~By Sarah Hockley

"Rose Tyler-" but the transmission cut out. She was gone and all he could see was the soft textured wall of the TARDIS, which was rapidly becoming blurry with tears. *She's gone. She's really gone.* His hearts broke, and he let the tears fall. So many years; so many lifetimes traveling alone. He had seen the birth of the universe; had seen races drag themselves from the murky banks to create technology that spanned solar systems. He had met more people, saved more worlds, known more joy and pain then any other entity in space. It all seemed insignificant now. It had seemed insignificant since the day he grabbed a scared little girl's hand and told her to run.

He stopped crying; he had so many tears to shed, not just for Rose, but for the infinite others. So he merely stopped, subduing his emotions again burying them deeper then he ever had before. The supernova was dead; a gathering of particles, dust, gas, catching the light of the dead star. *She would think its beautiful* but she wasn't there to see it. That was one of the reasons he- he enjoyed her presence, she could look on the universe he now found so ordinary and see majesties it had been millennia since he had seen.

That was it. He was no longer in orbit. He didn't remember crossing to the familiar console and pressing the confusing buttons that got him going. He was numb. Yet, after so many losses, so many goodbyes, he had created a safety switch in his soul; flipping it on whenever the rest of him hurt too much, to keep going. He didn't even remember where he had set the controls to. He was speeding through space and time. Alone, always alone. No matter how he wanted to convince himself otherwise, when you are the last of your race and you cannot age, cannot die, you will always be alone.

Even when he HAD a people, a home to go to, ground beneath his feat which knew him and the secrets he held, he had always been distant, an outcast. It was his affinity for humans; Earth in particular. He couldn't help it. His people had thought him odd, spoiled, one of the lords of the universe obsessed with one of flightless, lower life forms.

The TARDIS rattled and hummed and he sat quietly down in the chair. It still smelled of her; bubble gum and shampoo. She always had a sweet smell about her-.

He didn't know how long he sat their; how long he spent sealing off the chambers of emotions he had only recently started to air out. Time didn't matter to him. It hadn't mattered for eons. He now wished it had mattered more; that he had treasured every second of her with more care, had committed every line of her face when she smiled or sneezed or slept to memory. Already her image was loosing definity in his mind, blurring with ravages a biased memory can impose on the image of a lost loved one.

The TARDIS stopped. The hum died down to a soft whisper. She was the only company he had now; the friend that had lasted him heartache after heartache, but he wasn't sure if she would be enough now. The possibilities she offered seemed dull, average, unexciting. Yet he knew if he hoped to live on, to continue to try and right wrongs and save the helpless, (he laughed to himself; already breaking an unspoken rule he had already made for himself: to never laugh again) he had to keep moving.

He rose and looked at the readout. It stated a location he knew all too well and with it, his heart broke a little again. Without being consciously aware, he had typed in the coordinates for Gallifrey; his dead home world. And he had landed.

"But that's impossible" he was now wide awake; he flipped levers, hit buttons and

even kicked a screen. "There can't be anything here!" his voice raised in frustration. Yet, and he was quite sure he hadn't told them to in his fit, the doors opened. "What the-" he peered around the center console to see the bright white light streaming in through the ajar door. He hesitated, all reason telling him it wasn't happening, yet he inched closer to the door, the small little voice in his head asking the ultimate question which plagued him, what's out there?

His hand griped the door and he slowly stuck his head out. He couldn't see the origin of the light, neither could he see anything really; it hung in the air, dense but refreshing as though a morning fog. He tentatively stuck his foot out and placed it on the firm white ground which, by all laws he ever knew, couldn't shouldn't exist.

He stepped wholly out of the TARDIS, gently closing the door behind him. "Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore," he voiced to the emptiness and his mouth dried out at the thought of what she would have said; the sound of her laugh.

He walked slowly into the bright unknown, squinting to make out any shape in the fog, straining to hear a sound. As he moved forward, the fog seemed to recede, the light to fade slightly, and he saw before him a platform up some white marble stairs. The fog vanished from the 30 foot radius around him, beyond that, anything could have been lurking just out of sight.

He climbed the few stairs, purely ornamental, he determined, and approached the empty stand. The statue was missing. He turned around to survey what he could, yet the only things that met his eyes were the white floor, white air, orange sky, and dark blue telephone box. "Hello?" he called at the top of his lungs, "Can anyone hear me?" his hearts beat a little faster; the noise sounding in his ears which begged for a reply. He turned back to the pedestal and walked around it, looking for an inscription.

