Rose Tyler was running through a forest. It was unlike any other forest she'd ever seen and she'd seen quite a few in her travels. The quality of light clearly told her it was night, but she could see every detail of every tree, rock, and leaf vividly as though it were the middle of the day. A large moon hung low and heavy in the sky, yellow and round, its rays showing through the branches of the trees as it bathed everything in an ethereal glow. Her blood pounded in her veins; she could hear each and every pulse as she moved quickly, quietly, and efficiently through the underbrush.

She was looking for something. No, someone. Rose sniffed the air as she ran, catching a scent that set off an alarm in her brain. It was him. He was close. Her vision narrowed as she honed in on the essence that would lead her to him at last. She'd been hunting him for so long and her blood sang for completion. Her focus was sharp and she didn't make a single misstep as she closed in on that specific flavour... that one that spoke of Time itself.

Rose burst into a clearing, breathing hard but not loud, her chest heaving but not feeling the accompanying burn that she would have expected. Her eyes adjusted to the new space almost instantly and the first thing she saw was the figure standing at the far end of the clearing. He was tall, clothed in brown, radiating power and purpose. He turned just as she spotted him and their eyes met. A feral grin stretched across her lips.

"Found you," she purred.

Rose sat up in the bed of her parents' home, breathing hard. This time, she did feel the burn in her chest as her lungs worked hard to bring in air and expel it. She was shaking from head to toe, thrumming with adrenaline.

These dreams were becoming a regular occurrence. When they'd started, just weeks after she'd said goodbye to the Doctor on that godforsaken beach in Norway, she'd had the dream maybe once a week. Now, a year later, her dream persona had finally found what she was looking for. She wasn't even terribly surprised that it was the Doctor she'd been hunting all these months. It made sense and, what's more, it felt right in her head. Almost like a puzzle piece sliding into place.

Rose glanced at the clock on her bedside table. It was just after 3:30 in the morning. She felt completely rested, even though she'd gone to sleep only three hours earlier. Last week she'd slept for four hours a night, a few weeks before that it had been five hours. She was sleeping less and less these days and she expected that would have been taking an unpleasant toll on her physically. It wasn't, however. In fact, if anything, she felt better than ever. She was more alert and aware of the things and people around her. She felt stronger, no longer having difficulty lifting heavy artefacts back at Torchwood. She hadn't been sick in months, not even when the flu had swept through the offices and even the house here, laying everyone under.

She pushed these niggling, uncomfortable thoughts from her mind as she got to her feet. If she was going to be awake, she might as well get her shower and start the day. Maybe she could do some reading before she had to be at the office in a little over four hours from now. There weren't enough books available these days to make her happy, she'd found. She craved the distraction that books provided her and had begun working her way through Charles Dickens' entire library these last few weeks.

She liked to think that her first Doctor would have been proud of her.

Rose burst into the clearing and her eyes fell on the man standing at the far edge. She could barely make out the shape of a big, blue box tucked away in the trees just beyond him. He turned and met her eye, and he looked... stunned. Clearly, he wasn't expecting to see her there. She considered him a moment, a grin growing across her features. She didn't think he'd been hiding from her, he was just a difficult man to... track down.

"Found you," she murmured and, even from the distance that separated him, she could tell he had heard her.

"How...?" the Doctor sputtered before trailing off. He took a stumbling step in her direction.

She crossed the clearing to stand before him, so quickly and efficiently that she saw him blink in surprise to find her all but pressed up against him. "I've been..." she began, slowly, running her finger down his tie, "... looking for you. Everywhere."

"Rose?" His voice came out as a squeak.

She pressed closer, wrapping her fingers around his tie and using it to pull him toward her. His breath felt warmer against her cheek than she was expecting. He was still looking at her as though she were a wonder. Or a puzzle to be solved.

"I need you," Rose groaned, nipping at his neck. "I need this." She gripped at his shoulders, pushing the long brown coat off so that it fell to the ground, and then she dug her nails into his skin delighting at his resulting gasp...

Rose blinked her eyes, clearing the fog. Then, she groaned. She was just getting to the good stuff at last! What a rotten time to wake up... She stared at the ceiling for a moment longer, watching the shadows the moon was casting through the tree outside her bedroom window. She felt... almost achy. Aroused, for sure, just like after all these dreams. But the phantom physical pain... that was new.

She sat up in bed, the blanket pooling around her waist, and stretched her arms over her head in an attempt to relieve some of the ache. It almost felt like a... burning in her joints that traveled along her limbs with agonizing persistence. Laying in bed sounded desperately unappealing to her in that moment. She had to get up and move. Rose glanced at her clock and saw that it read just after 3am. Sighing, she wondered if it would help if she stayed awake longer at night. Or maybe she could take up aerobics. Or both. This was starting to get ridiculous.

"I need you. I need this," Rose growled as she tore his jacket from his shoulders. The Doctor looked alarmed, but so far had made no move to stop her. That was a good thing because she wasn't interested in being stopped. She knew what she had to have and there was precious little he could do at this point to get in her way.

She pushed him back, past the line of trees, until his back hit the side of the TARDIS. She grinned wolfishly at him as she grabbed fistfulls of his oxford and tore it off, sending buttons flying as she bared his chest to her view.

"Wait... wait-wait-wait... Rose," the Doctor stuttered as she took hold of his hands, placing them on her sides in hopes that he would get the clue and start touching her. His fingers curled a little, just barely holding onto her and she could feel his tremble through the layers of her jumper and camisole.

