Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who, but I'll buy it for a quarter.
Thanks: To JennyLD for the beta and making me look to this song for a prompt for angst, and... for all the lots and lots of feelings she poured into this fic. Strong feelings.
Prompt: Ply her heart with gold and silver, take your sweetheart down to the river, dash her on the paving stones, it may break your heart to break her bones but someone's got to do the culling of the fold -- Culling of the Fold by The Decemberists
The Doctor woke up, a light sheen of sweat forming on his body. His breath left him in short, desperate pants, the empty, lonely feeling inside him swirling through his veins and muscles and flesh before taking hold of his hearts. They thumped slowly, out of time with one another for a few beats before synching up again.
The terror and panic that held him in its thrall began to loosen its grip centimeter by centimeter.
A body moved beside him and he closed his eyes, seeing blonde hair and a wide, beautiful smile. Dark brown eyes danced behind his lids as a teasing voice floated toward him. It was her again. Rose Tyler.
Rose Marion Tyler, daughter of Peter Allen Tyler and Jacqueline Suzette Tyler. Only child. Ex-lover of Mickey Smith.
Figment of the Doctor's imagination.
So, he couldn't have left her behind on a planet whose name he couldn't remember, under a night sky that she'd never seen before.
He held his breath a moment longer, grasping desperately at the image as it began to fade away. The beautiful young girl that he loved with both hearts was dissipating before his eyes, slipping away as easily as a breath of warm air in a chilly breeze.
Breathing out as the last of the girl disappeared, he opened his eyes and turned to the woman beside him.
Dark blonde hair fell over her forehead as she shifted closer to him, her bare skin pressing against his. She warmed him in the aftermath of the dream. She always did. He lo-- cared about her for that. Reaching out a hand, he brushed her hair from her face, revealing eyes that blinked at him as her wide mouth curved into a pleasant smile.
"Morning," she whispered, voice husky from sleep. Her hand closed the distance between them and settled on his chest.
His smile was slow in forming, the vestiges of his dream still there, drifting further and further away, but still playing at the edges of his memory. He thought maybe he'd be able to figure it out this time. That it would stay with him long enough for him to grasp. "Morning, R--"
A golden light flashed up between them, warming his skin and chest. He arched away from her touch as it began to sear him, eyes widening before settling on her face, seeing a smirk forming, growing wider than her smile. There was a sparkle of something similar to metal as she pulled her hand free and slid it back under the covers.
The Doctor closed his eyes as calm soared through him, sweeping and brushing out all the cobwebs and uncertainty. Happiness curled around his hearts and flowed into his bones. Ah! Another day on the TARDIS with the woman he loved. Exploring planets and species and having adventures. Life was good.
Turning to his lover, he grinned and smacked a kiss on her lips. She smiled back, playing with the hairs on his chest. A fleeting memory danced out of reach and flitted away. "Well, come on!" he told her, jumping from bed to stare down at her. "Can't sleep the day away."
She stretched and yawned, watching him with a pout. "Can too."
"Well, technically, you could," he agreed, stepping into his trousers. "But why would you want to?"
She moaned and relaxed, tossing the covers back, baring her naked body to his gaze. Why, he wondered, wasn't it enough to entice him back to bed? It wasn't hard to resist, and he thought, as he always did, that it was odd that he didn't want to touch her in the mornings. Shrugging his shoulders, he buttoned his shirt and tried to think of somewhere new to take her.
In just a few hours, he knew, he wouldn't be able to keep his hands off her.
He rounded the bed and grabbed her hand, yanking her up to her good-natured complaints. "I swear, River, you're the laziest companion I've ever had."
Rose drew her legs up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her ankles. Staring up at the night sky, she wondered if he was still out there. Did he ever think of her beyond his dreams? Did he even remember her?
Hearing the strains of distant music, she climbed wearily to her feet and brushed off her bottom.
It didn't matter anymore. The Doctor was gone, off having adventures with Professor River Song: archeologist. And alien. She'd never see him again, unless he somehow managed to break free from River's hold, but she no longer had hopes of that happening.
With a heavy heart, she walked slowly down the hill to her home. Taking one last look at the stars, she hoped he was out there somewhere, and that he wasn't alone, before going inside to the party. You'd think birthdays were a once in a century event on this planet. It still amazed her how jovial these people were. Her people now. She was one of the Helorean people now and this was her planet too.
Sighing, she opened the door, smiling at all the people crammed into her home, laughing and talking and dancing. They cheered as she entered and she thought to herself that maybe ninety wasn't too old to celebrate life.