Hair of the Dog

Indeed, indeed, Repentance of before
I swore--but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

- The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, XCIV

It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Okay, perhaps that was being a little insincere. In all truth, he had known at the time that getting drunk off of his rocker was most assuredly not a good idea, that it would not turn out well at all and that the resultant damage might (at best) put them back a number of steps in the relationship development he'd been working so hard to achieve. But he had been lonely and desperate, and figured there was nothing to lose.

It was, of course, an erroneous assumption. He had everything to lose. Everything that mattered anymore, that was. You'd think by now he'd be used to things being taken away from him: his friends, his semi-sentient home, his planet of origin. In the TARDIS he'd lost not just a place to hang his scarf, but a dear traveling companion. He'd left all those he traveled with before Rose, and after, in his former universe. He'd always figured, before, that if he became lonely enough, he go could check up on them…pop back to their original times and watch them from the shadows. He'd lost that very possibility when he locked himself away here with the zeppelins and the President of England and the disgustingly happy Tyler family. His own family, of course, was gone with Gallifrey. Gone by his hand. All except his counterpart, that was. For a few short hours he'd had a brother, until his twin was lost along with the rest of them on the other side of an impenetrable universal wall. He'd lost lovers in the past as well, people he'd actually opened himself up to, despite the rigid constraints of the society he was raised in. He'd lost his hearts a number of times before he lost just the one physically, and he'd never really gained a satisfactory return on the deposit. In fact, losing appeared to be his forte. His entire life was like some sick reversal of Casey At Bat. Only once had he ever won something worth having, and even then he lost her…twice…now three times, likely, if she had half a brain and an ounce of self-preservation, which he knew, without a doubt, she did.

All this and more passed idly through his mind in the brief moments between the comfortless inky blackness of unconsciousness and the disturbing half-awake sense that all was not right with the world…and by the world he meant his stomach…and by not right he meant that he needed to find a suitable receptacle ASAP.

He launched himself from the bed, tripped over a plastic bucket that had, for some unknowable reason, been left sitting next to it, went to his knees on the floor of his bedroom, and immediately took a firm grip of the carpet threads with each hand in an attempt to stop the whirling sense of vertigo that was threatening to make him sick-up right then and there. He concentrated on breathing and on not dribbling onto the floor the excess saliva pooling in his mouth. He stared at the pattern of carpet indentations directly in front of him. The carpet was not spinning, that was a good thing. The carpet was a good thing. In a morning (was it morning?) thus far characterized by "not good" things, he was willing to take that at face value. He tried to raise his head and get his bearings and, oops, no…not a good thing. Let's just stick with the carpet, then, shall we? And really, what was it with all this spit?

He managed to grope one hand forward, and then the other, his eyes still determinedly downcast. His knees followed suit. He progressed in this manner, angling towards where he felt fairly certain the en suite was located…or at least, where it had been yesterday. His left hand came down upon something that seemed decidedly less like carpet and rather more like ceramic tile. His right hand soon found the cool, smooth surface as well. He hoped the tile would also be a good thing, although he recognized that getting two such benefits in a row was a bit much to hope for at this juncture.

He gave a grunt as his shoulder came up hard against the door jamb, but didn't let it slow his pace. Methodically, he crawled forward until he could sense the looming porcelain presence of the loo at his right. He felt a momentary rush of relief at having made it this far, before that sensation was transformed into a stomach twisting inevitability.

He certainly hoped the seat was up.

It was, blessedly, completely raised, and he would have offered a silent prayer of thanks to deities he knew didn't really exist if he had not immediately forgotten to do so in favor of efficiently and enthusiastically emptying his stomach into the bowl.