"No more waiting," she insisted. "I'll have you now." Rose plunged her hands into his thick hair, grabbing as gently as she could manage in her fevered state, and pulled his head down to hers. She covered his lips with her own, caressing and stroking and pulling and tasting until he began to respond in kind. His fingers tightened around her torso at last and he held her tightly as though hoping to prevent her from fleeing. Small chance of that, she thought with a dark inward chuckle. She stroked her tongue along his lips and his mouth opened to her invitation. His taste flooded her senses as she mapped the landscape of his mouth. Her tongue stroked along his, brushed along the roof of his mouth, and smoothed along his teeth.

The Doctor pulled away first and he was gasping for breath. He shouldn't be gasping, should he? Didn't have a respiratory bypass? She seemed to recall him bragging about that on more than one occasion. But no, he was definitely winded. And he was staring at her with wide eyes, his pupils blown. "Rose," he gasped. "What- ?"

Rose didn't give him a chance to finish. She grabbed him, turned him slightly, and shoved roughly at his shoulders. He was already off balance from the intensity of the kiss and he fell backwards, landing with an oomph on the forest floor. Before he could scramble back to his feet, she was over him, covering his body with her own, her knees on either sides of his narrow hips. She lowered herself over him until her face hovered over his. He was staring at her, his expression caught between confusion and arousal, and it was the most adorable thing she'd ever seen.

"You are mine, Time Lord," she told him, punctuating her statement with a long lick along his jawline. He shuddered beneath her. "If I don't have you right now, I might die."

The Doctor opened his mouth, but no sound escaped. Rose grinned at him again before latching onto his neck, at the spot where it joined his shoulder. She laved the area briefly with her tongue before she sank her teeth in...

Rose could still taste the Doctor's skin on her tongue as she sat up in bed. The painful ache she'd experienced the night before, just after her dream, was now fire burning through her veins. She bit back a groan, not wanting to wake anyone. What the hell was going on?

She felt like she was burning up from the inside out. Her skin prickled and her chest felt tight. Rose drew in deep, careful breaths, trying to steady herself. Something was wrong, very wrong. Having the same dream, night after night, wasn't a normal thing. The fact that her dream was... progressing into rather arousing territory... well. She didn't know what to make of that other than she had always been ridiculously attracted to the Doctor and she hadn't had any intimate relationships in a very, very long time. That was probably just her subconscious trying to tell her to get some already.

But the same dream, month after month - and now every night, coupled with the changes in her circadian rhythm and the physical pain upon wakening... that was starting to worry her. Rose pulled back the blankets and got to her feet, pressing a hand to her stomach when she realized the pain wasn't subsiding this time. In fact... A sharp twinge from somewhere just under her ribs caused her to double over in pain. It was getting worse. She gasped, trying to swallow down the pain.

A pain twisted her stomach then and Rose made it to her ensuite just in time to empty the contents of her stomach into the toilet. When she was finished, she wiped her mouth on a nearby hand towel with a shaking hand and then curled herself on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor. She was burning up... the pain was threatening to drive her mad. She felt the sudden need to have her mum there, to stroke her forehead and tell her it would all be okay.

Rose had the sudden wild thought that she might die. Hadn't she said something about dying in her dream? What had it been? She'd told the Doctor that if she didn't have him, she might die. Ludicrous, really. She must be delirious to even try to connect the two. Maybe all this was was an appendicitis. Of course, that wouldn't explain why she felt pain in multiple places. Even her head was starting to protest, like a migraine was coming on.

The pain became too overwhelming and her vision swam, doubling before her. Her eyelids grew heavy and she let them close, hoping for the oblivion that sleep (or just plain passing out) would afford her. The fog crept in and her wish was granted.

"Rose!" Her mother's startled voice broke through her oblivion and she struggled to open her eyes. It felt like there had been weights attached to each one. "Rose, what happened? Are you alright, sweetheart?"

Sunlight poured through the windows in the ensuite, telling her that it was morning. She had to have been out for a good four hours or more.

"Mum," Rose croaked, trying to lift her head and finding it impossible. She settled for rolling to her back so she could see her mother as she hovered over her, worry creasing her features.

"What's the matter, honey?" she asked. Jackie reached out to touch her forehead, drawing her hand back sharply as she made contact, hissing. "You're burning up! Rose, sweetheart, I'm going to call the doctor."

Rose couldn't be sure, but she felt in that moment that going to a doctor or a hospital was the absolute worst thing she could do. Panic clawed at her, giving her the strength to push up on her arms and reach out for her mum's retreating hand. She grabbed the other woman's fingers and held them tight.

"No! No, doctors," she gasped.

Her mum settled on the floor next to her and held her hand to her forehead again. "But you're sick! Please, let me call someone," Jackie pleaded.

"Please, mum," Rose said, trying again. "I'll be alright. Just... help me to my bed. I'll sleep it off."

"I'm worried about you, sweetheart," her mum told her, her eyes sober. "You've changed lately. Don't think I haven't noticed. You're different than you were before we came here."

"I know, mum," she agreed. What else could she say? She was just so tired. After not being tired for days and days, she was finally exhausted. Jackie helped her get to her feet and steadied her as she walked on wobbly legs to her bed. She collapsed on it, as if she'd just run a marathon. Her mum helped tuck the duvet around her.

"Are you sure, Rose?" she asked one more time. Worry creased her forehead. For the first time since she'd found her on the floor, Rose wondered why her mum had come to her room that morning. That in itself was unusual.

"Why are you here, mum? In my room?" she wondered aloud.

Jackie looked thoughtful. "I was up early, dealing with Tony you know, and I just had this urge to come look in on you. I'm so glad that I did."

Rose mustered a smile. "I'm glad you did too. I love you, mum."

