even the button on those was undone. His hair was still damp but stood up in about ten different directions. His chest was rising and falling, as if he'd run to her room. His eyes met hers and he seemed to steady a bit.

"Doctor?" she questioned, immediately concerned. "Is there something wrong? What's going on?"

He stepped up to her and lifted his hands, stopping just short of touching her shoulders. He tucked his hands in his trouser pockets instead. "No, nothing... I just..." he stammered. "I was just about to get in the shower. But then I thought... I had to check, Rose."

She furrowed her brow. "You had to check what?" she asked. As she looked closer at him, she could see that he was shaking. Whether from cold or something else, she didn't know. Instinctively, she reached out and touched his arm. "Hey, it's okay. What'd you have to check?"

The Doctor stepped even closer, still trembling. "You. I had to- I had to make sure that you were still here."

Oh. A small thrill chased through her. He was concerned enough about that to rush to her room, half dressed? "I told you, Doctor," she said, trying to keep her voice soothing. "I'm here. I don't know how, but I'm here."

Rose was startled to see his eyes shining as he stared at her. This wasn't the despondent man who had turned away from need in the marketplace, nor was it the confused, angry man who'd confronted her outside of the TARDIS. This was a scared, broken man who was letting her see a vulnerable side of him that she hadn't seen since he had a different face and wore leather like it was armor. Her heart lurched for him.

"I know you are cold and you'd like to get your shower but..." the Doctor trailed off and removed a hand from his pocket to push it through his now-limp hair. "I'm not ready to let you out of my sight."

"My shower can wait," she assured him and to demonstrate her sincerity, she moved into the ensuite and turned the taps off, then returned quickly to her room, to stand before him once more. He looked vastly relieved just to have her there again and her heart twisted.

She began to think that maybe, just maybe, he had missed her just as much as she'd missed him. It was a sobering and thrilling thought. "I'm not going anywhere," she assured him, her voice dipping low as he moved even closer. His bare chest, something she'd never before been able to appreciate, was a whisper away from pressing against her.

"Never?" he asked, his darkened gaze traveling over her face. "Rose, will you stay?"

"I'm not going anywhere," she repeated. The air between them buzzed with tension and it was as though they were perched on a tightrope. There were only two directions to go, backwards and forwards. As she breathed in the scent of him (so familiar to how she remembered it but yet so much more potent because there was nothing diluting it now), forward began to look a whole lot more appealing.

The Doctor brought his hand up to her face, cupping her jaw and pushing his fingers into her damp hair. He was still shaking just a bit but she no longer thought it was because he was cold. His eyes were burning into hers and she could read want and need there as clear as if he'd said the words aloud. But this was also the Doctor and she could feel the stiffness of his muscles as he worked to restrain himself. He would not act on what he wanted, but Rose sure could.

Rising up on her toes, she pressed a soft kiss to his lips. She kept the contact chaste, testing. The Doctor remained still; she'd clearly caught him by surprise. After a moment, he still hadn't responded to the kiss so she eased back, keeping her eyes downcast. She didn't want to look at his face and see rejection, or worse, pity.

"I-I'm sorry," she stammered. "I didn't want to make you feel... Well, we can just pretend that didn't-"

"No," he cut in and she chanced a look up to see his eyes, very dark now, focused on her.


"We will not be pretending this didn't happen," he informed her, and while his words were firm and commanding, his tone was soft and assuring. The Doctor leaned down towards her and gently rubbed his nose against hers before she felt the gentle press of his lips. After a moment, he increased the pressure of the kiss and she leaned into him, sighing with relief. They each took their time, sipping at each other's mouths, until he finally slipped his tongue along her bottom lip. Rose hummed, nails scratching down his chest towards the waistband of his trousers and she opened her mouth to his.