He'd vomited before, of course. Although, usually that had been blood and, during such events, he had been concerned enough with keeping the other mechanics of his nature up and running that he'd never really stopped to appreciate the experience. Now that he was not, at the moment, in danger of dying (regardless of how he might subjectively feel) he found that he could analyze the incident with the cool, if not entirely detached, mind of a scientist. The first thing he noted was that it was rather painful. The contractions started in his stomach and continued all the way up his aching esophagus in an uncomfortable, muscle straining reverse of the more regular, downwards focused, peristalsis. Also, it burned. Once again, all the way up from the bottom of his belly, into his mouth and, ugh, yes, his nose. And that was truly disgusting. Why?! What evolutionary screw-up decreed that the primary means of oxygenation would be placed so close to the orifice of ingestion? Aside from being a terrible choking hazard, it could lead to additional unpleasant side effects. Like burning, acrid smelling semi-liquid goo dripping out your nostrils into a swirling scum of former stomach contents like the one currently lying in a thin film over top of the toilet water not six inches from his nose.

This thought, of course, brought on another round of heavy heaves.

Unsurprisingly, it tasted horrible. Like acid, which of course it was. It didn't smell much better. He was fairly certain the substance itself had shorted out some of his scent receptacles, and that might explain the difference. A blessing in disguise? Well, not for long. He was certain that as soon as his digestive system was completely cleared out his fine sensory perception would return with a vengeance. Oh, lucky him.

He really was surprised at how long it went on. Granted, his time sense was nowhere near what it used to be, but it seemed to him an eternity before his traitorous body stopped finding anything to rid itself of. Even then, the torture continued, and he found himself repeatedly wracked by diaphragm deep coughs, without any appreciable emission. Bloody stupid human inner ear, didn't know that the poisons (and, incidentally, everything else) had been ejected. Reason number two hundred thirty-six to hate being on this fucking backwater planet, in this fucking alternate universe, trapped inside this fucking inferior body.

Getting angry seemed to help matters slightly. He managed to get the heaving somewhat under control, and concentrate once again on that breathing thing which had been eluding him for the past few minutes. He swallowed, tasting bile and goodness knew what else. He pawed at the toilet paper roll mounted conveniently at eye level and ripped off a number of sheets. He wiped at his mouth, blew his nose, and dropped the soiled mess into the bowl with the rest of his self-respect. Reaching up blindly (despite his recent progress, he still doubted it would be a good idea to raise his head) he flushed the toilet and lowered his forehead to the cool edge in relief.

It was then that the headache started.

Well, started is probably a bad description. He'd had an inkling during his recent adventures in emesis that there was something else bothering him; something else "not good" that was set on a momentary back burner while the majority of his attention was focused single-mindedly on making an offering to the porcelain god. Upon the retreat of that more immediately compelling symptom, he became distressingly aware of others. Primarily, the way his brain felt like it was finally trying to do what it had been threatening for months and explode out of the archaic confines of his human skull. He imagined his head as a midnight dark tube tunnel with a subway car rocketing through it at immense speed. He could almost feel the plates of his cranium rattling together with the force of its passage. Oh, that was not a good image (did that make it a "not good" image?). He felt his nausea returning like an old acquaintance you never really liked in the first place, but who recognizes you and pulls you over to the bar for a round before you can slink off into the back of the pub and pretend you never saw him. Great, headache plus queasiness plus he was shaking like a leaf and he had absolutely no idea why. It didn't seem particularly cold in the bathroom, and yet there he was; arms wrapped about his midsection as if they were the only things still holding him inside his skin frame, shoulders quaking with his release, hands quivering uncontrollably where they gripped at the edge of the toilet bowl.

For the first time, he noticed that he was all but naked.

Right, he was certainly not going to do this again. Whatever the buzz, it wasn't worth waking up unclothed, with no good memory of how you'd gotten that way, and glued to the toilet lest you toss your few remaining cookies onto something that would stain permanently. Nope. Never. Nada. Not again. Not unless Rose decided to leave him because he's such a worthless drunkard. Counter productive, that, but still better then sticking around for the resulting heartbreak sober.

It was a testament to his remaining impairment that he couldn't even lie well to himself.

