I realize this update has taken approximately forever. However, to those still following along, I cannot express my gratitude enough, nor can I thank you enough for reading and reviewing. I promise I'm trying to keep everything going at once - which may be the problem. I've been aiming more for art but occasionally the best I can do is omelettes. I don't post those, so everyone's had to wait. Thanks to OV for the beta-reading and hand-holding. Yes, it is starting to feel like I'm writing a lot of this sort of stuff lately. Wonder why?

There IS plot in this chapter, but... -winks- Just say this chapter earns its rating. If that isn't your sort of thing... let me know.

Relics of Eternity

Chapter 7: Timing

When at last she flung the Doctor onto the bed in his room in the TARDIS, Rose collapsed on top of him, barely able to breathe. She'd ruined her clothes and his, no surprise there, even though she'd had some help getting him up the stairs. She felt very sorry for the friendly sailors who'd assisted her part of the way, but they didn't listen to her when she begged them to come with her. Not that she'd expected they would, and she'd had to drag him the rest of the way on her own. Still, to look at the marvelously miniscule bright side, they were both alive.

She couldn't believe how long the trek had been while dragging an unresponsive Time Lord. It had only taken moments for her to find the lounge with the bar, and then it had taken the Doctor only a few mind-numbing snogs to get her down into the depths of the ship, but every inch of the trip back onto the deck had felt like a mile. She'd just... catch her breath.

Rose didn't realize she'd fallen asleep until she felt an anxious prodding at the back of her skull, which she suspected came from the TARDIS. "All right, all right, I'm up," she muttered, and climbed off the unconscious Time Lord. He was completely unresponsive, but at least he was still breathing. His hearts were beating steady and strong in his chest. Rose had no idea why he was still asleep, but she decided she'd try to get cleaned up and patch herself back up, and then she'd see what she could do for him.

The TARDIS left night wear of Rose's own out in the en suite, though how she'd dragged it to present day from the future, Rose didn't want to know. She put it on after her shower and padded back to check on the Doctor.

He was still unconscious, so Rose decided to get him more comfortable. It wasn't like she'd never changed his clothes for him before, after all. Just... not this body. This was her first Doctor, the Doctor she'd first fallen in love with, the one who had haunted the fantasies of the end of her teenage years. Her childhood was well behind her now but, if anything, this body interested her more. She couldn't quite understand that, wasn't even sure if it was real or just that he was the Doctor and any Doctor was attractive to her at any time. All she knew for sure was that his clothes were filthy and disgusting and he was unconscious.

It wasn't like he went commando or anything. She knew that from the fact that she'd taken the leather jacket off him for the very last time and, more to the point, the jeans that went with it.

Resigned to trying everything to wake him as she went - which hadn't worked last time, but might this time as he wasn't regenerating or anything - she dragged off the one shoe that had made it all the way to the TARDIS with them. The coat, what was left of it, came off easily. The waistcoat gave her a little more trouble, so she ripped it the rest of the way - it was already torn from all the buttons popping off on their trip.

When she'd first seen him in this outfit today and remembered the pictures from before she'd started traveling with him, Rose had wondered why he didn't wear this suit when they met Charles Dickens. Now, as she straddled his waist and opened his cravat, the only intact article on him, she no longer had to wonder. She'd even managed to rip his silk shirt somehow, the yoke and sleeves separated, the buttons again missing. She undid his braces and stood up to chuck everything in the bin.

Rifling through his dresser drawer, she found the bottoms to the flannel jim-jams she remembered he'd favored in this incarnation. She also remembered - had never, ever been able to forget in fact - that most of the times she saw him in these trousers, the shirt was no where to be found. He'd never been best pleased about it when she'd caught him like that back then, mostly because she was meant to be asleep and he was doing something precious or daft or unlikely, any number of things that a man called "the Oncoming Storm" wouldn't want someone to know he did.

She dropped the jim-jams on the nightstand, took a deep breath and clinically and professionally opened the buttons on his trousers. He'd never asked her who changed his clothes at her mum's that one time, and he'd certainly never had any noticeable qualms about changing her clothes when she'd needed it. Of course, he was a doctor. She was...

She was the woman who loved him, who wanted him comfortable, and who still didn't know why he was asleep. With a resigned sigh, she tugged at the legs of his trousers.

