When Jack returned the Doctor was still sulking, chin barely above the water and a far away look in his eyes. Jack stripped and let himself into the pool, sighing loudly in appreciation as the warmth worked its magic on his body.
"She's sleeping," Jack offered.
"What kind of life is this?"
Jack glanced over at the Doctor in surprise. Currently they were soaking in a warm mineral spa, not running for their lives or talking their way out of trouble, of course a native or two applying massage oil would up the pleasure a few notches, he mused. "Not following you, Doc."
"Rose deserves better than this."
Jack chuckled softly. "I think you'd find out differently if you asked Rose. And before you say she's too young, just remember, she's lived a quarter of her life already. You've introduced her to a whole new world; one most will never even realize exists. It's the life she's chosen." As he talked, Jack had retrieved the floating glass and filled both glasses with the dark liquid, handing one to the Doctor.
The two men sat in mutual silence for a bit, lost in their own thoughts. Jack refilled the glasses.
"Are you trying to get me drunk?" Jack laughed at the Doctor's assumption.
"On your own liquor? Hardly, just buying you that drink I promised."
"And what are your intentions, Captain?" the Doctor's voice no held any traces of playful flirtation.
"Hoping we can get to know each other a little better?" Jack asked hopefully, not wanting to give away too much.
"Not sure that's going to happen."
Jack studied his glass, tracing the rim with his finger. This was going to be harder than he thought.
"You give up on everyone so easy?" He dared a look at the other who seemed to be ignoring him. "Seems to me, I recall—you offered me a chance when my ship was about to explode."
"Moment of weakness," stated the Doctor neutrally.
"Or was it you can't say no to a certain blonde?" Jack felt the icy stare, realizing he was wandering towards unstable ground.
"Be careful where you tread," growled the Doctor, still smarting from his earlier mistake.
"Relax, Doc. I'm not here to ruin whatever it is between the two of you. But you can't tell me you're not lonely." He noted the slight flinch before the Doctor's mask of indifference fell back into place.
"I'm not lonely."
"You really should work on that," Jack grinned.
"You're a lousy liar. First rule, tell a lie that's closest to the truth."
"What, like I'm not alone, I've got Rose?" the Doctor quipped.
"Right, see?" Jack leaned forward warming up to his topic. "There you've stretched the truth, by admitting you're not alone."
The Doctor looked at him evenly. "You're overlooking the fact that lonely and alone are two different words—"
"With separate meanings." Jack waved him off. "But it's the little misdirection that is misleading."
"Lie by misdirection?" The Doctor was watching Jack warily.
"And you're an expert in that?" the Doctor's tone could have been accusatory rather than questioning, but Jack forged on.
"I've had enough experience with it," he admitted, waiting for the scathing tongue lashing he figured was coming.
He poured himself another drink and held the bottle out towards the Doctor. He took it deliberately, holding the Jack's gaze.
"So, are you lonely, Captain?" The Doctor's eyes never wavered. Jack felt he'd hit the ultimate lie detector.
"I've got you and Rose," he said finally, daring the Doctor to be the one to look away first.
"Not what I asked."
Jack leaned forward; sure the Doctor could see to the depths of his soul, and not caring.
"I've got you and Rose," he stated again. "I'm used to being alone, but with the two of you it feels—like family. Something I've missed, and I'm afraid of messing it up, like today." He finally broke the stare, certain that there were no secrets left that the Doctor hadn't already discovered. "You two would have gotten out of that mess a lot easier if I hadn't bungled up the escape route."
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "You were only trying to help."
"But what happens the next time I try to help, who's to say something won't happen? Something neither you nor I will be able to fix?"
The Doctor shrugged casually, as if dismissing Jack's question. "No need to worry about it now."
Jack was stunned with the man's lack of concern. "That's all I've done, is worry about it. And up until now, you were acting like I should have been thrown out into the void." The Doctor was now refusing to meet his eyes. "What changed?" he asked softly.
"You're being honest."
Jack frowned, and then leaned back, chuckling. "I don't get you."
"What's there to get?"
"I just gave you a lesson in lying, and now I'm forgiven for being honest?"
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
They listened to the water lapping against the sides of the pool, and one could almost hear a quiet melody in the background; the TARDIS hum, broken by the thick foliage.
"What changed, Doc?"
"Maybe it's time for moving forward. Appreciate what I have, here and now. You'll both leave someday."
Jack nodded in understanding, knowing with unerring certainty the Doctor was right, they'd both experienced too much to think differently.
"You've got us now," Jack reminded him quietly as the Doctor finished his drink and stepped out of the pool.
"I'll see you in the morning, Jack."
Jack didn't fail to notice the Doctor had used his name and grinned at the retreating back.
It wouldn't go away. That small persistent voice she kept hearing. It didn't sound threatening, just wouldn't go away.
