Subtle Differences

Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who. I wish I did...David Tennant would have spent a lot of screen time with very few clothes...Yum!

Disclaimer Take Two: All references to dust are ConfusedinTime's because I was having trouble pinpointing how Alt!Ten might smell (for scientific fic purposes, of course!) and I was being deliciously distracted by the thought of sniffing David Tennant...me and my dirty mind!

Disclaimer Take Three: I also don't own 'Self Inflicted', it belongs to Katy Perry and has been driving me crazy all day!

Warning: There is a vague hint of smut in this chapter ('vague'?! Who am I kidding?!) but I don't think it's enough to push to an M, however, I will stick with the age-old sentiment; Don't like? Don't read.

A/N: Last in my 'Another Alternative' series. It can be read as a standalone as long as you keep in mind the fact that Alt!TenRose didn't last (*sob*), but if you're interested, Golden Remnants of Time Travel, Fractures in a Grey City and Breaking Dimensions can be found on my profile. This should hopefully tie all loose ends together because I. Fixed. Them! Whoop! *ahem* Yeah, so to avoid confusion, John is Alt!Ten and Penny featured in Breaking Dimensions as his rebound from Rose. That's about it so...um...enjoy, I guess!

A/N Take Two: Please remember that all reviews are greatly appreciated so once you've finished reading, have a go at pressing that purdy li'l button at the bottom of the page...Pretty please with an even prettier Time Lord on top?

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Young love's like jumping out an aeroplane,
Riding a tidal wave on an ocean of emotion.
My heart rips me wide open.

I can't stop, don't care if I lose.
Baby you are the weapon I choose.
These wounds are self inflicted.
I'm going down in flames for you,
Baby you are the weapon I choose.
These wounds are self inflicted,
One more thing I'm addicted to.

Self Inflicted - Katy Perry

It was raining; that impossibly predictable downpour of iridescent droplets, soaking him to the skin as his shirt clung to him. It glided through his hair, slipping off the gel and pulling its carefully tousled structure apart. His brain sped through the possibilities of the rain, its potential, and only one eventuality settled on his mind, skating across his synapses, exciting his nerve endings to the point of explosion. He was going to kiss her. Rose Tyler. In the rain. He was going to kiss Rose Tyler in the rain. It was so unbelievably predictable and human that an ecstatic laugh tore from his chest and his pace increased.

One heart, one fragile human heart. His respitory bypass system would have allowed him to run all day, uninterrupted; an eternity of chasing if necessary, all to claim the one prize that he wanted more than anything, but his singular heart struggled under the pressure. He was running on pure adrenaline and sheer determination, but it was all he needed.

He rounded the next corner and saw her. She had turned at the sound of his pounding feet and laboured breathing and was standing right in front of him, just staring. The rain cascaded down her face, tiny droplets falling from the tip of her nose, rolling down her cheeks like tiny crystal beads; tears of an angel, of the Bad Wolf.

"John. What-?" He crossed the space between them in a matter of seconds and pressed his lips to hers insistently, demanding and passionate, cutting off their oxygen until they were just breathing each other. A blur of Vortex, tea, gold, coral, bananas, perfume, Time. Love. Theirs.

He pulled his mouth away from her reluctantly, cursing his stupid human need for air. His arms wound around her, pulling her flush against him, positioning her just so, so that he could see her face. He wanted to drink in the moment, commit it to memory forever because it was entirely his. There was no borrowing or lending or genetically instilled thoughts and feelings, it was just him and her. John and Rose. He smiled down at her, a real, proper face-splitting grin and just stared at her wondrously.

"That should have been our first kiss," he said breathlessly.

"John…" She tested his name on her tongue, rolling it around, letting herself adjust to it. It felt good; it felt right. And then she checked herself. "Penny."

"Penny's a fighter." He smiled affectionately, wistfully. "She also knows me almost as well as you do. She knew I wouldn't, couldn't, be happy without you."

