Disclaimer: We own Doctor Who. However, in this Universe, April Fools' Day is traditionally celebrated by giving presents to and doing nice things for fools. We're afraid we'll get hurt in a McDonald's coffee accident. OV has been heard to voice some distress about the instructions on toothpick containers, but that's only because Jessa sometimes stops in her rants about peanut warnings on Snickers labels. We think we'll just shove along before they toss us out, this time.

Chapter 5:

Rose shivered lightly at the feel of Joshua's fingers grazing the hairs on the nape of her neck. Forcing herself to ignore the shiver, she smiled down and waved as Harry got in his car. Only when she closed the door behind them, did she turn to face her lover.

Only, Joshua hadn't been that over the last few days. He'd been trying hard, Rose could see, to seem natural, even jovial around her. In some ways everything was the same, but since he'd had that nightmare, he'd been reluctant to touch her.

What haunted her was that Rose was fairly sure he was being reluctant out of fear rather than distaste, but she couldn't fathom his reasons. It was all too easy for her to imagine that something in that dream had made him realize he was dating a girl who would never be able to live up to what he deserved. The little shop girl in her head was convinced, but Rose Tyler wasn't. Joshua thought better of her, and she thought better of herself. She was here, now, because of who she was, not her pretty face and her warm body. No matter what fear and what her books called "self-esteem issues" tried to tell her. She didn't know why he'd be afraid of her now, but at times he seemed it. Certainly it wasn't that he was changing his mind or falling out of love.

More than anything, Rose wanted to reach up and trace the gentle smile that had hidden from her for the past week that now softened his face. She didn't know what had brought it back, and she didn't care. She had missed it too much to wonder at the moment why it returned.

But, instead of letting her fingers map the lines of his face that were softened by this singular expression, Rose just smiled up at him. She didn't know why he had shut her out. She didn't know why he was holding her at arm's length. She didn't know why he was giving her this look, now. But he had hurt her, and he would explain himself. As much as she wanted to just melt into his arms and take whatever he was willing to give, Rose knew she had to stand her ground now, or have no ground later.

"I miss you," she told him. It was time for this to end. When he just stood there, looking confused for long enough, Rose continued. "I miss the you that tries to distract me from what I'm doing to tickle me, or kiss me, or teach me something random and wonderful. I miss the you that snags my arm when I walk past just to hold me for a moment." Giving into her lingering impulse, Rose did let her finger trace his lips. "I miss the you that gives me this smile, that isn't afraid of me, that doesn't shut me out."

"I don't-" Joshua started and then snapped his mouth shut. Rose waited while he tried to arrange his thoughts, failed miserably, and then tried to remember how to talk. "I left you," he told her, nearly wailing. He seemed to believe this explained everything. "I ran."

"I know," Rose told him, waiting for him to decide to make sense.

"You din't yell. You din't throw things at me. You forgave me. You shoulda left, then. You shoulda run back home and left me alone. Gone back to your normal life."

"Sod that," Rose declared.

"Don't you get it? You should find your handsome prince. You shouldn't be stuck with a broken old man who leaves you behind."

"Then don't leave me. Keep me with you. You're more noble than any twelve princes, but refuse to see it. I'm allowed to forgive you. That's my choice. But you don't get to lock me out because I do. Because I didn't make you swim the English Chanel to prove you still love me or some such. If you want to apologize, by all means, but don't you ever try to freeze me out because you feel guilty." Rose stepped in towards him and cupped his cheek. "Joshua, you've made mistakes before. I've forgiven you before. Why now?"

"I never abandoned you before," Joshua muttered, eyes downcast.

"You didn't abandon me, this time, either," Rose maintained, "you came back. You didn't have to do that."

Joshua's eyes snapped up to lock with hers, filled with a hungry intensity. "Yes. I did." And then he swooped down to devour her mouth with a kiss that spoke of desperation, remorse, and a driving need for her to always be his.

Rose gave herself over to the onslaught. He was giving her everything she needed, and she let him take everything he wanted. When he pulled back to look into her face, that loving smile was still in place, but now his eyes were dark and heavy lidded.

"Don't leave me," he pleaded, "I'm stupid, and I don't deserve you, but I know that I need you."

Rose smiled sadly up at him. "I think that's my line," she told him.

"No," Joshua insisted, "you are caring and compassionate and so much cleverer than almost anyone gives you credit for. You should have heads of state listening to you. You would if there were any justice in the world. I have never met a better being, human or otherwise, and I am the biggest idiot this planet has ever seen for letting fear make me risk losing you."

Rose couldn't deny the warmth that his words spread through her. It did wonders for the "self-esteem issues". He believed in her; she could do anything if only he believed.

"I love you, Rose Tyler," Joshua continued, "please. Don't ever leave me."

Rose couldn't help but laugh a bit at that. "As if I could," she told him. "I love you, Joshua. And I need you, too."

