Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Disclaimer: Not mine. Doctor Who belongs to the BBC. The poem and name of the story belongs to Robert Frost. Nothing but some wonderful feedback to gain, by some wonderful readers – hopefully. (hint, hint)

A.N: Just some rather nice... fluffy/angsty stuff. Think of it as an Xmas present... because I'm honestly not sure I'll be updating before the 25th of December. -sigh- Ah, well, you never know. Enjoy anyway. Merry Christmas (this isn't remotely Christmas-y, but Merry Christmas anyway if you celebrate it) And don't for get to review. Set just after 'The Idiots Lantern'.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
-- Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

~ – – – ~

It is ever so peaceful. She's not asleep yet, but she very nearly could be. Her thoughts have wondered, full of featureless faces, sucking, hungry televisions sets and a mad, grinning Doctor hugging her tightly, and now she's slipping deep into slumber, into dreams...

"Rose?" His voice cuts through the peace of sleep; though, true, rather softly.

For several seconds she says nothing, knowing he is right next to her, right behind her. He's on her bed and he wasn't when she climbed into it; but, still, she says nothing for a few moments. Her eyes stay closed, not willing to leave the sanctuary of the nearly-sleep she is slipping out of, quite yet.

When he repeats her name and his breath catches and blows against her neck, she knows she cannot ignore him anymore.

"Rose is sleeping," she whispers finally into her pillow, still without opening her eyes.

"Really?" His voice is thrumming right by her ear. It's hoarse, gentle and very close. "Well, she's a brilliant one for speaking in her sleep. I didn't know you could do that, Rose."

There is a pause and Rose's position – curling into her protective, sleepy ball; hands under the pillow; and head pushing down onto the soft cushion – don't change, but her eyes open slowly and all she can see in her line of sight is her room in the TARDIS.

She smiles just slightly. "Did I ever tell you, Doctor? Sarcasm really doesn't work on you – specifically this new you. Best not try it again, yeah?"

He chuckles by her ear, a sound rough and soft at the same time, sending shivers down her spine. "I'll keep that in mind," he says quietly. After a moment: "Rose? Aren't you going to turn around?"

There is a pause and she feels him shift position. His body is separated from her by the quilt of her bed – he is on top of the covers whilst she is under them, that much she knows – but he is still warm, his chest and arms touching her back.

Finally, she cannot take it anymore. Rose stretches her legs and rolls over to face the Doctor. He is smiling, and for a moment that's all she can see: his cocky grin. His eyes are dancing and his mouth is stretching so wide she is surprised he doesn't swallow his ears. His head is resting on the palm of his hand, his elbow perching on the pillow. Fully clothed, in his pinstriped suit and converses, Rose has absolutely no idea what he's doing here. Not that she really knows what he would be doing in here without the clothes – him being alien and the Doctor and everything – though she probably wouldn't say no to finding out.

"You're in my bed," she tells him simply, with an eyebrow rising.

"Am I?" He makes an effort to look surprised.

Rose looks stern, though her lips twitch. "You're being sarcastic again."

The Doctor wrinkles his nose. "Oh. So I am."

There is a heavy silence as they stare at each other. Until Rose cannot stand it anymore. "Well? What're you doing here? In my bed? When you know I haven't even dropped off to sleep yet?"

The Doctor sighs heavily, his banana breath blowing across Rose's cheeks and into her mouth. "I was bored," he announces.

"You were bored?" Rose repeats incredulously. "You climbed into my bed, woke me up and started prattling away in your sarcastic little way, because you were bored?"

"Yep!" The Doctor grins at her, but it falls away when he sees her face. "What's wrong with that?" he asks defensively, his voice turning a higher notch.

Rose shakes her head and turns back around. "Nothing. 'Course. Now, you go entertain yourself, I'm tired. Night." She lays her head back down on the pillow and her eyes shut; it's still not enough to cut out the Doctor's voice though, or the heat of his body against her back.