"The TARDIS…" she began again, searching his face for the worry lines she had seen on his counterpart when he thought he'd seen his ship being torn apart. She knew, better than anyone, that a Time Lord without his TARDIS was a lost soul indeed.

"…Can survive without me for a little while longer" he finished determinedly.

"You've waited two years for this…"

"And I'd wait forever if it meant I could stay with you…" He trailed off, really looking at her. Rose Tyler; tough, feisty, confident, and oh so unsure of herself. "Ohh, but you really don't know what effect you have on me, what effect you've always had on me! I love you, Rose, and that will neverever change."

"Never say 'never ever'." She smiled weakly.

"Oh, but I'm not a Time Lord. I'm a human. Bone-dead stupid, that's me! I don't know that I should never say it, so I will always mean it." She grinned properly at his ridiculously twisted logic.

"Stupid ape," she teased, hitting his arm playfully, before looking at him in total seriousness. "But the TARDIS doesn't have to wait. You've got me, whether you like it or not, and I'm a more than willing travelling companion, as you well know. So go on…go back to it!" He shook his head.

"They can't work it without me, anyway. Torchwood can wait. After all," he said, stroking her cheek softly. "There's something else I'd much rather be doing right now." The kiss felt like never and forever wrapped into one, melting together into something much more harmonious.

She fumbled with the key in the lock as he slowly kissed his way along her neck. He was so deliciously distracting that for a few seconds, she forgot what she was meant to be doing and dipped her head back, capturing his mouth with her own.

"Rose…" he muttered huskily, putting his hands on her arms to stop her taking his jacket off. "Rose…the door…" He almost pleaded. She remembered, turning the key until she heard a click. The door flung open and he pushed her inside, his hands tracing her body hungrily and he pushed the door closed with his foot. He swung them around until she was pressed against the wall and his mouth moved to her collarbone again, drinking in her scent. He moaned happily, burying his face in her neck as her foot slowly stroked up his leg, rubbing along his thin suit trousers. It felt so…right.

"You smell like…like nothing I've ever smelt before." He sniffed the air around them, tasting the scent, licking his lips softly. "Like caramel and apples, roses and lilies, and you taste…oh, Rose, you taste of…" He kissed her again, slowing tracing her lips with his tongue. "…Sugar-coated lemons…" he said, satisfied.

She giggled. "Sugar-coated lemons?" she asked, each word slipping out slowly, carefully, twirling around in the air as she tested them.

"Yeah," he grinned goofily. "Sweet and bitter at the same time. It's addictive."

"Sounds like you," she said quietly, a little sadly.

"Oh, but I'll only ever be sweet to you, my Rose." The smile he wore was more intense now, just for her. His eyes were pure black, with the faintest brown ring hazy around the edges.

"Your…"

"Mine" he affirmed, claiming her mouth again.

She pushed his jacket off his shoulders, hearing it slid to the floor with a thud. His shirt was still wet and clinging to him like a second skin. She fumbled with the buttons but they wouldn't give up. He released her for a moment, as she ripped it and flung the offending item of clothing onto the top of the wardrobe. She didn't intend for him to find it for a while.

"Rose…" He whispered her name like a chant, a mantra, over and over and over again as he discarded her jacket and t-shirt. It all felt like Time had slowed down just for them, but he knew that was impossible. He shoved the Time Lord instinct roughly to the back of his mind, concentrating on Rose; it didn't matter whether it was possible for Time to slow for two people or not, all that mattered was them, right there, right then, in their own little bubble of Time and Space.

He ran his hands lightly over her waist, her arms, her stomach, anywhere he could reach. Exploring, rediscovering…No. It wasn't rediscovery; it was that simple, blissful first discovery. When they had slept together before, it had been with anger and disappointment and an aching sense of loss. This time, she was here because she wanted him, and that made all the difference.

