Rose Tyler sat tiredly on the edge of her bed and tugged off her shoes. Pushing them under the edge of the bed with her heel, she laid back and absently drummed her fingertips on her belly. The TARDIS hummed quietly around her, almost as if she was trying to lull Rose to sleep. Rose would be the first one to admit she needed a nap, but she wanted the Doctor first.
Pushing herself up, she tugged her cardigan from the bed post and slipped it on. It was an oatmeal-coloured cable knit, and baggy, falling nearly to her knees. She couldn't remember where she had gotten it, one of their many stops during their travels, she was sure, but couldn't precisely remember.
That bothered her more than she wanted to admit. Sometimes she felt they did too much, saw too much. How could she possibly remember it all?
She opened her door and stepped into the dim hallway, wrapping the cardigan around her slender frame. She tucked a loose strand of honey-blonde hair behind her ear and padded down the hallway toward the control room.
She recalled the Doctor once telling her that her room was on the other side of the ship from the control room, so she could sleep peacefully, and undisturbed. But it never seemed like she had to travel very far at all. She supposed the TARDIS sort of…rearranged the rooms for her, so she wouldn't get lost in the vast ship. Patting the wall in the hallway as thanks, Rose stepped through the doorway and into the control room.
He sat in his captain's chair, habitually slouched, one long leg folded, his foot on the edge of the console. His elbow rested on the knee of his bent leg, his long-fingered, wide-palmed hand rubbing over his closely-shorn head.
She leaned against the door jamb, arms crossed, watching him as he sat thinking out a solution to some problem. Some problem he'd never tell her. Or maybe he was remembering.
He drowns in his dreams
An exquisite extreme, I know
He's as damned as he seems
Sometimes, even as he laughed with her, a dangerous, haunted look flitted through his cobalt eyes. The first time it had completely shocked her to the point of chasing any and all mirth from her mind. He'd stared at her, long after she stopped laughing, with those empty, never-ending eyes before getting up and abruptly leaving the room.
He'd never spoken of it again. Still, whenever that look crossed his face, his eyes, at something she said or did, she couldn't quite bear to meet his gaze.
But as she studied him now, unawares, she could see the tiredness he never let her see. Could see the wear his poor old body had taken. True, the body itself was relatively new and in completely fine condition, if you asked her, from the rare glances she'd seen, but 900 years of thoughts, of memories had to wear on you. How long had it been since the Time War? How long had he been haunted by what he'd done during it?
And more heaven than a heart could hold
With a little snick, Rose felt something in her heart shift, open. She thought of a discussion she'd had in a history class once in school. They'd been talking about the war, World War II, and someone had asked if soldiers were considered murderers. If they could be.
Their teacher had never given any definitive answer, but Rose had thought on it a long time.
What they did…what they do, during times of war…could they do that on a normal day, in a normal place? It was more than orders, because she knew no orders in the world could make her kill someone, even to save her country. It was a bravery that she had no notion of.
Sacrificing themselves, their souls—for surely they were all haunted—for a country, for people who might not even recognize what they'd done for them. A solider fought to protect people he'd never met, never would meet. And that made them very special people indeed.
Had he been a soldier? Had he been one of the brave ones?
She heard, saw a deep sigh rattle through his chest, his hand slide down over his face and felt her heart clench painfully.
And if I tried to save him
My whole world could cave in
It just ain't right
It just ain't right
She wanted to know him. She wanted to know everything about him, as much as he could tell her. As much as he would tell her. And he wouldn't tell her much at all, she knew. There where times when she felt he was about to say something, but he always caught himself. The first time it had happened, she'd pestered him about it, but he'd clammed up the more she asked.
Once or twice he'd even started with "Remember when…" before shaking his head and walking away.
What was he remembering?
Oh, and I don't know
I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
She had loved him for ages. Ever since he'd first told her to run for her life, probably. She had no idea how long that had been or even when it had actually happened, what moment her heart had unlocked and let him in. She just always had.
Oh and she wanted him. How she wanted him. He wasn't classically handsome, didn't have the typical rugged good features she usually preferred. His forehead was large, but that might have been the haircut, as well. It tended to furrow with wrinkles if he was worried, or upset or pissed off, which was most of the time. His ears were too big, two teapot handles and a good indicator of his mood. The redder, the angrier.
She knew when to stay away.
His nose was patrician, classical, straight out of a Greek sculpture…regal, especially when he looked down it at her. She didn't enjoy those looks. He had a wide smile, a bit of a manic grin, actually, but usually his mouth was folded into a harsh line.
Still, thrown all together, it worked. There was this presence, this…aura…about him, even when he was depressed, like now.
And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful
Or just a beautiful disaster?
An aura that attracted every eye in the room to him. A sensuality that radiated from him that women and even men were attracted to and responded to.
She knew she responded to it. Sometimes it waved over her so strongly she had to stand and catch her breath for a moment before she could function again.
But she knew that any overture she made would hurt the delicate friendship they had. It was a weird one, their relationship, but one she reveled in and wouldn't harm for the world.
She heard a hitch in his breathing and watched as his other hand came up to cover his face. She saw his shoulders shake, heard the gasping breaths as the sobs racked through him. She wanted to go to him, so badly, but she knew he wouldn't take it well.
If there was one thing the Doctor didn't share with her, it was his weaknesses. She could count on both hands the number of times she'd seen him tear up, or go completely crazy with joy. When he managed to save her, or she somehow saved herself, he would express his relief in a bone-crushing hug. She loved those hugs.
