Silence hangs over the console room of the TARDIS like a weight, oppressive and bruising.

Rose sits on the jumpseat, legs tucked underneath her, damp hair pushed behind her ears. After she and the Doctor left Krop Tor and the Sanctuary Base and the terrifying possibilities of the Beast behind, Rose went to take a shower and change her clothes.

That's when the shaking started.

She hoped the warm water would help ease the cold that seemed to have settled deep inside her bones ever since the Doctor first went down into the pit. But halfway through her shower she began to shake so hard she couldn't open the cap of her body wash. The elegantly tiled walls felt like they were closing in, and she dressed practically without drying off in order to escape, to get back to the console room and the Doctor, where things felt almost safe.

She watches him move about the controls, lovingly stroking levers and caressing switches, reassuring the machine and himself as much as he is re-calibrating it. The manic energy he normally possesses whenworking with the TARDIS is absent from his movements, leaving him seeming subdued, almost defeated.

The TARDIS is uncommonly sedate as well, its flight smooth and its noise turned down to a rhythmic pump and a low hum. The Doctor and Rose haven't spoken much since leaving Ida and the others, and the silence has grown so that it has become like another presence in the room, a reminder of the trials they just faced.

It's always easy for Rose to loose her sense of time inside the TARDIS, and now as she watches the Doctor tinkerit feels like it's pulsing in tandem with the ship's gentle blue light. Hearing the Beast speak words of terror in her mind seems like years ago, but the idea of a universe without the Doctor seems to be happening right now. The fact that he is in front of her, walking well-worn circles with delicate reverence presses on her mind like a photographic negative, an image marred by darkness in disconcerting places. Rose cannot find the words to break the silence; she can only sit, staring and shaking.

It takes her several seconds to realize the Doctor has come to a stop and stands in front of her, looking at her the same way she was looking at him, with a fearful sort of disbelief. His hands flutter like they want to touch her, but his eyes are the ones in control. Rose's sense of time bends again as she meets the gaze of those brown depths. She can see lifetimes encased in their bottoms, but they blaze with the seconds passing in the very present.

Rose blinks, unsure of why she is suddenly fighting tears, and another shiver courses through her. The Doctor steps forward and pulls her into his arms.

He rubs his hands up and down her back like he is trying to warm her, but they both know this hug is about more than that. Their hug upon their reunion had been one of sheer joy and relief, filled with the happiness only despair can bring. But once that relief faded the fear had come creeping back, the weights of their ordeals not so easily cast off. This hug is heavy with those weights, aching with the remembered pain of loss.

As she is still sitting it is easy for Rose to lay her head against the Doctor's chest. One of his hands continues to smooth gentle lines down her back while the other stills in the middle. Both of them feel for the other's heartbeat, turning the hug from an anxiety to a confirmation. The beating is loud to both of them in the quiet space, and they allow themselves to take in its reassuring constancy. Rose breathes as the Doctor strokes and the TARDIS hums, and her sense of time is shattered.

It may be minutes before she pulls away enough to meet the Doctor's gaze once more, and though she is sure she only smiles for a few seconds the Doctor drinks in the sight like she's given him eternity. He moves and it takes days for his lips to reach hers, but she responds to him in an instant.

They kiss to the rhythm of their heartbeats, letting the familiar repetition guide them in the unfamiliar activity. It is not the first time their lips have pressed together, but Rose feels it is the first time they've ikissed/i, where it means exactly what it's supposed to mean.

Her lips part under the Doctor's and their tongues meet like words, a conversation conveyed with each hesitant touch. I want you safe… I'll keep you safe… I couldn't leave you… I'll never leave you…

Out loud they say nothing, and though the heavysilence carries on they are no longer aware of it, too intent on each other. The Doctor's usual reservations have given way to the deliberate movements of his mouth, his lips and tongue working with Rose's as though that was all they were meant to do for the entirety of time and space. Rose's occasional bubbling impatience has dissolved in the warmth spreading from their connected mouths, and she matches the Doctor with every move.

It is decades before they part, and then it's only for their foreheads to replace their lips, pressing gently together. The Doctor is still standing though one arm is now braced against the seat and the other is tight around Rose's waist. Rose has managed to remain sitting though her hands are clamped to the Doctor's arms and her legs have come unfolded to hang with knees brushing his hips. They don't move for several year-long moments, eyes shut and breathing in sync.