"Aw, Rose, c'mon. Don't be like that," she hears him moan.

"I'm not being like anything. I'm sleeping," she replies smartly, trying to ignore the Doctor's hand that has suddenly snaked it's way onto her shoulder. "Don't you have some repairs to do?" she mumbles into her pillow, one eye opening curiously as the hand brushes over her neck and into her hair.

"No – well, I suppose – but not really... recalibrating is as good as done and the temporal synthesizer is alright... well... it's not, but you know what I mean..." he trails off, leaning over her, his voice catching her cheek. She doesn't know what he means at all, and she thinks he knows she doesn't.

His hands are running across the top of her neck, brushing over her hairline almost absentmindedly. She supposes he is doing it either to get what he wants – for Rose to stay up for a while with him – or because he likes the feel of her skin and doesn't understand the effect it's having on her.

Either way, Rose feels herself falling to mush right there in the bed.

Both her eyes close for a moment before she gives in. "Alright," she croaks, "alright, I'm awake."

She rolls back over, forcing the Doctor to cease exploring her neck and hair any longer. The Doctor gives her another one of those ear splitting grins of his. "Good. It won't be half an hour, I swear. Then you can get back to your beauty sleep."

He starts talking then. Actually, talking isn't really the word. Babbling, and gibbering and spurting her information at sixty miles an hour works better. He has surprised her lately. He seems to enjoy talking to her as much as he enjoys finding trouble on remote planets in far away galaxies. Though she does wonder if this body has some sort of wager to see how many words he can fill a single day with. It's probably something he'd do to pass the time.

"And the food, Rose – really, like nothing you've ever tasted. There's these little cake-like things they have there; melon, and gravy, and rhubarb, and beef, and absolutely every flavor you can imagine! Including banana," he adds proudly, as if that in its own right is a thing of utter brilliance.

Rose's eyes are only half open, but to please him she gives mumbled words of "hmm," and "uh-huh," when he pauses for breath, only snapping open her eyes when she hears the Doctor's voice becoming louder and a little more than peeved right by her ear.

"Huh?" She turns sharply to him.

"You haven't been listening to a word I just said, have you?" He sounds rather affronted.

"Uhm. Bananas?" Rose takes a flying chance. He talks about bananas about half of the time anyway so she figures she has at least a 50% chance of being right.

The Doctor glares at her for a moment, before turning away, muttering something that sounds suspiciously like "lucky guess," under his breath.

Rose smiles secretly, mumbling a sure "predictable," in a sing-song voice under her own breath.

"Why don't I just speak to the wall, or the headboard?" the Doctor puffs indignantly. "Might get a better response."

Rose bites her top lip to stop herself laughing at the way he looks ready to just about roll his eyes. "Ah, Doctor, I was listening; promise. You talk; I'm listening. Go on, blather away." She closes her eyes again, her head back on the pillow, nose facing the ceiling.

There's a pause as Rose imagines the Doctor opening his mouth to begin his ramble. But a sigh comes instead. "Oh, what's the point if you aren't listening?"

Rose frowns and her eyes open. She turns onto her side to stare at the Doctor, who is laid on top of the covers on his back, staring determinedly up at the ceiling with an stern, distant, and far away look in the pools of his deep eyes.

She stares at him for a while, and wonders if he even knows she's watching or believes her eyes to still be closed. "Doctor?" she says quietly.

He looks to her sharply, and his suddenly startled eyes are enough to answer her question. "Oh, want me to fill the silence now?" he chirps sarcastically.

Rose shrugs and turns back over, onto her back. "What's the point?" she asks before she can stop herself. "You can talk and talk... but you never actually say anything anyway. So... what's the point?"

She wants to take the words back as soon as she's said them. But they're out now. The words dance between them, echoing and chanting, and Rose has to turn her back to the Doctor, because she knows he knows exactly what the words mean.

