A Time to Heal

By: Tallulah

Rose awoke in darkness to a throbbing headache. She groaned and rolled over, pressing her flushed face into a cool spot on her pillow, willing the throbbing behind her eyes to subside. The Doctor had warned her that it would take a few days before she started feeling like herself again. He hadn't been kidding. She felt like she'd been hit by a freight train.

She threw off the covers. Even in just a light pair of pajama pants and a camisole, she felt warm and sticky, her body feverish, no doubt more after-effects of the venom that had come so close to ending her short life three days ago.

Traveling with the Doctor was a danger, she'd known that from the start. Racing through space and time on a whim, interfering when it was required, barely escaping with their lives on many a breathless occasion; she expected that kind of danger. What she didn't expect was the inherent risk in the mundane, the every day things that could end a life as quickly as any maddening horde or alien attack – the ordinary. After all of their adventures in space and time, skipping just ahead of peril at all times, Rose Tyler had nearly been taken out on a distant world…by a common desert pest.

They had been running hand in hand for the Tardis, grinning madly as they slowly outdistanced their pursuers and she had tripped. Something as insignificant as a small rock buried just so in the sand, and it sent her sprawling, wrenching her hand from the tight grip the Doctor held on it. She cried out as she fell, hearing the Doctor shout for her, "Rose!"

"I'm alright," she started to say, throwing a smile over her shoulder to let him know she was okay, already half pushing herself up, ready to start running again, when she felt it, a sharp pain in the palm of her hand that immediately began to burn its way up her arm. Puzzled, she looked down to see a small creature, no bigger than a mouse, it's colorful scales glinting in the sunlight as it made awkward tracks in the sand, a vicious looking stinger curled malignantly over it's back. Turning her hand over, she could make out the ragged edges of the wound, already an angry red against the unnatural paleness of her hand. Her vision began to blur and her pulse raced. She looked up at the Doctor, nothing more than an indistinct shape, dark against the brilliance of the sky behind him and said, "Doctor?", before the world went black and she knew no more.

Sound and sensation washed over her. A large shape loomed and she thought she should be afraid, but wasn't. Her mind called it 'the Doctor' and wanted to reach out, but her body resisted. A voice followed her as she fell away again, fierce, "I will not lose you, Rose Tyler. You keep fighting. Do you hear me?"

She wanted to tell him yes, yes she heard him, and yes she would fight for him, for him, anything, but she was gone again.

She had woken in stages, drifting in and out of consciousness, floating ever closer to waking until finally her eyes fluttered open and she was back. Disorientation claimed her momentarily, and she fought down panic until the room suddenly resolved itself and she knew where she was, the medical facility on the Tardis. She lay on the raised exam table, the crisp white sheets tucked firmly around her. The heavy weight against her side proved to be the Doctor himself. He was sitting in the chair next to her bed, leaning forward with his head pillowed in his arms, one hand wrapped possessively around her own, fast asleep. Rose lifted her other hand and placed it carefully on top of his head. She brushed her hand through his close-cropped hair, smiling tiredly to herself. "Thank you, Doctor," she whispered softly.

Blue-eyes snapped open and the Doctor was on his feet, "Rose, you're awake!" Emotions warred on his haggard face. Fear, pain, elation and joy battled for dominance as though he couldn't decide what to feel first. He settled for burying his face in her stomach, his arms wrapped tightly around her as he murmured thanks.

A Rangakorian Jeweled Scorpion he had explained. Its venom was fairly harmless to the people of Rangakoria, but lethal when introduced into the delicate metabolism of a human. He spoke about carrying her back to the Tardis, the terror of knowing how deadly the toxin would be if he couldn't get the anti-venom into her soon enough, the two days of waiting, the not knowing if she was going to make it. Rose watched him as he talked; the fear of the last few days still etched on his face. Finally, he had smiled, the anxiety falling away as he flashed a brilliant grin. "I'm so glad you're okay."

"Me too." She smiled back. "Good thing I travel with a Doctor, yeah?"

"Yeah." He reached over and cupped her jaw with a large hand, a lopsided smile on his face. His skin was blessedly cool against her feverish cheek. She turned into his touch, relishing the feel of him as she nuzzled his palm. He had pulled away quickly then, eyes wide.

Shortly afterward, he had given her some pills to help stave off the worst of the headache and then helped her back to her room so she could rest in her own bed. She had complained that she had already been unconscious for the last two days, and wasn't that enough rest? But he had been insistent and by the time she settled onto her pillow she was already half asleep.