"I love you too, sweetheart."

Her mum left the room then after pressing a soft kiss to her forehead. When she shut the door behind her, Rose winced at the pain. She'd been biting back the pain, not wanting to cause her mum any more worry than she had to. The pain, that seemed to radiate from under her skin, didn't stop her from drifting off to sleep, however. In fact, if anything, it dragged her down into oblivion with steely claws.

There was a flash of blinding gold as the pain pushed through her skin ruthlessly. Rose opened her mouth to scream, but a cloud of golden vapour was all that escaped. It occurred to her in some dim corner of her mind that she'd seen that same sort of golden vapour once before, after the Doctor had regenerated right in front of her. In the next instant, all thought was ripped from her mind as she felt herself be ripped apart by unseen forces. She was nothing and everything all at the same time, scattered and divided and spread throughout Time itself. Doctor… please… help me…

Whatever she had left of conscious thought was directed at the Doctor and if these were to be her last moments in existence, she wanted them to be spent thinking of the alien, the man, who had changed her life and who had made her a better person. Her focus narrowed until she began to feel herself reform, her molecules fusing back together as if drawn by magnets. This process was considerably less painful and somehow more satisfying than the reverse process had been. This felt right.

Rose became aware of something else as she came back to corporeal being… she was hungry. She knew, somehow, that chips or a hamburger wouldn't satisfy this particular hunger. No… her mouth was watering for a certain alien wearing pinstripes. With a start, as she felt herself lying on solid ground at last, she realised where she recognised this hunger from. This was… her dream.

She blinked her eyes open to find herself lying on the floor of a forest that was both familiar and unfamiliar. She hadn't actually been to this place before, but she'd run through these woods countless nights in her dreams. Rose glanced at herself, taking inventory. She was wearing what she'd worn to bed the night before (at least, she thought it was the night before… there was no telling how much time she spent between then and her dissolution and now); a soft pair of cotton pyjama pants and a stretchy cotton vest. Her feet were bare, her hair loose.

Rose swallowed, taking stock of her surroundings. Trees, trees and more trees, as far as the eye could see. As vivid as her dreams had been, they were nothing on this. She could not only see the forest around but she could feel the pulse of its life-force in her veins, and taste the scent of it on her tongue. She could hear every leaf and pine needle rustling on the trees above her head as a soft breeze blew through. As if her heightened senses weren't alarming enough, she was realising with growing clarity that she was indeed actually here. Wherever here was, it was definitely not where she had been. Her parents' mansion was gone and she was starting to suspect she might never see it again. A moment's panic clawed at her at the thought until she realised something else.

If this was indeed out of her dream… then that meant that he was here. It couldn't be a coincidence. The Doctor was nearby, she just had to find him.

That hunger pulsed through her veins again. The more she thought about him, focussed on what she remembered from her dreams, the more that hunger grew. Before long, the need was crashing through her and she was jumping to her feet. Rose looked around her and paused to sense the forest around her. She sniffed the air and caught it… the hint of Time. He was near. She was running before she was aware of her brain sending the impulse to her limbs. Closer… closer…

The Doctor stepped out of the doors of the TARDIS and looked around curiously at his surroundings. The moon of Endro? Why in the universe had she brought him here? He'd been here before, but it had been many, many years. He'd been a bit shorter back then; Ace had called him Professor instead of Doctor. He'd brought her here, hoping to impress her since she had been a particularly tough nut to crack. Of course, she'd pretended not to be impressed at all and had sniffed disdainfully at all the trees. Still, he'd caught her gaping at the Wokeys they'd met with a charmed look in her eye. He'd had to explain that George Lucas had mixed it all up, and why had he done a ridiculous thing like that? For one thing, he'd messed up the proper names completely. Endor instead of Endro? Who did he think he was kidding? For another, the Wokeys who were indigenous to this moon were considerably smaller than the Ewoks portrayed in Return of the Jedi. In reality, they were more the size of koala bears and considerably cuter. Of course, he had to admit that special effects hadn't been able to create believable CGI characters at the time and perhaps ol' George had just been working within the technological constraints of the time.

Still, he couldn't help but think that maybe the Ewoks would have been more universally loved if they'd been the Wokeys. Speaking of which, he didn't seem to be near a settlement at all. That was odd. The TARDIS always landed him near a settlement, if there was one. Why here, in the middle of the forest? There wasn't anything remarkable about his surroundings that he could tell. He was parked at the edge of a clearing, but all he could see on any side and in any direction was trees, trees and more trees.

The Doctor was about to turn around and go back in the TARDIS when a flash of movement caught his eye from across the clearing. He was about to dismiss it as an animal, perhaps even one of the Wokeys when he caught a flash of yellow that was incongruous to the surroundings. Pink and yellow. His breath caught in his throat as he watched the figure emerge from the woods and into the clearing.

It wasn't possible. He'd spent months looking for a way across the Void, a way to get to that other universe and it quite simply wasn't possible. If he'd found a way to do it, and do it safely, he would have damn well have done it. There was no way that Rose Tyler could have traveled to this universe to be standing on the other end of this clearing.

And yet... there she was. She was dressed in loose pants and a thin, cotton vest and her feet were bare. Her hair tumbled around her shoulders and she was watching him with a focussed expression. It was undoubtedly Rose standing there, but the way Time flowed around her was wholly different than before. Something had changed and he was willing to bet a year's supply of bananas that whatever had changed was the same thing that had brought her here to this forest moon.