His tongue thrust into her mouth, filling her senses with the taste of him. He tasted unlike any other bloke she'd ever kissed before. It was like kissing lightning underwater, bright and fresh, quenching and exhilarating. His fingers were dancing over the buttons of her blouse before he growled into her mouth and yanked the fabric apart, the buttons scattering across the carpet of her bedroom. He pushed at the remains of the blouse as she wriggled her shoulders so that it finally fluttered to the floor behind her. Instantly, he filled his hands with her breasts, thumbing the nipples through the thin cotton of her bra. Rose moaned and pressed her hand against the front of his trousers, making him shudder in a most delicious way. And that answered one of the questions she'd always had about whether he was truly like a human bloke or not.

The Doctor reached for the button of her jeans and managed to prise it open. But when he tried to tug them down, the wet denim stubbornly resisted. Frowning, he pulled back and looked down at them. "Skinny jeans, Rose? Wet skinny jeans?" He didn't quite manage to keep the whine out of his voice.

Rose grimaced. "Sorry, wasn't thinking I'd be in this sort of situation when I got dressed this morning."

The Doctor, eyes twinkling, looked up at her. "Rose, you did the impossible and got back to me. I think I can handle this part." He eyed the jeans a little skeptically. "Maybe I have a function on the screwdriver that would work."

She giggled as he knelt down before her, examining the offending garment. He looked like he always did when he was confronting a difficult problem, complete with furrowed brow and tongue pressed against the backs of his teeth. All that he was missing was...

Rose laughed harder as he reached into his trousers pocket and drew out his brainy specs. But her laughter died a moment later when he slipped them on and she got a good look at the image he presented. This was the man she loved, the very one she thought she'd never get to see again. He was kneeling before her, wearing nothing more than a pair of rain-dampened pinstriped trousers. His gorgeous, thick brown hair stood up in a dozen different directions. He tongue peeked out tantalisingly as he pressed it against his teeth. Those specs, which had fueled so many of her fantasies in the past, perched on his nose and gave him an unbelievably sexy, professor look that made her blood heat up.

"Doctor," she said in a low voice. "I want you."

He grinned up at her and there was nothing innocent in this expression. "Right. Plan B, then," he decided. Flicking open the button of her jeans, the Doctor began to slowly lower the zip. Rose watched breathlessly as he began to peel the soaked denim from her skin, revealing her skin inch by tortuous inch. The Doctor pressed open mouthed kisses to her hip, her thighs, her knees... clear down to her ankles which he lifted as he drew the jeans finally off and tossed them aside. Rose felt flushed and more than a little aroused.

The Doctor remained knelt before her, seemingly transfixed by the sight of her in her simple white cotton knickers. His fingers brushed along the tops of her thighs almost reverently and as she watched him, Rose thought about how this was the first time he'd really seen her like this. Oh, she'd worn bikinis a time or two back when they'd traveled together. But those were always circumstances where she was left to sunbathe on the beach alone or take a dip in the TARDIS pool by herself while the Doctor busied himself with something underneath the console. She didn't think those instances really counted. And this instance most definitely did.

As his fingers lingered around the waistband of her knickers, Rose could almost guess what he was thinking of doing next. She wanted to take control, throw him a bit off balance. Make that jaw of his fall open a bit. Reaching behind her, Rose flicked the catch on her bra and then drew the garment down and off her arms. She was rewarded with the Doctor making just the face she'd hoped he would. He stared up at her with something akin to awe. Grinning back at him, she crooked a finger, beckoning him up to her.

The Doctor didn't need any more invitation than that. He moved up her body swiftly, cupping her breasts with his eager hands as he pushed her backwards towards the bed. When the back of her knees hit the edge of the mattress, she gripped his biceps and he shifted his hands, one splaying behind her back as he eased her back onto the bed.

He hovered over her, just gazing at her form for a long moment. "Rose," he breathed reverently, "I never thought- I didn't think I'd ever have this chance."

She was about to form a reply when his mouth descended on her breast and all thoughts immediately swirled out of her head. She became solely aware of the warmth of his mouth on her flesh, of his tongue swirling so purposefully around her nipple as he sucked ever so gently. The pulling sensation arrowed straight to her core, inflaming her even more.

