"There's five of us now. Mum, Dad, Mickey… and the baby."
Her voice was so soft, harsh and raw in her throat, but carrying so much weight that they were enough to force the breath from his lungs and stop the pounding of his hearts.
But, even so, he couldn't help but imagine.
Couldn't help but paint a picture of a scarcely pregnant Rose, glowing radiantly. Couldn't help but think of what she might look like months pregnant and waddling around. Couldn't help but imagine her face, sweaty and exhausted, smiling sweetly at the tiny life in her arms. Couldn't help but wonder whether it was a boy or girl and couldn't help but design the appearance of one of each in his mind. Couldn't help but picture a mop of brown hair dashing away from the destruction he had caused. Couldn't help but picture a little girl between her mother's knees as she braids locks of golden brown hair.
"You're not…" His words were a whisper, the most he could dare to breathe. And that's when he saw it- the fear and the pain and the hesitation hiding behind her tears.
"No," he couldn't help but think that the little laugh in her voice was forced, "It's mum."
He could hardly believe that it had been over a day since he had seen her. Since his hearts broke at not being able to hold her as she cried. Since his breathing stopped and he almost became a father once again. Since his stomach dropped and his chest grew too heavy to move and the entire universe shattered around him. It felt more like years ago.
And that night felt even farther away.
She's crying. God, she had been so strong during the entire fiasco on Sanctuary Base. So willing to thrust her fears away and get the others to remain calm. And now she's broken, her fragile façade of denial shattering behind the closed door of her room.
She likes to make him think that she doesn't cry, that she's stronger than that, that she can force the pain from her heart and move on just as easily as he does. But he knows better. Before, he had always left her to her grief and her tears. Before, he would have stood there for a moment and walked away, leaving her to think that he never knew.
But for the first time in their two short years, he needs to be with her, to let himself feel just as scared and weak and broken as she is in that moment. She hardly notices him when he comes in, only looks up when his weight shifts the bed and his arm wraps around her shoulders. She doesn't say anything, just buries her face into his neck.
She didn't mention how long it had been for her. Months, he assumed, based on the time difference he had noted before.
Maybe three? Three months… four months since that night for her.
Three months. Jackie and Pete didn't waste much time. Although, it had been years since they had seen each other, in a way.
But still, Jackie pregnant?
He leans away from her once her trembling shoulders have stilled. Her face is red, splotched and dotted with her tears. He cups her cheeks, drying beneath her eyes with his thumbs.
His lips brush against her forehead, more out of a lack of anything to say than anything else. He's surprised when her eyes flutter closed and the impulse to kiss each of them over takes him, bringing his lips to first her left lid and then the right. She doesn't say anything, just lets out a soft breath and looks up at him.
"Do you think it was really the devil?"
"I think… that whatever it was, it lied to get to you. It lied, Rose." She doesn't believe his words any more than he does. It's in her eyes; something is coming and she's afraid. And, worst of all, he doesn't know how to stop it and he doesn't know how to soothe her or convince her not to dwell on those words. All he can do is brush his thumb along her cheek and tilt her head back and stifle the questions on her mind with a kiss.
It's soft and fleeting, more comforting than passionate. And yet it's still all there- all the emotions, all the power and love that sparks constantly between them, just muted in their combined uncertainty.
It isn't until he pulls away that her mouth parts and air rushes into her lungs and she looks up at him, at a loss for words. And so she does the only thing she can think of. Her hands snake around her neck and tangle into his hair, pulling him closer. This time she applies more pressure, forcing the kiss away from the chaste thing it was before. It's powerful and passionate and it's nearly impossible to choose to take her next breath over it.
There are hardly any layers between her body and his hands, just the soft cotton of an oversized shirt which is easily moved out of his way. He's almost sure that his overcoat is hanging in the control room and his jacket is still on the jump seat where he left it in the middle of his tinkering. His tie he intimately recalls Rose loosening and pulling over his head but after that he can't remember where it she put it. He's still wearing his shirt, although Rose's nimble fingers has undone it. He no longer cares what happens to his trousers by the time they fumble to remove them.
There was something else there. Something in the way Rose stumbled over the topic. In the way she seemed to breathe in the courage to say something, before expelling the words in a strangled sob.
And her eyes. There was so much pain in there. Not just a grieving goodbye. Something else. The moment she had mentioned the baby, her features had softened and she seemed to be waiting, waiting for a response.
And she got one.
It's not as either of them had imagined it- it's pained and beautiful, slow and hard, tender and needy- as they fall apart together.
Her body shudders beneath his, her lungs screaming for breath and her heart pounding half in sync with his racing hearts.
He shifts off her and instantly he pulls her to him, spooning against her back, his top leg tangling with hers and his elbow bent at her hip, his fingers splayed over her stomach.
She feels tense in his arms and he knows that she's thinking about the future- about tomorrow when she has to face him, about those words and the fate that awaits her, about her mum and Mickey and her friends back at the estate. So he kisses the back of her neck and her shoulder and his nose nuzzles her hair as his hands stroke her stomach and her breasts. She leans back into him, sighing against the sensations, and he feels her relaxing back into the present.
It won't last. He holds her as sleep claims her and he watches as her face softens into an unguarded picture of beauty.
He holds her tighter, hoping against hope that he can keep her just a little longer as long as she's right there with him.
She saw the phantom memories pass through his eyes. She saw the shadow of guilt and sadness at not being there for the child. She saw the weight of grief pressing harder against his chest. She saw how much more it would hurt to leave two behind instead of one.
He takes her there because he knows it will impress her. Dragons. She didn't believe him.
He resists the urge to wrap his arms around her waist and rest his chin on her shoulder. She wouldn't mind, he knows, but he tempers the impulse by stuffing his hands into his pockets and smiling softly over at her.
"How long are you going to stay with me?" He knows he shouldn't ask, but he does, knowing that her answer, whatever it may be, is going to hurt.
"Forever," she smiles and he smiles against the pain as he forces his eyes back up to the flying creatures.
Forever used to seem like so long, once.
Sitting in the corner of Rose's room, his lanky body balled up, his knees to his chest and his face in his arms, he cried. He cried for Rose and the forever she never got with him. He cried for him and the woman he never got the chance to love. He cried for the baby and the father it would never have. He cried for him and the child he would never get to meet. He cried for everything and nothing. He cried because it felt good and because it hurt.
He cried for the memories and the hopes and the possibilities that he could no longer see.