He placed his glasses on the tip of his nose and bent over the pedestal. At the very center, no larger than the size of a quarter, a small, bronze medallion lay in the marble. To his wonder, the ornate and all too familiar letter G was inscribed on it and he ran a delicate finger over it. Nothing happened. "It's not a pedestal, it's a tomb."

He turned away after a moment's breathless anticipation and called out again. Again, nothing. "Of course there's no one here," he said to himself, "there shouldn't BE a 'here'." He put his hands in his pockets, resigned, and went down the first step when there was a laugh behind him.

He turned around so quickly it made him slightly dizzy.

Before him stood a young woman, *no older than Rose* (he internally kicked himself for maintaining her as the perfect unit to measure by), who laughed lightly and merrily to herself. "Who are you?" he whispered, unbelieving.

She was dressed in a light robe with the traditional collar and headdress of Gallifrey. Her white dress blended in with the surroundings and her pale skin seemed to glow, even in the ambient light; it made the gold around her head and dark hair make her face seem stark: a focal point.

"Who are you?" He stepped closer to her; complete incredulity stamped on his face. She merely laughed harder and this time she pointed at him. He was utterly confused. A woman dressed in Gallifreyan robes, standing on a piece of rock which shouldn't be there was laughing at him. He whipped off his glasses and pulled out the sonic screwdriver. "I've had a very long day," he stepped closer and to his frustration, she laughed harder. His voice was quickly gaining decibels, "and I am asking you who you are?"

"I-I-I'm sorry!" she managed between quiet giggles, "It's just- your HAIR!" She looked up at him, small tears in her eyes then laughed the loudest yet, bent almost double (which is very hard to do in a Gallifreyan collar). He reached a panicked hand up to his head.

"What? What's wrong with it?" He subconsciously lowered the sonic screwdriver. She continued her fit. "What?"

"Nothing," she cleared her throat, held a hand to her abdomen, and tried to hold a straight face. "Nothing, it's fine." She paused a moment, and looked into his eyes for the first time. "At least you're not ginger again!" and she was bent over double again. "A ginger President; it was too much!"

"I quite liked being ginger." He was defiant, but, after a moment, he couldn't help but grin. "Yeah, it was pretty bad wasn't it?" His left hand returned to his pocket while his right scratched the back of his head. She was calming down and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. "Wait, how did you know I was ginger?" The smile faded from joy to something bittersweet as he drew the sonic screwdriver again. "Who are you? WHAT are you?"

She looked soberly up at him and, for the briefest moment, she looked oddly familiar. "It doesn't really matter." He didn't lower the screwdriver. "You can put that away Lord President." He started to circle around her.

"How do you know me?" his voice lowered to a growl.

"I've been waiting for you." She rotated in place, keeping eye contact, hands clasped serenely in front of her.

"Why?" He still didn't back off.

"Why do you think? They put me here to wait for you."

"They? Who's They?"

"When did you get so dull?" She crossed her arms, the angelic image she had maintained since the laughter shattered. "THEY: the High Council."

"But WHO ARE YOU? You shouldn't exist," he looked around, anger mounting, "this…place shouldn't exist. It's impossible."

"How many impossible things have you seen in your life?" he stopped circling her and she looked at him kindly, with understanding. "Can you only accept what you can explain?" She frowned at him. "I remember a time when you taught differently." He made his most quizzical face yet and she held up a hand to prevent further questions. "Let me explain. Since the dawn of Time Lords, there has always been a fail-safe. We, who held the universe in the palms of our hands; wrote the laws which defined life in the galaxies, knew one day there would be an enemy we could not defeat without also destroying ourselves." He hung his head at her words, arm dropped at his side. "Do not despair. Yes, Time Lords always knew that we would meet our deaths; you were only the catalyst, not the cause. So, there was a fail-safe put in place. We have always cheated death; we would not stop doing so with the destruction of our race."

"No. There's one left. Me." His bitter words cut through the fog like venom.

"That's what I'm trying to tell you." Her eyes pleaded with him to let her finish what she had started. "We made a copy-"

"Copy? Copy of what?" She eyed him but continued.