She was fully awake now though, and restless from the incessant pounding of her head. Her thoughts lit on the small white bottle of pills that the Doctor had left sitting on the counter when he had brought her back to her room. She considered calling for him, but headache aside, she was tired of being horizontal and was up and out of bed before she could think better of it.

She walked slowly down the dim corridor in her bare feet, the chill from the metal floors a welcome sensation helping to ease the heat that suffused her body. "Note to self," she said shakily, as she made her careful way with one hand on the wall for balance, "No more falling on Rangakorian jeweled scorpions. In fact, maybe that should be a personal motto."

Rounding the corner, Rose wondered idly where the Doctor might have gotten off to. He was normally so boisterous that she need only listen for a few seconds in order to pinpoint his precise location in the ship. The Tardis was silent though, save for the low hum that she always gave off, and the lights along the corridor were more muted than usual as though the ship was trying to spare Rose's headache. Feeling appreciative, she stopped to pat one of the walls fondly, "Thanks," she said softly. The genial background hum kicked up a notch for a moment as though in response, and Rose grinned.

The medical bay was also dim, illuminated only by the blue glow spilling in from the corridor. Unwilling to turn on the harsh overhead lights, Rose felt her cautious way across the room to the counter, feeling for the small bottle that would hopefully give her some respite from the constant dull ache.

"What are you doing out of bed?" The voice came out of the dark and startled Rose so badly she jerked, fingers making contact with the bottle of pills and sending them flying off the counter to rattle to a stop against the wall.

With her heart in her throat, Rose replied, "God! Scare a person, why don't you? I just now recovered from a scorpion sting and here you are trying to give me a heart attack!" Her eyes had adjusted somewhat to the dark and she could see him now, sitting in the same chair he had been in when she awoke, eyes glittering in the gloom. Not for long though. He stood and came towards her.

"You should be in bed."

"I was in bed. I slept. Now I'm awake…and I have a headache."

He started to reach for her across the counter and then stopped himself, something unfathomable crossing his features. "Right." He turned and felt along the wall until he came up with the bottle of pills. Coming around to face her, he held it out but then as she reached for it, pulled back seeming to examine the label in the dark. "You almost died," he said softly.

Rose stood awkwardly in her pajamas and bare feet, unsure of what to say. She didn't know what to make of him, sitting here alone in the dark. "Yes, well, it didn't take," she finally said brightly, hoping to alleviate the strange mood that had descended between them. "You know me. Like a Timex, I am – take a licking and keep on tick…"

She broke off as the Doctor lashed out, throwing the bottle of pills across the room and sending a tray of instruments flying to the metal floor with a crash. "You almost died, Rose!" he shouted, his voice ragged. "I almost lost you!"

"But, you didn't…," she began.

He cut her off with a disgusted laugh. "Ha." He looked up at her, his face carved from stone, some bitter war waging behind steely eyes. His cold blue gaze met hers. "A hundred feet, Rose. If we had been even a hundred feet further away from the Tardis…" He looked away. "Well, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now."

She opened her mouth to reply, but he continued.

"No," he went on, pacing like a cat. "No, instead I'd be at the bleeding Powell Estates, circa 2005, trying to explain to Jackie Tyler why exactly it was that I was bringing her daughter home for her funeral. Why exactly it was that I couldn't keep her safe!"

"But, that wasn't your fault!" Rose exclaimed, shouting to be heard over the crash of more instruments hitting the floor. She had never seen him like this, angry yes, but never like this.

He turned on her suddenly. "Wasn't it?"

"'Course not! What could you have done?"

"Well, for starters," he said grimly, "I could have left you back in you own time, in your own place, where you belonged!" He turned away from her and braced his hands against the counter, shoulders hunched as though he was pushing with all his might.

"No," she said angrily. "No, you don't get to do that. You don't get to talk about leaving me at home like it was your decision. I chose to do this, Doctor. I came with you because I wanted to! Don't you see? I couldn't not come!"

"And it could get you killed." He was calm again, his voice low, but when he turned and met her gaze she took an involuntary step back. His eyes were hard and his face was set. "You think you're so clever, don't you? You think you're so smart, but none of it would have saved you. You could have died Rose." He shook his head slowly. "I'm not afraid of my own death, have thought I would welcome it at times, but I don't think I could bear yours."

He advanced on her as he spoke, crossing the room in carefully measured strides. She hadn't even realized she was moving away from him until her back fetched up against the wall. She wasn't afraid, never afraid, not of him, but his presence was a force, unstoppable and awesome, every inch the Time Lord that he was.

"It wasn't your fault," she reiterated, trying to focus on what she was saying as he closed the distance between them. "It was an accident. Those happen in my time, on my world just like they do in the rest of the universe. What if I had stayed home? They might not have flash Scorpions there, but they have car accidents and disease and just stupid dumb luck. I could die there too you know."