She didn't remember how she got from being just inside the door, to being in their bedroom, but by the time she'd gotten there, she'd lost her blouse, her bra had been pushed down out of the way, and Joshua was pressing her against the doorjamb, his lips fastened on a surprisingly sensitive spot right between her breasts.

Gods, but she'd needed this. The way Joshua worshipped her body wiped Rose's mind clean of self-doubt and left only a need for and love of this man that she suspected could transcend anything the universe might throw at them.

Pushing him back, Rose smirked at his pout. When she unfastened her bra, Joshua's pout quickly transformed into a wolfish grin. Carelessly discarding the garment, Rose reached for his jumper. Joshua allowed her to push it over his head and pull it off his arms.

With one hand splayed over the center of his chest so that she could feel the racing double heart beat, Rose pushed Joshua back until he hit the bed. A jerk of her chin directed him to lie down. Rose had taken a punishment she didn't deserve and now she would take what she was owed, and she would take it as she saw fit.

Joshua was looking up at her with eyes indigo with lust, bright with anticipation. Rose smiled a predatory little smile down at him as she straddled his hips. For a moment, Rose paused, rocking back and forth against where he strained against his jeans. Holding his gaze, Rose slowly ground against him with increasing pressure until Joshua's eyes slipped closed, and her name was whispered as softly as though it were a sacred word.

She let her hands begin to ramble and tease over the hard planes of his stomach and chest. She pinched his nipples and smirked at the hiss of appreciation that escaped through his clenched teeth; his hips bucked beneath her. As Joshua's eyes fluttered open, Rose bent over him, soothing the puckered buds with leisurely, wet caresses of her tongue.

"Rose," Joshua moaned, enveloping her in his arms and crushing her to him. Rose managed to extricate herself and forced his arms to his side.

"Ah, ah, ah," Rose chided. "Can you behave yourself, Joshua, or do I have to tie you up?" She watched his pupils dilate in arousal. "You're mine, Joshua, and I belong with you. No matter what." She sharply nipped a particularly sensitive spot where his neck joined his shoulder and then kissed it softly until he moaned. "Do you understand?"

It took a moment for Joshua's glazed eyes to focus. He raised a gentle hand and brushed his knuckles against her check. Eyes over bright, he nodded. "My Rose. My fantastic Rose."

That gentle, loving smile was back on his face, her smile. She rewarded him with a kiss. It began with aching softness and melted into hunger. Moving down, Rose scattered kisses over him, spending a moment at his navel, eliciting a tortured moan before following the trail of hair lower.

Rose's progress was soon blocked by his trousers. Her fingers were quick at his buckle. She pulled the belt out and threw it over her shoulder to attack the buttons of his jeans. Joshua was reduced to panting when his cock sprang free.

Watching his face, Rose let her fingers trace the head. She was nearly bowled over by the trust he put in her by giving her this power over him. Joshua held himself back because she wished it, letting her explore him as she wanted.

What Rose hadn't expected was how exciting it would be to have this authority over her lover. She'd heard of power being an aphrodisiac and she already knew that almost every thing about this man turned her on. She still hadn't expected to become so impatient from the sound of his moans, the touch and taste of his skin, and the sight of his penis, rigid from her attentions, and his darkened, burning eyes. Already, her knickers were drenched and he'd barely touched her.

"Joshua," Rose whispered, her lips so close to his cock that it twitched at the feel of her breath dancing over it. "I want you naked." His eyes flew open, and she nodded, sitting back. Before she could enjoy the show, Joshua stood naked before her.

Slowly, Rose got to her feet. Under a scrutiny that left her breathless, she toed off her trainers. Her socks were gone next. Rose could feel impatient desire rolling off of Joshua. With a small smile, she allowed her hands to fall to her jeans. She noticed his hands twitch and knew he wanted to help her out of them, but she continued unaided.

Knowing he was watching, Rose toyed with one of her breasts, raising the nipple. With her free hand, Rose popped open the button of her jeans and drew down the zip, letting Joshua get a glimpse of the white cotton beneath. For a moment, Rose wished she were wearing something a bit sexier, but the hunger in Joshua's eyes dispelled any doubts.

Abandoning her breast, Rose pushed her jeans over her hips leaving her in her knickers. "Do you want them off?" she asked coyly, playing with her waistband. Joshua swallowed thickly and nodded. "Then take them off," she ordered.

In a flash, Rose was in Joshua's arms. His hands slid under her knickers to cup her bum, pressing her against his erection. After a quick grind, Joshua dropped to his knees, and peeled her sodden knickers off her. His nostrils flared as the scent of her arousal hit him full force.

"Rose," Joshua begged, his voice darker than any sin. "I want to make love to you. Please."

Every plan Rose had entertained fled. She nodded.

Rose's knickers pooled on the floor as Joshua swept her up. Almost automatically, Rose wrapped her legs around his waist. His cock parted her wet folds, rubbing against her clit. Closing her eyes, Rose rubbed against him wantonly, giving herself over to the sparkling tension that was building.