The Doctor stepped forward, meaning to approach her and greet her properly and start asking some very pointed questions about just how she'd come to be there. Before he could take a step, however, a grin broke across her features. It was a familiar grin, but there was also something feral there that gave him pause. Her lips moved and he could hear her murmur the words, "Found you," from clear across the clearing.

"How...?" he gasped, finally stumbling forward.

Rose moved quickly towards him, standing before him and pressing closer and he was quite effectively flustered. "I've been looking for you," she breathed, reaching out and stroking at his tie. He swallowed thickly. "Everywhere."

"Rose?" he managed and he didn't even have the sense anymore to feel ashamed at the pitch of his voice.

She met his eyes then and he was captivated by the whiskey depths that he hadn't looking into in so long. Those familiar eyes, wearing an expression that was all at once so very unfamiliar, held him fixed before her as she pressed herself up against him. She pulled him to her by his tie, bringing her lips to his ear. Her breath was cooler than he remembered, but before he could question that, she was speaking in a deep, throaty voice that sent his blood pounding anew through his veins.

"I need you," she growled and he felt her teeth graze his neck. He shuddered. She let go of his tie and gripped his shoulders. "I need this." He gasped as she pushed his long, brown coat from her shoulders so that it fell with a whoosh to the forest floor.

The Doctor's frankly brilliant mind was having a hard time keeping up with these events. First, Rose appears like an apparition and now she was quite clearly seducing him. Had he fallen asleep at the console and was now dreaming? Because this was playing out just like any of the numerous fantasies he'd had since he first met this incorrigible human. This couldn't be real mostly because there was no way the universe would ever be this kind to him.

He was trying to formulate some sort of intelligent response when he realised that Rose was pushing him back through the trees towards the TARDIS. His back bumped up against the familiar blue boards and she grinned at him again, a flash of gold glinting in her eyes. He puzzled over that while she grabbed his oxford and ripped it open so that buttons flew off into the underbrush.

"Wait... wait-wait-wait... Rose..." he gasped as she leaned forward and kissed, licked and nipped at his chest. Her touch was cool and electric and his brain was utterly unwilling to cooperate with him. She took his hands and placed them on her hips, clearly wanting him to touch her and he couldn't help the way his fingers curled into her flesh as he gasped. Her tongue flicked at his nipple and he trembled in spite of himself.

"No more waiting," she murmured against his skin, her lips brushing his collar bone as she moved up his body. "I'll have you now." Her fingers curled into his hair, grabbing handfuls and pulling his head towards hers. He was pulled towards her as if he were a magnet being pulled towards her opposite charge.

Rose kissed him then, her lips capturing his and the feel of it was so much more than all of those fantasies he'd had that for a moment he was startled into stillness. All he could do was catalogue the softness of her lips, the press of her hips against his, the scent of her pheromones filling his senses and clouding his mind. Eventually, he caught up and opened his mouth to her as her tongue danced along the seam of his lips. He grabbed her hips tighter before moving his arms up to wrap around her, suddenly unable to pull her close enough to him to satisfy the ache he was now feeling for her down to his bones. Her tongue was stroking in and out of his mouth sensuously and he clung to her, trying to keep up.

The Doctor was losing his senses in her. Overwhelmed, he pulled back and gasped for breath. Where was his respiratory bypass when he needed it? He stared at Rose, trying to comprehend her. She was smiling at him, knowing and smug, and he was utterly at her mercy. "Rose," he said. "What-?"

Rose leapt on him then, grabbing his shoulders and turning him from the TARDIS. She pushed just hard enough to send him sprawling to the leaf-strewn forest floor. As he looked to her to ask what she was doing, she followed him, straddling over his hips, her knees digging into his hips as she pressed down over him. She looked down at him and he stared back, transfixed. Her expression was softer now, more tender and indulgent. But then her eyes glinted wickedly and his throat went dry.

"You are mine, Time Lord," she growled, leaning down to run her tongue along his jaw. He shuddered and grabbed at her hips, not knowing if he meant to push her away or keep her there. "If I don't have you right now, I might just die."

Something about the way that she said that struck him oddly. He opened his mouth to speak, but was having difficulty finding the words. He gave up altogether when Rose focussed her attentions on his neck, licking and sucking at the spot where his shoulder began. She nipped hard and he knew that she would be leaving a mark on him. The idea of it thrilled him in a way that he never would have expected. And he realised quite suddenly that Rose had no intention of stopping what she was doing to him.

Better sense finally caught up with him and he released her hips, pushing back on her shoulders. She was strong, holding herself over him, but he finally overpowered her and was able to shimmy out from underneath her. He clambered to his feet rather unsteadily. Rose crouched on the ground, watching him with an otherworldly stare. It was almost like she was surveying him like a tiger surveyed it's prey. Or like a wolf...

"Rose, we need to get into the TARDIS. I need to run some scans on you. Something is wrong," he told her.

She got to her feet, her movements fluid and almost feline in nature. Her eyes didn't leave his and the smile on her lips only grew as she moved to his side. "I think I'd rather just shag you right here, right now," she purred.

The Doctor stepped away, not wanting to get drawn into this again before he had a chance to check her out. "First things first, Rose," he said, hoping she found enough promise in his words that she would willingly follow him. He turned and opened the TARDIS door, ignoring the feel of her as she pressed herself against his back.

Rose did follow him, that unnerving gaze of hers burning into his back as he led her through the corridors to the medbay. They arrived at the medbay and Rose hopped up on the exam table without him even having to ask her to. He busied about the room, finding the tools and devices he needed in order to give her a proper exam. His hands were shaking and he didn't think that was solely from arousal she had inspired in him. As the Doctor turned back towards her, he saw her wince and catch herself on the table as she buckled forward. He darted forward and took hold of her arm.