Rose rolled over pulling the covers with her and buried her head under the pillow, sure that would put an end to the annoyance. Wasn't it bad enough that there was a multitude of clocks continually ticking in her head, and behind those a constant low buzzing accompanying them? Soon her mum would be shouting over the harsh beeping of the alarm and she'd have to face the day, but for now, she only wanted a few more minutes to ignore the world.
The voice sounded vaguely familiar, and not at all like her mum's. This was a man's voice, a very nice sounding man's voice, deep and filled with emotion.
Rose's eyes sprang open and she silently prayed the TARDIS would let her sink into a black hole; anything to hide from the now known voice.
The night's events crashed over her, and she relived it all within a few seconds. She groaned in embarrassment, trying to sink further into the bed and mumbled a muffled go away. One could only hope he would follow directions for once.
Maybe if she pretended she had fallen asleep again he would leave, and she could save herself from having to face him for another hour or day, if she got really lucky.
"How are you feeling?"
Rose squeezed her eyes tighter, unable to erase the memory, this wasn't really happening. She'd made a fool of herself, not that she hadn't been drunk before, but she couldn't recall a time she'd lost all inhibitions. Times like this, she wished the TARDIS had hidden her room in a far away corner.
She let out the breath she'd didn't realize she'd been holding, feeling the world right itself somewhat, and prepared to face the inevitable. Slowly she opened an eye. The room was still bathed in shadows, and the furniture didn't appear to be moving, the day was already improving. She pulled the covers down off her face, and looked over her shoulder at the source of the voice sitting on the edge of her bed, above the covers, and gave him a weak smile.
"Try this," he coaxed, holding out a glass and in his other hand, a tiny pill sitting in the middle of his palm. "It should help."
"Thanks," she said accepting the pill and quickly swallowing it with the water before flopping back onto the bed. She groaned as the headache flared momentarily, then gradually subsided.
"I'm sorry," they blurted out in unison, looked at each other somewhat startled, then both turned away. An awkward silence descended.
"I shouldn't have—"
"It was my fault—"
They both stopped again. The Doctor frustrated at his lack of being able to express himself started to stand, but Rose's hand on his arm gently pushed him back down.
"I didn't mean to be so forward," Rose offered. The Doctor shook his head and studied his hands, picking at an invisible spot on his jeans.
"I should have known better than to let you drink that much."
"You didn't force me to do anything," she sighed, only halfway listening to his attempt at an apology.
"It was stupid of me—"
"And me, getting all carried away and acting like an idiot by throwing myself at you. I can't even blame the alcohol." She felt her face grow warm as she confessed and let out a half-hearted laugh, then hurriedly continued, before she lost her nerve. "I'll understand if you want to take me home," she finished quietly, and kept her eyes down not wanting to see the relief and agreement she knew would be seen in his expression.
"Do you want to go home?" he asked hesitantly. "I was sort of thinking—well guess it doesn't matter—"
Rose lifted her gaze, trying to read his face. Had she really heard him correctly? He didn't want her to go? Her heart pounded as she watched him age before her eyes. His shoulders slumped forward, the weight of his burdens crashing down upon him, his eyes seemed to dull, she became afraid if she breathed hard he'd suddenly turn to dust and crumble to nothing.
He blinked rapidly as she squeezed his arm, the feeling of solid mass beneath her palm suddenly taking on new meaning. She used that strength to pull herself upwards until she was sitting next to him, staring at his shoulder.
"I'd like to stay," she whispered. "But I thought, maybe you wouldn't want me to." She bit her lip, telling herself she wasn't going to cry if he told her to pack her bags.
When had everything changed from normal? Not that travelling with the Doctor had ever begun to fit into anything one would categorize as normal, but they'd gotten along well, better than well, until Jack. Was she really jealous of having to share the Doctor? Before Jack, they'd been pretty much inseparable, unless you counted the tree lady, Jabe, but that was before…
Before she'd gotten to know the nine-hundred year old alien that travelled through time and space in a spaceship resembling an old blue Police Box, who had saved Earth and countless other planets innumerable times, had lost his entire race of people, and still tried to right the wrongs of the universe. That's what he did and who he was; a man who stood up and made decisions because no one else would.
I could save the World but lose you.
His words echoed in her mind, and she finally understood what he'd been trying to tell her all along. Rose's heart thundered in her chest as she dropped her head against his shoulder, anticipating cool leather and instead finding the soft wool of his jumper.
"Your decision, Rose." The words spoken softly on warm breath were a challenge, a tentative question, and also a promise of so many things yet to come.
Rose slid her arms around the Doctor's neck, bringing her own lips to his before answering.
"Could I have this dance?"
The first kiss was a tentative brushing of noses, lips meeting hesitantly as if the other were fragile. Their warm breath created a shared barrier of moisture that Rose licked off her lips as the Doctor pulled back. His blue eyes darkened as he studied her face, dropping to watch her tongue, and Rose waited until he was looking into her own eyes again before drawing him close.