With tender reverence, Joshua laid Rose on their bed. He sat back to admire his lover as she lay flushed and panting. His thumbs traced circular designs onto her legs that seemed to brand her flesh.

Reaching for Joshua, Rose made a noise of frustration. "Joshua, please." He grinned down at her before crawling up her body, scattering kisses. When his lips finally met hers, Rose attacked him in a frenzy of need and arousal, love and forgiveness.

With one hand, Joshua lifted Rose's hips just enough to allow him to slide into her in one deep thrust. It felt like time stopped, or at least slowed to allow them this moment where nothing mattered but Joshua and Rose.

They moved together towards a much needed escape from the universe. It was too much, and yet Rose needed more.

"Joshua," she whimpered, "please le me come." Pride gleamed in his eye, and he snaked his hand between them. Rose couldn't stop the scream that escaped her when Joshua pinched her clit. With a shout of triumph, Joshua erupted inside her.

Wrapping Rose in his embrace, Joshua rolled onto his back so that she was sprawled half on top of him. For the first time in almost a week, Rose felt completely safe, completely at ease. As she slipped into sleep, Rose felt his lips press against the crown of her head in a tender kiss.

"Never forget I love you, Rose Tyler."

Rose smiled sleepily. "You too. Never."

"So, I had a question," Joshua started, sounding a bit nervous in Rose's opinion. "Well, it's more a favor, really, but…"

He was carrying a tray with breakfast on it. Genuine breakfast in bed, like she hadn't had since she was a very, very little kid, and he was bringing it into their bedroom before Rose was even good and awake. She grinned. Probably wouldn't matter what it was he wanted, she decided, he could probably have it. She wasn't sure her muscles were up to swimming the English Channel, but… "What is it?" she asked, as he slid the tray onto the nightstand.

"Nothin' much, just eggs and toast, bit o' jam, and some bacon, cooked like you like it, not too crunchy, not too soft, an'…"

Rose felt something inside her heart start to bubble and fizz. He was just… so… Joshua. She wanted to hug herself to hold the feeling inside while it tried to boil over. It was strong enough to take on the world, she was sure. "I mean the favor," she said, not at all surprised to hear laughter in her voice.

"Oh," Joshua said, sheepishly. "Well, its…" He nervously toyed with a plate on the tray, looking everywhere but right at her.

"I love you," Rose said. "I just really, really love you."

Joshua looked up at her and grinned, a full beaming grin full of his usual confidence and joy, as if hearing her say that made him all better. "D'ya mind if I intrude on your shopping trip today? I know you an' Jackie usually go by yourselves, but… Well, I need to pick up a couple things, and I need your help with one of 'em, so I thought…"

"What's up?"

"Aunt Doris's birthday present," Joshua mumbled over the teacup he was passing.

Rose's jaw dropped and she felt a blush cover her face. "Oh, god, I forgot! And we're supposed to be there tonight for dinner, aren't we? Damn!" She shoved the blankets out of her lap and started to make a mental inventory of everything that needed to be done today. "What time is it?"

"I love you, too," Joshua said with a chuckle. "You've got mascara on your nose, and I love you."

Breakfast wound up getting cold. Joshua took Jackie Tyler's phone call to find out if the shopping trip was still on, because Rose was in the shower. He'd been willing to join her – just to help her wash her back, honest – but she'd chased him in alone while she reheated their breakfast plates.

"Makin' a grocery list," Joshua informed Jackie when she demanded to know what he was doing answering the phone in his own flat. He sometimes wondered what went through the woman's head. "That all right?"

"'Course it is, you mug," Jackie said. "Dunno what goes through your head sometimes! Add some biscuits to the list, won't you? Just to remind me, and I need some kippers and…"

"Make your own list," Joshua grumbled.

"You don't have to be so difficult!" Jackie complained. "Has she managed to put any weight on you, yet?"

"S'only been a few weeks, Jackie, an' she works for a living. I do the cooking."

Apparently, he'd shocked Rose's mum almost completely speechless, because she proceeded to sputter at him incoherently. "We'll pick you up in a half hour," Joshua said cheerfully while she flailed about for something to say. "Bye, now."

He caught himself waving as he hung up the phone. So did Rose, padding barefoot and barefaced into the kitchen, her hair still damp from her shower. His hearts felt like hot air balloons in his chest as she snickered and teased her way to the fridge.

He caught her around the waist and swooped her up just to listen to her squeal of happy protest. As he reluctantly set her in her chair, having decided he didn't have time to do half the things he ought to do to her, he wondered why he'd even bothered to distance himself from her. He couldn't go anywhere that she wasn't going to be the center of everything. It had happened so unexpectedly, but it had happened.

Somewhere between lonely nights in Rehab and quiet days alone with her here, sometime between "just breathe" and "I love you", he'd found a new home, right here, with her in both his hearts and him in her one. Rose Tyler was Joshua Stewart's new world.