Title: Hang On

Author: Gail R. Delaney

Series: The Unseen and In Between

Settings: During Parting of the Ways

Summary: If she could have seen the future, she never would have let go.

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

Rating: Anyone

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The strong, sturdy walls of the TARDIS muffled the echoing, frenzied cries of the Daleks outside… Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

Jack ran to the control console, immediately engaging switches and entering controls. He'd become nearly as good as the Doctor in manipulating the ship, although he wasn't nearly as creative about it. Rose stopped at the top of the ramp, turning to look back, and her chest immediately tightened.

Her Doctor stood at the door, his hands wrapped around the handles so tightly his knuckles were white, and his forehead rested on the whitewashed wood. From the moment she had woken on the Dalek ship, and saw the enemy they faced, she knew what this would do to him. She had seen far too well how just facing a single Dalek in Utah had torn him apart… what was an entire army doing to him?

She went back down the ramp, keeping her steps quiet so she didn't attract Jack's attention. Let him do what he needed. Rose stopped behind the Doctor and laid one hand on his back, the other on his arm, and laid her cheek against the leather of his sleeve.

"Doctor," she said softly.

He turned sharply, and before Rose could take a breath, he had her back against the door, his hands on her face and his mouth over hers, kissing her so deeply and desperately all she could do was hang on. He held her so close, pressed between him and the door, that all she could manage was to curl her fingers into the front of his jacket, her arms pinned between them.

Even when his lips stilled, he didn't pull away but slid his cheek along hers, his mouth hovering near her ear. "I wanted to do that from the second you were back on board."

"Why didn't you?" she said softly, trying to catch her breath.

"Didn't want to make the Captain jealous."

Humor laced his words, but his voice was too heavy and too tense to convince her that he was okay. He was hiding, trying to make her believe this was nothing – that he was fine with facing the Daleks, the killers of his people, once again. The air hummed with the TARDIS engines, and Rose felt the slight vibration through the wall behind her as they left the Dalek ship. In Space again, a small bit of the tension that enveloped him eased away, but only enough to let him pull back and look into her face.

Rose studied him, saw the attempt at a cocky grin, but his eyes… his eyes were so dark. Distant. He dropped his gaze and looked down her body as much as he could without putting more distance between them, and slid his hands down her arms to wrap her fingers in his.

"You all right then? They didn't hurt you?"

She nodded. "I'm fine. Just scared."

"No need. You're with me."

Rose smiled and slipped one hand free to touch his face. His eyes shifted to look into hers again. The Doctor covered her hand with his, turning into her touch to kiss her skin.

"I promised, remember? I'll always take care of you, Rose. No matter what."

"We take care of each other, Doctor."

He smiled and nodded. "Yes, we do, Rose." The Doctor touched her face, stroking his thumb across her lips and cheekbones, his gaze following the path of his touch. "You've done more than you'll ever know."

"Doctor… you're worrying me."

"Don't be," he said quickly, his gaze never leaving her lips. "No need to worry. You know me… always find the way out, none the worse for wear. Have you home for tea, nice visit with your mother."

"Now you really have me worried… offerin' to go see my mum?"

His eyes finally shifted up so he looked at her, and he smiled, but the smile never reached his eyes. "You're beautiful."

Rose blinked at the sudden change in topic.

"I thought you were dead. I thought they killed you right in front of me."

She attempted a seductive grin, even though her heart ached in her chest and her throat was tight. "When this is done, I'll show you how alive I am."

The darkness shifted back into his eyes, and Rose immediately pushed up on her toes and kissed him, refusing to release the kiss until she felt him let go, felt him give in to the power of the touch. His arms wrapped around her again, pressing into her back. Rose slipped her arms beneath his jacket and let her hands slide beneath the hem of his jumper to find his skin. His jacket hid her movements from Jack — not that she was ashamed of touching her Doctor — but, touching him was her way of finding solid ground, and connecting with him in a way just her kiss would not. Her palms instinctively found the sweet spots on his back that allowed her to feel the dual beat of his hearts, and she hummed against his lips.

I love you.

She wanted to say it, but somehow knew that he wasn't ready to accept it. So, she tried to put into the kiss everything she couldn't say.

Jack cleared his throat, the sound echoing in the silence of the control room. "We're landing on Satellite Five."

Even then, the Doctor didn't pull back, but kissed her until the piston fell quiet and the light shifted in the chamber, letting them know the engines were at rest. His lips stilled over hers, staying there for several beats of her pounding heart, before he finally broke the contact.

"Ready?" he said softly in the space between them.

"As I'll ever be."

The Doctor took a step back, his hand finding hers so she would follow. He looked over his shoulder to where Jack stood at the top of the ramp. With a nod from Jack, the Doctor opened the door and strode into a control room lit slightly in blue.

"Turn everything up," he ordered as he strode confidently toward a panel of controls. All transmissions, wide open, full power. Now! Do it!"

The game was on again…

He promised her he would take care of her. He promised everything would be okay. But, she promised she would take care of him, too. No matter what. She watched him take over the control room, snapping orders and making demands as if the moments before in the TARDIS hadn't happened… his weakness and fear — so clear to her — no longer existed. He was The Doctor. The Oncoming Storm. The Stuff of Nightmares to the Daleks. And he would make them burn.

Rose swallowed the lump of tears that choked her.