That night Jackie cooks dinner and Rose forbids the Doctor to say a word about it. In exaggerated compliance he makes many loud noises expressing his taste buds' pleasure as he eats, and smirks every time Rose pokes him under the table. Then one time her hand remains on his thigh and he becomes suddenly very quiet.

After dinner they wander out to the large terrace that overlooks the sloping grounds and the setting sun. Rose sits in a chair while the Doctor remains standing with his hands in his pockets because he isn't sure what else to do with himself.

The atmosphere between them has changed, their kiss earlier in the afternoon acting like a wreaking ball, breaking down the barriers between them and leaving way for other, softer things.

Or perhaps not so soft, the Doctor thinks, and shifts a little uncomfortably. He's not used to this urgency, this need that is racing through his veins and filling his thoughts. He wants to be touching Rose, to be holding her, kissing her, feeling her skin under his own. And his brain, rather than being helpful and occupying itself with solving partial differential equations or listing all the stars in the Frelion galaxy, is supplying memory after memory of him doing all those things and more. He can hear the noises Rose makes when he touches that place on her hip, smell the scent of her hair, see her covered in a glistening sheen of sweat with eyes closed and teeth clamped down on her bottom lip—

He turns away and stares at the setting sun, letting it burn spots into his vision, wishing it could replace the burn inside of him too.

"Doctor?" Rose murmurs, and the sound of her voice saying his name is like sparks against his back.

"Yeah?" His voice is naturally that high sometimes surely, she won't notice anything odd.

"D'you think… D'you think we should get our own place?"

Her voice has a tinge to it that makes the Doctor turn around, his Rose-is-upset reactions firing just as strongly in this body as in any of his others.

She is sitting in the chair with her knees drawn up, looking at the ground rather than at him. She changed into a sweatshirt and jeans before dinner and she looks much more like the young and tentative Rose he first met, rather than the steely, driven woman she is now.

"Our own place?" he repeats, taking a step forward then rocking back on his heels when he remembers getting closer to her right now would be a very bad idea.

"Yeah." Rose still doesn't look at him, but picks at a hole in her jeans. It's an achingly familiar gesture that makes him want to touch her even more. "I mean, 'cause this is my mum and dad's house, and if we're going to be… living together I thought…"

As she struggles with the words the Doctor realises he's come several steps closer. Angrily, he glares down at his feet, mentally reprimanding them with stern orders to stop disobeying him.

"Doctor," Rose says again, and the thrill at hearing her say his name almost outweighs the pang he feels at hearing her so sound unsure. "We… we might have to get a mortgage."

"That sounds wonderful," the Doctor replies, and his feet really are persistent because now he's standing right in front of her. "I've several new skills that have come with this body, Rose Tyler, one of them being a great love of mortgages."

"Really?" Rose asks, finally looking up at him with a smile a thousand times brighter than the sun.

"Oh yes." Now the Doctor's knees have joined his feet in mutiny because suddenly he is kneeling in front of her. "And doors, and carpets."

"Mmmmm," Rose hums, and the Doctor knows if he were touching her he could feel the vibration of the sound, and thus he isn't terribly surprised when his hands take it upon themselves to slide their way up her thighs. "Great big plush carpets," Rose breathes, leaning forward. "Ones you can lay in like blankets."

"Rose," the Doctor just manages to say before his lips take over completely and fix themselves to Rose for the rest of the foreseeable future. "I think perhaps… I should go…"

"House hunting can wait until the morning," Rose replies, sliding her hands into his hair, and damn if his eyes don't fall shut and refuse to open back up again. His voice is the only thing that remains even slightly under his control and he utilises the remaining dregs before they slip away entirely.

"I don't want you to feel pressured. It's okay if you don't want… You've only known me for two days—"

"Shut up," Rose says with what would be a laugh if it didn't sound like she had lost all the air in her lungs. "You're the Doctor. You're my Doctor."

And then she's kissing him and his control is gone completely.