"Are you okay? Rose?" he asked, trying to look into her eyes and assess her better. She had her eyes screwed shut, her mouth twisted in a grimace of pain.

"Oh no," she gasped, clutching at her midsection. He carefully maneuvered her so she was laying on the table and watched as she curled into a ball, tense with what looked like considerable pain.

"What is it?" He didn't see anything obvious, no blood or bruises that would indicate a wound.

"It hurts," she managed, panting. "Like it hurt... before."

"Before what? When did it hurt?" He knelt down before her, brushing her hair from her eyes and stroking her cheek. She still felt so much cooler than he was used to her being. Maybe she was sick. "Where does it hurt?"

"Before. Before I came to you. And it hurts... all... all over," she said. "My head, my chest, my stomach... my fingers."

The Doctor felt completely helpless. He had no idea how to help her and the best he could do was try to learn what was going on. "Can I examine you, Rose? I want to find out what's doing this."

Rose nodded, slowly stretching herself out flat again. She took deep breaths. "It's passing. For now. Please, just hurry. I need you."

Her gaze on his was heated again, leaving no mystery as to what her meaning was. Could this all be connected? Her showing up here, her... behavior, her mysterious pain? He didn't waste any time now and began examining her as quickly and efficiently as he could manage. She kept reaching for him and he danced out of her reach, not wanting to get distracted from his task. He completed his scans, drew some of her blood, and ran his hands over her as clinically as he could. That was the hard part because each time he touched her, she arched towards him, moaned and tried to grab for him. He was quickly losing focus, the reasons why he shouldn't tear his destroyed shirt off and grab her up in his arms fading rapidly from his mind. He continued with his scans, careful to keep his hands away from her skin lest he become distracted again.

Rose began to writhe in pain again and this time she couldn't even form words as the torment creased her brow. His hearts twisted to see her in such agony. He quickly prepared a sedative and injected it into her arm, holding her hand in his as she finally relaxed and her eyes drifted shut. Her relief wouldn't last long, but perhaps it would be long enough for him to figure out what was going on with her and find a way to help. He left her asleep on the exam bed while he went to see what results had come up so far.

The Doctor peered at the readout on the monitor before consulting the sheet of paper the TARDIS had spat out of at him. No, this was impossible. Maybe something had contaminated the sample. Or maybe there there was a simple explanation. The tests weren't all finished being processed after all, and it was likely the TARDIS missed something this first go.

What he saw was intriguing, and he couldn't help but be very curious to learn more. He'd once looked at Rose's DNA, not long after she'd come aboard the TARDIS all those years ago. It'd been perfectly lovely, but perfectly normal human DNA. Her cell structure had been that of an average humans. What he was looking at now was... well, it was different.

Her cell structure looked advanced. That was the only way to describe it. Still, he'd seen what the human race's cell structure and DNA looked like as far forward as New Earth. It'd been decidedly more advanced than 21st century DNA then, but what he was looking at here suggested another several hundred millennia worth of advancement. It was mind-boggling, to say the least.

At the time of New Earth, humans were about as advanced as the Doctor had ever known them. Their life expectancies were roughly two hundred and fifty years, they possessed mild regenerative properties (quick healing from abrasions, even the ability to regrow severed fingers and toes), and males could spontaneously conceive, carry, and bear children. The last one had evolved as a result of rampant infertility among females in the 46th century and the subsequent genetic interference from scientists. This move forward had been hailed as a wonder of modern society and same-sex couples had been overjoyed at the opportunities it presented to them.

There were other advancements, but those were the big three and if what he saw in front of him was true, then Rose's DNA was more advanced yet than that even. If the Doctor had to guess; and he really hated to guess, he'd much rather just know; he would say that Rose's life expectancy was at least double that of the most advanced human he'd ever studied. Five hundred years. His mind reeled at the possibilities. Five hundred years at least, plus significantly advanced cellular regeneration abilities... Well, it would certainly put them on a lot more even footing. He needed to run many more tests to be sure, do an exam of her personally, but he wagered that if he bonded to her that she could easily share his lifespan with him. They could be together, through time and space, side by side like he'd always wished for.

The Doctor stood up and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. Where had those thoughts come from? To say he was putting the cart before the horse was phrasing it mildly. Very mildly. He didn't even know if Rose was interested in committing to him that way. Perhaps she didn't love him the way she'd said she had on that beach anymore. He didn't want to presume too much and he didn't want to push her to something she didn't want or wasn't ready for. One thing at a time.

Still, there was no denying that she seemed fairly... interested in him. Was that a result of what was going on with her cellular structure? He thought back to when she'd said that if she didn't have him, she would die. He'd written it off as a flippant remark at the time, but what if there was some truth to that? She had been pulled across the Void and had, as far as he could tell, hunted him down. Her biology was sending her a pretty loud message. She needed to bond with him, at least physically. He watched her as she began to stir on the exam bed and it started to make sense. The times she had begun to experience pain had been times she hadn't been touching him. His touch, the contact of their skin, seemed to calm and focus her. It was a theory worth exploring.

Rose began to moan, squeezing her eyes shut. He crossed to her side, bringing up a chair so he could sit next to her. He took her hand in his and, almost immediately, she began to still. He rubbed his thumb over the soft skin on the back of her hand and lowered his forehead to rest against hers. "Rose, it's okay. I'm here. You're okay. You're going to be... okay," he assured her.

"Doctor," she whimpered. "I need you."

