Title: Muse
Author: sinecure
Character/Pairing: Ten/Rose
Rating: Teen
Genre: Angst, AU, hurt/comfort, romance
Summary: She was his passion...
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Author's Notes: to JennyLD for the beta.

"Hang on, Rose, just one more minute, I'm almost there. Just... hang on."

"I'm trying," she breathed out, eyes fixed straight ahead, not moving a muscle.

"I'm sorry," the Doctor groaned miserably. "I shouldn't have dragged you into this. It was stupid of me."

Shifting lightly, making him grit his teeth until she settled back into the position she'd been in for far too long now, she scoffed in an extremely rude manner. "No arguments here."

Head snapping up, he squinted at her. "Oi, no need for that." Finishing with a flourish, he ripped the top sheet of paper from his sketchpad, tossing the rest of the pad to the console. "Stay here, be right back," he called over his shoulder, running down the ramp. "Can't help but win, you'll see!"

He rushed out the door, down a few halls, around a corner, then another, entering the pre-approved finale room, and slapped his sketch of Rose down on the single table in the room, just as Pes'dul yanked the door open on the other side of the room, rushed in, and then came to a sudden halt.

The tall man's smiles fell from all four of his lips and he grumbled good-naturedly. "Winning again, you are, Doctor."

Trying poorly to hide his triumphant grin, the Doctor stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged, bouncing on his feet. "Well... easy subject, had a lot of pract-- oh, carrots." Rushing forward, panic settling in his gut, he quickly shook his opponent's hand in both of his. "It's been fun, we should do this again in a few years. Oh, already have, maybe after that then," he said, releasing Pes'dul's hand and backing away, then turning and running back the way he'd come.

Down halls, around corners, his mind on one thought; he'd left his sketchbook behind with Rose. Left it right there, in plain sight, where anyone would be curious and nosey and couldn't help but peek. Of course. He would, without a thought. Rose was-- oh, this was bad. So very bad.

Rushing inside the TARDIS, he came to a halt just a foot up the ramp, door slamming shut behind him.

Eyes on Rose, sitting on the jump seat, sketchpad in hand, he swallowed around the lump quickly rising in his throat. Maybe she hadn't got far into it. "Rose, just... please put it down. Please," he begged softly, one hand reaching out to her across the entire console room. Fingers clenching into a fist, he closed his eyes when he saw the outline of the sketch on the flipside of the pad.

Too late.

"These are... of me," she said softly, confusion lacing her voice. He heard paper rustling and opened his eyes to see her flipping through the pages.

Even worse.

"Rose, they're just--"

"They're all of me. You-- you've been watching me sleep?" she asked, disbelief tingeing her voice, which had risen from a near-whisper to a near-shout in a matter of seconds. "Not just sleeping, but eating, and--" flipping another page, she stopped, hand over her mouth. "Oh, my god!"

He strode across the grating to her, knowing it was already too late, but intending to take the sketchpad from her anyway, wishing he could take the knowledge as well. Those were his thoughts and memories and... fantasies. And with things the way they were between them, he didn't feel like sharing. "That's private." He'd never intended for her to find out about the drawings--

She yanked the pad out of his grip and quickly flipped to the next page.

"I'll say," she snapped, standing up and backing away from him. Her eyes flew from him to the pad and then back again. Mouth tightening, she shook her head. "These are private moments. I was in the shower!"

Knowing without needing to look, which sketch she was on, he drew in a deep breath and pushed his hands into his pockets. There wasn't much that he could say that would help right now. Still, he tried. "They're not real. I mean, I wasn't there, wasn't watching you."

Sniffing sharply, she turned the pad around and held it out with a shaking hand, showing him a sketch he knew every line of. Every shaded area, every negative space, every curve. "That's not real? Looks pretty real to me." Face scrunching up, she let out a sharp bark of laughter. "Who knew you were so good at drawing? I mean these are really, really good, Doctor." She flipped another page and her laughter stopped.

He knew why.

Hands trembling, looking like she wanted to toss the pad to the floor, she backed away even further. "This is... this is--" she began before cutting herself off with a choking sound. "You were never there."

"No," he agreed, matching her step for step, hoping she'd see and understand and... know that he wasn't some perverted alien watching her sleep or shower.

Watching her masturbate.

"Then what is this?" she demanded, once again holding it out for him to see, stabbing her finger at the sketch of her lying in bed, back arched, covers draped over a leg and hip. The fingers of one hand were clenched in the covers while the other was between her legs. Her breasts were bared, nipples pebbled. There was ecstasy on her face, mouth open wide in a cry of pleasure.

He didn't need to look at it to know what it contained. Dropping his eyes to his shoes, he shook his head. There were no words he could give her that would help just now. None that she'd believe.

"Is there a camera in my room?"

Head snapping up, he narrowed his eyes on her. "Absolutely not," he denied, meeting her accusing gaze without blinking. "I'd never do that to you, to anyone on the TARDIS."

She waved the sketchpad between them. "Yeah, obviously."

Gritting his teeth, shame pouring through him, he dug his nails into his palms. "Those were done from memory and... imagination. I didn't sneak into your room while you slept, I don't have cameras in your bedroom. Rose, I... please, just give me the pad." Most of the worst was out there already, but there was still a bit more.

Why hadn't he realized this could happen? It was stupid. In his excitement at beating Pes'dul again, the pad he'd grabbed was the same one he'd put all of his memories, his fantasies into and he hadn't realized it until it was too late.

Staring at him, head tilted, she licked her lips, echoing his thoughts. "Why?"

"Because those are private--"

"No," she said, waving his words aside. "I mean why did you... why all these sketches? Why," she sighed and flipped the page again, going still once more. What little breath she had left, shuddered out, and he wondered how she could be so oblivious.