Rose's hips came up off the mattress, desperately trying to make contact with him. She succeeded in brushing against the front of his trousers, barely grazing his hardening length as she did so. The Doctor shuddered and groaned, bucking his hips down to hers and for one glorious moment, she felt the perfect friction right where she needed it.

Then he was pulling away and she whimpered at the lost of his body over hers. The Doctor chuckled fondly. "I can't very well do what I'd like to do with these trousers in the way," he pointed out as he stood next to the bed and removed his specs, tucking them back in his trousers pocket.

"Oh yeah?" she said, her voice breathy as she watched him pull down his zip and begin to push his trousers from his hips. "What would you like to do, then?"

She nearly forgot to listen for his reply when she caught sight of his erection. He was so much like a human bloke but yet this was the Doctor. Rose was enthralled.

"Oh, Rose," he murmured, kneeling again beside her on the bed. "I want to do everything. But the very first thing I want to do, before I get distracted by anything else, is finally see what you taste like. What you really taste like."

All she could do was make a strangled noise of pure want as he then hooked his fingers in the waistband of her knickers and began to tug them down her legs. She shifted, making it a little easier for him to draw the garment off. Then he was back, nudging her legs apart and settling down between them. The Doctor rested his chest between her knees and used his hands to spread her thighs apart even more. Rose didn't even have a chance to feel self-conscious about her exposed position with all the anticipation and desire coursing through her.

"This is amazing," he was murmuring thoughtfully, his thumbs running along her labia. "You are amazing. You're wet already and that's all for me, isn't it? You want this and you want me, don't you?"

"Yes, Doctor. Please," she moaned, hoping to keep the desperation out of her voice.

"All for you," he said just before he leaned forward and ran his tongue between the length of her folds. She cried out at the sensation, fisting her hands in the duvet as she arched her back. The Doctor continued his assault, his tongue doing things she hadn't even been able to dream of, and she'd been able to dream of quite a bit. He established a slow, exploratory rhythm and just as she was getting adjusted to that, he suddenly concentrated his attentions on the tiny bundle of nerves at the apex of her folds and she felt a finger press inside of her.

Rose cried out, trying to thrust her hips towards him but he held her down with one strong hand placed on her hip. The movements of his finger matched those of his tongue as he sped up. He added another finger, and then another, stretching her. But it was still not enough. Rose wanted more, and harder, and faster and deeper and she didn't realise that she was vocalising this until he chuckled again, murmuring, "Patience, Rose."

"Sod patience," she gasped as his fingers found a spot within her that she hadn't even been sure existed. She felt all her muscles quiver, clench and relax convulsively as he stroked determinedly.

"Let go," he said, his voice smooth and commanding. "Let yourself come for me, Rose."

She tried to hold the sizzling along her spine at bay as she writhed underneath him, pulling and grabbing at the duvet uselessly. It was too much; she was feeling too much. The building pressure was intense and unbearable and she felt herself weakening under the onslaught. When the Doctor wrapped his lips around her clit and pulled the sensitised nub into his mouth, grazing it with his teeth as he pumped his fingers into her body, she cried out his name, arching her back as the heat and tightness spilled out of her. The shocks pulsed through her, over and over again and Rose was helpless to do anything but ride out the aftershocks of what was surely the most intense orgasm she'd ever experienced.

He eased her back down, slowing his fingers to gentle strokes and his tongue moved languorously, soothing her firing nerves until she finally stopped quaking. When she'd caught her breath and finally had her wits about her again, Rose looked down to see the Doctor with his head pillowed on her thigh, tracing circles absently on her hip and smiling at her. She raised an eyebrow and grinned at him.

"You think you're so impressive," she said, her voice still husky.

"I know I am," he replied. "Rose, that was incredible."

"You think that was incredible? How do you think I felt?" she cried, laughing.

"I think you felt unspeakable pleasure," he answered simply and on anyone else that would have sounded insufferably smug. "Do you know what you looked like, as you came undone for me?"

She shook her head, biting her lip as he moved up her body, his eyes dark and intent.

"Would you like to see?" he asked. He lifted his hands but stopped short of pressing his fingers to her temples. "I can show you my memory."