"I know, love," he replied, pressing a kiss to her forehead before drawing his head back. She was watching him with glassy eyes and he knew putting this off wouldn't do her any favors. The Doctor hated that it had to be this way, that they couldn't ease into this together the way he would have wanted. His hand was being forced here and he absolutely would not risk her safety simply because he wanted to have a proper courtship. Still, he promised himself that after this was taken care of, if this crazy idea of his worked, he would give Rose what he was unable to give her now. Time, care, and romance. And, gods help him, dancing.

Rose was worth it.

But now she was grabbing for him, her eyes dazed and dark. She was pulling herself up on the exam bed, clutching at his shoulders. The need she felt was clear and he felt a wave of protectiveness wash over him. He stood and then leaned down, scooping her easily into his arms. Rose continued to claw at his chest as he carried her out of the medbay and through the corridors towards his bedroom.

The door swung open before him and he sent a quick mental thanks to the TARDIS. He crossed the large room to the bed that so rarely saw any activity these days. He didn't sleep much and when he did, he tended to doze off on the sofa in the library. And it had been so long since he'd brought anyone to his bed for what he was about to do that he quite literally couldn't remember the last time. The important part was that it had never been Rose before and that made all the difference.

The Doctor lay Rose down on top of the duvet but before he could withdraw, she had ahold of his tie and was pulling him down after her. She pressed her lips to his and he found himself utterly helpless to resist. He moved over her, angling his head and deepening the kiss. A growl rose in her throat and he could feel it vibrate over her tongue. That was all the warning he got before he found their positions suddenly reversed, with him flat on his back and Rose poised triumphantly over him.

He gazed up at her, amazed and more than a little turned on. Her thighs squeezed his hips and he watched raptly as she reached down, took hold of the edge of her vest and pulled it over her head in one swift movement. She tossed the garment behind her, but he was completely focussed on the sight of so much skin bared to his eyes at last. She was, quite simply, perfect. Her breasts jiggled a little as she leaned over to take his hands in hers and he found his throat had gone utterly dry. She placed his hands on her breasts, encouraging him to learn their shape and size and feel. Her skin was unbearably soft and once he started, he couldn't stop the stroking of his fingers over her nipples and along the sensitive skin underneath the gentle swells. While he was occupied with this, she began to unbutton the cuffs of his ruined shirt that was admittedly more off than it was on at this point.

When she finished, she scooted back down his legs a bit and pulled him up to a sitting position. She pushed his jacket and shirt from his shoulders, pulling them away and throwing them off in the same direction as her discarded vest. Immediately, she began to rake her fingernails over the skin on his chest, through the sparse chest hair located there, over his sensitive nipples and, pushing him back down to the bed, over his quivering stomach. A strained moan escaped his throat and her lips quirked in response.

Rose lifted off of him for a brief moment, just enough time for her to remove her pyjama pants and knickers. The Doctor tried to get a good look at her, but she was already moving back over his legs, settling over his knees so that should get to work on his trousers. She got the button and zip down, and began to tug at the waistband insistently. The determined look on her face, her tongue tucked into the corner of her mouth, was thrilling him to no end. He lifted his hips so she could slide the fabric down his legs. She'd just gotten that far when she quickly turned around to face his feet. He could sense her removing his Chucks and socks, but he was suddenly quite preoccupied with the vision of her bare arse hovering just over his thighs. He reached up and stroked a hand over the curve of her bum, groaning as he felt the supple flesh give under his fingers.

"See something you like, Doctor?" she murmured, tossing aside his plimsolls and tugging his trousers and pants over his feet in one go. She turned back around to face him and grinned when she met his eye.

"Oh yes, I definitely do," he answered, his voice hoarse. "Please, Rose."

"Please, what?" she asked, crawling up and trailing her hand up his leg. Her fingers skated so very close to where he wanted her to touch him most. But, with a teasing glint in her eyes, she moved her hand away and further up to stroke at his hipbone.

"Nghh... please, just touch me," he begged. Her touch was still maddeningly cool and while at least felt like he had a good idea of why now, he felt like he might burst into flame if she teased him much more.

"Where do you want me to touch you, Doctor?" Rose purred, leaning down just enough so that her breasts brushed over his stomach. He fought back a gasp.

"Rose," he pleaded, arching his back as if that would relieve his screaming nerve endings.

"Tell me," she ordered and fuck, did she even realize what this dominant behavior of hers was doing to him? He grabbed the duvet, bunching the fabric in his fists.

He squeezed his eyes shut and shifted impatiently underneath her. "My cock," he gasped. "Please, touch me."

She didn't respond, but a moment later he felt her cool fingers stroking his length. His ears were filled with the sound of his blood pounding through his veins and another groan was ripped from his throat. Rose touched him lightly at first before tightening her grip around his cock and gods help him, this was fantastic. She kept at it, her fingers working magic over his aching flesh. He watched her, how her eyes were focused on what her hands were doing, how her hair fell over her shoulders in gentle waves, how her reddened lips parted. Sweet mercy, he wanted her. He never thought he'd get to see her again and now, here she was and she was touching him and he wanted her so badly that he thought he would regenerate from desire if he could.

The Doctor began to feel a tell-tale tingling at the base of his spine. This was going to be all over embarrassingly quick if he didn't do something to slow this down. He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up. His muscles strained; she was a lot stronger now than before and she was very interested in continuing with her ministrations. He was determined to redirect her focus. Reaching for the back of her head, he fisted his hand in her hair and pulled her mouth down to his. He kissed her, long and deep and thoroughly. Rose melted into him, her hands skating up to cup his face. The stroke of her tongue alongside his nearly distracted him, but he found a shred of focus and with it, he reached down between their straining bodies to the apex of her thighs.