He jumped instinctively at the sound of the faucet being turned on high. It was the first indication he'd had that someone else was in the restroom with him. He couldn't bear to look, notwithstanding his steadfast determination to keep his head bowed; didn't need to look, because really, who else could it be? Who else would be standing at the sink in his…their…her flat and filling, by the overloud sounds crashing through his eardrums, a glass of water? No one, that's who. No one else would bother to intrude upon his misery like this. No one else would presume to waltz unannounced into his personal en suite like it was her own (which, in point of fact, it was, her name being on the 'oh, so domestic' mortgage). No one else would so ungraciously take up precious bathroom floor space that could be better utilized for curling upon in abject wretchedness.

Bloody hell, was she draining Niagara Falls?! What was taking her so long anyhow?

The faucet turned off with a slight squeak that he had never noticed before, but which now proceeded to bore its way into his cerebellum from his auditory canal. He was completely convinced that his eardrum was punctured in the process. 'Thanks a heap, Rose,' he thought unkindly, a strangled breath shuddering through his lungs, 'Thanks a bloody lot you cold, heartless bi-'

"You should drink something."

Her voice, unlike the other sounds which had been assaulting his ears, was soft. Gentle. Almost comforting. It was enough to make him think maybe he could lift his head. Maybe he could meet her look, even if he couldn't (never again) meet her eyes. Flinching at the crick that's grown in his neck, he slowly swiveled his head towards the room's other occupant.

She was holding out a full cup, and the picture she made was eerily familiar. He seemed to remember her telling him (ordering him, really) to drink up. To drink more when he woke. And he recalled doing just that. Wrapped around her little finger, he was. Still. After all this time. He reached for the cup and took it from her between trembling fingers. It was almost a relief to drop his eyes again, to focus on the water and the lip of the cup and anything other than the woman standing stark and disappointed over him.

He drank the water in little sips, thinking that might keep it all from coming right back up again. It was a tedious process: sip, pause, breathe, sip again - but she stood in wait through all of it. When he was halfway done (Was the glass half full or empty? What kind of meaningless question was that anyways?) he heard her start to rummage through the drawers under the sink. The noise was uncomfortably loud in his ears, as was the eventual 'pop' of a plastic cap that echoed through the tiny tiled space. Braver than the rest of him, his eyes flicked up to appraise her, while his lips still rested against the container of his liquid salvation. His forehead scrunched with the effort of his hopping eyebrows, and it hurt.

Rose was focusing on her hand (not on him, thankfully) and shaking small white pills into her palm. 'No,' he thought immediately, and then, 'Why not?' It wasn't like it would hurt him anymore, even if it wasn't paracetamol. "Here," she said, holding her hand out towards him. There were two tiny painkillers nestled in between her life lines. He stared at them, stared at the white circles against her comparatively dark skin; stared until the action left little purple dots in the center of his vision when he looked back to her face. "Go on," she insisted, "They won't bite." Mentally, he listed the possible side effects of ingestion, but didn't say a word. There were so many ways to die now, and no second chance for recovery. It didn't bear thinking about. He reached out to take the pills from her, and swallowed them with a gulp of water. He could feel them burning down into the pit of his stomach; burning with the acid already there, the acid that hadn't yet been sicked up. He hoped he would keep them down until they could do something about the pounding in his head. He doubted it.

The water was finished, but he was still thirsty. He didn't want to ask her, though. Didn't think he deserved to ask her for more than he'd already been given. Didn't think he could get it himself if he tried.

"More?" she asked, an offer and a question, and his eyes fell shut. He could feel the unshed tears burning behind his retinas and if he'd had a shred of respect for himself remaining after his earlier performance, he'd be embarrassed at how her simple kindness could so unman him. He nodded, not opening his eyes, and felt the smooth sides of the cup slip from his hands. There was running water again, not so loud this time, and then a sound he couldn't identify even with his painfully acute hearing. He felt the cool glass of the cup press again into his palms and before he could open his eyes to thank her with a wordless glance, a damp terry-cloth was set over his eyes and across his brows. It was unnerving, for a moment, before it became thankfully, blissfully, pleasant. Not pleasant in the strictest sense, but a lightening of the pain which was just short of heavenly. The freight train in his head slowed to a crawl and cold drops of water trickled down over his cheeks to alight with freezing fire on his neck.

