The Doctor feels. Often, and a lot.
He feels completely daft for doing it, feels like a price moron, and he can't remember the last time he ever did it, but here he is, crying his ridiculously large eyes out in the middle of what Rose decided would be today's night. He just came by to check on her, he thought, and somehow between folding a dress shirt into a swan and deciding whether she was dreaming about him he landed on the very edge of her over-sized bed, shaking with silent sobs.
Feeling stupid and hopeless – stopeless? – he tilts down onto his side and curls up, out of reach to avoid disturbing her. He pulls his overcoat closer and wipes his face on the collar. But the tears keep streaming, his throat keeps cramping up and if it doesn't stop soon he'll wake her up and it'll be all... weird. He wants to leave but everything heavy that ever resided inside has gathered to weigh him down and renders him unable to move. It's that vortex again, the deep dark lonely feeling that won't bother you if you bury it deep enough. But it has such a firm grip on him this time, he's really being pulled in this time, and if someone doesn't throw him a lifeline soon he'll be lost.
Sometimes the Doctor comes into Rose's room while she's sleeping. She doesn't know why. She doesn't want to ask, because she doesn't want him to stop. She really kind of likes it. Makes her feel safe, like anything could happen, right then and there, and it would still be alright. He'd take care of it. And she doesn't want the embarrassment of having to admit that sometimes she's pretending to be asleep when she's not.
When, the other night, the slight shift in her foundation caused her to open her left eye a crack she first only grasped that there was a shape, a shadow, at the edge of her bed. When a few of her neurons woke up and pointed out that it was the Doctor, sitting on her bed, she tingled. He'd never done that before – well, not that she knows of. He could be training clowns in here for all she knows, when she's out she's out. But he was on her bed, and from the outskirts of consciousness she wished he would come a bit closer, so she could hug him to her like a teddybear. Then she took in his slumped posture, the stillness of his frame, and felt a twitch of worry before drifting off to sleep again.
When, on this night, her foundation is disturbed by something more like shivers she wakes up a bit more readily. Sleepy and disheveled she's aware enough to know something's very much amiss with the Doctor. And it wrenches her heart.
A sleepy voice trails over him from behind.
He tries to stifle a whimper.
The voice is followed by a sleepy arm, also trailing over him from behind.
The arm doesn't reach around him from where its owner lies. So without hesitation Rose the Arm-Owner scoots closer, as close as one physically gets actually (and the Doctor very soon feels the warmth of her body spread through his layers of clothes), claims his torso and holds on so tightly she must be planning on never letting go. It sends shivers of another kind through him, it lightens and warms up and does things the nemesis of dark, cold vortexes should do. And he knows, he knows, he always knew this: If there's anything his ancient hearts beat for it's her. Though he wonders if her single, fragile, quickly withering, amazing human heart would beat as much for him.
"I'm here." Rose frowns in the near-dark, troubled. "I'm here."
The warm air carrying her voice tickles against his neck. He supposes he might as well turn around now that she knows he's there. So he does. She backs away to give him room to move, but not more. When he has turned over with an embarrassed sniffle he is met by her face, reassuring him from three inches away:
"I'm here with you."
"Are you with me?" he croaks. His throat is sore from biting down on any sound that might have escaped to wake her.
"'Course I am."
"Are you with me?" he repeats.
The desperation in his thick voice scares her.
"Are you with me? Are you with me, Rose? Are you-"
A surprised sob is muffled against her lips, crashed down on his to quiet them. A moment passes before he finds it in him to relax, and withdraw. She holds him by the head though, keeps her mouth on his a little longer just to be sure, and then lets go with a light smack of the lips.
"Said I was, didn't I." She searches his face in the dim light provided by some status indicator with brow furrowed, her own eyes tearing up at the sight of Him looking so distraught. "What's wrong with you?" she whispers.
He stares back, still taken aback by the abrupt interruption of his manic plea and what it did to his nerves. Namely: get them distracted by love and confusion.
"Why are you crying?" She touches his face; wipes gently at the moisture beneath his right eye.
"I'm not crying."
"Are too." She holds up her fingers, wet with the evidence.
"Well, then so are you." His thumb finds a drop unguarded on her cheek. They laugh. Rose quickly wipes away any tears lingering in the corner of her eye.
The Doctor closes his eyes during a long exhalation and softly bangs his forehead against Rose's twice before resting it there and stating: "You're going to leave."
Because they always do. There have been many; they join him, stay with him until their adventures have run their course and then leave. It hurts on occasion, but it's the way things work.
But for some reason, in this case that development feels unacceptable. For some reason, Rose mustn't leave.
There are all these embraces, whenever they reunite or see something fantastic or for the hell of it and his hearts always pick up the pace at the fierceness with which she hugs him, but they always, for some stupid reason, disappointingly end. He wishes briefly that this one wouldn't ever; it's not incredibly tight but she has her knee shoved in between his (surprisingly comfy!) and her arm wrapped around him, her hand casually stroking his back, shoulder and arm.
But when it grazes the hairs in his neck and the surge inside makes the wish that much stronger, he shoves the thought aside.