Rose was incredibly wet already and the knowledge of that would have filled him with a great deal of pride if he didn't remember that she was at least partially biologically driven to make love to him right now. Still, she was most definitely ready for him and the notion of that alone was enough to make a shudder run through him. The Doctor stroked at her folds, running his finger along her slit, letting the tip of his index finger enter her just slightly before bringing it up to circle around her throbbing clit. She was definitely warmer down here and the anticipation of feeling that wet warmth enveloping his aching cock nearly undid him.

Her hips began to buck against his hand and he grinned against her lips. She pulled back from the kiss, panting in his ear and then growling in frustration. In response, he pushed two fingers as deep inside her as he could reach. Rose cried out sharply and pushed her pelvis against his hand. The Doctor pumped his fingers a few times before curling them in a come-hither gesture, looking for that spot inside that would turn his beautiful girl into a sobbing mass. Her gasps in his ear grew more high-pitched, more keening as he pumped and stroked and there.

Rose's hips pressed down, trapping his hand between their bodies as she arched and cried out. Her orgasm ripped through her with such a ferocity that it was all he could do to just hold on and ride it out with her. Her face contorted and she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever laid eyes on - and that was saying a lot because he had seen a lot of beautiful things in his long, long life. He kept his fingers inside of her, stroking her softly as she slowly came down from her climax. Her eyes flew open and fixed on his; he'd been expecting a sleepy smile and maybe a murmured endearment, and wasn't that how these things were supposed to go? Maybe it had been even longer for him than he thought because what Rose did next was grin ferociously and reach down between them, batting his hand away to take his cock in her hand.

The Doctor arched, gasping at her bold maneuver. Before he could fully catch up with this newest shift of power, she was lifting herself over him and, with his cock in hand, rubbing his length along her very folds, teasing the tip along her clit. Rose grinned wolfishly down at him and he tried to return the grin, but was distracted by her directing him just inside her entrance. She lowered onto him so slowly that he thought he might go mad as the sensation of her flesh gripping his so tightly threatened to overwhelm him. He pushed his hips towards hers, but she just pressed a hand down on his hip, holding him still as she continued to slowly swallow his length inside her.

Finally, finally, he was fully sheathed within her. He groaned and reached up to grab ahold of her hips, hoping to urge her to move. Rose remained still over him, grinning down at him and he wondered what she was waiting for. She leaned forward, lifting off him just a bit, and began to bite at his shoulder, the sensation so very close to pain that it flooded him with pleasure. Despite her restraining hand still on his hip, he thrust up towards her. He was rewarded with her gasp and her hips beginning to move against his. His fingers dug into the flesh of her hips as finally moved together as one, him pumping up and her pushing down and the rhythm was perfectly matched.

All that could be heard as they both strained towards release together was the slapping of flesh and their groans and cries of pleasure. He could no longer be certain which noises were coming from him and which from Rose and he no longer cared. The Doctor could feel her walls starting to flutter around him and he knew she was close. He was perhaps even closer than she was. It wasn't a conscious decision on his part; one minute he was gripping her hips and the next his hands flew up to her temples, his fingers pressing in as he was swiftly enveloped in the warmth of Rose's mind.

It was golden and burning and thoughts and sensation swirled around him, and he could hear a voice screaming out hoarsely in the distance as he plunged further into her mind and let the power of her emotions wash over him. That was all it took for him to fly over the edge and into oblivion, pulling Rose along with him into bliss.

He came back to himself slowly, increasingly aware of the weight of Rose as she lay draped across his chest. A faint buzzing at the back of his mind confirmed that he had in fact linked his mind to hers in the heat of the moment. It wasn't a full bond, but it was close. He knew he should feel bad about doing it without discussing this with Rose first, but he was having a hard time drumming up any regret. Not when he could feel the comforting warmth of her presence where he'd had nothing for so very long. When they had a chance to get cleaned up, dressed, and fed, then maybe he'd discuss with her the changes he'd discovered in her body and the possibility of forging a more permanent bond between them.

For now, he was very content to hold her close to him and feel the thumping of her heart against his chest as it gradually slowed to normal. Rose sighed and shifted against him, snuggling closer and wrapping her fingers around his side. He closed his eyes and focussed on her steady breathing, letting it lull him to sleep.

Rose woke and for a heart-stopping moment felt very disoriented. Where was she? This wasn't her room at the mansion. This was... she was in the TARDIS. It was an unfamiliar room in the TARDIS, but she would know that thrumming rhythm that pulsed through the walls anywhere. And her pillow was most definitely not the same one from her bed at her parents' house. This was lumpier and more angular and... breathing.

She lifted her head to see the Doctor laid out underneath her, sleeping. And he was most definitely naked. As was she, she realised as she took quick inventory. Rose laid her head back down on his chest and, stroking idly at the chest hair there and keeping her eyes on his sleeping face, she remembered. She remembered everything that had happened from the time her mum had found her curled on the tiles in her ensuite, through the burning fire that tore her apart, to her dream of running through a forest becoming reality, to the events that had taken place in this very bed between her and the Doctor just hours ago.

Oh yes. She definitely remembered that.

Rose might have felt a little embarrassed for her actions, for throwing herself at the Doctor and for acting out aggressively, if she wasn't absolutely certain that he had enjoyed it as much as she had. The way he'd responded to her touch was seared on her memory and she also felt a tingling at the base of her skull, a ghost of a presence that suggested that maybe they'd joined more than just bodies. She smiled softly.