There was no desperation either, no frantic urgency. They took their time, exploring, touching, tasting, holding. She realised with a gentle jolt that he tasted different. She had been so wrapped up in the Doctor, in holding onto him and everything he was that she didn't notice the subtle differences between him and John, or rather, she didn't want to. Now though…now John was the man she wanted and he wasn't a ghost anymore; he was his own man and she found that she wanted to notice the tiny differences, she relished them.

The Doctor had smelt of tea and bananas and a faint tang of metal; the dust of the Universe on the soles of his Converse. But John? John smelt of freshly cut grass – proper, real, Earth grass; no apples in sight – and dark chocolate. The two scents mingled more perfectly than she could have ever imagined; both so bitter than they stung her nose, exciting her most primal human senses, the chocolate like strong black coffee, only so much better; the grass so fresh and full of life, the exuberance of nature. And his Converse had been thrown across the room; no dust on those shoes, they had adventures yet to embark on, dust yet to be walked in. But the scents were sweet too, just like the tea and bananas of his Time Lord counterpart, except more of an undercurrent, a tantalising hint of sweetness. Bittersweet. Like their relationship had been before…not anymore. They weren't bitter, or sweet; they were just human and in love. John and Rose. John and Rose. The words were a chant in her head, matching the rhythm of his speech. They fitted, like it was meant to be.

The bed dipped beneath her but she barely noticed, running her hand through John's unruly hair as he kissed her intimately. He propped himself up on his hands, hovering over her as if afraid she couldn't take his weight.

"You're sure?" he whispered, more of a plea than an inquiry but he needn't have worried because there was no other alternative for her anymore. She knew what she wanted, and what she wanted was John Smith. An almost imperceptible nod was enough.

And suddenly, there was no distance between them; the gap in Space and Time that had held them apart for a year, and had never been fully closed before that, was gone and a tender, easy rhythm was so simple that she could have laughed at the sheer absurdity of the situation. This was how their first time together should have been.

There was no need for any falsities; no 'You're the best, the very, very best' was required because they both knew, with that sated satisfaction and sense of self-security that comes with love, that neither had ever had, nor would ever have better than them.

She came undone with a hoarse cry of, "John!" and he smiled, completely satisfied, committing the moment to memory before he saw stars of his own; stars he would never know the name of but whose mystery was delicious. The day he knew everything, he thought he might as well stop, but right there and then, as he dropped, boneless, onto Rose, he wanted to know every inch of her and for her to know every imperfection of his.

Everything felt like silk, sensitive, slippery and soft; the cotton sheets between them, Rose's sweat-covered skin, his own warm body. They were a tangle of intimate limbs in the crumpled cotton and the whole room smelt of satisfaction and sleep. His hand traced her waist lightly, skimming over her hip as he watched her sleep. She looked peaceful now, so unlike the worry and sadness that he had seen on her sleeping face the last time. She stirred, her eyelids flickering open, blinking in the weak morning light.

"Morning," she said, her voice laced with sleep as she smiled up at him lazily.

"Morning," he returned, studying her intently. "No regrets?" The worry on his face appeared light; a mere consideration on his part, but it was lead in his voice.

She propped herself up on one elbow and brushed his erratic hair away from his face. "Never ever" she said assuredly.

"I thought I told you to never say 'never ever'?" he teased, an eyebrow quirked up slightly in a way that made her want to do all sorts of things to him, things she had never even considered before.

She adopted an expression of mock seriousness and stared at him as if she was looking down over a pair of glasses. "Oh, but I'm a human. Bone-dead stupid, that's me! I don't know that I should never say it, so I will always mean it."

He grinned, all worry melting away from his boyish face. "I love you, Rose Tyler. For the rest of my life. I love you and I always will."

"I love you too, John." And it occurred to him that it was the first time she had ever said those words with his name. He suddenly felt sorry for his Time Lord counterpart because he had missed this. He could have had it all. Now he, John Smith, had Rose Tyler's love and he would never ever give it up.