It was hard to continue sipping his drink with her holding the washcloth over his face, but he made a go at it. After a while, he replaced her hand with his own, and he felt the shift in the air as she moved back and away from his recumbent form. She would leave him now, of course. Leave him alone to deal with the mess he'd made for himself; the mess he'd made of his life. The one he was supposed to spend with her. His one human life.

Damn, but wasn't Martha Jones right. He was rubbish at being a human.

And Rose…Rose obviously didn't know how this was supposed to play out, because she certainly wasn't leaving. Really, there was only so much one could chalk up to her not being able to read timelines. Still, she didn't seem the type to gloat. Oh, she indulged in the occasional, 'I told you so.' Who didn't? Mickey had a whole dance number based on it, but Rose didn't seem like the kind to rub things in. And actually, now that he thought about it (now that he had enough of his wits about him to think in general), it did seem rather counter-productive to help re-hydrate someone and feed them painkillers, just so you could kick them in the nuts while they were down.

"You're not leaving," he said, surprised he'd said anything. He hadn't intended to start a conversation, but the thought popped into his head and out his mouth before he had any real chance to examine it. If he had, he would have avoided saying something so stupid. And obvious. Perhaps that could be his new superhero title, since 'The Doctor' was already taken. Captain Obvious, and his faithful companion Rose Tyler, Defender of Earth. The two of them could have zany, comic book style adventures together. Just like old times. That was, if she didn't leave…which she didn't seem to be doing…as he'd just, oh-so-obviously pointed out.

"You want me to?"

There was a tremor in her voice that she couldn't quite control, that she would have been able to hide from anyone who didn't have hyper-sensitive hearing and a very good knowledge of her moods. It was enough to make him raise his head, forgetting for the moment that there was a cotton compress between himself and her, and that he couldn't see her even with his eyes wide open.

"No," he responded, and it's the first damn thing he's been sure of since he came to this hellish other universe. No. Never. She'd said forever and whether she meant it or not, he would hold her to it. Except that he couldn't hold her. Never could. She'd proved that from their first meeting, turned him down flat. It wasn't enough that he was placing the whole universe at her fingertips; no, it had to travel in time, too. If there was one thing for certain, Rose Tyler was her own woman. She was no simple sidekick. She'd never stand for the silly, needlessly revealing outfits, for one. She was fantastic and brilliant and all those superlative adjectives he'd become fond of in his more recent incarnations and he…he was sitting mostly naked on a cold, hard bathroom floor, with the sour tang of vomit still lying heavy on his tongue. "Please, no," he repeated, with a tad more desperation to his tone.

"All right, then," she replied. He heard her slide down the opposite wall and join him on the tile. A long pause ensued in which he took the time to fully consider the depths of his physical distress. Rose appeared to be waiting for something from him, if her silence was any indication, but he didn't feel like talking. At least, he didn't much feel like opening his mouth when he was still so close to losing his tight grip on regurgitation. "I called you in sick," she went on, "So, don't worry about that." As if he would. As if, with his world crashing down around him and his body making a definitive statement in favor of temperance, he would give a damn what Torchwood thought.

"D'you…" she started, clearly uncomfortable with the silence. His silence. "Do you remember last night?"

Damn, that required an answer, didn't it?

"I…" he tried…failed. His mouth felt dry again, and it had nothing to do with the dehydration. He took another small sip of water. "I seem to recall you saying that you loved me."

It's amazing, this amplified hearing, on top of his normally supra-human abilities. He can actually hear her smile. "That you remember?" she said amusedly.

"Yes, well, I thought it rather important at the time." He had no idea where he was managing to pull that kind of cheek from.

There's a pause the space of a double-heartsbeat before she came back testily, "It's not like I haven't said it before."

"Not to-" His reply was took quick. His wit, as always, working ahead of the rest of him. His stomach clenched and his head reeled and he dropped the now dry washcloth into his lap in favor of groping for the toilet yet again.

He thought he'd lose all the water and the little white pills and be back at square one. He was therefore surprised when, after several minutes of staring pointedly at the bottom of the bowl, he still hadn't brought anything up. Perhaps he actually was getting the hang of this? He was trying to wrestle his breathing back under his conscious control when he felt the warm press of a hand between his shoulder blades.