"A copy of Gallifrey. The exact planet as it was before the invasion that would kill us. It was not anything like a tangible copy; not another planet identical to ours, but rather, they made the very planet itself capable of regeneration. When the High Council determined we would lose the day in the great and last Time War, they set the wheels into motion so that, if it was that Gallifrey would fall, it would not be lost forever. They created a rift in time and space in which to hide the regenerating essence of our home world; in the Void."

"The hole in-between this reality and Pete's world." He tried hard not to think of that world. "YOU created it! You tore a gaping chasm into the dimensions to hide out in?" the anger was once again rising.

She nodded. "The thing we had done with such care and ease before would be our saving grace. If we were gone, it would be harder to bring the planet back into reality, but, if we succeeded, it would cause no great damage-"

"No great damage? No great damage? There are millions of people dead in those two worlds because you decided to put an open door between them!"

"No," now she became stern. "We are not responsible for the involvement of the Daleks or the Cybermen."

"Typical; typical 'Time Lord'." He walked away and threw out his hands in frustration. "It's not our fault if they shoot themselves with the gun we left lying around. We didn't pull the trigger." He turned to face her halfway between the platform and the TARDIS.

"We didn't know they would enlarge the rift-"

"They're HUMAN, I've been trying to tell you for centuries that they will not simply sit there and let oddities pass them by!"

"It is of little importance now-"she tried to veer from the subject.

"Little importance! You have no idea of the importance it holds." He was cold and unforgiving. This mentality was why he wasn't always proud of his race. They were smug. Yet he prevented further outbreaks because he so desperately wanted to know what was going on. Anything to keep his attention in this place, this time.

"I'm sorry," And, he noted, she genuinely looked it. "but listen to me. This," she opened her arms," this is so much more than you realize." He let out a bitter "ha!" but she continued. "We are calling upon you, Lord President, to fulfill your final duty to your people."

"My people are GONE!" he ran up to her and shouted, "I am the LAST!"

"No, not the last," her voice dropped down to a sympathetic whisper, "just, the only." She searched his face which became blank once again.

"What do you mean?"

"You are not the last Time Lord. For the briefest moment in time, you are the only Time Lord." He said nothing so she went on. "Would we take such pains in reviving Gallifrey if there were no one to people her? To perfect the TARDISs which, at this very moment are growing in the same fields they have always grown in? To watch over the laws we wrote for the universe? Would we bring back an empty world to stand as a hollow tomb to our accomplishments? I don't think so Lord President." He was trying to accept everything she was saying.

"What do you want me for?" He was somehow worried about where this was going.

"As you say, you are the only Time Lord; the only being in the universe which has the energy of time travel in your blood. Gallifrey needs you to finish the final stages of regeneration. We waited until we had enough power to bring you here, it took a few months without the presence of a time traveler-"

"You brought me here?" she nodded. "So I didn't type in the coordinates?" it had bothered him that he would return to this place after what he had gone through; it weighed lighter on his hearts to think it was not his doing which brought him here.

"I brought you here so that you could finish what we started."

"Why can't you? Who are you? You still haven't answered my first question which I've asked you, oh," he counted in his memory, "eight times now."

"I cannot; I am not here."

"That makes even LESS sense then the rest of it!" He was getting fed up.

"Please, let me finish. You are needed to not only give Gallifrey life, but to govern the Time Lords to come."

"Haven't you been listening? I AM THE LAST!"

"You are the one who hasn't been listening!" Her voice became more than a voice; it radiated from a source external to her body, rattling the fresh air. He stopped, but was breathing heavily in fury. "At this very moment there are a thousand hospitals such as this one," she gestured to her left where a pale green building with the crescent moon on the side loomed out of the still retreating mist, "all over the planet which house 1,000 regenerating Time Lords, deep in stasis." His face went blank again. "They were sent through time and space as incorporeal entities; their…spirits, if you will, stored with Gallifrey in The Matrix in the void until the time when there was enough energy to give them bodies. Your very presence here started the chain reaction which is waking Gallifrey up. There will soon enough be a million Time Lords; all fully restored to their former minds, though with a newly regenerated body. With The Matrix and the Panopticon, it will be as though they were never gone" He looked down at his feet, trying to soak it in. Her voice lost its momentary coldness, "You were the only Time Lord, and I'm sorry they never told you it would only be temporarily. No time will have passed for them, when they awaken, but you had to go years thinking you were alone in the universe." He let a single tear slide down his cheek. She waited for him to gather his thoughts and reestablish eye contact before continuing with part of her required instructions. "The High Council of Rassilon needs you to supervise the repopulation of Gallifrey; to govern the new Time Lords until Gallifrey is restored to its former glory, and the Time Lords are, once again, in control of Time and Space." He stood stalk still. "Do you accept, Lord President?"