"Oh, Rose," he whispered. Startled, she stiffened, wondering if he had seen her but he gave no other indication. His breathing calmed and she ached for him. She knew the hot, silent tears, the ones that burned your cheeks as they travelled down your face were worse than the heart-wracking sobs they followed. The occasional sniff came from him, so she knew he was still crying, but she would give anything to be able to comfort him. To be able to offer him the strength he so frequently offered her. She felt the tears well in her own eyes, course down her own cheeks as she listened to his laboured breathing, saw his long, strong body hunched over in pain.
She pressed her fingers to her lips to hold back her own sob and straightened, started toward him before she realized what she was doing.
He's magic and myth
As strong as what I believe
A tragedy with
More damage than a soul should see
What memories, what pain was tearing through him that had him so completely helpless and drowned in grief? She had never seen him like this, never seen him so…disconnected from his surroundings.
She wished, more than once, that he would be more open with her. That he would let her shoulder some of his load. Often she wanted to demand it. Scream it. You want me to rely on you, that's blood well fine, but you owe me the same courtesy!...
And do I try to change him?
So hard not to blame him
Hold on tight
Hold on tight
But she never did.
Her hand slid across the cool leather of his jacket, his back strong and firm beneath it, and felt him tighten into himself. He tried to lean away from her, wiping his hands over his face, but she only moved closer. She rubbed her hand over his back, his hair and a moment later he sagged against her. She moved closer, between his legs, between him and the console and his head rested on the pillow of her breasts even as his long arms snaked tightly around her waist.
She murmured nonsensical things, little nothings every mother knows well, to comfort a child. And in this moment, he was a child. Not wanting conversation or companionship, simply comfort. And that, if anything, she could give. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and leaned her cheek against the top of his head, breathing in the scent of his shampoo and aftershave, the traces of his cologne even as she felt his tears soak her shirt.
"Rose," he whispered again. "Rose, I'm so sorry."
Confused, not knowing what he had to be sorry for, she opened her mouth to question him, but stopped as he began to cry harder once more. His arms, if possible, tightened around her and she winced uncomfortably but didn't say anything.
His hands fisted in the back of her cardigan and he pulled her closer, resting his chin on shoulder.
"What are you sorry for, Doctor?"
He shook his head and she felt him swallow. She trailed her fingertips through the ends of his hair at the nap of his neck. Offhandedly, she tried to remember how long it'd been since she'd last cut his hair for him and figured he was due for another. Even though she complained about it to his face, she loved doing it for him. It felt intimate, far more intimate than she would ever admit. Because if she admitted it to him, she would lose it. And she'd do anything to keep that closeness.
Oh, 'cuz I don't know
Don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
He was calming now, his breathing settling. Letting out a deep sigh, he leaned back, sliding his hands from the small of her back to her hips. He looked up at her and she almost gasped at the naked, raw grief raked across his face, the bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes, the damp cheeks.
Not thinking, only feeling, she cupped his face in her hands, brushing her thumbs across his pale cheeks. She leaned down and kissed his forehead lightly, like he had done to her so many times.
"Is there anything I can do?" She whispered. He shook his head and his long fingers slid into the tangled bun at the nape of her neck, his fingertips brushing over the nape of her neck.
She bit her lip, holding back the shudder that wanted to course through her body.
Damn it, he knew she was ticklish.
"Just…be there." His voice was raw, hoarse. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Just exist." She didn't bother hiding her confusion and he just shook his head. "I can't talk about it."
"You need someone to lean on, Doctor," Rose said quietly. "You can't shoulder it all yourself, you're only one person." At his arched eyebrow, she rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean. It's an expression."
"I can't tell you, Rose. It's not personal."
"Right, right, my simple ape mind couldn't handle it." A small, familiar shadow of a grin flitted across his face at her sarcastic tone.
"You are a smarter one of your species, though."
"Gee, thanks, Doctor." She gave his ear a light tug. He leaned forward again and kissed the side of her neck, pulling her into a tight hug.
When he didn't say anything, or move, she grew worried.
"This isn't the part where you tell me you want me to go stay with me mum again, is it?" He didn't say anything. "Doctor?"
"No, Rose. I'll not tell you to go. You wouldn't if I tried."
"Right then." He pulled back from her and rubbed his hand across his eyes before standing and clapping his hands together. "Where to next, then?"
I'm longing for love and the logical
But he's only happy hysterical
I'm waiting for some kind of miracle
Waited so long...so long
So like him to brush off something so huge. Unless it was her, then he would hold her and coddle her until she felt compelled to spill her soul to him.
She opened her mouth to say something and then his lips were on hers. She let out a gasp of surprise, a squeak and his tongue slid over hers, crushing her lips to his. He moved forward and she was trapped between his hips and the rail of the console, as he kissed her deeper and deeper.
His hands came up to cup her neck as his teeth scraped across her tongue, as he nipped her bottom lip. He pulled back and kissed her softly, once, twice, before pulling away.
Not meeting her eyes, he started to pull away but she grabbed a fistful of jumper.
"Rose, I'm sor—"
"No," she said, her voice trembling. "Don't you dare apologize for that." He closed his eyes, ran a hand across his face. His eyes met hers and she felt her heart thud at the look in his eyes.
He's soft to the touch
But frayed at the ends, he breaks
He's never enough
And still he's more than I can take
"No," he sighed. "I won't apologize."
Her hand relaxed, smoothing out the wrinkles she'd put in his jumper.
"What were you thinking of that upset you so?"
He kept his eyes on her face, studied it before his chest heaved as he let out a huge breath.
"500,000 years in your future, I will kill you."
"But…I don't understand. I won't be alive, how can you kill me? It's…an accident, right? You didn't mean to."
"I will do. You or the universe, Rose. That's what's always running through my mind."
Such a beautiful disaster
Beautiful, beautiful disaster