Disclaimer: Yes, yes it's all mine. (In the event that copyright laws don't register sarcasm, no, none of it's mine, property of the BBC etc.)
Characters: Eleven/Rose, Amy
Warnings: Bit of sexy, nothing to blush to hard over
Timeline: Oh, pre-series 5 finale let's say
the whole world in his throat
Things haven't quite started making sense yet when there's a knock at the door of the TARDIS. They've only just landed. And still. A knock!
Amy looks at the Doctor and sees her own reaction in the sudden twisting jerk of his neck (and it's already been a while since she'd gotten used to the way their gestures mirror one another's.)
"Occ-u-pied!" The Doctor does a skipping step over to the door and sings each syllable with relish and unbelief (so Amy also hears, plain as day, 'Im-poss-ible!') Then, truly impossible, the scrape of a key, the key, in the lock. And Amy's never heard it from inside the TARDIS before, the strangely intimate way her parts roll and shift around the key, the sound of a door coming into existence, a door that simply wasn't there before (every time.)
"Well of course she's occupied," says the woman for whom the door made itself. She's almost, almost manages to bury the smile in the creases of her mouth. "Else she would have run off all on her own!" And she's biting that smile, catching the wild thing right between her teeth.
"Rose Tyler," says the Doctor and he's leaning in, he's holding her shoulders, he's resting his forehead against hers. He's seeing worlds. "Rose Tyler. Of course. So this is …. Well it's all gone perfectly, totally wrong now!"
And it's all in the way he's said 'perfectly' that Amy knows 'wrong' hardly means a thing.
"Heard the engines through the crack," Rose explains.
His answering smile says 'of course she did' because of course he already figured that out. Most of her knew it right away, that this boy is he, he is this boy. But parts of her mind are still catching up, still realizing the soul behind this stranger's face knows her at least as well as she knows herself. She steps back trying to take in the room at once, him and the TARDIS together because how he fits in the TARDIS is quite the same way he fits into her mind. It's not jarring to see him here, even like this. The bits of her life don't have to rearrange to accommodate him (floppy hair, easy grin, bow tie, there's room in her for it all). But outside is her world and outside it will all get harder.
"He leaves the brakes on," says a young woman's voice. Something in the voice tells Rose just how long she'd been resting her forehead against the Doctor's.
"It's too bad you didn't get to be the ginger one," she says, still looking at him while she talks about the red-headed girl in the room. And in the next instant, "Oi! What kind of manners have I got? I'm Rose Tyler," she says, extending a hand to the Doctor's companion and shooting him an accusatory look. A reality away and a lifetime later and he's still making her less polite than she should be.
"Yes!" The Doctors exclaims, standing smartly straight. "Rose Tyler meet Amy Pond. It's what she's calling herself these days." The last bit he says in a conspiring, loud whisper.
Amy Pond smiles (reluctant, unsure, a bit sad maybe) tightly and once Rose knew just how she feels. It's difficult to wonder if you're falling in love with the universe, to know all the while you're not even allowed to try.
"Well we best get a move on then," Rose says. "There's not much left of the other place now."
"The other place?" Asks the Doctor, rocking onto his toes so his whole body is the question (and she can't quite believe ... she's tiniest bit surprised at the activity of every instant of him, the hundred notions in every gesture).
"You're here about the Fish, of course." She won't let it be a question. (She won't let it be her.)
And then the first real proof that he's changed: he looks at her with uncertain agreement. (In his lives before, he wouldn't have let it be an answer.)
The TARDIS has parked herself neatly in the corner of an office building and a sidewalk. He steps out and draws a big breath of city air. Everything is quite right: this London smells exactly like a city that knows it's a copy of itself.
He laughs because one foot out the door and he and Rose are already half-way to taking hands and half-way to running. (When he thinks of her here, running with him, he feels a smile too familiar for one he's never worn before.)
She tugs him along, round the corner, to a park with no children and no 'Keep Out' sign and it's immediately apparent that something's wrong (blue sky, bright sun, warm breeze. Something's definitely wrong.)
Rose drops his hand and sits on the center swing. "You can see the other side when you get high enough. Tops of trees and such." She pushes off and then pumps her legs (long, infinite) to climb higher. "Careful, the landing's a bit rough," she says and she's off, leaping from the swing, a nimbus of hair and limbs. Then she's gone.
"Right," he says. "Right! Me next."
And as he climbs the sky in a swooping arc, it's there: waving tree tops, a crack to another world, a crack in everything.
On the other side is a hill above a forest. Outside the forest is nothing. Blinding, deafening nothing. "Not much time now," Rose says and as soon as Amy comes through, they're off running.
They stumble down the hill to a forest that wraps around them like a tunnel, like shadowy arms braced against the endless expanse of white. (He doesn't want to ask … he doesn't want to wonder how happy she might be, but - ) He can't help asking, "Er, where is … well, the other …?"
"He's off in another place like this one," Rose manages, the words made forceful by heavy breath. "They're all over, cracks to worlds that are just vanishing." She knows him well enough it seems for her look to accuse him of something and in the same beat, to believe that he'll put it all back together again.
It's a path they've been running on and it ends in a house. The walls are white washed, the grounds are immaculate, the rooms are empty. Rose leads them across dark wood floors that creak and echo to a library that makes his breath catch. "The Library of Archetypes," he says.
"We've moved off as many books as we could," she says. She's very nearly as sad as she should be even though her mind shouldn't quite be able to wrap around the place. And that's just one of the reasons he's always loved her. "The Fish are there."