"Not right in front of my eyes," he said quietly, forcefully. "Not while I stood there like a bloody stupid ape and just let it happen…let you fall." His gaze faltered as his voice trailed off.

"But, Doctor," she tried again, tried to get him to see reason, "I just tripped. What could you have done?"

"I don't know!" he thundered. "But it would've been more than just stand there and watch the woman I love nearly die in my arms!"

They faced each other in shocked silence, neither of them daring to breathe. Finally, Rose found her voice, annoyed by how high-pitched and breathy she sounded. "L…love?"

For a moment, he stood frozen, a stricken expression on his face. Then he appeared to come to a decision, bridging the remaining gap between them until she had to tilt her head back to look at him. "Yeah," he said finally. "That alright?"

Mutely, she nodded.

He placed his left hand on the wall next to her and then, slowly, his right. She was boxed in, trapped between his arms. Every movement was careful and deliberate giving her every chance to stop him or move away, every chance to stop this, whatever it was. Her breath hitched in her throat, but she didn't move, didn't so much as blink.

He was so close and so quiet and she didn't think she had ever seen quite that look on his face before, intent and serious. He leaned forward slightly, bringing his head down next to hers, turning his face into her hair and breathing deeply. She felt the cool exhale of his breath against her neck and fought down a shudder, going weak at the warm wash of desire that flooded her body for him.

"Doctor," she said, her voice hoarse. "Wha…"

"Rose, he said softly, "Shut it." He kissed her.

His lips were soft and warm and it only took her a moment to kiss him back. The musk and leather scent of him surrounded her, ratcheting her pulse. Her mouth opened under the gentle pressure of his lips and he tasted her, tracing her lips with his tongue. Tentatively she met him with her own and at the first touch he groaned into her mouth and crushed her to his chest.

She fisted her hands in his shirt beneath the ubiquitous leather jacket, reveling in the feel of his lean body pressed into her own, headache forgotten. His hearts pounded in her ears and she felt it, felt as he poured himself into her mind, the fear and the potential for loss that had marked him. The stark terror of two full days of watching the woman he loved cling to life, and the realization that, for all that he was a Time Lord, for all that he had lived more than 900 years, there was nothing, nothing he could do to save her and it had nearly destroyed him. She gasped under the weight of his anguish and he delved more deeply into her mouth, tongue plundering, meeting hers in a wet, sliding dance that left her panting.

He bore her back against the wall, pinning her hands to her sides as he pressed against her, his arousal hard against her thigh as he kissed a wet trail down her neck. She tugged experimentally at her hands, locked in his vise-grip. He bit down lightly on her shoulder in admonition and she stilled.

He was gentle in his ministrations, and thorough. Running his tongue across her skin, he tasted the tang of her sweat, the flavor that was all her, never easing his grip on her hands. She was forced to stand passively as he licked and nipped and kissed his way across her neck and shoulders, down her chest to the upper swell of her breasts and finally returning to her lips, kissing her deeply before he released her hands and stepped away.

Free from his grip, but less able to move now than she had been a moment ago, Rose stood against the wall, breathing heavily. Her eyes sparkled in the artificial twilight as she watched him. He stood motionless in front of her, waiting.

"Doctor," she said. It wasn't a question or a statement. It was just him.

He moved then, dropping his jacket and pulling his shirt over his head. He was back in front of her in an instant. Tugging off her camisole and pulling her to him, they both gasped at the shock of skin on skin. For a moment neither of them moved as they adjusted to this new intimacy. Rose's body burned in his arms, her heated cheek an ember on his chest. He shuddered as she pressed against him, cooling herself against his body.

Slowly, the Doctor threaded his fingers into Rose's hair, gently forcing her head back to look at him. Her face was still flushed with the heat of her fever, swollen lips half parted as she looked at him breathlessly through heavy lidded eyes.

"Rose," he breathed. It was a whisper, a caress of breath on skin. He lowered his head and kissed her eyelids, dropping a hand from her hair to ghost over her brow, her cheek, her throat, to settle on the taut curve of one perfect breast. Rose let out a trembling sigh and relaxed into his grasp, curving her arms under his shoulders, relying on his strength to keep them steady.

Her trust nearly undid him. With a primal noise that was nearly a growl, he brought his lips back down on hers with bruising force, brushing the pad of his thumb across the sensitive bundle of nerves beneath his hand. She sucked in a breath and he captured it in another kiss. She met his attack evenly, digging her fingers into his back to bring him closer. In wordless reply he pressed into her, positioning himself at the apex of her thighs, glorying in the sweet ache as he rubbed against her with unhurried deliberation.