Rose is still shaking slightly. She felt her world freeze and begin to break apart when she thought she lost the Doctor in that terrifying place, and though her rational mind is aware that it did not come to pass her subconscious seems to still be thawing. But while the fear and devastation of their time on the Sanctuary Base leaves both the Doctor and Rose anxious and clinging, it has also taken away their ability to be unsure. Rose knows what she wants, and when she slides down from the seat and takes the Doctor's hand and begins to lead him in the direction of her bedroom, he doesn't protest.

The lights come up as Rose enters the room, their usual cheery brightness tempered to a soft glow that resembles candlelight, a subtle gift from the TARDIS. Rose releases the Doctor's hand, and turns to face him. They've committed to this long ago, subconsciously acknowledging the moment would come with small touches and loaded glances, but they've lacked the feeling of immediacy now buzzing through them, a feeling born from the reminder that it could all end.

Despite this long-standing and newly-realizedcommitment there is hesitation, and Rose bends down to retrieve her discarded towel and fold it over a chair in order to give her shaking hands something to do. When she turns her gaze back on the Doctor, still standing in the doorway, he is giving her one of his looks.

It's one of the things that remained unchanged through his regeneration, this way of looking at her like she's the only thing in the universe that matters, like he's suffocating and she's more important than air, like he wants to absorb her through his eyes and keep her under his skin. He looks at her like she's more than beautiful, like she's utterly and unquestionably right.

Rose feels her skin begin to burn under his gaze, melting down towards the cold in her bones. She knows she can't possibly equal such a look no matter her feelings, so she settles for holding out her hand.

It is a different gesture here in her bedroom, with the two of them facing each other, breathing in the silence, but it's still a clear acknowledgement of everything the action has meant to them in the past. It is Rose's way of assuring and being assured that this is about the two of them, not about fear or shock or insecurity, but just them, and what they feel for each other.

Without breaking eye contact, the Doctor slides his fingers into hers. The growing warmth in her body begins to flow like blood, streaming through the touch. Rose is shaking now for a different reason, but her smile returns, stronger and surer than before. The Doctor steps into the room and keeps stepping until their entwined hands brush the fabric of his trousers. His gaze flicks down towards her lips then back to her eyes, and Rose can't help but let her grin grow wider. The Doctor shifts, tilting his head as though he'd like to kiss her again, but apparently unwilling to relinquish the sight of her smile. Rose nearly giggles in delight at seeing such simple uncertainty from him, which only serves to increase it. A small line appears between his eyebrows, his expression displaying frustration that borders on desperation, and Rose wouldn't be surprised if he's contemplating whipping out his sonic screwdriver and aiming it at her face in an attempt to solve his dilemma.

She allows herself a tiny sound of laughter before alleviating his problem by placing her lips over his, making sure he can still feel them curved in a smile.

The kiss is deeper this time, though still slow, still an exploration that has the time to be thorough. Rose's hand slips free from the Doctor's as he winds his arms around her waist, but it finds another hold in his gloriously alive hair. Their bodies fit together with the ease of familiarity, but the connection sparks with a new awareness. The longer the kiss goes on the stronger it becomes. They kiss until Rose runs out of air and is forced to turn her head to the side and gasp, inwardly cursing her body's need for oxygen.

The Doctor is almost alarmingly unruffled, hardly moving except to tighten his hold marginally around her waist. His lips continue to kiss her, moving from cheek to neck, then his tongue snakes out near her collarbone in a decidedly unromantic lick. Rose is torn between the desire to wince and to laugh, almost positive the Doctor just tasted her, but she doesn't have time to do either as his mouth is suddenly sealed over hers once more.

He kisses with his whole body, lips and tongue tangling with hers, hands flexing on her back, thighs muscular and solid against her. He kisses her like he's waited every moment of his existence to do so, and like he'll be happy to go on doing so for all the moments he has remaining. But as delightful as this single-minded attention to her mouth is, Rose wants more than kissing tonight.

She pulls back slightly and the Doctor immediately clenches his arms, jerking her against him almost painfully. Rose looks up at him in concern and finds panic flaring in his eyes. He quickly tries to conceal it behind mild embarrassment, and adjusts his grip again, gentler this time but no less possessive, a shadow of their fear from earlier that day passing over them both.

Rose reaches up and puts both hands on his shoulders, fixing him with a look that she means to state clearly she is not leaving him. Then when he gradually relaxes under her firm touch, she slides her hands under the lapels of his jacket and begins to slowly pull the garment off his body. The Doctor does nothing to stop her, but keeps her gaze locked in his, slipping out of one sleeve at a time to keep the other arm holding her tightly against him.

