They only stopped twice on the way back to the TARDIS for some frantic, groping, and breathless kisses. And the Doctor praised himself for his control. He dropped to one knee in front of Rose after their second snog against a tree, and helped her slip the ankle-breaking shoes off her stocking-clad feet. As she stepped onto the cool grass, she groaned, and the sound shot through him with the intensity of an electrical shock.

The snog when he stood, brushing his body the entire length of hers until his mouth found hers, still counted as the second stop as far as he was concerned.

He was engrossed by the way the moon lit her hair as they took the last corner to the TARDIS, so he had to look when Rose stopped short and whispered. "Doctor."

The Doctor stopped short, his attention shifting to follow her line of sight to the TARDIS… and the open TARDIS door with the light from inside spilling out onto the grass in a wide triangle.

He pushed her away from the TARDIS, reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket for his sonic screwdriver. "Stay here," he whispered. "Rose, stay here."

She nodded, her eyes wide in the moonlight. The Doctor approached the TARDIS from the closed door side, keeping his back to the wood. When he reached the opening, he slowly eased his way to look inside. The console room was quiet, and appeared empty from his point of view.

Keeping the screwdriver at his side, he stepped in, scanning the space. It wasn't until he was half way up the ramp that he saw his visitor. And his hearts seized at the sight. Young Adric of Alzarius stood on the other side of the console, his head topped back staring at the ceiling where the engine pistol chamber disappeared.

The Doctor put the screwdriver away, and walked slowly up the ramp so as to not startle the young boy. He took a moment to take in the boy's face. Brown hair in desperate need of a cut, his school uniform smudged and dirty from their many adventures.

And alive.

"Adric," he said softly.

Adric jumped and backed away, hitting his back against one of the coral supports. "Who are you? Did you do this to the TARDIS?"

The Doctor held his hands up as he stepped closer. "It's all right, Adric. Listen to me." Adric's eyes darted as he looked around, probably trying to find the best way to get around the Doctor and out of the foreign ship. Foreign to him, at least in this form. "Adric," he said more firmly. "Are you listening? I'm the Doctor."

Adric's stare snapped back to him. "Don't be stupid."

"I know you don't know this about me yet, but Time Lords change. We regenerate. I'm another version of the Doctor that you are traveling with right now. You've found my TARDIS. We just happened to be at the same place at the same point in time." He rattled the information off, hoping Adric didn't bolt before he got it all out. "You are Adric from Alzarius in E-Space, a universe different than this one. You found my TARDIS while fleeing the Mistfall, and you stowed away. How would I know that if I wasn't the Doctor?"

Adric's shoulders dropped and he released a puff of air as if he'd been holding his breath. "Where is the proper Doctor?"

The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Why is it everyone insists that the face they know is the only 'proper' face?"

The door creaks slightly, and the Doctor looks over his shoulder as Rose peeks inside. "And why is it no one ever listens when I say stay here and don't wander off?"

"I heard you talking and figured it was safe." Rose walked up the ramp, but he noted that she kept her distance. At least something he said had stuck with her. "Hello. I'm Rose."

Adric didn't answer, staring at Rose with wide eyes and an open mouth. The Doctor couldn't blame the boy… he was practically still an adolescent and Rose looked especially beautiful tonight. She would draw the attention of any male of any race in any century. The Doctor cleared his throat.

"Rose Tyler, meet Adric. Adric, this is Rose. She travels with me now." He winced internally at the generality of the explanation, but Rose didn't even look his way.

"Pleased to meet you," Adric stuttered out. Then he looked back to the Doctor. "Where am I? And Nyssa and Tegan?"

The Doctor dipped his chin, avoiding looking directly at Adric when he answered. "It's been, for me, hundreds of years since you traveled with me. You…" He had to tamp down the guilt that was a bitter bite in the back of his throat. "Left me a long, long time ago."

Rose closed the space between herself and Adric, laying a hand on his arm. "You all right?"

He nodded. "Just confused. I don't like being confused."

"And it's not something that happens very often," the Doctor said, angling his words to Rose but intending them fully for Adric's benefit. "Adric is a clever young man. One of the cleverest companions I've ever had."

Adric smiled, and some of the guilt released.

"Come on, then. Let's step outside and see if we can get you home." The Doctor turned down the ramp, Rose and Adric following. "You can tell me that you saw me, but giving the details of the ship won't help convince me. Since I am the future of myself and thus don't know what I am doing yet."

"Doctor, do you have any idea how confusing that is?" Rose said with a chuckle.

"Makes perfect sense to me."

"It would," she mumbled, and he heard the two of them chuckle behind him. The idea of them getting on pleased him, why he wasn't sure.

"Right then," he said, stepping into the evening air. He adjusted the setting on the screwdriver to 14 and held it straight over his head, pressing the button. The screwdriver hummed and the light atop the TARDIS swirled bright blue.

Past the trees a similar light lit up the night sky. "There you are! Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning… or… until you find the TARDIS."

"Thank you, Doctor." Adric started into the darkness, but turned back. "I'm glad to have met you. I should think I would have enjoyed traveling with you."

"I think so, too." Rose waved.

"Adric," the Doctor called after him before he disappeared into the night. "I know I don't say it, but I'm quite proud of you." He was proud of himself for refusing to let his voice waver at all. Or perhaps not at all, because Rose's attention shifted to him. He felt her watching him in the light of the console room. "Very proud."

Adric ran out into the darkness, following the pulsing blue light of the other TARDIS, and the Doctor figured Teeth and Hair would be trying to figure out why his proximity locator unit was beeping. He listened for awhile to the rustle of foliage as Adric moved away, and Rose joined him at his side, taking his hand.

"What happens to him?"

"He dies," he managed to say. "He dies trying to save Earth. I would guess not long from now."

Rose wrapped her hands around his arm, resting her cheek against his sleeve. "And you couldn't tell him. I'm sorry."

He sucked in a sharp breath through his teeth. "Yes! Well… time we're off before anyone else mistakenly wanders into the wrong TARDIS, ey?"

Inside, the Doctor moved to the navigation system to initiate re-entry into the Vortex, but paused with his hand near the controls. He looked over his shoulder at Rose, who leaned against the jump seat.

"I believe we were in the middle of a lesson," he said, reaching a hand out to her. Rose smiled and took it, letting him gentle guide to the space between him and the console. The silk of her dress slid against him and he angled his body with hers to whisper in her ear.

"Do you remember what I said? You have to feel her…"

He slid his hand down her leg until he reached the hem of her dress, drawing it back up her thigh until he felt the lace of her stockings. Rose hissed, tipping her head back and arching her back so her bottom pressed into his lap.

He used both hands then to finish drawing the skirt up over her bottom to reveal the sheer lace of her knickers. They covered just enough to entice, and oh boy, were they enticing! Her body threw off heat, and her breath hitched as he ran his hands over her skin, gripping her hips to pull her hard against him.

"Doctor!" she cried out.

The Doctor groaned, reached around her, and threw the dematerialization switch, thrusting them into the Vortex. He circled her waist to draw her back flush against him to kiss her neck and the exposed skin of her shoulder.

"We'll continue this later."

Rose nodded, and groaned a soft "Uh huh" before he swept her up and carried her out of the console room.