Rose hesitated. Once upon a time, the thought of someone else in her head was horrifying. But this was the Doctor and she trusted him. And she was rather curious to see how he saw her. That he wanted to show her, that he wanted to share this with her, was intoxicating.

The Doctor must have sensed her hesitation because he clarified, "I won't look at anything, I swear. I'll just show you my memory."

"Okay," she said softly. "Show me."

He settled over her and pressed his fingers gently to her temples and closed his eyes. She let her own eyes drift shut too and a moment later, she saw a scene unfurl in her mind. It was like she was looking at one of her own memories, but clearer somehow. She saw herself, through the Doctor's eyes. Rose watched herself coming apart, back arching, hands grabbing at the Doctor's shoulder and at the duvet, breathy, high-pitched moans filling the air. He was right; it was quite the sight to behold. She felt a little embarrassed by the display until she became aware of a different feeling suffusing her mind. It was awe and adoration and strong, pulsing arousal. These were the Doctor's feelings, she realised. This was how he felt when watching her. She felt a swooping sensation down in her belly as he slowly withdrew from her mind.

"Do you see now, Rose?" he asked and his eyes were searching and vulnerable.

She nodded. "I see, Doctor," she assured him. "Now I want to feel you."

"You're sure, Rose?" His eyes were serious on hers, his thumb brushing against her cheek as he cupped her face. "There's no going back from this for me. I'm possessive by nature and I won't share you with anyone."

She smiled then, so widely it felt like her face might crack in two. A tear slipped out of her eye and he caught it on a fingertip, brushing it away. "I'm sure, Doctor. I've been sure for ages. Just waiting for you to catch up."

"Trust me," he murmured as he bent to kiss along her jaw. "I've wanted this for a very, very long time."

Rose was about to reply but then his lips found a spot just underneath her ear and her voice died in her throat, a groan escaping her lips instead. His lips pressed and pulled at the sensitive spot, his tongue tasting and his teeth grazing and she hadn't even known that this spot was a weakness for her until just now. She grabbed at his biceps, her fingers digging into his skin for a moment before she caught some of her wits and moved her hands down his arms, over his hips and down to where she wanted to explore him the most. As soon as her fingers grazed his erection, he stilled and gasped into her ear.

"Rose," he breathed, his voice shaking a little. He'd been playing it so calm since bringing her to that magnificent orgasm that she hadn't realised that he was really just hanging onto a thread of control. Feeling a surge of power at this realisation, she wrapped her fingers around him and squeezed, moving her hand just so.

His control snapped, and spectacularly so. A growl erupted from his chest as he grabbed her arms and moved swiftly between her legs. "I need- I want... in. Oh, please let me in, Rose," he gasped, lowering his forehead to hers.

"Yes, Doctor," she agreed. "Now."

He took his length in hand and guided himself into her, clearly trying to go slowly and allow her time to adjust to his size and girth. He was shaking though and Rose could see the rare evidence of sweat standing out on his skin. Rose took pity on him and, wrapping her legs around his hips, shifted her hips and pushed up so that he was completely sheathed within her.

"Rose!" he cried out, and he bit down briefly on her shoulder as he tensed, trying to regain his self-control. "Just... wait. Don't move."

She took pity on him and instead of grinding her hips against him as she really wanted to do, she stroked his back soothingly with her hands and planted soft kisses on his shoulders. She could feel his chest expanding and contracting as he took deep breaths. A moment later, his hips moved. He withdrew almost all the way before quickly thrusting back in, making her squeak. He pulled his forehead off hers and gave her a leering grin as he did it again; harder. She fought the urge to shut her eyes and moan, but it was a near thing.

His strokes were measured and purposeful; he'd found his control once again and was delighting in using it against her. Each push and pull of his body in and out of hers dragged her further under his thrall until time lost all meaning. He touched his forehead to hers again and she heard him murmur, "Can I, Rose? Can I come in?"

