Title: The Passing of the Storm

Author: Gail R. Delaney

Genre: 9/Rose UST, Hurt/Comfort

Series: The Unseen and In Between

Setting: Post – Aliens of London/World War Three

Summary: He didn't lose her, but he did bruise her.

Rating: PG13 maybe

Disclaimer: Not mine. If I owned Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant would be my own private little playmates.

My favorite inspirational quotes for this fic: (SPOILERS HERE)

1. I could save the world, but lose you…

2. You can stay here… but right now, there's this plasma storm brewing in the Horsehead Nebula. Fires are burning ten million miles wide. I could fly the TARDIS right into the heart of it and ride the shock wave all the way out, hurdle right across the sky and end up anywhere. Your choice.

The TARDIS shook, jolting sideways as it rode the plasma storm through the Horsehead Nebula. His blood rushed with the thrill and he gripped the edge of the console, riding out the storm.

"Hang on, Rose Tyler!" he shouted over the pumping churn of the center piston over the console. Green light flooded the control room. "Here comes the best part of the ride!"

"You mean we haven't hit it yet?" she shouted back, laughter carrying in her voice as she clung to the console.

He watched the readout, studying the undulation and sway of the nebula around the TARDIS, threatening to slingshot them across the universe-or shake them apart trying.

"Not by half!"

He rode the wave, edging around the circular console to reach her. Rose bent over the glowing panels, hanging on for her life. Her eyes sparked brightly, a wide smile lighting her young face. Blonde hair brushed around her cheeks with each jerk of the ship. He held out his hand to her, bending his knees to keep on his feet.

"Come here."

Without hesitation, just like the first time he had taken her hand, she slid her palm along his and he curled his fingers to hold her tight. Pulling her toward him, the Doctor slid her body between his and the console edge, wrapping his arm around her waist to hold her secure against him. He balanced his weight and let go of the console to point at the monitor in front of them.

"Watch it, Rose. Watch the oncoming storm."

She held her breath, one hand holding on to the console while the other held his arm firm against her stomach. The screen flooded with light and color — colors that were so beautiful they had no name — swirling and twisting in a breathtaking dance.

"My God," she said on a breath. "It's beautiful."

Alarms sounded and he cast a quick glance at another monitor. "Hang on. Here she comes."

He bracketed her body between his legs, curling his tall frame around her as best he could, holding her tight as the TARDIS shuddered and quaked. With the last final jerks before the TARDIS broke free of the wave into the peaceful calm of space beyond, he heard Rose gasp and her grip tightened on his hand. His attention immediately shifted to her, away from the remnants of the nebula as it faded into the distance.

As the TARDIS stilled, the Doctor straightened, studying Rose's profile. Her expression was tense, a thin line of white surrounding her lips.

"Rose… "

Her gaze slid quickly to him, then away. "That…that was amazing."

"What's wrong?"

She pushed back from the console, bringing her shoulders against his chest. Rose tilted her chin and looked up at him. "Nothing. How could anything be wrong?"

"You tell me."

The corners of her lips turned down in her typical 'I don't know what you're talking about' look, and she shook her head. "So…where did it throw us?"

"I don't care." He turned her to face him, laying his hands on her shoulders. Despite her attempt at hiding it, he saw the wince and flinch as her eyes pinched. "Tell me."

"It's nothing," she said slowly, shaking her head. "I just — I think I got more banged up than I realized when — you know — we blew up Downing Street."

"How bad?"

"I'm walking, aren't I? I'm not passed out on the floor, or nothing."

"Not far from it, though, are you." It wasn't a question.

She slowly raised her gaze and met his, and the shimmer of tears pulled at his gut. "I didn't want to tell you." Her voice was almost lost in the space between them.

He bit back the growl that curled deep in his throat. "Come with me."

"Where are we going?"

He set his hand gently at the small of her back, careful not to apply too much pressure until he knew just how badly she was injured. Stupid little girl… why didn't she tell him? Why wouldn't she?