In the center of the library, on a stand next to a winged-back chair, is a bowl of brilliant orange fish. "Gold fish?" Amy asks.
"Nearly, Pond," he says. "Except, not at all. Can't have a duck pond without ducks. Or a world without Fish, for that matter!"
Rose is grinning with all her teeth because she already knows enough about Fish to bring him here. "We haven't been able to figure out how to move them. The bowl won't budge and everything you dip in there just sort of … dissolves."
The Doctor steps up to the bowl because this time it's easy, even with the last of a species in his hands. "You've tried everything but have you tried anyone? On every world that's every amounted to a thing, Fish have been there to spit out primordial soup. From soup comes life." He points to himself then he braces his hands on the edge of the bowl.
"Wait, you're not gonna - ?"
"It's quite alright, Rose Tyler," he says and he's nearly forgotten how much he'll always want to change anything (everything) to stop her from worrying. "Just need to carry a few Fish a few hundred meters, swallow a world or two for safekeeping."
And then his head goes into the bowl.
That's just what it feels like, his face between her fingertips, a world for safekeeping.
The three of them spat their Fish into the sink in her house (and it's still not the strangest thing that's happened there) and then Amy began burping butterflies none of them had every seen before. "Might happen for a bit," The Doctor said. "You've actively evolving spit."
Amy had looked a bit sick and gone to sit out on the lawn. So Rose took the Doctor's hand and pulled him away from the rescued Fish and the young companion and every excuse he had for being here and being now.
"What are you doing?" He asks, letting her push about the flesh of his face (this one changes shape more readily than the others. Brilliant, joyous, puzzled, and sad. All true and all in an instant.)
"Just having a look," she says, tipping his chin so he looks right where has hasn't wanted to look, right in her eyes. "You always told me to pay special attention to the things that don't belong."
She runs her fingers over the jaw too young to be properly called strong yet, traces his lips that are still for just this moment, touches the new planes and angles, the long, tawny hair. He smiles, fast and genuine. ("Are you finished then?" He tries to lean toward her-tries to invade the space between them like it doesn't mean a thing- and nearly pokes himself in the eye.) And she knows something about what's tearing Amy Pond apart because this time her Doctor's even better at keeping himself back. And he does it with a smile.
"Your face is hardly the only thing that doesn't belong," she says, older than him in enough ways to be perfectly bold.
There's a hitch in his breath as she works the knot free from his neck and again (louder, longer) when her fingers push aside those silly, lovely braces. She remembers well how she's always been the one to scare him up close.
Under his shirt, his collar bones stands out in sharp relief (in this life, he wears his body so lean and his hearts so buried). His breath is quick and his shirt cuffs caught at the wrists and she hasn't decided yet if all she means to do is look. "How can you look so young?" She asks and it's not quite what she means because she understands regeneration. She gets it.
"It's been a long time since I had a body that didn't know yours," he says, trying to look away again like he'd rather he didn't know exactly what she means. "Sometimes … sometimes, I think it doesn't quite fit properly. Though it's quite good at football."
Then they're laughing. Laughing so hard. And he's the one to hold her face in his hands, and he's the one to lean so their foreheads are touching and so he's laughing right in her face, and she still doesn't quite expect him to be the ones to kiss her. But he is.
And she kisses back because all of her has caught up and it's him. All the ways that he's not quite right with the world, where he gets it wrong and stands too close and grins like mad. They're all him.
"Rose, this isn't …. We shouldn't …." Then he smiles like a lightning strike and swallows it just as quickly with hands over his mouth, like he's capping a jar (even more like he's got a limited supply). "Two parts of space and time that never should have met. Open it all the way and it snaps back into place." He's talking to himself but then he looks at her like a revelation, horrified and mad and joyful. "Totally, perfectly wrong," he says.
His hands are at her waist, fingers searching by their own will for patches on bare skin. He's breathing her own air back to her, hot and damp and thoroughly maddening. "Rose Tyler," He says in the most serious of voices. "The universe is cracked and bleeding away to nothing and it might all very well come to an end if you don't let me shag you senseless this very instant."
Something shifts behind his eyes then, something he's been holding back. And he's not just him, he's all of him, all the ways he's ever been. "You know," she says, tears threatening. "Talking nonsense that's probably about saving the world is about the lowest way to get a girl into bed. I mean, talk about a line."
His smile is slow this time (hers is much faster). He kisses her slowly, parts her blouse slowly, traces the lines of her legs, writes his name on her skin, moves in and above her. Slowly.
Her mouth is at his ear when she falls apart. When she finds his eyes again they're full of wonder. She's jealous of those minutes she lost, coming back down.
Like he can't help himself, he says, "I don't want to leave." He looks down at his hands, clasped tight with hers. "I still don't want to leave."
His face is buried in her, sweat finally cooling, when he says, "You might be the most dangerous thing in all the universe, Rose Tyler. There are worlds in you."
Amy's been waiting in the TARDIS for a quarter of an hour now. (And it's not because she couldn't quite watch them say goodbye, because she couldn't quite decide who to be sad for.)
"So all according to plan for once?" Amy tries brightly when the Doctor finally returns. She'd seen the cracks healing.
He looks up and she almost doesn't recognize him, what with a face so blank. "According to plan," he agrees with a small, tight smile.
And that's the real reason she'd felt sick to her stomach and sat on the lawn and cried silently as she burped up butterflies that died in air they were never meant for. He'd told her they were there for Fish and for worlds and for safekeeping. But they'd really come because there were cracks that needed tearing open to mend. They were there because it was the only place the Doctor's heart could break.