The jacket hits the floor with a soft thud, loud in the quiet room, and Rose moves her trembling hands to his tie. It is highly surreal to be undressing the Doctor like this, slowly and silently in her dreamily lit room, pinned by his eyes and his arms. She has to look away when she comes to the buttons on his cornflower blue shirt, undoing each one with meticulous care. When they're all finally open she slides the shirt off him, still one arm at a time, barely touching his skin in the process. Then she takes a breath.

Being held by the Doctor is one thing, being held by the Doctor shirtless is entirely another. She feels another swirl of surreality, and though she still can't bring herself to look back into the Doctor's eyes she raises both her hands and places them carefully on his chest, one over each heart. Like she did earlier in the console room, Rose draws reassurance from the strong and steady rhythm, but now she also feels a twinge of annoyance that the Doctor should remain so calm when her heart is beating like it's trying to escape from her chest.

Then she looks up at his face. His eyes are closed and he's barely breathing; he looks like he's concentrating intensely, like he's holding himself back or else letting himself give in. She moves to withdraw her hands, to somehow check if he's okay, when his eyes suddenly snap open, filled with resolution and reverence, and one of his hands slides under her shirt.

Rose just manages to hold back her gasp at the feel of the Doctor gently stroking her lower back, afraid any sound made in the quiet room might startle him away like a skittish animal. She keeps perfectly still for the same reason, her hands resting on the Doctor's bare chest while his hands skim over her stomach and sides, fingers fluttering at the hem of her t-shirt but making no move to lift it.

Rose shifts after a few minutes, sensing he is waiting for her permission, and withdraws her arms to assist him in tugging the garment from her body. Somewhat unexpectedly, he sets it carefully aside at the end of the bed rather than letting it fall to the floor, then practically yanks Rose back into his arms as though the brief separation waslasting beyond his endurance. The feel of skin on skin is delicious, though Rose suddenly feels her bra as a massive and uncomfortable barrier. The Doctor seems to agree, his hands smoothing up her back to the clasp and attempting to open it with barely a hesitation.

He twists and tugs for a few impatient moments, then growls low in his throat and reaches for the pocket of the jacket he's forgotten now lays on the floor. Rose pulls away, laughing but making sure he catches her eye roll, and reaches behind herself to unhook the clasp with ease. She starts to pull the straps down her shoulders but the Doctor stops her. Replacing her hands with his own, he slides the bra down her arms slowly enough to raise goosebumps, though his fingers leave trails of heat in their wake.

Once this is set aside as carefully as her t-shirt, the Doctor stops and looks at her. No, studies would be a better word, Rose thinks, blushing under such scrutiny. The Doctor's eyes rake over her exposed torso like she is something powerful and sacred, and for the first time since Rose took his hand, the Doctor isn't touching her.

Her skin prickles with increasingly uncomfortable heat the longer the Doctor stands there, doing nothing but staring. Rose begins to worry that he won't touch her, that this is as far as he'll take their interaction, and eventually he'll give her back her shirt, put on his own, and leave her alone in the silence. The same panic that was apparent in the Doctor before now hits Rose, and she finds herself having the same impulsive reaction. Reaching out, she seizes ahold of the Doctor by the wrist and tugs him closer until she can lay his hand flat on her chest, right over her rapidly beating heart.

He gives a strange, shuddering little sigh, staring at his hand on her skin, then crushes Rose to his body and mouth, kissing her with something akin to desperation. It's a far more frantic kiss than they'veengaged in so far, and Rose lets her self sink into the whole experience of it, her body melting into the Doctor's enveloping embrace, her mouth eagerly opening under his.

It is at this point that she realizes she is the only one who is heating up. The Doctor's skin remains cool and dry, a curious sensation against the warm moistness she's generating. She's noted his low body temperature before, and, hardly understanding a word of his rapid-fire explanation, put it down to a simple Time Lord physiology quirk. This thought twinges slightly now, reminding her that they are two different species, but it vanishes along with almost every other thought when Rose rocks her hips forward.

The Doctor releases a small noise into her mouth and Rose looses the rhythm of their kiss. She can feel his arousal hard and insistent against her lower stomach, and it makes her slightly giddy. Her hands go to the front of the Doctor's trousers and she works the zipper without a second thought. The physical confirmation of his desire for her has suddenly made this real, propelling her from a feeling of half-believed fantasy into something far sharper and far better.