"Yes," she whispered, her voice low and soothing at his ear, "To you"

He wanted to laugh, he really did. Some sort of dark laugh like his ninth self might have favored. But he was afraid of losing what little ground he'd gained in the past few seconds. "You think," he said, swallowing his pride with some extra spittle, "That he would ever be in this sort of position? That he would ever be so stupid as to do this to himself? Don't make me laugh, Rose." 'Please,' he added mentally. "I'm not him. I'm never going to be him, and there's just no comparison between us." He raised his head, blinking, and turned slightly to his left. She was kneeling just behind him, bent to his level, with one hand still resting against his back and a pinched look marring her beautiful face. Her gaze was filled with so much pity that he almost wished he were sick again so he'd have a good excuse to look away.

"I saw a future, once," she began, "Where you were dead. Drowned. Dead without regeneration. I saw them load your sodden body onto a stretcher. Saw the sonic screwdriver slip from your fingers." Her eyes went dark with the force of her memory. "I remember thinking that it couldn't be happening, that you couldn't really be dead. I saw folks in UNIT berets looking on and talking nervously amongst themselves as the medics wheeled you away. I jumped forward a few hours and argued my way into UNIT headquarters to find you. I was sure you'd wake up in their morgue or something; that you wouldn't want to be alone when you did; that you'd want someone familiar there who wouldn't be bothered by the whole face changing thing. But you never woke up, and I sat there in the chilling locker staring at your body for hours."

Her eyes blazed at him and suddenly he wished he was back in his bed. He wished he was somewhere he could pull covers over his head and lie huddled in relative safety for days. There was a storm in those eyes, and he was abruptly aware just what it was like to be stared down by the hurricane. "So yes, Doctor," she put an emphasis on the title, "I know you're that stupid. I know you'd put yourself in just this sort of position. You're impulsive and emotional and not nearly as strong as you think. Plus, you have one Hell of a self-destructive streak." She shook her head angrily. "Maybe if he could get pissed out of his skull he wouldn't have ended up at the bottom of the Thames and the stars would never have winked out."

She'd never told him before of that capsule universe of Donna's. Whenever he'd brought it up, she'd always shake her head and change the conversation. He could guess her experiences there had been less than pleasant. It had hurt that she wouldn't tell him. If she couldn't trust him with her deepest secrets, with her most damaging fears, well, what good was he? Now, he thought, he might have some small understanding why she held back. It wasn't because she couldn't stand the memory, it was because she hadn't wanted to give him any ideas.

"You talked your way into UNIT headquarters?" He wasn't sure why he'd latched on to the least relevant portion of her story, but it had stood out for him for some reason…and it was easier than tackling the tougher issues she'd brought up.

Her eyes rolled. She must be used to this sort of non sequitur from him by now. "Wasn't that hard," she explained. "I told them I'd traveled with you, that I was an ambassador from another universe, and that the stars were going to start going out real soon."

"And they believed all that," he asked, incredulous.

One corner of her mouth turned up in a silky smirk. "Well, I also knew the PIN for your UNIT expense card."

"Ah," he said, because it seemed like the most appropriate response. "I didn't want to die." The rapid change in topic must also be a familiar aspect of his personality. She weathered it boldly.

"I never said you did."

"I just…didn't much care about living." It was hard for him to explain his rationale because, of course, he never had died. Not in his memory. It wasn't hard to extrapolate what might have occurred with the Racnoss, had Donna not been there. He remembered her voice ringing through the chamber, telling him to stop. He remembered looking down on the bedraggled figure in the limp wedding gown and realizing that if he didn't do something quickly, she was going to drown. There was no reason for the brave, batty, insistent little human to die that day. Not everyone could live, but she could, and Rose would never have forgiven him if he didn't help her out. It was harder to come up with a reason why he wouldn't regenerate. That sort of thing was automatic, unless one took steps to the contrary. He tried to think back to earlier in that day, when he'd been rushing around London attempting to return Donna to her wedding. Of course, in the capsule-verse there wouldn't have been a wedding to get her to. There would have been no bride randomly appearing in the console room. No need to return immediately to Earth, when he'd rather be just about anywhere else in the universe. He wondered how long that particular him had wandered the cosmos friendless and alone before deciding to take matters into his own hands, before making the determination that the universe would be better off once and for all without his presence polluting it, before he went looking for the type of trouble that usually had no problem finding him on its own.