"It's been a long time since anyone called me that, a very long time." He looked back at her from staring off into memory. "I suppose they left you here to be my Lady?" He said, jokingly.

"NO! How can you even suggest such a thing?" He waited for her to calm down, slightly offended. "You're telling me you really don't recognize me?' She looked benevolently down at him, she had not moved from her original position the entire time.

"Never seen you before in my entire life." Yet he started to walk closer to her.

"Oh really," He pulled out his glasses and stood beneath her at the foot of the steps, "Lord President?"

"If you really knew me you'd know I HATED being called 'Lord President'. So smarmy," he said to himself. She paused a brief moment.

"Well calling you 'Grandfather' just seems so out of place now." His jaw dropped and he silently walked up the stairs, eyes never leaving hers.


"Yes. It's me." He paused a moment before quickly moving to embrace his dear granddaughter. Instead, his arms passed straight through her and he was left holding himself. He paused a moment confused and gazed into her eyes which brimmed with tears.

"As I said," she whispered, "I'm not here." He fell back from her.

"Then you-" his hearts couldn't take this; it was unbearable.

"Yes, I died in the War, just as so many did." He couldn't look at her, he needed to get away. "They created a loophole in the Eye of Harmony; I'm actually standing on my TARDIS, about to enter the fray." He took another step back as though her words were physically pushing him back. "I don't have that much time left and I still need you to understand-"

"How can I understand anything you are telling me when I know in a few moments I will never see you again?" he met her gaze, the tears had spilled on both their faces. "They let me see you one last time," his voice, so worn from shouting and crying cracked, but still rose in fury, "before taking you away from me, just like HER!"

"Please Grandfather-" she was having a harder time controlling her emotions.

"NO! I can't stand this! I can't- I just want-" then he stopped, his eyes flickered as he tried to think of something. Then the suddenly shot up to her beautiful face. "Susan. Susan, quickly! You've got to run, you've got to-" She had walked up to him and, at these words, she held up a single creamy finger in front of his lips.

"Shh," she smiled sweetly at him, the tears shining on her face. "Grandfather, you know I can't-"

"But Susan-" he fell to his knees, unaware, resigned once again. She knelt down in front of him.

"Grandfather, please listen to me, I don't have the time," his bloodshot eyes met hers and, after a moment, he took off his glasses and rubbed his face with his hands, putting on a cold front to the universe and its cruelties. "Gallifrey is in a crucial stage; if you leave, all this will die. You are as the sun; without you, there is no source of energy. It is a matter of hours until the rest are fully regenerated; once they wake, they will be able to power the planet themselves." She said this excitedly, searching his face. It hadn't changed; he looked through her. "Don't you understand? In a day, a single day, Gallifrey will be restored. Time Lords will once again control Time and Space and Dimension and-" his eyes flashed into focus.

"Dimensions?" She looked startled.

"Yes," she wasn't sure why this was important. "You said the Daleks and Cybermen enlarged the rift into the void and between the two dimensions; now you will be able to fix it completely, catch all the small snags still present in the realities." She thought this settled it; she couldn't have been further from his mindset.

"There aren't any." His mind was racing; he quickly rose to his feet and she did the same. "I know, I searched for three months to find the smallest tear." He began pacing in front of the monument he had, a while ago, realized commemorated the millions who lost their lives in the Last Great Time War. "If Gallifrey is reborn, it will all be controlled, all of it!" A smile started to twitch at the corners of his mouth; his mind trying to catch up with the leap his heart already took. "We can jump between dimensions like that!" he snapped his fingers, slightly in her face, but she was so happy he was smiling and his voice was gaining volume and depth from excitement and not anger, she didn't notice. He suddenly looked back at her, the tears coming from joy, not pain. "Oh Susan, do you realize-? I can save her! I can save her from that life of working in shops, of soggy old fish and chips every day." He laughed triumphantly, inexpressible joy filling him like a balloon. Then he remembered.

"Oh Susan," despite the smile on her lips, the tears were flowing down her cheeks. He walked up close to her again, unable to wipe her tears away, "my lovely Susan."