The Doctor stops kissing her and lays his head on her shoulder, his breathing not exactly labored but still noticeable against her skin as she pushes his trousers away and sends his boxers following quickly after. He seems to have frozen, hands resting at the very base of her back, until she reaches between them to take him firmly in her grasp. His body jolts as though he's received an electric shock, his breath coming out hard on an exhale.

Rose moves her fingers, fascinated by the feel of him, familiar and alien at the same time. The Doctor thrusts shallowly twice, then pulls hastily away as though he's committed some vicious involuntary crime. Rose murmurs her dissent and reaches out again, but the Doctor now seems determined to be the one in control.

He swings them both around with a suddenness that catches Rose off-gaurd. The Doctor takes advantage of her momentary loss of balance to press her backwards against the bed, guiding her gently to the mattress after her knees buckle against the side. She pushes herself up on her elbows when he withdraws, willing to spend a good long while observing the phenomena of a willingly naked Time Lord next to her bed, but he has other ideas. After kicking off his shoes— another thing Rose was enjoying, because she didn't often get to see him look so unkempt and ridiculous as he did with nothing on but his trainers— he puts his hands on her shoulders, applying gentle pressure until she slides down to lay on her back.

Then his hands skim away, across her collarbones, down her chest, over her stomach and back up again, long fingers tracing elegant, ancient symbols into her skin. Rose arches into the touch, wishing she could tattoo it in her skin and save this moment forever. When the Doctor replaces his hands with his mouth she nearly flies off the bed, hands clenching in his hair, desperate for some sort of anchor. Her entire body is tense, her breath coming in shallow pants, and she's not even fully undressed. She gives the hair in her grip a tug, wanting the Doctor's mouth back on hers, wanting him to know the effect he is having on her.

She looses track of his fingers as they kiss, now fervid and needy, and is therefore completely caught off-guard when they slip under the waistband of her jeans. The Doctor moves his mouth away as she gives a single, sharp gasp, drawing a wet line down the middle of her chest to her stomach, circling her navel then pausing above the button of her jeans.

Rose doesn't quite know what to do with herself as his nimble fingers slowly begin peeling the denim from her body. She feels the need to remain as still as possible, barely breathing even as her hips twitch involuntarily with desire. The Doctor's mouth follows after his hands, kissing lower and lower on increasingly sensitive skin, and if she isn't mistaken his tongue is writing out the same complicated symbols as his fingers did.

It feels completely different than being kissed by anyone else. Rose can sense the many different parts of his Time Lord brain working in tandem, part of him taking in her taste almost like a science experiment, part of him noting which motions make her heartbeat quicken, part of him reveling in her pleasure, part of him savoring his own. She feels momentarily overwhelmed, her whole body erupting with heat, and is grateful when the Doctor removes his mouth to slide her jeans and her pants off her legs in one smooth motion.

Her vision has gone unfocussed since he's started this final stage of undressing her, her eyes staring sightlessly into the darkness of the ceiling above her bed. But now she feels him lean over her and drags her gaze back to find his face. He has one arm and one knee braced on the mattress, his gorgeously long body practically humming with tightly controlled energy, and he's giving her another look.

This one, however, Rose has never seen before, and she has a brief flash of doubt that she ever will again. It's a look that isn't quite human, that's too much to be human, a look that somehow transforms the Doctor's face, like it's burning through the top layers and exposing what truly lies beneath. It's a look that is beautiful and terrifying, and for reasons she can't fully explain it makes tears spring to Rose's eyes.

The Doctor blinks and the look vanishes, replaced by his familiar face sporting an expression of concern. Rose hastily tries to hide the tears, ice shooting through her veins as she worries she might have ruined this interaction completely. The Doctor raises one hand to gently brush away the moisture on her cheeks, a gesture of such infinite tenderness that it almost makes Rose cry harder. She hates herself for this moment of weakness, for making him worry, but before she can think of a way to apologize his other hand slips between her thighs and strokes her deftly into flames.

Rose's hands clamp to the Doctor's arms hard enough to bruise, and while a tiny part of her delights in the idea of marking this moment on his body, the rest of her is lost in blazing white heat as he slips one, two fingers inside. She throws her head back and makes the smallest of noises, letting him explore her with smooth, delicate caresses until she feels like she's about to explode like a sun.

Then she fumbles clumsily until she finds his hand and pulls it away, threading her fingers through his and laying it against her side. There's a moment of stillness as they both pause, taking in the sight and feel of each other so close in so many ways. Their breathing seems to be the only sound in the entire TARDIS, Rose's stuttering and shallow, the Doctor's heavy and slow.