Rose knew what he was asking, somehow. She knew that he wanted to share what he was feeling and perhaps feel her sensations as well, just like the memory he'd shown her but in real time instead. The notion was arousing and knowing that it was something she could share with him that he wouldn't be sharing with anyone else, that it was something that would be just for them, made it even more appealing.

"Yes, Doctor. Come in," she whispered, touching his face with her fingers, brushing over his freckles lovingly.

It was like before, a warm presence filling her mind and she closed her eyes to better see what he was showing her. She could feel the wet warmth of her body surrounding his flesh, the pull and stimulation of his nerves, the popping arousal along his spine and the fizzing of his blood. She could see herself beneath him, her hair spread out on the pillow, her cheeks flushed pink and her lips parted. She could also sense his emotions, his lust and need and desperation. And love. On a groan, she tried to push her feelings back to him so that he would know that he wasn't alone in how he felt.

The Doctor answered her groan with one of his own. "Oh, Rose. It's so much. I never thought- I was so alone and now..." He pulled back and then crashed his lips down onto hers, devouring her with lips and tongue and teeth and Rose could feel tears pricking at her eyes again. She knew now how alone and desperate he'd felt without her and she hated that either of them should have had to go through that. She vowed to never leave his side again, as long as she had fight left in her body.

As need spiraled in them both, the Doctor picked up the pace. He shortened his strokes, thrusting hard and fast now and she murmured encouragement in his ear, pausing to nibble on the soft lobe or to moan when he would hit that amazing spot within her. His jaw was clenched and he let go of all his control as they got lost in the sensation of moving together. They raced towards completion together, calling out encouragements and urging each other forward. He reached between them to work his fingers against her clit in time with his quickening thrusts. Rose keened and arched her back, digging her nails into his, causing him to hiss and pound harder.

With a muffled shout, the Doctor tensed over her, burying his head into her shoulder and grunting as he spilled his seed into her. Feeling him lose utter control and knowing that it was all for her was Rose's undoing and she followed directly after him, clenching and crying out his name. Her existence was narrowed for countless minutes and all she was aware of was the combined sounds of their spent breathing and the feeling of his arms as they wrapped around her and pulled her to his side.

Her eyelids felt suddenly heavy, as the activities of the day finally took their toll. The Doctor seemed to sense her reluctance to drift off, however. "Shh," he soothed. "Sleep for now. We'll talk later. I'm not going anywhere."

Rose wanted to protest, she knew she had things she wanted to say but right now exhaustion was winning as it dragged her down into sweet, restful, oblivion.

"Wake up, sleepyhead," a voice called out and it was a voice that Rose wasn't sure she'd ever hear again. He sounded amused and insistent. Very familiar.

She blinked her eyes open and saw the Doctor sitting next to her, holding a tray. It was loaded down with mugs of tea, toast and bananas. "I thought you might like a bite to eat," he offered.

He looked so earnest and eager to please that Rose couldn't help but chuckle as she sat up against the pillows and allowed him to set the tray over her lap. "Thank you," she said. "I am a little hungry, to be honest."

She picked up a triangle of toast and began to munch on a corner. She noticed him watching her a little enviously and grinned. "Help yourself," she told him.

They ate together, sipping tea and nibbling bananas. Not much was said but the silence wasn't awkward. However, as she finished her tea, she began to feel a little uncomfortable about her conspicuous lack of clothing. The Doctor wore a dark red dressing gown but all she had was a thin sheet that she awkwardly tried to keep pressed to her chest.

"Uhm, could you hand me my dressing gown?" she asked him at last. "It's over there on the hook next to the door."

The Doctor handed her an old pink dressing gown that Rose had thought she'd never see again. She slipped it on, tightening the belt at her waist, and she felt a little more at ease. Now she was ready to talk to him. She sat up more, setting the tray to the side as he resumed his spot on the bed next to her. He looked a little concerned, seeing the serious look in her eye.

"Rose?" he asked. "Is everything okay?"

Rose smiled and she hoped it reassured him. "I'm fine and we're fine. I promise you. But... I'm still wondering... What was going on with you there in that marketplace? Why did you turn that poor lady down when she asked you for help?"