As she watched him sleep, she thought about this new reality she found herself in. Somehow, she'd traveled across the Void. She'd traveled here to be with him and she would never regret that in a million years, but... her family was gone. Rose knew she would never see them again. That thought twisted her heart painfully, but she also knew that her mum would want her to be happy. She could only hope that maybe the Doctor could help her find some way to get word to them about where she was and that she was okay. She didn't want them to worry about her and finding her suddenly missing... well, she hated the thought.

Rose shifted again and this time the Doctor stirred beneath her. His arms came up around her, wrapping her in a warm embrace and she watched as his eyes flickered open. He lifted his head and regarded her. She was nervous, but as she searched his eyes she found no regret there. Relieved, she smiled at him. He grinned back and it was such a familiar grin that it made her heart ache.

"Hello," she said, unable to keep the trembling joy out of her voice.

"Hello," he replied, sounding so warm and affectionate that she couldn't help but lean up and give him a chaste kiss.

She moved back and he tried to chase after her. He gave her a questioning look and she blushed. "Morning breath," she explained. He chuckled.

"I don't care about morning breath, Rose," he told her, his voice dark.

She wiggled away from him before he could tighten his grasp. "Just let me slip into the bathroom real quick," she said.

He groaned and lay back down. "Hurry," he pleaded.

Rose did. She sped through washing up and brushing her teeth, anxious to return to him now that he seemed so anxious to have her there. As she replaced the toothbrush (which had been sitting rather pointedly on the counter; she half suspected that the TARDIS herself had put it there for her), she caught a look at her reflection in the mirror over the sink. She couldn't help but wonder... why now? What changed? All those years, she hoped that something like this would happen between them and it never had and now... What was different?

With this troubling thought, she left the bathroom. The Doctor lay in the bed, looking for all the universe like he belonged there. His hair was mussed from sleep and sex and he was covered only by the duvet that cut low across his hips. He grinned at her and it was the sexiest thing she thought she'd ever seen. She flushed as she crossed the room and climbed in next to him, pulling on the duvet to cover herself, suddenly feeling shy.

The Doctor cocked an eyebrow at her and reached up to pull the duvet down. "You don't have to do that," he murmured, leaning forward to brush a kiss across the skin just beneath her collarbone.

"Why now?" Rose breathed, trying to rein in her hormones long enough to ask what was now pressing on her mind.

"Hmm?" He continued to drop kisses along her chest and his breath felt warm against her skin. She shivered.

"Why... why are you doing this now? Why did you never... want to... before?" she asked, trying to keep focussed on the issue at hand.

The Doctor stopped and lifted his head to look in her eyes. She saw some conflict flash across those brown depths before he sat back, running a hand through his hair. Rose recognized this nervous gesture of his and felt uneasy.

"First things first," he said, drawing in a shaky breath, "I did want to before. You have no clue how badly I wanted to... do that with you. I held myself back, thinking it was the best decision. I thought it'd be easier somehow if we... didn't. Of course, then I lost you and I had to live with the regret that I didn't act on those feelings. I didn't even properly know if you would have wanted... that."

Rose gave him what she hoped was a withering look. "Don't be daft. Of course I wanted that."

He smiled a little at that. "Good to know. Then you should also be able to guess that I had decided that if I ever saw you again, that I wouldn't waste any more time."

She blushed and smiled. "I might have had it in mind to give you a proper good snogging should I ever get to see you again. Consequences be damned!"

The Doctor chuckled, then sobered. "The other part of... why... is how you came to be here. I'm not entirely sure Rose, but from the tests I ran on you before..." He trailed off, looking for the right words to tell her the news that would surely change the rest of her life. "Your biology has changed."

Rose's forehead wrinkled as she searched his eyes. "What does that mean?"

Quickly, he explained what he'd found out about the advanced nature of her DNA and cellular structure. She didn't understand all of what he was telling her, but the important part was that what he was saying made sense. It was almost like he was telling her something she already knew. Perhaps she'd suspected something since she started having all the dreams, sleeping less, feeling the changes in her body. She told him as much, explaining what had been occurring the months since she'd last spoken to him on that horrid beach in Norway.

"So, does this mean that I won't..." she started and then stopped, unsure how to finish the sentence. It didn't matter, he seemed to understand what she meant.

"Die? Oh, you will die someday, Rose Tyler. So will I. But it won't be for a very, very long time." His eyes twinkled and she could see how much this information pleased him. She felt relief course through her as well; she wouldn't have to worry about him being alone without her. That was a tremendous gift.

"Also, I don't know if you recall this, but when you first found me, you were in pain," he told her. "I noticed that the pain seemed to occur and intensify when you weren't... in contact with me. From the scans I ran, it appeared that when you were experiencing the worst of the pain, your cellular structure was destabilizing. That structure would stabilize again when you would touch me. I wasn't sure, but I suspected that the only way to stabilize your cellular structure would be to... well... join with you." The Doctor paused, blushing. "I won't know until I run some more scans on you, but just sitting here now, I would say you're, for want of a better word, cured."

Again, what he was saying made sense, but something about it bothered her. "So you only shagged me to... what... save my life?" Rose tried to keep the hurt out of her voice, but knew she hadn't been successful.

"No! No, no, no. Rose, that's not it at all. I mean, yes, you could have died. And I would have done anything to save your life," he explained quickly, reaching out to cup her cheek with his palm. "But... don't you see, Rose? I love you. What we did, that was making love. That was a promise."

Her heart quickened at his words. "Oh, Doctor. I love you, too. So much." Tears sprang to her eyes and he brushed at her cheek with his thumb as one tracked down.

"Then it's mutual," he murmured and he leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. They moved together and there was no more speaking between them for a good long while. This time, they each took their time and learned the secrets that they had always wished to share with one another.