Rose closed her eyes as the Doctor's cooler lips pressed against hers, gently discovering, exploring, teasing and became aware that her imagination had been greatly lacking. The Doctor wasted no time in pushing Rose backwards until her head hit the pillow behind her, his control waning as he began an unrelenting assault on her mouth until she found herself growing light-headed from lack of oxygen. She pushed harder against his chest than intended and flinched when she saw a flicker of panic cross his face.
"Need to breathe, yeah?" she grinned reassuringly at him. His eyes were darker than she'd ever seen, just a hint of blue outlining the dark irises and suddenly she was falling into their depths.
He leaned forward, breaking eye contact and leaving Rose momentarily disoriented, but after a few deep breaths she relaxed once more under his ministrations. He used his elbows to support himself above her, letting his eyes drift over the figure below. The length of his body covered hers, his legs stretching out alongside hers. Where their hips touched, Rose could feel the heat radiating from him through the jeans and covers that separated their skin.
Rose was reeling, enjoying the sensations of his lips moving methodically along her jaw. He planted miniature kisses, lips and tongue combined in a slow trail across her neck, stopping at her pulse point where he let his tongue rest against her skin, measuring heartbeats before moving down towards her shoulder. His breath caressed the smooth skin and she cried out instinctively when he bit into her shoulder, quickly laving at the mark that would be left behind. He leaned back and studied the mark, his eyes canvassing her body yet again, determined to savor each moment, each kiss, as if he had all the Time in the Universe, and in many ways, he did.
Tired of playing the passive role, Rose moved her hands to the bottom edge of his jumper, slid them underneath and let her fingers learn the curves of his body. Muscles and tendons shivered under her touch as she let her hands roam freely, mapping his body and discovering which types of touch over certain areas elicited pleasant moans or more primal growls from the Time Lord.
The Doctor shifted his hips and scooted lower, his erection pressing firmly into her leg. Rose lost her concentration, focused now on the weight pushing against her thigh; barely registering the fact that her top had stretched to its limits, the material taut and sinking into the back of her neck as he continued kissing down her exposed chest.
Rose distracted him with fingernails dragging through his scalp and as he leaned his head back into the touch with a growl that sent a wave of heat through her stomach, she gently pried his fingers loose from the garment.
The Doctor raised himself onto one arm, refusing to take his eyes off of her as Rose quickly pulled the top over her head and tossed it to the side. She watched his reaction hesitantly, biting her lower lip as his eyes took in every detail. Rose began to fidget under his scrutiny, the waiting becoming uncomfortable as she started to think of herself as a specimen under his intense gaze.
She tugged insistently at the hem of his jumper, lifting it to his arms in an attempt to coax him into motion. She'd settle for anything besides this unmoving statue looming over her, it was unnerving. "Doctor," she spoke, in what she hoped was a sultry tone but sounded harsh even to her ears.
He flinched, blinked confusedly and let out a long exhale. Rose brought her hand to his cheek, feeling the hard contours of his face soften under her touch as his gaze travelled up to her neck, his fingers reaching out to gingerly probe the bite mark. Rose reached for his hand pulling it away and bringing his fingertips to her lips. As she kissed them she assured him "I'm fine." And a silent message was sent that confirmed how badly she wanted this, wanted him.
Then, to break the awkward moment, she sat up, captured his lips in another kiss, and grasped his jumper again. This time the Doctor eagerly complied as he impatiently yanked his arms out, fighting with the material and having to break the kiss momentarily. Cleared of the cumbersome clothing, he wrapped his arms around her as she fell backwards under his weight and reclaimed her lips as she flipped his top carelessly to the floor.
The contact of bare skin sent shivers racing through Rose's body, and she mewed in delight. The Doctor rolled to the side, keeping her close to him. Hands moved relentlessly over exposed skin, each reveling in the feel of the other. They were soon panting, stealing quick kisses, neither wanting to stop until finally, lying forehead to forehead, their seemingly random explorations of touch, slowed to soft caresses.
The Doctor placed his fingertips lightly against Rose's temple and Rose felt a sudden surge of panic, as she found herself standing at the edge of a cliff, buffeted by a relentless wind. Unable to resist, she was swept forward and then felt herself falling, hurtling downwards into an abyss. She inhaled sharply and closed her eyes against the darkness.
"Rose." The Doctor's voice remained calm and steady, a focal point she could concentrate on. "Look at me, Rose," he called softly, encouraging her until she opened her eyes and looked around, somehow finding herself standing in front of the Doctor, his hand extended to her and a look of pure wonderment on his face.
"Where are we?" she asked in a soft voice.
"In a place known only to us. Do you still want to come with me?" he invited, his eyes searching hers.