His expression is incredible, but it's recognizable, a mixture and amplification of many emotions he's shown her throughout their time together. And now Rose is able produce a smile for him, tremulous and flickering, but full of unclouded love. He beams back, then shifts; there's a tightening in Rose's whole body like reaching the very top of a hill on a rollercoaster, a second away from hurtling down, and then he enters her.

At first Rose is hit with a wave of sensation so intense she can do nothing but clamp her eyes shut and cling to the Doctor, waiting to regain some modicum of control. Judging by the Doctor's unusually sharp intake of breath and the twitching of his muscles, he's waiting for the same thing. After several long moments he starts to move with small, hesitant motions that let Rose know he hasn't done this for at least as long as her, if not longer. It takes them both some adjusting before they get it right, but once they do all awkwardness is quickly forgotten.

Rose thinks she can't possibly feel better than this, the Doctor filling her with increasingly deep strokes, his hands on her back and his head on her shoulder. She's lost in the motions of their bodies— she is hardly surprised to find the Doctor is innately graceful at this— and the sensations they're creating, feeling so connected to the Doctor that she almost doesn't recognizethe touch on her mind as something new.

He stops moving and presses a kiss to her temple, both actions intensifying the mental penetration enough for her to be able to focus on it. The Doctor's mind pushes gently against her own, and she opens for him freely. There's a moment of almost-uncomfortable probing and settling just like with their bodies before Rose feels everything fall into place. It's not quite communication, but it's a connection that goes far beyond what Rose knew possible.

Heat sears through her, touching every single molecule that makes up her being and igniting them. She can feel the Doctor in her and around her and part of her, and when he begins to move again she looses herself completely.

She becomes a part of the universe, a star bursting into life, swirling and condensing, impossibly dense. She becomes a planet, rotating and revolving at incredible speeds, falling through space. She becomes a comet blazing forward with no means of stopping, trailing colours and sparks. She becomes space and time, infinite, powerful, and devastating.

Something flickers at the back of her mind, like a childhood memory nearly forgotten. The Doctor kisses her on the lips, and that feeds the memory for a moment until suddenly it's gone, and she's simply Rose Tyler again, having the best shag of her life.

She kisses the Doctor back, on his lips, his cheeks, his freckled shoulders. He's still cool to touch and she can't get enough of feeling him, running her hands down the muscles of his back and arching her body off the bed to be flush against his chest. He holds her there as they surge together, joined in bodies and minds, finally actualizing what they have both wanted for so long.

Rose feels her climax building, but like everything tonight it's different than it's ever felt before. She doesn't feel like she's at a cliff's edge, about to fall and make the wonderfully aching descent to a soft, flat bottom. Instead, as the Doctor slides gloriously deep within her, she feels like she's at the cliff's edge, waiting to fly. One final thrust, the Doctor's fingers flexing on her skin, lips brushing over her own, and she jumps.

Her body arcs, hips careening and head thrown back, as she is carried up in the air, higher and higher until at last she floats easily among the clouds.

She goes limp in the Doctor's hold just in time to feel his body stiffen, pressed so firmly to her she has a moment's wonder if he didn't sonic them together at some point when she wasn't looking. The Doctor lets out a quiet, muffled moan, and it's the most amazing sound Rose has ever heard. It gives her the energy to rock slowly up with her hips, drawing out the moan again and the Doctor's wrenching, concentrated release.

He looses the ability to hold them up as he joins her in the clouds; Rose's body gives completely as he falls into her, and they both go crashing to the bed in a tangle of limbs. Rose laughs, a tiny breathless sound that's all she can manage, but that sets the Doctor carefully turning them to their sides so he can hold her closer and more comfortably. Rose's legs slip from around his waist to twine with his legs, one hand still on his back, the other lazily stroking through his throughly mussed hair. The Doctor makes eye contact, waiting for a final, satisfied smile before tucking her head under his chin and wrapping his arms in the way only he can around her spent, sweat-coated body.

Their fears from earlier haven't been erased, Rose realizes in the few moments before her brain shuts down in exhausted bliss. They've been challenged, and they've been fought, but not defeated. And maybe they never will be, but as Rose settles against the sound of a dual heartbeat once more, she suspects that it will be okay. Things will be different between her and the Doctor now in all the best ways imaginable, and in that sleepy, sticky, joyful moment, she imagines the two of them could take on the entire universe.

But for now they simply hold each other in the quiet that rests on them like a blanket, warm and secure. The TARDIS hums happily in the background while their breathing evens and their heartbeats meet in imperfect, magnificent harmony.