Dragging out their kiss, he eased her back to soft lips and gentle touches. With one hand still tangled in her hair, he regretfully let the other fall away, trailing across the gentle swell of her stomach to the drawstring on the thin cotton pants she wore. He murmured wordlessly into her hair – reassurance, apology, thanksgiving – and slid beneath her waistband and into the warm, wet heat he found there. Her back arched and she pressed into him with a moan as he found her core. He echoed it as he slid a finger inside her and then another, finding her ready and dripping with need. Blindly, she began to move her hips against the rhythm of his hand. He stilled, disregarding her noise of protest as he withdrew his fingers. Almost involuntarily he brought them to his mouth and sucked them clean as she watched with glassy eyes. It was no show, no exhibition for her benefit. He simply wished to taste her and so he did.

His hand dropped to her waistband again, this time to deftly untie the bow that held the remaining impediment in place. Her pants ballooned to the floor and he helped her step out of them, holding her steady as she wavered. He stepped away from her then, never losing contact, but wanting desperately to take her in.

She was moon-bathed perfection. Everything and more than his imagination had told him she would be. Her pale skin shone in the blue light from the corridor, fair hair a halo on an otherworldly goddess. Her roughly used lips were black in the light, chest heaving as she caught her breath and watched him devour her with sharp eyes. The dusky tips of her breasts were dark against the smooth perfection of her skin and the desire to touch her overwhelmed him. And so he did. He painted her with his hands, brushing lightly across her luminous skin – arms, shoulders, throat, collar, breasts, belly – he traced them each lovingly with long fingers, face lit with awe at her perfection. Finally he rested in his wandering coming to a stop on the rich swell of her hips and looked at her face.

Her eyes were closed, her lips parted as she panted soundlessly for breath. She was beautiful. He had known that from the moment he had first laid eyes on her in a dingy department store basement, had seen with his eyes that she was physically lovely, attractive in shape and form. Now she was beyond description, her face the mainstay of his hearts and mind.

He sank to his knees before her. Wrapping his arms around her thighs to the lower curve of her bottom, he pressed his face into the soft skin of her belly. She opened her eyes in surprise and looked down at him, wide-eyed in the dark. Their eyes held for a moment, wordless across the expanse of her flesh. She opened her mouth as though to speak, but instead merely placed her hand on his head in benediction, and relaxed against the wall, allowing her eyes to once more flutter closed.

Rubbing his cheek across her skin, he reveled in the glorious softness of her, the scent of her arousal calling him inexorably home. Unable to resist such a summons, not from her, he nuzzled lower, smiling softly to himself at her gasp as he brushed the dark curls covering her sex. He bowed his head in supplication then, and worshipped her body with lips, tongue and mouth. She was hot and sweet and Rose and he knew bliss as she sobbed his name.

Everything fell away as he delved into her folds. Existence was reduced to the feel of his warm tongue as he tasted her. Her breathless whimpers echoed through the room, driving his need. He pressed a finger into her, and then a second, never ceasing the slipping, sucking dance of his mouth as he began to move them inside her. She bucked against his hand, desperate to ease the ache building inside of her. Spreading a large hand across the firm globe of her backside, he pulled her close, lapping slowly as he brought her nearer to her crest, refusing yet to let her spill over the other side.

Finally, just as she thought her quivering legs might give out from beneath her, he pulled away and stood. Immediately, he captured her lips in a deep kiss, letting her taste herself on his tongue.

He fitted his hands over the warm pliancy of her breasts, their stiff peaks hard and burning against his palms, and caressed gently. Squirming under his touch, Rose reached for the fastening of his jeans, hands shaking as she fumbled with the buttons.

Never breaking their kiss, the Doctor caught her small fingers in his own and brought her hands to his chest. She laid her palms flat, feeling the strange double beat of his twin hearts, pounding in a sympathetic cadence with her own. He made short work of his jeans, kicking them aside and pressing himself against her once again, relishing the warmth radiating from her heated skin.

He groaned breathlessly at the new contact. As their bodies accustomed to one another, he slowly began to move, his hardness sliding in the hot wetness of her, eliciting tiny, gratifying gasps of pleasure as he ground against her moist center. Skin on skin, sweat dampened flesh tingling, they moved together unconsciously in a timeless dance.

The Doctor found her lips again, licking and biting, gentleness forgotten, plundering her mouth in desperate need. Her body fairly humming for release, Rose reciprocated his ferocity, fingernails biting into the curve of his shoulder. Her desire climbed to a peak, irresistible and demanding. She broke their kiss. "Please," she gasped into his mouth. "Please."