The Doctor often talks... and talks.... and talks. But all he is really doing in throwing information; information, random facts, questions... he spurts them all at her like she's taking an exam in the wheres and whens of the universe. But he never really talk-talks. She knows nothing about this man, this man she lives with, spends all her time with; her best friend, her companion, her family, her Doctor. Her life.

He never speaks of his past, of his future. Of the people he knew, and the people he wants to know. Of how he feels, and what he dreams.

She knows nothing about him, and he knows absolutely everything about her. And sometimes, that is enough to drive her insane.

"Right," he says, and though she cannot see him she knows the mask of total indifference and resignation is fitted across his features. The bed moves and she feels the heat of his body leave, his position upright and ready to climb over her off of the bed. But she suddenly realizes she isn't ready for him to go yet.

"Wait," she calls softly, sitting up. He looks back at her, one foot already propped on the floor, his legs on top of hers, the duvet between them. "Where are you going?" she asks quietly, pleading with her eyes.

He smiles tightly. "You wanted your sleep," he reminds her gently. He then proceeds to slip off of the bed, straightening his suit and starting towards the door.

Rose is now sitting fully up in bed, staring at his retreating back. "I'm sorry," she says quickly after him. "You were right." He looks back at her questioningly and she smiles. "I wasn't really listening before," she laughs quietly, "but I'm right too, because you really don't talk." He looks disapproving again, but she quickly adds, "But you don't have to."

"Oh?" He stares at her, frowning.

Rose tilts her head and grins at him, leaning back slightly. "Even though you never talk about you, I think I still know lots about you actually."

He's intrigued and sensing the mood change back, she can tell. He folds his arms across his chest and takes a single step forward. "Really?" He's cautious and teasing at the same time. "What's that then?"

Rose shakes her head, all tiredness now forgotten as she sits up and gazes, eyes bright and alert, at him. She pats the space beside her. "You gotta come back to bed first." She doesn't realize how her words sound – kind of domestic, with a hidden meaning – until they're out of her mouth.

The Doctor hesitates only for a single second before taking the three long strides back to her bed. Climbing back over Rose on the duvet again, he lays back on the pillow and looks on at Rose questioningly. "Well?" he prompts when all she does is stare at him.

Rose takes her eyes over his face, taking in each delicate, handsome and angular feature. She sighs slightly and lays back to look at the ceiling. "Well," she begins, "there's the obvious," she turns her head to him, "like, you love bananas. You love almost all tea, but herbal is your favorite. You like chips with salt, but not vinegar. You love apple crumble, but don't really like apple pie. You don't like spicy foods, but you can love chille when it's 'just right'. You love marmalade and jam and chocolate spread, and even peanut butter, simply because it allows you to use your fingers. You hate it when I use the butter knife to spread my jam. You love chocolate almost, but not quite, as much as me. You detest pears." She pauses, watching the Doctor's small smile and slight crease of his brow as he listens. She smiles, "And that's just the food."

He nods. "That's just the food," he echoes, and waits, clearly expecting more.

She swallows, ready to get a little more personal and hoping he is too. "You sleep about every four to six days – give or take. You have a little trouble with numbers and counting when it comes to lists." She smiles slightly at the look on his face, but knows the next statement will more than make up for it. "You're clever; cleverer than anyone I've ever, ever known." She then winces as she imagines his head growing even bigger, but carries on regardless. "You love reading, and spend lots of time whilst I'm asleep in the library. You – you're –" she stops suddenly, a little afraid.

He watches, his face directly in front of hers, staring intently and listening so hard, eyes ablaze with incredible surprise, pride and affection. And then he seems to sense what's coming, and she can see the coming fear, but he is either unwilling or unable to stop it.

"You're lonely," she states quietly, in a voice that is small, detached and unlike her own. "You've lost everyone and everything you've ever known. You're... you're eating yourself with this," she pauses slightly and frowns, her eyes far away, "this guilt. This terrible, gut gnawing guilt that just about drives you insane."