Before some random danger signal caused him to take a second look at his lost companion's home planet.

"You gave up on me," she said, breaking in on his thoughts. His eyes swept towards hers, recalling their conversation of the night before. He'd accused her of the very same thing, and if he hadn't already felt horrible (worse than horrible, really), that memory would have done the trick.

"I never," he whispered, knowing it to be true. Knowing that it might not have been true. Knowing that, in some unfathomable universe that never really existed, it hadn't been true. Knowing that he was a fool, both of him, if he'd ever thought, for even a moment ,that he could just put Rose Tyler away in some corner universe where she didn't want to be and expect her to just sit there and calmly take her medicine. Knowing that – hold on, wait a moment - back up a bit…

"You're not leaving," he said, awed.

"Are we back on that again?" she quipped. She likely could have managed to sound more patronizing, but didn't make the effort. "Cause if so, I was gonna suggest we both leave, provided you're up for it. This floor isn't the most comfortable." She was ignoring the obvious, but so had he. He'd been ignoring it for months, ever since they first got here. Easy to miss, really, the absence of expected action. She'd never given a spare thought to the dimension cannon. She'd quit Torchwood and never looked back.

She stood up next to him, hands out before her, and he was once again reminded of the night before. He remembered her standing like that, offering him a hand up with a look of deep concern, like she wasn't certain she'd be able to move him if he didn't cooperate. But bed had sounded like a good idea at the time. It still sounded like a good idea. Horizontal sounded like a pretty "good thing", and he came to the realization that he had been holding a conversation with her for some time now without dry heaving. His head felt better, too. Not great, mind, but better. Reaching up, he placed his hands gently into hers, and with her assistance, leveraged himself to his feet.

The world went topsy-turvy, but only for a moment. When he chanced to open his eyes, she was smiling up at him. "There we go," she said, sounding pleased. He did so love to hear when she was pleased.

"You're not even trying to leave," he blurted out again, against his will, as she backed slowly towards the doorway.

"All evidence to the contrary," she laughed, taking another step back and forcing him to take the ground she was giving up, or else release her hands. The latter wasn't an option. He was never going to let her go. Not when her tongue could do things like what it was doing right then, with her teeth and her lips and all. Not when her tongue could do things to his stomach like it was; things that were, despite all else that had come from that quarter this morning, good.

She backed through the door, step-by-step, and he followed gamely. She came up against the overturned bucket and gave it a kick out of the way. It rolled in a haphazard arc until it came to rest against the foot of the bed. "You know," she said, glaring down at it grudgingly, "I put that there so you wouldn't need to make a run for the loo."

"You put that there?" It came out accusing. He hadn't meant for it to be accusing.

Her look is withering. "No, it teleported. Buckets do that in this universe."

Her tone was so dead, for a moment he almost took her at her word. Then he was smiling. For the first time in what felt like forever, he was smiling. And suddenly it did feel like forever, because her hands were still locked in his and she wasn't even trying to leave. He smiled and she smiled back. He chuckled, a low, subconscious rumble in the base of his chest, and she responded in kind. His shoulders shook as he laughed once aloud and, oh, that had not been a good idea. Smiling was okay, but laughing, apparently, was not. He groaned, squinting against the sudden throb between his temples and her look flipped immediately from joyful to concerned. She guided him gently to a spot on the bed and sat next to him.

Pinching at the bridge of his nose, he asked meekly, "I don't suppose you have anything better than those white pills lying around?"

"No, sorry," she sighed. Then brightening, she suggested, "Hair of the dog?"

"Excuse me?"

"You know," she teased, stopping just short of bumping shoulders as she was usually wont to do. He was glad she refrained; he doubted it would have helped matters. "Means a hangover cure. Mickey always had vodka with tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and a raw egg."

