Title: Bioluminescence

Pairings/Characters: Rose/TenII, Rose/Eleven

Author's Note: Written for Challenge 64 (angst+fluff S'Mores) at LJ comm then_theres_us. As always, a link to the original post with the photo prompt (which is gorgeous) is in my bio. Please let me know what you think! Poem at the start is an excerpt from Saying Your Names by Richar Siken, which is possibly the most gorgeous poem ever written. :)

Here is a map with your name for a capital,
here is an arrow to prove a point: we laugh
and it pits the world against us, we laugh,
and we've got nothing left to lose, and our hearts
turn red, and the river rises like a barn on fire.
I came to tell you, we'll swim in the water, we'll
swim like something sparkling underneath
the waves.

I.

A low, frightened cry cut through the dark and Rose started out of her dream, already reaching for him, "shhhhhhhhhhhhh, sweetheart," running a hand down his arm, through his hair, like every other time. But he opened his eyes, gasping, unseeing, and a hot gold light poured out and lit the room like daylight, like fire.

It was under his skin, boiling, something living, setting his hair on end. The wide half-moons of his fingernails were like fireflies, but no, they were hidden in clenched fists and he swallowed a moan.

"Oh, my God," Rose breathed.

"I don't-" he said, his voice strained. "Rose."

A shudder ran through him, and up through her fingertips where they fluttered, unsure, pressing bare skin, and she was sure she was losing him, as she always seemed to be, while the world closed down to a small, dark point.

"Please," she said, and of course this was all too good to be true. This life, this man, they lived in a house of fucking cards, and she couldn't survive this, she couldn't, please-

And then it was over, with a heavy pop, like a flashbulb, and his sharp, tearing breaths were the only sound.

"Are you okay? Are you okay?" She said, touching every part of him she could reach, and the tears spilled over before she realized she was crying.

"I'm fine," he said softly, grabbing her hands, holding them still, and she couldn't see him through the ghosts of light fading in front of her eyes.

He tried to hold on to her, but she was already up and reaching for the bedside lamp, pulling her jeans on, digging her black field jacket out of a pile on the floor. "Get up, we're going to the office."

"Rose-"

"No, I'm not kidding," she said, scrolling through her phone. "I'll call ahead and make sure there's someone competent in the med lab, why aren't you getting dressed?"

She whirled to confront him, looking more than slightly mad, her hair all at odd angles, pale and shaking in the low light, and he waited until she met his eyes before he said, evenly, "Rose, it's okay. It wasn't me, it was him."

"It was-" she said, and finally registered his stricken expression, and the way he was trying to hold himself together.

(Sometimes at night, when they couldn't sleep, she switched on the radio in the other room and spun the dial until it hummed in between stations, and he cracked the bedroom window wide enough to let the sounds of the city spill in, because it was too quiet it their cozy, cluttered, gadget-filled room, and it wasn't that it didn't feel like home, it was just that they both knew where home really was.)

She wanted to be the stronger one, but she said, "was he alone?"

The cars rushed by outside like glowing, living things in a stream, trailing light, and he watched her cry for someone else, and he told her the truth.

II.

Sharp, gorgeous, expensive new pumps, and perfect, heavy curls spilling over her shoulders. Pink coral fingernails. A gossamer seafoam dress, like mercury, revealing teasing glimpses of her slim, runner's calves. The sun was setting and she was a block away from Torchwood 1 when her cell phone rang, and she shifted a heavy paper grocery bag to her left arm to answer.

"Five minutes," she said, before he could get a word in.

Her lips curled up in an indulgent little smile as she let him babble for a minute or two and then she said, "Yes, don't worry. Yes, everything. Bananas, rum-"

A long pause.

"I promise I didn't forget the cherries, you ridiculous-"

And then she looked up and all the air left her lungs and she thought for a moment that she must be dreaming, must be, because-

Someone knocked into her, and the contents of her shopping bag scattered all over the sidewalk while the world faded back in, and she gasped.

"Watch it," a man said, not stopping, and the burst bag of cherries spread like little red marbles, several of them coming to rest when they knocked into the...

"I'm going to have to call you back," Rose said, flipping the phone shut without waiting for an answer, and before she'd decided whether to knock or just run away, the TARDIS door swung open, and a stranger stepped out.