"It's alright," she laughed lightly and wiped her cheeks; her round face shining in the bright spring light showering down on the new Gallifrey. "Don't."

"Don't what?" She looked at him as though he was a beloved, idiotic child.

"Don't try to rescue me. I'm already dead, remember?" He couldn't speak. "These past few years I was dead; this doesn't change anything. Don't rescue me." She looked imploringly into his eyes for a moment, until he finally gave a slight nod. She inhaled deeply, her eyes clear and bright. "Now, I'm not sure on exactly how long you will have to wait-"

"I'll wait." It pained him to not rush to her side, but he knew it would be no time at all for her, while it had seemed an eternity this past hour. He knew what it meant, that he needed to be here, that he had all the time in the universe if he could sit still for a few more hours. "I'll wait."

"Good," she nodded, more to herself as reassurance. They stood there a moment longer. He shuffled his feet with his hands in his pocket, never the first to say goodbye. He never truly believed in goodbyes; if he did, his world would be so much darker. "I love you Grandfather," her cool voice sounded in his ear.

"Susan-" he looked up and she was gone, the transmission between time and space cut; all that was left of her was in memory. "I love you too," his whisper was caught in the wind. He paused, looking deep within the monument, whishing there was some clue there; more than a cold block of stone to commemorate so many souls.

He looked around him, seeing the Gallifrey he had never truly appreciated till it was mere recollection. The fog which had surrounded him upon his arrival was completely gone; dissipated with the energy and radiation his presence provided. On the hill stood the hospital; a rare sight on Gallifrey, for Time Lords rarely ever were sick. It was a small, pale green building and it, and its 999 clones were housing the future of the greatest race in the universe.

He stepped down from the raised monument and headed to the TARDIS. He didn't intend to leave; not quite yet, but he wanted to make sure it was fully operational before he did, and he knew they would prevent him from leaving, even if he tried. He stepped inside, keeping the door open to let the fresh air of his home world fill the control room. He pressed some dials and checked his monitors, preparing for his eventual departure. He was really killing time (he laughed at the thought) until the planet was restored.

He walked back out, still finding it hard to believe he was standing in the Citadel, with the city looming in front of him; empty at the moment, and extremely peaceful. His hearts beat easier and he let out a breath he had been holding for years with out realizing it.

He wasn't the last. Everything would be right again; no Daleks, no unwatched rifts in space, Rose.

But no, everything wouldn't be alright. The tomb which stood at the heart of Gallifrey itself proved it. They were dead. They had died. Some were coming back, but families were destroyed, memories lost, ideas. But it would be better; the Time Lords would swell in number and Time and Space would once again be guarded from the selfish scum, such as the Daleks, who would destroy all other races simply because they were different.

Just a few hours to wait, just so few; nothing to a Time Lord, yet as he twiddled his thumbs and ran his restless hands through his hair, it seemed to stretch on forever.

"Rose Tyler-" and he was gone, faded from her life as she stood on the cold and windy beach, heart broken.

He had been reaching out in her dreams, calling her name, and she had felt his sorrow, his loneliness. It was pain beyond description.

She had her mother and father and friends, but not him. She felt alone in the world, but she had comfort. He had no one, no one in the entire universe.

And she loved him.

She said the words she had wanted to say for almost two years; a coward, waiting until the last moment, the point of no return.

She stood there, and as his figure vanished into nothingness, she couldn't control the tears which had already spilled over onto her cheeks. She took a deep breath, but she didn't feel as though she was getting any oxygen. He was gone. He was gone forever and he hadn't said:

"I love you." She bellowed in the wind; hearing his voice speak the words she so wanted to hear. "I love you," she turned around and her heart leapt.

He was standing there, not two feet from her, tears running down his cheeks, that silly grin plastered on his face.

"Is it-?"

"Yes," he nodded and she cried harder, not believing. "Rose, I'm really here." She reached up a shaking hand, hovering over his cheek. Over his shoulder, she saw the familiar shape of a large blue box against the placid horizon of the sea and she knew.

She touched her fingertips to his warm cheek and they were frozen. She cried the hardest yet, but now from jubilation and he caught her up in his arms. He lifted her up, both clinging to the other without thought or desire of ever letting go. They both laughed, the pain of the last few months dissipating, a forgotten nightmare. They had each other; all that truly mattered in the universe to them.