He looked chagrined as he rubbed at the back of his neck. "I was just... Oh, Rose. I'm sorry. I was discouraged and so tired of the universe taking everything away from me."

She made a frustrated noise. "But it doesn't," she pointed out. "I came back. I don't know how, you don't know how... but it happened. It was a gift, from the universe."

The Doctor stared at her. "Was it? Are you sure I won't just lose you again, the next time I turn around?"

Rose leaned forward and took his hands in hers, holding them firm. "I'm not planning to go anywhere. We don't know what's around the corner. But you have to have some faith that sometimes... Sometimes the universe is kind."

He made a skeptical noise. "I've seen a lot of the universe, Rose. And I've done a lot to the universe. She's got a reason to have it in for me."

"Is that what this is then? Your guilt? Do you not think you deserve happiness?" she asked him.

"I know I don't," he replied. He was looking at the duvet, picking at a stray thread and looking utterly dejected.

Rose sighed. "Looks like I've got my work cut out for me, then."

His head snapped up and he looked sharply at her. "What do you mean?"

"I fixed you once before," she reminded him, smiling. "Remember? You were rubbish when we met. Temperamental, brooding, prone to nightmares... But I fixed you. I helped you find the joy in life again. Don't even try to deny it, I know it's true. Do you remember the 2012 Olympics in London? I'd never seen you smile so much. You were happy. You healed and I like to think that I helped with that."

Now, he smiled. "Oh yes. You definitely did."

"So did you forget everything I did for you while I was gone?"

The Doctor cringed. "Rose... Losing you was awful. I was lost. In fact, if Donna hadn't been there..."

"Donna? Did she travel with you after me?"

"Yes. Well, no. Yes and no. It's a long story and I'll tell you about it," he promised. "But she was the first person I saw. After... well, after the beach. And she saved me. And then I met Martha and she helped me too, but... blimey, I was awful with her."

Rose raised an eyebrow. "Don't tell me you were a moody git around this poor girl."

The Doctor chewed his lip and met her eyes, a little sheepishly. "When she left me, not that long ago actually, she said she spent a lot of time with me thinking she was second best."

Her mouth fell open. "You didn't! Oh, Doctor!"

"I didn't mean to, I swear. I just... I missed you. I told Martha right off that she wasn't replacing you..."

"You- you mentioned me?"

He blinked at her. "Of course I mentioned you! Why, to listen to Martha, I barely shut up about you. I think I gave her a bit of a complex about you, actually."

"Well, I'd like to meet this Martha, if just so I can set her mind at ease that I'm not some perfect goddess!" Rose insisted. "And maybe give her a hug or two for having to put up with a moody you for god knows how long."

"A year. Well... actually more like two. Though she wasn't really with me for the second year. She was walking the earth for me, you see. And that year doesn't even really count anyhow..." He broke off at Rose's look. "What?"

Rose shook her head, amused. "You never fail to amaze me, Doctor," she murmured. "Can you promise me something?"

"Anything, Rose," he vowed.

"Can you promise me that if something happens again, if I'm not here, that you won't give up on the universe again?" she asked.

He looked into her eyes and for a moment he looked so lost, almost like a little boy. But as she held his gaze, he relaxed and smiled. "I promise to try. If I can do it for anyone, I can do it for Rose Tyler."

It wasn't quite the answer she was hoping for, but it was a start. Smiling fondly, she pulled on his hands and drew him towards her for a kiss. Maybe some women would be reluctant to take on a 900+ year old alien with emotional issues, but Rose knew she wouldn't rather be anywhere else or with anyone else. She loved him, daft as he could be. And he was worth every bit of it.

She drew away from the kiss before he had a chance to deepen it and gave him a wink. "Now that that's settled, what do you say we get showered, get dressed, and see what we can do to help those people with their revolution?"

By the look on his face, it was clear he'd momentarily forgotten about the circumstances surrounding their reunion. Then he grinned, looking more like his old self than ever. "I say that sounds like an excellent plan. Allons-y?"