"It's me, Rose," he said.

"I know," she said, and her hand didn't come up fast enough to hide they way her composure crumbled, so he bent and picked up the groceries while she carefully put herself back together, the back of her wrist pressed against her lips.

"What are you doing?" she said, taking the bag when he held it out. "What are you doing here?"

"Bit of an incident recently where I...never existed," he said. "I wanted to make sure he..." The Doctor gestured at the grocery bag, having already figured it out for himself. "He's still here?"

"Yeah," she said, and then stared at him expectantly. Well. He hadn't really thought this far ahead.

"Ah..." he said, taking in her appearance. "Date night?"

"Office party."

Rose's phone rang, but she ignored it.

"Look, do you want to go somewhere?" he said, and it sounded nonchalant, but he looked terrified as he reached behind him and pushed the door open so that warm gold light spilled out into the gathering dark.

"I can't," she said, glancing up at Torchwood Tower. "I'm supposed to be-"

"I have a time machine," he blurted, rather desperately, and that made them both laugh, after a brief startled silence.

"Oh, I'm sorry, have you regenerated into a better driver?" Rose said, and handed back the groceries, breezing past him.

"Ha ha," he said, and now that she wasn't looking, let his breath leave him in a quiet whoosh, hearts racing, and stared at his shoes until he was sure he could speak again.

Rose stopped at the top of the ramp and gently smoothed her hand over the new controls, and he didn't have to see her face to know what she was feeling. In the bright, living warmth of the console room, she seemed lit from within.

"Don't make me late, Doctor," she said.

He followed her inside and closed the door.

III.

They didn't leave Earth, just jumped ahead one hundred years and "borrowed" a bright blue classic convertible from some poor old man's garage because Rose fancied a joyride, and he hadn't grown out of the desire to please her. He let her drive, down midnight streets lit by bioluminescent trees, and he gripped the door handle with white knuckles and never took his eyes off her, curls whipping around her head, eyes wide and bright, as she laughed and pushed the pedal to the floor, and God, how had he ever left her behind?

She turned off the engine and parked where the gravel met the grass, and they checked to make sure their hands still fit together and they both knew when it was time to go.

He wouldn't kiss her, so she kissed him, and she got mad when she started to cry, but he forgave her for the sharp remark about how it felt different, being abandoned on a dark London street. She'd grown accustomed to beaches.

"I came to tell you-" he said.

"Don't say it," she said, and then she walked away.

IV.

By the time she stepped off the elevator on the very top floor, the party was long over, and the room was dark, but that cold white wall had a certain light, so she could see that he'd waited, and she crossed the room to stand beside him, setting her rumpled brown grocery bag on a table on the way. He was staring up at the bright white expanse, and after a moment Rose leaned and bumped his shoulder.

"I'm sorry," she said, and he shrugged.

"Not your fault," he said. "He's a terrible driver."

She looked at him with mild surprise, "how-" and he ducked his head with a wry little smile.

"I looked out the window."

"Right," she said, and laughed. "I thought you were going to say you could feel him."

He smiled, but it faded, and he looked at her sidelong.

"Did he ask you to go with him?"

"No." Not in so many words.

"Would you have?"

"No." The truth.

"Okay," he said, and blew out a long, slow breath, and the weight seemed to leave him.

He walked to the wall and leaned down, feeling for something in the dark and said, "I asked them to leave these, in case you came back."

The room lit up as dozens of strings of white lights blinked on overhead, and Rose gasped.

He watched her tilt back her head and look up into the lights, and he could have stayed like that forever, but she looked at him suddenly, a certain gleam in her eyes.

"Did you have them leave a blender?"

He grinned.

Several banana daiquiris later, dancing to their own music in the cool white void, Rose looked up at the Doctor, and he leaned down to rest his forehead against hers. They stayed like that for a long moment and then the Doctor got a fit of the giggles, and when it became clear that he couldn't stop, she found she couldn't either.

Between hiccuping gasps for air, hands on his knees, he gestured wildly at the room around them and said, "This place is just awful! It's not romantic in the least!"

And Rose had to sit down she was laughing so hard, in the shadow of that white wall (and everything else looming over them), and she was so happy it was criminal.