Rose smiled back, more than willing to follow him, to trust him with her body and her soul, and slid her hand into his. She lifted their hands up, still amazed at how well they fit and lifted her gaze to his face. The expression on the Doctor's face could only be described in one way; love. Her heart swelled to think she was responsible for that, and couldn't hold back the tears, tears of joy, acceptance and the utter sense of peace that came with finding one's soul mate.
Mornings, or what passed for the start of a new day's adventure aboard the TARDIS, had become a series of smaller routines for the Doctor and his companions.
Usually not requiring much, if any sleep, the Doctor could be found, reassembling some piece of faulty equipment, or tinkering around with the ship's programming while researching the many networks of the outerwebs, and generally keeping himself occupied until his companions were rested.
Since joining the crew, Jack had discovered Rose enjoyed her lie ins, and he had become accustomed to discussing repairs, navigation, or any other number of safe topics with the Doctor as they waited for the other member.
Rose was always the last to wander in, usually with a cup of hot tea in hand, eyes bright with wonder, an easy smile, and make-up and hair all neatly done, ready to begin another adventure.
This morning turned out completely different as Jack strode into the control room, hands thrust deep into his trouser pockets and whistling a cheery tune. He stood just inside the doorway and gaped, the last notes dying off with a low wolf whistle as he blinked, unsure whether to believe what his eyes were showing him.
The Doctor lifted his head and looked pointedly at Jack, breaking into a broad grin. "Morning, Jack."
"Is it?" Jack asked warily, noting they were still on a first name basis, so the liquor hadn't impaired his mental capabilities or memory from the previous evening, but it didn't explain this.
Rose was standing next to the Doctor and his hand covered hers as he continued showing her some of the more basic controls. Rose glanced over quickly, her face glowing and Jack surmised it wasn't from the newly bleached hair.
"You're redecorating?" Jack queried, taking in the blanket of multi-hued red rose petals covering the metal grill under his feet. The Doctor's face turned a slight shade of the darker petals as Rose piped up, elbowing him playfully almost causing him to choke on his next breath.
"It was the TARDIS," Rose commented, shrugging it off, but Jack noticed her biting her bottom lip, and couldn't let the golden opportunity escape.
"And you didn't want to crush the delicate petals, so you're going barefoot?" he pointed out.
The Doctor looked down at the floor and wiggled his bare toes. "Actually they feel quite nice, 'sides, where we're going you won't be needing shoes," he finished challengingly and straightened to his full height.
"Our coordinates are set, and we're about to land," Rose stated, turning her head quickly to gain confirmation from the Doctor who nodded in return. Together their hands pulled back on the handbrake and Jack, bursting with questions, fought the urge to laugh at the giddy wave of emotion, stealing over him as he watched. Instead, he reached for the nearest rail to brace himself for their usual landing.
The TARDIS hiccupped once, followed by a soft thwump and both Rose and the Doctor shared a high five and spontaneous hug, pleased at their joint piloting skills. They turned as one and raced to the door, the Doctor pulling Rose behind and disappeared outside.
Jack sighed heavily. Pleased that he could have contributed to the Doctor's and Rose's new relationship, he couldn't help but feel the all too familiar twinge of one left behind. He quickly unlaced his boots, slipped his socks off and thought the petals did feel nice under his feet, the floral scent easing a bit of his melancholy. No use feeling sorry for yourself, Jack, best go see what kind of trouble awaits just outside those doors, he chided himself.
He stepped out into a world of sand, surf and sun, and found the Doctor and Rose taking in the view. He swallowed the lump in his throat, as he watched them lean towards each other, the Doctor bent down to whisper in her ear, and Jack told himself he should be happy for them.
"You two are sooo sweet," he said when they both turned to look at him, hoping he'd been able to hide his feelings. There was a moment of awkward silence when Rose held out her other hand towards him, wiggling her fingers in an invitation. The Doctor's face gave nothing away and Jack shook his head warily, thinking Rose was only being nice.
"C'mon," she urged and Jack held his hands up.
"It's okay, Rose. You two go on ahead." He nodded towards the horizon, but didn't anticipate her quick movement and found himself pulled next to her, his hand tightly clasped in hers.
"Better with three, yeah?" she told him smiling, then turned to look at the Doctor who was watching her with open admiration.
The Doctor nodded, his eyes meeting Jack's as he quietly repeated her words. "Better with three."
If this was a dream, Jack was hoping he would never wake up. "Better with three," he agreed, squeezing Rose's hand. She laughed and broke out into a run towards the water, pulling the two men along beside her, both grinning like maniacs.
The TARDIS sat alone on the small dune of sand, rose petals drifting out of the open doorway in twisting eddies, and scattered around the blue box that hummed contentedly. If one listened closely there could be distinguished a slight rhythmic undertone; bet-ter with three.