He swallows heavily, staring and seemingly almost disbelieving at her total accuracy. His face controls his emotion, she knows, or is at least trying to. But something is breaking, his walls are cracking, and the flood of fear, loneliness and the risen guilt are beginning to touch his features. She carries on regardless; has to now, afraid this chance will never come again.

Then she looks straight at him, an inflicting emotion of anguish, remorse and affection radiating her eyes. "And you're running," she whispers sadly. "Running and running away from it all. Hoping it'll get better. Hoping it'll stop hurting. But it doesn't. And it's just as much of a burden now as it was before. And... you're so tired of it."

He's shaking now; she can feel the bed vibrating a little beneath her. With instinct, she reaches for his hand by his side, bringing it by her head, touching her cheek. His teeth are locked, his eyes cut through her like an icy knife with each wave of emotion that passes through them. His hand is clammy in her grasp, and much warmer than usual. He is hurt and breaking, and she feels him reach for her as she wraps her arms around his body.

She is not aware of the tears in her eyes until they are sliding down her cheeks.

He is shaking. And it is with such terrible pain and ache of his loss, that she feels the guilt take her because she knows she's a part of this. She knows she has just brought it all to the surface; she has caused him part of that pain. And she meant to. Because she was selfish and needy, and wanted him to understand that she was here for him to cry on. Because she hated to see him bottle it up all the time and knew he needed to let it out. Because she wants him to lean on her like she sometimes leans on him, if only for a minute or two.

And she's sorry. So very sorry.

When he leans back away from the hug, away from her, his eyes are hard and unforgiving, and Rose is suddenly fearful. She has taken it too far. She has stepped over, jumped upon and shouted at the defining line of their friendship between them. He stares at her, and when he speaks his voice is small but very hard. "So, you think you know me," he states.

Rose takes a heavy breath and shakes her head. "No," she whispers. "Not really. I'm not saying I understand any of it. I'm not saying it's all there, written in stone. And I know there's much more... behind those eyes... than I've said. But it's still true," she shies away slightly, and her eyes close briefly, "I'm sorry, but it's true."

He stares at her for a good ten seconds, his eyes like an x-ray, studying her with an intense electricity. "You're wrong," he finally says hoarsely.

She is surprised, not expecting him to disagree. Cover it up maybe; shout at her to lay off, out of his business perhaps; maybe even to break down; but not to deny it.

"Because it's not," he says, and she frowns at him questioningly, not knowing what he's referring to. "It's not like that so much anymore. It's not so much like when we first met anymore," he elaborates quietly. So quiet she has to lean into him on the bed to hear, their bodies touching and his face inches from hers. "It's better now," he whispers. And there is a heavy pause. "It's better now because of you."

She stares at him with wider eyes, her lips parting with expressed wonder.

"You've made it better, Rose," he says so gently, so quietly. He has never before looked so fragile or so old. "You've... made me better. And I'm sorry I never thanked you for that before."

Rose takes her hand out of his and places it on his cheek, noting coolness and softness of his handsome, yet alien, skin that usually looks so human. "I'm sorry too," she whispers.

He brings her close and she leans against his chest, hearing the double throb of his heart beats. She feels his lips dampen her hair as he kisses her brow. As he leans down to do so again, she lifts her head. He stops and their eyes lock for a supreme moment before he leans down and gently kisses her on the mouth once, softly caressing her lips with his own for a moment before leaning back and speaking thickly. "You should... sleep. You're tired."

Rose nods, smiling up at him for a moment and understanding, before leaning back onto his chest. Her eyelids flutter for a few seconds and she wonders sluggishly if the Doctor will sleep tonight. A moment later, as she feels him bring her closer, she knows he won't. The only reason he came in here tonight was to be near her. And now he has all night to. He needs her. And as his arms wrap tighter around her, and she snuggles closer to him, her breath tickling his neck, she knows she needs him just as much.