"I'm not going anywhere", she says, pulling back to look at him. The thought of parting makes her eyes burn again, and the fear that he might make her go back home churns somewhere inside her. "You said I could stay, you said-" Her throat constricts for a second and she sqeezes his arm, hard. "I said forever." She pinches the material of his overcoat between her fingers. It's too thick, it occupies too much space between them. "You asked once how long I was staying with you, and I said forever. I meant it."
He opens his eyes and looks straight into hers.
He looks down, but there are her lips, so he looks to the side, and picks at a loose hair on her shoulder.
"But even if... Alright, let's put it this way: We roam about the universe for years and years, have absolutely no accidents, everything's fine and your cholesterol is peachy and you never get homesick. And we could go on like that forever, except... you'll still... age. And I won't." He scratches his throat, looking up at the ceiling. "Well, technically I will. Just won't really... do anything... How are you supposed to run from evil aliens with arthritis?" He scoffs, but it's only half-hearted. A fourth of not being serious. "You'll age, and you'll die..." He trails off.
"Well if you're going to put it that way..." Her heart sinks, but she scoops it up. "I guess you'll just have to make use of me while I'm young and foxy."
She meant agile. Young and agile. It's just that the skin trapped underneath the Doctor's suit is calling to her to free it, and then possibly comfort it with soft caresses. It can't be helped; blended in with the sadness and worry and the fervent wish to comfort him is that inconvenient, nagging longing, as always.
Used to the feeling she ignores it, turns it into something more appropriate: concern for his comfort.
"Aren't you getting awfully warm in this?" She tugs at his sleeve.
He is, actually. So he sits up and throws his coat to the floor to mingle with the shirt-swan (he'll have to kick that over when he leaves). Still not quite right; the jacket follows.
He obediently tugs his shoes off and drops them to the floor.
"Don't want your smelly sneakers in my bed." She allows a small grin. When he falls back onto the matress with an oomph she props herself up on her elbow, resting her head in her hand. She bites her lip.
"Here." She reaches over him and for a second he thinks she's going to wrap her arm around him again and rejoices. When she pulls back with a pillow to stuff under his head he smiles disappointedly. She waits for him to get comfortable and gracefully allows him to steal some of her sheet. Then she speaks.
"I think you're overthinking it."
"Now there's a first", he contemplates.
"I mean, I'm pretty young, I've probably got... 40 good years left in me."
She lays down on her arm to be level with him. "We'll just have to make the most of it."
He looks into her eyes, biting down on the fact that 40 years is nothing. Well, maybe not nothing...
"What I mean is, why not have as much as you can of what you want before it's too late?"
Something softens in him.
"Rose Tyler." He speaks her name as if it's the most tender compliment in the world. Say what you want about this one, but she's not afraid. Not even of her own mortality.
Suddenly it's the highest, dearest wish of the Doctor to hold her as close as humanly or timelordly possible and never let go before she's long dead and gone and that will probably be pretty disgusting but who cares.
An outstretched arm underneath blue silk invites Rose into his embrace. And then she's there, nuzzling into the crook of his neck and caressing the outline of his back with her hand. Because it feels different, because he can feel the heat of her palm through the blessedly thin material of his shirt and how it presses against him more firmly than it needs to keep him in place, he dares reach up and trace the lightly curved line of her collarbone to the shallow dent below her throat with his fingertips. For real, this time.
Then there's an arm. A slender, smooth arm to run his hand along, ending with a hand to intertwine his fingers with. And then suddenly there's her mouth – soft, sweet, and the Doctor thinks for a while that he has never tasted anything so delicious in his life. But following a path down her neck (where did his shirt go?), over her sternum (where did hers go? Oh, never mind), he comes across a breast... a soft, supple, exquisite breast and he thinks this is it, this must definitely be it, until he finds a spot in her side, on her ribs, above the waist, that must have been created by deities for the sole purpose of feeling divine beneath his lips. He can't quite figure out why the fingers running through his hair haven't been doing that since the day they met and those little noises (are they hers? His?) are electric butterflies fluttering inside his chest, jolting his hearts and-
Her voice tears his attention from her surface.
Destination set for a new place they stand watching the Tardis work, flying them through time and/or space. From behind he treads one arm around her waist and one across her shoulder, clasps his hands together and holds her too tightly.
"Are you trying to act as my safety belt?" she laughs.
"Just holding on to my buoy", he mumbles, resting his chin on her shoulder.
"No, my- never mind", he growls while a grin spreads across his face.
A moment passes.
"Maybe", he says, and there's his usual cocky curious excitement, "Maybe we can find a way to make you immortal."
Well this was different... So many parts! And hardly used! I mean no, yeah, I thought this was going to be a few short scenes, but then Rose woke up, they started talking and it dragged out and I couldn't divide the chapter. To you lovelies who've reviewed: I can't tell you how much I appreciate your feedback, you make me happy and I shall give you cookies.
I've been in an intimate relationship with this fic for weeks. I sort of started writing it to deal with the end of season two. I thought that when I'd finished it, I'd be ready to move on. Start season three. I'm not sure though. Might need more time.