Silence echoed in the inner corridors of the TARDIS, and it only took two corners and three doorways to reach the small yet workable medical bay. The TARDIS — his wonderful ship — always kept it close at hand when he needed it. When injuries were bad, but not too bad…

"I'll never get used to this," she mumbled. The lights came on as soon as they stepped inside and they were surrounded by shining surgical steel and white. "Rooms appearin' out of nowhere. Doctor, really…I'm fine."

"I'll be the judge of that." He gripped the pull to her shirt zipper, and pulled it down before she could offer an argument. In his haste to make sure she was really all right, he hadn't prepared himself for the gut-punching, hearts stopping effect the sight of her body would have on him. Nine-hundred years and more planets and times than he could count — he was no stranger to the human form. It was just this particular human form that made him break out in a cold sweat.

"Hey!" She tried to step back, bumping the counter behind her, and her face paled as pain had to slice through her. "Oh, god…"

Rose swayed, her head tipping back, and he pulled her against him to keep her from falling. As gently as possible, he slid his arm beneath her knees and lifted her. She moaned and he cursed the fact that he was probably hurting her without knowing it. Laying her on the long, thin bed in the center of the room, at least one of his hearts sat at the base of his throat — if not both — when her head rolled to the side, her eyes closed.

Tamping down the bitter panic, he pushed aside her shirt. His hands fisted into the soft material when he saw the purple-blue bruises that wrapped around her body. He sucked a sharp breath in through his nostrils and reached for a pair of surgical scissors on the bedside table. Figuring she would probably smack him later for destroying her shirt, he sliced up the sleeves and laid her bare except for the white cotton brassiere she wore.

Wincing at the pain he knew she would feel if she were awake, he rolled her onto her side so he could see her back. The bruises continued around, stretching across her shoulders. He laid her back and closed his eyes, swallowing hard. The Doctor leaned forward and rested his head on her bare stomach.

She wouldn't die. But…the self-hate that churned his gut was enough to make him want to die himself. Sucking air in sharply, he raised his head, a single tear hitting her skin before he stepped back and gathered what he needed.

Swirling lights flashed through her dreams, lifting her to dance with them through the plasma storm. She felt light and heavy at the same time, trying to find some grounding point to orientate herself.

The first real sensation she could latch on to was the gentle weight on her stomach, and the heat that emanated from the contact. She had to focus hard to lift her arm and slide her hand to the source of the warmth. Her skin tingled pleasantly and she pushed harder against the tricolor haze.

Rose licked her lips, blinking against the lead weights that held her eyes closed. Pulling in a long, deep breath she finally brought the ceiling over her into focus. It was a familiar ceiling, the celestial starscape she stared at each night before she fell asleep. The soft hum of the TARDIS echoed around her, and a peaceful whisper danced over her skin.

She was home.

Rolling her head on the pillow, she looked down to the warm weight on her stomach. Her heart jumped when she saw the Doctor's large hand splayed across her bare abdomen, and she realized with a jolt that she wore nothing from the waist up but her bra.

The Doctor knelt on the floor beside her bed, his head pillowed on one folded arm on the mattress beside her. She stared at his dark hair, trying to piece together what got her into bed, half-naked, with the Doctor beside her. At least, partially beside her.

She remembered riding the undulation of the plasma storm, her heart pounding in excitement as the TARDIS rocked around them. Remembered the Doctor holding her as they watched the beautiful miasma of color on the monitors. Then the pain. Rose had tried to ignore the ache that had settled into her body after the explosion on Downing Street. She tried to convince herself the deep bruises that appeared after a few hours were nothing, and the catch in her side whenever she took a breath would pass.

But it had gotten worse with every jerk of the TARDIS. She had bit it back, and denied it existed.

But the Doctor had seen through her. She remembered him leading her to the medical bay she didn't know existed, and the shock when he unceremoniously yanked open her shirt. Then…nothing.

She shifted, and realized the numbing pain was gone. Lifting her head off the pillow, she quickly scanned what parts of her body she could see outside the blanket that covered her to her waist. The bruises were faded nearly completely away, just the final yellow-greenish outlines were any indicators they had been there at all.