He practically climbs her body as he rises from his knees to his feet, pulling her up flush against him. Of all the things he missed about Rose when he was separated from her, sex was fairly low on the list. He had loved the mentality of it more than the physical pleasure— though he did rather enjoy the pleasure— because it was Rose trusting him and sharing herself with him implicitly, and a way for him to do the same for her.

However this part-human body seems to lack the ability to separate the mental pleasure from the physical and it's all tangling up inside of him with how much he's missed Rose and how indescribably grateful he is to have her here and have her wanting him and it's like he's in the burning centre of a star—

—and the next thing he knows he has Rose pressed against the wall of her house, leaning into her with his whole body, hands on her back under her shirt, cursing his lack of a bi-respiratory system when it forces him to withdraw his tongue from her mouth and gasp for air.

Rose laughs, a soundless shaking against him, and he smiles into her hair.

"I think," he mutters, tugging her away from the wall to pull her into a more complete embrace, because he's not apologising for what he just did but he's pretty sure he should, "we need to get our own place."

Rose hums again this time like she knows he can feel it, then she takes him by the hand and tugs him back into the house and up the stairs and maybe he shouldn't be apologising after all.

The moment she shuts the bedroom door behind them he kisses her again, plunging his hands into her hair to tilt her head back and give himself as much access as possible to that wonderful mouth. Rose seizes his hips and pulls them blatantly forward, making him gasp in surprise at the contact.

Her hands are under his shirt before he's recovered, yanking it roughly over his head. She presses herself against his chest, fingers digging into the skin of his back, and he discovers that he is capable of producing a rather impressive growl from deep inside his chest. She goes for the waistband of his trousers but he stops her with another kiss, this one barely more than crashing together of their open, panting mouths.

He isn't quite sure how he gets her sweatshirt off without breaking the contact between them, but he doesn't much care as he makes her t-shirt follow rapidly after. Rose seems willing to take care of her own bra and for a moment he's distracted because it's a front closure which she definitely didn't wear those when they were running for their lives on a daily basis.

Now they both go for each other's trousers and shove them to the floor in seconds, kicking awkwardly to dislodge the tangled piles of fabric from their feet. The action forces them to separate and they both pause in their frantic passion, staring at each other with matching, heaving breaths. A pale, ethereal blend of moonlight and the lights of the grounds streams in through the open window, its gauzy curtains fluttering in the breeze. The Doctor runs his eyes over Rose's familiar body, his oh-so-clever brain having memorised every inch of her when they were together, sometimes he felt with the express purpose of tormenting him with vivid recollection during her absence.

Except, it's not her familiar body anymore.

His hands stop midway on their journey to mimic his eyes and trace those inviting curves as he takes in what he's seeing. A horrible, icky prickling feeling coats him from head to toe and his hands drop to his sides, his breath leaving his lungs like he's been punched in the chest, an exhale that sounds vaguely like her name.

There are marks on her skin, new marks the Doctor hasn't seen before cutting across her creamy skin like a roadmap drawn with ink on fresh parchment. He quickly catalogues them, drawing up a list at top speed in his mind of all the things that could cause a bruise like that on her lower stomach, or make a scratch of that length on her arm.

His mind comes to a sudden, wrenching halt as it realises he's not just seeing new wounds. Some of them have already become scars.

"Doctor." Rose's voice is shattering loud in the silence though she barely speaks above a whisper. He forces his gaze back to her face, hardly aware of the moisture gathering in his eyes, hearing his own sharp, shallow breaths as though from a great distance. By contrast Rose remains perfectly still, her gaze steady and almost alarmingly blank.

She shakes her head, a tiny motion like a vindication.

"Don't," she says in that same quiet, assured voice. "It's not fair."

The Doctor wants to speak, to answer her or question her or yell at her or worship her, but his voice seems to be lost in the burning of his throat. For a moment he thinks of Donna pushing that gorgeous ginger hair of her eyes and sighing about how the one souvenir she seemed to keep from travelling the universe was the aches and bruises. Her memory flares inside of his head, mixing with the memory of Martha with cold eyes and the weight of a ruined world on her shoulders, and finally giving way to the memory of a younger Rose with an infectious smile who never would have stood in front of him so matter-of-factly bearing the evidence of years of pain slashed across her naked body.