Apparently the Doctor did go commando when it suited him.

Fantastic, Rose thought, and couldn't decide if she was being sarcastic or not. Flustered and self-conscious, she tried to ignore the view and finished her task (getting him naked, whispered a very evil little snickering voice in her subconscious).

Really, though, shoe sizes and everything, the view was only to be expected, she supposed.

Reaching hastily for the jim-jams with one hand, and the sheet with the other, Rose just glowered down into the Doctor's still face, as embarrassed as she could ever remember being. She was embarrassed for him, exposed like this when he had no idea what was going on, she was embarrassed for herself, for the whole unexpected naked Doctor thing, and she was completely ashamed of herself for all those very good reasons that she didn't want to examine too closely or she'd lose every trace of self-respect she'd ever had.

"I wish you'd wake up," she snapped crossly, dropping the sheet over him and giving his shoulder a shake. "Doctor, please wake up!"

Once before in her life, something like this had happened. She'd tucked the sonic screwdriver into the unconscious Doctor's hand, whispered, "Help me," into his ear, and watched him come alive with a vengeance for her sake. This time, he didn't spring up in her defense, he snatched her down with him instead. His reflexes hadn't been blunted in the slightest by his inexplicable nap. Simply, she had been standing next to him and then she was flat on her back, under him. Under the Doctor, the completely naked Doctor, who had been vigorously assaulting her senses since practically the second they'd spotted each other.

She didn't mean for him to wake right that second; why did timing hate her so much? It had taken her most of her last two minutes to tell him she loved him last time she saw him, so she would never know if he would have said it back. And now she was in serious trouble.

The Doctor's vivid blue eyes were blazing like a particularly colorful level of hell, but Rose couldn't tear her eyes away from him, not even to save her sanity, such as it was. She just met his gaze and loved him completely.

The fury in the Doctor's eyes went out even as they darkened to something familiar and just as frightening, but in a different way. Rose shivered. "You surprised me, there, precious girl," he murmured. "S'never safe ta go sneakin' up on old soldiers, ya know." His eyes got even darker as he took in her position and, apparently, became aware of his. "Specially when you've got them at a disadvantage."

Despite the strange warmth in his words, Rose expected him to start shouting at her, demanding explanations, possibly to call her a stupid ape. She winced and squeezed her eyes shut, didn't dare to move.

Maybe this was all in her head. That was the only possible explanation for something that should be positively wonderful trying to turn itself into something terrible. Maybe the frantic schedule she'd been indulging since Bad Wolf Bay had finally caught up to her and dropped her, unconscious, on the floor of her mum's hospital room.

"Rose." The Doctor murmured her name like a magic word, his voice caressing the single syllable in a way that turned it into treasure. "Look at me." His hand cupped her cheek, just like she remembered, just like he did not because it hadn't happened for him, not yet. Her eyes batted open, meeting him, not daring to hide anything from him.

"S'my favorite dream, this one. Only good dream I have, any more, bein' with you. Some times we jus' talk, an' you make me smile. Sometimes, we're runnin', like we did that night, remember?" He grinned and Rose couldn't help flashing back with him to that long sprint across the Thames, her normal life behind them, the London Eye ahead. "An' sometimes," he finished with a smirk, "I find meself in a right compromisin' position, like this one... an' we don't talk so much. What'd'ya think?"

Fighting tears, not even sure if they were joy or sorrow, Rose just shook her head. And nodded. And shook her head again, completely baffled and completely in love. She'd told herself she couldn't do this, shouldn't do it, that it was wrong. But what if she was wrong and this was actually right? What she felt for him went deeper than she'd ever have guessed, even back when she was traveling with him, when she'd known she would travel with him forever. It had taken standing on that damned autographed beach of hers to make her realize that he wasn't just a man she loved - he was the love of her life, the one true love like they talked about in fairy tales she'd never even believed in as a child.

There were millions upon millions of questions pounding in her simple human brain; there was hope and all the fires of the stars burning in his eyes. He needed her and she needed him; in this moment and in this place that was all that truly mattered. So she did the only thing she could do to make what she could of this odd sort of second chance - she curled her fingers in the back of his hair and pulled him down for a kiss.