As a test, Rose drew in a long, deep breath. No catch, no piercing pain.

She slid her arm nearest to the Doctor across the bed until she touched his jumper. "Doctor," she said softly.

His head snapped up, his blue eyes immediately training on her. "Rose."

"Yeah. At least I think it's me. My head's a bit funny."

The Doctor moved from the floor to sit on the edge of the bed, his eyes shifting over her. She dutifully ignored the flush that spread beneath her skin and fought the urge to yank the blanket up to her chin. His hand, which still rested on her stomach, skimmed over her skin tracing the faded outline of the bruises.

"How do you feel?"

"Better. What did you do?"

His eyes shifted to her face briefly, then he returned to his examination. He pressed his large hands against her ribs, and she gasped.

"That hurt?"

Rose blinked rapidly, swallowing. "N-no."

"Come on, then. Sit up." He rose to set one knee on the mattress and took her hand, sliding the other beneath her as he helped her upright. Her head swam a bit, but she held on to the sleeve of his jumper until the room stopped rocking. "Good?"

"Yeah," she answered, nodding. "Just — I just need a sec."

He sat again so they were facing each other and Rose ran her hand over her disheveled hair. She had to look a fright. But her senses were off-kilter and her body hot, and she couldn't focus enough to care.

"Rose," he said, his voice stern. "Look at me."

She still had hold of his arm, and raised her chin to meet his intense gaze. His jaw was set firm, his lips forming a thin line. Rose wasn't sure if it really was anger she saw in his eyes, but whatever it was, it danced a shiver up her spine.

"Don't you ever do that again. Do you hear me?"

"Do what?"

"If you're hurt, you need to tell me. I can't fix you if I don't know."

"I thought I was all right."

"But you weren't…" His gaze slid away, then back to her again, softer. "You weren't. Just…don't."

"Okay," she said, nodding her head even though it made the room tip again. She tightened her grip on his arm and his other hand curled around her side, holding her firm. "I promise. I won't. But—"

"But what?"

Rose pulled her lower lip through her teeth, breathing slowly to find the words. "I didn't want you to think it was your fault."

"It is my fault—"

"No, it's not. You saved the world. And you took care of me. The way you always do. The way you promised my mum."

"A man doesn't take care of a woman, and leave bruises on her body." He looked down, and she felt the touch of his stare on her skin as real as a caress.

Her heart pounded in her chest and she had to stare up at the ceiling for a few moments rein in the chaotic emotions swarming in her stomach. It wasn't the first time Rose had felt a 'jolt' at the Doctor's touch… but this was the first time they were so… she was so…underdressed.

When she thought she could speak clearly, she lowered her chin and looked at him again. "You warned this was dangerous. I'm bound to get a bump or bruise now and again, yeah?"

He stared at her, but didn't answer, his lips set tight together. She had seen the same look in the vaulted room, and looking back, she realized it was when he warred with himself about what to do.

"What about you?" she asked, laying her hand on his chest. "You all right?"

"Right as rain," he said quickly. He raised his hand from her side and laid it against her cheek, smiling. "Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, I think I am."

"Come on, then. We'll see what we've got," he said, standing. The bed bounced with his departure. "I know we have some lovely bananas."

"Could I maybe get dressed first?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.

In a flash, it was like he suddenly remembered that she was half dressed and lying in her bed. If she didn't know better, Rose would have sworn the Doctor's ears turned bright red.

"Oh, well, yeah, of course. I'll just be waiting outside, then." He clapped his hands together then jerked his thumb over his shoulder towards the door.

Rose threw back the blanket and lowered her feet to the floor. He had left her pants on, but she managed to find a pair of shoes to slip on her stocking feet. She opened the door to the walnut armoire in the corner of the room and pulled out a shirt, glancing in the large oval mirror atop her matching bureau. Something caught her eye, and she stepped back, turning to face the mirror full on.

She had to squint, and the light in the room was dim enough to make it hard to see, but as she ran her fingertips across her stomach she could swear she saw the perfect outline of his hand glowing softly on her skin. Rose met her own eyes in the mirror, staring hard.

Just what did he do?