Didn't she know?

"Imagination," she murmured, running a finger over a hip made of graphite, then again, higher. "Short hair."

Releasing the death grip he had on his fists, he took a deep breath and slowly let it out. She had shorter hair in that sketch of the two of them. Barely brushing her shoulders, from times more innocent. Happier. Well, in the drawing, they were happy and in love, caught mid-kiss while making love.

Rose was atop him, nails digging into his shoulders. He was sitting up, chest pressed tight to hers, arms around her waist, fingers curled into her lower back, just above the swell of her bum.

And there were no covers this time.

He'd drawn her rising on him, and it was plain to see exactly what was going on between them, leaving no room for interpretation.

"I don't understand," she whispered. "All this time, you've been... what is this?" Running her eyes over the two of them, gaze not landing on any one place for more than a few seconds, she dropped the pad to her side. Looking up sharply at his sigh of relief, she dropped down to the jump seat.

Standing before her, he swallowed and blinked a few times, looking away under her steady gaze. "It's my reply." She frowned, opening her mouth to ask him what he meant, but he brushed it aside, moving back to lean against the console. "Can I have it back now?"

"Are there more?" His silence was answer enough and she lifted the pad to her lap, flipping to the next sketch. Her eyes darted from her lap to him and back again.

"I never took the chance when you were here," he said softly. "Always thought we had more time."

She flicked her eyes to him briefly, shoulders losing a little of their stiffness.

"When you were gone, it... hurt." Sticking his hands in his pockets, he watched her take in another sketch of the two of them.

This time he was on top, making love to her. It was a scene bathed in candlelight, the bed they were on, the only other thing visible in the room. Her head was thrown back on the pillow, neck stretched for him to suck and nibble at while he worshipped her body. His eyes... in the sketch, he was watching her, just as he was now.

Waiting, expecting. Anticipating.

"I've never... well, it's never hurt that badly before." He dropped his eyes to his shoes, shifting them a bit. "I wasn't prepared for it."

She stayed silent. Unable or unwilling to speak?

Pushing away from the console, he straightened up, deciding to lay it all out at her feet and hope she understood. "I've lost a lot of people, Rose. Some I've known for just a few minutes, others I've known for lifetimes. But with you-- it was different. It still is different. I--" darting his eyes around, unsure what to say, or even if he wanted to say it at all, he licked his lips. "I feel a certain way toward you."

"No kidding," she interjected, barely waiting for him to finish speaking. Heaving a sigh, she set the sketchbook on the seat beside her and shoved her hands under her thighs. Eyes on his chest, refusing to move any higher, she pushed to her feet. "It's not fair. It's not anywhere near fair."

"I don't--" he began, not sure what she meant, but wanting to explain himself anyway.

"No, you don't!" she agreed, grabbing the pad again and flipping through the rest of it rapidly, stopping here and there on a drawing when it caught her attention. "I spent six years getting over you. No, more than that. All that flirting-- Reinette? Sarah Jane? I got it. Wasn't me. There was nothing special about me." Shutting the pad, she dropped it back to the jump seat. "I was just there, that's all, and you have this way of making me-- people feel special."

Closing the distance between them, he tried to touch her, to draw her to him, but she glared at him, so he kept his hands to himself. "You are special, Rose. That's what I'm saying. The sketches--"

"That's why it's not fair!" Calming herself, she pushed her hair behind her ears a few times in what looked like a nervous habit.

A new one she'd developed while away. He'd missed out on that. Or maybe he was the cause of it.

"All this time, I-- I've been in love with you. I fought to get back to you, I did everything I could and realized that I was doing it for nothing. You didn't want me. You just wanted a mate. Best pal, that's all. So, I fought to get over you. Decided that if I ever did get back, it'd be as just a mate. Nothing more."

Striding across to her, ignoring the warning glare aimed his way, he took her by the shoulders. "It might've been, for one brief moment when we first met. But it hasn't been like that for a long time, not for me. A very long time." Pulling her into his arms, he held her tight, relieved when she didn't pull away, and taking satisfaction in having her right where he wanted her, had wanted her for too long to think about. "You'd think I'd learn not to let opportunities pass me by after nine-hundred-years of doing so." Breathing her in, he drew back a bit and cupped her cheeks. "I was stupid. Thought we had time."

She smiled sadly and rested her forehead against his. "There's never enough time."

"No," he agreed, daring to hope that this meant she still wanted him, that she hadn't actually succeeded in getting over him. It was selfish of him, but he didn't care. He was taking what he wanted this time, damn time and years and minutes and hours. He loved Rose Tyler and he wanted her to love him back. "Do you...?"

Nodding a bit, she settled her hand on his cheek, thumb just at the corner of his lips. "Never quite got rid of those darn, pesky feelings," she chuckled.

Turning his head a little, he pressed a kiss to her thumb and closed his eyes for a moment. "Most romantic thing I've ever heard," he whispered, smiling lightly when she giggled. Relief washed over him, emotions and feelings bubbling up inside, urging him to tell her, to do it right this time. To not let time take this moment away too. "Don't you know, Rose? Those words I never got to say?"

Her eyes lifted to his, teeth nibbling at her lower lip over and over again.

Brushing a finger lightly against her cheek, he darted his eyes to her mouth, wanting nothing more than to kiss her with no one else in the way, with no peril ready to take one of them. No reasons, or excuses between them. Just him and Rose. His feelings and hers.

Feeling a tingling nervousness in his stomach, he licked his lips and was relieved to see her eyes drawn to them. Relieved that he hadn't completely disgusted her or chased her off with his fantasies and creepy, stalker-ish drawings.

And the words slipped out, with no prompting or urging from him at all. "I love you."