Tenderness was lost almost immediately. Gentle, sweet, safe lovemaking was for sane, normal people whose love affair wasn't one grand and endless sweep of miscommunications and interruptions. Rose was half-mad, and the Doctor easily more than half. The kiss, therefore, was tongues and teeth and tearing cloth, writhing bodies and hands seeking skin as if touch was the only salvation for whole realities.

Rose was as naked as the Doctor before they ever broke apart, and she would never remember if she was the one who shredded her night shirt or if he did. She was almost certain he was the one who pulled off her knickers, but only almost. The sheet she'd covered the Doctor with was kicked out of the way, along with most of the rest of the bed clothes and then the moment seemed to freeze.

Maybe this was a dream after all. Despite the ferocity of their desire, maybe even because of it, there was something completely perfect about this, so perfect that it strained the bounds of credulity. Even caught in the hurricane torrent that they made for themselves, Rose was aware enough to realize that everything was too right between them, right enough to ruin her for any other lover, right enough to feel like they had been doing this her entire adult life. The Doctor knew exactly where and how to touch her and Rose found that she knew just where to touch him, too.

And then sensation overcame concentration, and they were swept up into the heart of the night. There was no free thought to wonder. There was only the thought to be lost in this moment forever. She had meant to be careful of him in his fragile state of mind and body, but it was as if there was a fever in her blood, a desperation only he could save.

She climbed up into his lap, needing to be as close to him as possible. His kisses were aggressive, against her skin and against her mouth. She kissed him just as fiercely, lapping greedily at the salt of his skin. Her teeth fastened into his shoulder as she wrapped her legs around his waist and rocked herself against the hardness of his body.

"That's right, love," the Doctor murmured, and bowed his head to return the gesture.

Rose didn't feel the pain. She knew she might later, but right now, she needed this to be real, and she needed to wear his mark, needed to mark him. She wanted him to claim her in every possible way. She wanted to keep this moment forever.

Rose listened to the Doctor murmuring soothingly, words of comfort and solace, words of pleasure and passion, words in English and, she supposed, Gallifreyan. She couldn't manage anything more than yes and please and quite a bit of calling out to him, as her Doctor and her deity.

He caught her eye and she nodded her head, ready for him in every possible way, if she hadn't been ready since the moment he took her hand. These hands, the ones that parted her thighs, now, the long, slender fingers that stroked her right to the edge, the ones that were playing her body like they'd played that alien instrument in Van Statten's bunker.

Rose's body sang when the Doctor entered her at last; she cried tears and joy as he began a rapid, plunging rhythm that drove him to the hilt inside her with every thrust. She met his desperation with her own, clung to him, hips driving hard to meet his every stroke. As if from an amazing distance, Rose heard her own voice, calling his name, "Doctor, my Doctor," but she was too caught up in the glory of possessing him and being his to care.

She locked her ankles around his waist, feeling the pressure building inside of her, but not able to even care about that. All she wanted was to be nearer to her Doctor, to keep him with her, in her arms, in this moment. Burning blue eyes locked with her own, an inferno of eternity swirling in the dark depths circled by a thin band of ice. Her nails raked across his back. Their lips fastened together, their bodies frantic with abandon.

The coil twisted tighter, until she felt like it couldn't possibly get any more tension. The ache clenched deeper, until it was pulsing at the same insane rhythm as her heart beat. Their movements became erratic, their gasping breaths catching with anticipation only to be driven just that little bit higher, deeper, farther.

Rose felt ambushed when her orgasm hit her at last and she didn't think she would ever remember what she said to him. She also didn't think he'd care, because he reached his own release right there with her. She knew that his name tumbled off her lips, knew he answered her with her own, in a voice like distant thunder.

The Doctor collapsed at her side, pulled her close, brushed away a wayward lock of hair that was sticking to her face. The word he said was alien and musical and it sounded like some sort of promise. Rose dared to mumble her truth into his shoulder as she rested her head against his chest and her heart inside his love.

He may or may not have heard her, but he didn't object and Rose looked up at him to check he was okay. He smiled serenely down at her, brushed a thumb across her lips. Then, just like a weary child's, his blue eyes batted closed and the Doctor slept naturally.

Time could go fuck itself. She was never leaving him.