Until that moment he hadn't known it was possible to actually feel yourself turning green. Rose must have seen him too, or else felt the sudden death grip he put on her hands. "Yeah," she said, freeing one hand and offering him a soothing pat on the shoulder, "That's sort of the way I always felt about it, too."

He squeezed his eyes shut, and swallowed thickly. After a moment, he was able to choke out, "Similia similibus curantur." He peaked one eye open at her, feeling a tad better. "Like cures like," he explained. "It's a primitive concept, the idea that taking a little bit of what's ailing you will result in a cure." Ducking out from under her arm, he brought his knees up onto the bed and crawled his way over to the pillows. "Your colloquial phrase there comes from the dark ages belief that you could cure a bite from a rabid dog by placing a hair from the same dog on the wound the next morning." Carefully, he laid himself down and glanced up at her. "As a cure I wouldn't recommend it, and that doesn't even take into account all the poor schmucks that got themselves bit while trying to steal a hair for their sick buddy."

"And here comes the gob," she commented dryly. "You must be feeling better." Without invitation, without the need for an invitation, she arranged herself lying next to him. She curled one hand in between her smooth cheek and the pillow. He wanted to be that hand.

He blinked, suddenly, remembering. "I asked you if we could have sex, didn't I?"

She flashed him a wry smile. "You did," she confirmed.

"We didn't, did we?" he asked his question in the form of a statement. He couldn't tell whether he'd be more dissappointed to find they hadn't, or that they had and he couldn't remember it.

"No, she stated blithely, confirming his suspicions.

"Oh," he murmurred, trying not to sound as disheartened as he felt. Apparently, the former option was the more depressing.

"Would you rather I took advantage of you?"

"No," he grumbled. His head was still paining him and it was making him irritable. "It's just...I guess...I thought that's what you humans did. Get plastered and fall into bed. It happens all the time in those romantic comedies you like to watch when you think I'm not paying attention."

"You're not serious." Her eyebrows ride up her forehead and slip under her bangs. "You're telling me you downed half a bottle of Jack because you wanted to sleep with me."

"Please." He snorted in derision, and made an attempt at rolling his eyes. Happily, he succeed without any ill effects. "It was Jameson. And no, that's not...that wasn't my only reason."

"But it was 'a' reason," she prodded.

He worried at his lower lip, wondering if he should answer her honestly. It was all a bit fuzzy, but he had the strong impression he'd said everything he'd never meant to the night before. No point in taking it all back now. "What can I say?" he answered finally, resignedly, thankfully. "People do stupid things when they're in love."

The look she gave him, was priceless. Her eyes were wide and serious, but somehow vulnerable at the same time. They were like bunny eyes. Fluffy, pink and gold, stuffed bunny eyes, but still... They were the eyes of someone who'd always been the victim, always the prey, always the loser. When it came to love anyways. They looked at him with absolutely no expectation that she was going to be getting a reprieve this time either. He'd almost forgotten how much she'd lost. It was something of a specialty of hers, too, losing the people she loved. They could make a team of it. A comic duo. Better with two. "Are we?" she asked, sounding small and scared and so very brave.

"Madly," he countered.

"Is there any other way?" she continued the game.

"With us? Probably not. Not much fun doing things the sane way."

"Well then," she said archly, "Here's to doing stupid, reckless, mad, human things in the name of love."

She kissed him then, kissed him despite knowing the horrible things his mouth had been doing for the last hour. Kissed him fully clothed, while he lounged in just his boxers, on top of his bed. He leaned towards her in response, pressing his lips reverently against his own and, oh yes this. He remembered this. This from before him; before him him. This was, without a doubt, a GOOD THING. Capital letters and all. This was...this was...well, it was bliss, wasn't it? To kiss and be kissed back. To love and be loved. To know for once, for finally, forever, that there would be no trying to leave, because neither wanted to be anywhere in the multi-verse except exactly where they were.

'Like cures like,' he thought, his lips curling against hers in silent amusement. Perhaps these humans weren't quite as backwards as they seemed.