And because he could deny her nothing, he brought each of her hands to his mouth and kissed them before pinning them gently to the wall behind her, trapped in his own. He positioned himself carefully and pushed into her, not daring to breathe until he was fully sheathed, her burning body tight around him. Their eyes were wide as they regarded each other in silent awe. He let out a shuddering breath and closed his eyes. Leaning forward, he kissed her brow softly and pressed his forehead against hers. Slowly he began to move.

Withdrawing from the bliss that was his Rose, he luxuriated in the painful sense of loss that dissipated as soon as he pushed back into her depths. She was fluid and alive against him and he celebrated in the visceral joy of her being as he used his body to worship her.

This woman that he loved, that he would turn time itself inside out for, taught him a new word for joy as they met, again and again, their sweat-slicked bodies straining against one another in the blue-black of the darkened room. He whispered her name like a mantra as he loved her, pouring into her mind as he pressed into her body all those thoughts to which he could put no words, those feelings that demanded release. The flimsy façade of friendly ambivalence that he had built for himself was blown apart by the force of his fear, the grief he had endured at the prospect of losing her. He filled her mind as he filled her body, showing her his love, his fierce desire, the knowledge that she had touched his hearts in a way that no-one else in nine hundred long years of living had been able to do.

Rose's mind whirled at the images flooding her senses, at the depth of emotion he had so long concealed, that her near-death had forced him to face and acknowledge. Letting her mind open to him, she tried inexpertly to show him her heart, to let him see the love she had harbored for him since the beginning. He was her Doctor, and she did her best to show him with the voice of her mind and the adoration of her body how she felt, the all encompassing joy she knew, being held in his arms and loved in return.

With a groan, he let go of her hands, freeing his own to guide her hips. He ran a hand down one lean thigh and brought her knee up to his waist, driving deeper, triumphing in her responding moan.

Rose's arms snaked around his neck, pulling him down for a hot, open-mouthed kiss. She met his thrusts eagerly, angling her hips to accept him, whimpering unconsciously as he drove home, each contact throwing bright sparks behind the lids of her tightly closed eyes. Her head flung back, Rose reached for the burn building deep inside her. Yearning to break, she tightened her hold on the Doctor, wordlessly pleading.

Sensing her need, he coaxed softly, "Come for me, Rose, come for me now" and because he was her Doctor and she trusted him with all else, she gave herself up to him and trusted him with her soul as she finally broke and came gasping in his arms, fever breaking in a warm gush of perspiration. She tightened down on him as he rode out the storm of her completion until at last he lost himself and with a final thrust, spilled inside of her, calling her name at the last.

As the final tremors passed, he lowered them both carefully to the ground, pillowing their bodies against the cold floor on their discarded clothing. He wrapped her in the protective shield of his arms and buried his head in her hair. "Oh, Rose," he said, "I could have lost you."

The sweat of her broken fever cooling on her skin, Rose smiled into his embrace, pressing her lips to the side of his throat. "I'll never leave you, Doctor. You're stuck with me."

"That appears to be true," he replied with a wry smile as they separated with a wet sound. He brushed a hand through her damp, disheveled hair, thrilling in the new freedom to do so. Her skin was flushed, but cooling, the fever having done its job and departed. He was thankful. She would recover fully and be no worse for the wear after her ordeal.

Healing. It took time and it could be dangerous, but it opened doors and gave new eyes to endless possibilities. Rose's fever had ravaged her body and dangled her precipitously on the edge of mortality, but for all its devastation it had fought the poison and won, curing her with fire as it walked the fine line between destruction and healing. Rose's presence worked a similar magic on the Doctor. She caused upheaval and turmoil to his existence, terrifying him with the weight of his love for her, confronting him with the pain of contemplated loss, but slowly she was helping him to mend. As he laid a tender kiss on her brow, his own fever broke, shattering like glass, and he began to let go of the history he could not change, the painful past that had clung to him like a sickness since the Time War. The time for regret and mourning had passed finally and he was ready to heal.

"So, where are we going next Doctor?" Rose asked, voice drowsy as she relaxed bonelessly in his arms. "I didn't think much of Rangakoria – all that sand with no beach… Do you think we could go someplace that was all beach and no sand?"

"Anywhere you want to go," he said with his usual broad grin. "For some reason, I'm in a terribly agreeable frame of mind just now. I do have a strong desire to go back in time and stop the first Rangakorian jeweled scorpion from ever evolving, but I suppose that can wait a bit. After all, what have we got, if not time?"

A/N: I wrote this ages and ages ago, but am just now getting over the all-encompassing embarassment of having actually written it. Hope you enjoyed it. Comments are love!