Suddenly he finds he's not breathing at all, and he's pretty sure this single heart is a defect because it's beating so hard it's about to break his ribs and leave him the kind of destroyed shell he's left behind so many times in his wake—

"Doctor." There's a gentle, sad warmth to Rose's voice like a summer's raindrop, and she takes a step forward to reach out and lay a hand on his chest, holding in his shattering heart.

"I knew the risks," she says slowly and clearly, each word a pulse forcing his frozen blood through his veins. "I knew what I was getting into when I used the dimension cannon. I've been out there. I knew what could happen."

Her hand on his chest helps him find a piece of his voice, but all that comes out is her name.

"It was worth it," Rose whispers, staring at him with all the saved stars of the universe glowing in the depths of her warm brown eyes. "Everything I did… it was worth it. It brought me to you."

His heart reverses and implodes, and he pulls Rose into his arms, because there has been a vacuum in his life without her and she is the only thing that can fill the void. He holds her as close as he can without breaking her, except nothing can break her because she is the most incredible being he's ever known and she's here and she's his. She's more than the defender of earth or even the universe, she's the saviour of his existence.

He drops to his knees in front of her where he belongs, arms sliding down her body and holding her in place as he proceeds to kiss every single wound and scar.

Rose's breath stutters in her lungs but she shuts her eyes and stays still until his tongue traces a reverent line up the inside of her thigh. Then she tugs him up gently by his hair and kisses him; he can taste her unshed tears and the flickers of despair that ate at her hope like acid over the years and her cautious joy and her overwhelming, uncontainable love.

He carries her to the bed and though he'd like it to be romantic and slow and beautiful his body won't agree to that and he suspects Rose— now writhing underneath him, hands stroking and clenching in erratic patterns on his body— won't either. And he knows suddenly with a blinding, glorious realisation that there will be time for him to taste and tease Rose until she melts and burns, time for her to push aside his barriers and demonstrate new uses of her talented mouth, time for them to lay next to each other and kiss and stroke without urgency but the slow ease of utter contentment.

But right now they need to be together, to feel each other and touch each other and move as one. Rose's legs are around his waist and his hands are under her shoulders and he enters her and she surrounds him and they're home.

The Doctor feels like he's being born again, or perhaps this is the baptism for this new body. With every arch and moan Rose christens this new life, and it's the highest rapture the Doctor could imagine.

However, he is mildly concerned he might die, because surely a human heart isn't supposed to beat this fast, surely his lungs aren't supposed to work this hard, and surely his body isn't supposed to feel like it's being pumped with gas and set on fire, ready to explode at any moment.

His telepathy is all but gone within the confines of this body, but it doesn't seem to matter as he moves inside Rose, feeling her heartbeat through the depth of their connection, it's rapid pace matching his own. He recognises the sounds she is making, the way her neck is straining and the flush spreading across her skin. He knows she is close to the edge, and he refuses to fall without her.

The mental connection seems to be working both ways because at that moment Rose opens her eyes and looks up at him. He's been watching her the entire time— that remains the same as ever— but it changes when she meets his gaze. Time stops. The Doctor is sure of that impossibility because he's faced another that is unquestionably true— the impossibility of being joined with Rose Tyler, of being completed and being complete, of a woman and a love that can and have and will endure across the stars.

He is kissing Rose when they break and they break together, exploding like stars into glittering fragments that drift slowly down to a gentle landing, side by side.

The Doctor finds himself with one hand in Rose's hair, the other tracing languidly down her body. One of her hands is tucked between them, the other is curled with casual familiarity around the back of his neck. They can both feel two heartbeats as their pulses slow and their breathing finds a rhythm like the sea.

They don't go to sleep for a long while but lay without moving until the stars begin to fade from the night sky. Only then do they close their eyes at last, secure in the knowledge that soon they will see the sun, and the stars will return the following night.