"But how?" She leaned back, still in his arms, holding the hair from her face. She looked him up and down; he seemed different from the few, wrenching moments ago when he had been transmitting from the TARDIS."I thought you said the rift-"

"I have a surprise for you." He looked into her eyes; finally seeing everything he dreamed of. "Rose," he became serious, "Rose, I have to go."

"No! You- why? I thought-" He smiled again and her knees buckled.

"You can come with me…" Her heart skipped a beat and she breathed again.

"Yes!" She said, standing up on tiptoe in his arms.

"I haven't even said where we're going yet," he said, feigning disappointment.

"I don't care!" She felt alive; adrenalin pumping through her veins at the very idea of traveling Time and Space with him again. "I'm going with you." The smile on his face broadened from ear to ear and he hugged her again. "I'm never going to leave you again," she whispered in his ear.

"I know," he whispered back. She knew something was different; he had never responded to her before when she had said things like this; he had never lied.

He broke away and she was brimming with happiness. "Go say goodbye to your Mum and Dad. Oh, and Mickey." She was reluctant to leave his side, afraid he might fade away again, but he nodded at her, reassuring her he was staying, "You'll be back," and she ran across the wet sand to her family.

As she got closer, her mother stepped forward and took her up in her arms. "Now," she was crying as well, "don't go getting into too much trouble." She reached out and straightened her daughter's jacket.


"And don't forget your vitamins when you're off on some space station somewhere.


"And I don't want you messing around with any other aliens whizzing around trying to-"

"MUM!" She closed her mouth and looked into her daughter's face, lip quivering. "I'll be back." Her mother paused and gathered herself emotionally, puffing up her chest.

"Well of course you will be. If I'm having a baby-" they hugged again before she moved to her father who cupped her face in his hands and shook his head in disbelief, still not used to having a daughter; let alone a daughter he loved above everything else in the world. Then she hugged her best friend in the world who gave her a stern look; the only other person there who knew what it was like, seeing the stars.

After her brief goodbyes to each of them, she started to head back to him. She turned around, walking backwards and waved, "I love you guys. See you soon!" They waved back and got into the car. As the engine started, she turned back around and broke into a run.

They couldn't help but laugh as they hugged again. "Now, where are we going?" she asked, arms around his neck. He looked off to his left.

"Oh, I don't know…"

"Come on, you said you had a surprise for me!" She jumped up and down slightly with anticipation. He looked back down on her beautiful face.

"I do, but you wouldn't believe me if I told you." He smiled at her excitement.

"Oh, come on, you know I can't stand not knowing!" she pouted.

"I'm serious! You honestly wouldn't believe me if I told you!" She stamped her foot and through a mini tantrum to make him laugh.

"Say it again." She looked into his eyes and he looked into hers.

"I love you Rose."

"I love you Doctor." His hands on her back pulled her closer to him and her hands held onto the back of his neck and they kissed. They kissed with the love and passion and tenderness they felt; two people on a beach, the wind pulling on their hair and clothes; waves lapping at the sand washing everything else away.

She grabbed his hand as she had done so many times before, its contours familiar to her touch. They ran to the blue double doors and squeezed through. She couldn't help but laugh. For three months she had dreamt of two things: the man whose hand she still clasped, and the room they had just entered. She beamed up at the dim ceiling and fondly gazed upon the tall green marvel at the room's center.

She was pulled towards it eagerly; the man at her side grinning ear to ear. He pushed buttons and pulled levers, jumping around in joy, tugging at her arm. At that moment she was happier than she could ever remember being, and the past three painful months disappeared from memory.

"Doctor, you still haven't told me where we're going!" He let out a laugh and she almost cried, how she had missed that sound. He whipped her around the console.

"Oh just you wait! You won't believe it. I mean, I can't believe it so how could you?" he said in one giant breath.

"But what IS it?" she was so excited and had so many questions. "How did you get back? Where did you go? Are we going back to my dimension?"

"All in good time Rose, all in good time!" she hated and loved when he did this; the not knowing and yet knowing that whatever it was would be incredible. "It's impossible. It's simply impossible, but here we are!" he slowed, the smile still on his lips, but his feet solidly planted on the metallic floor. "Here you are, my Rose" He smiled at her and she smiled back.

"My Doctor" they looked, content, at each other while the engine revved merrily in the background. She scrutinized the face she knew so well. He seemed older; the lines around his eyes slightly more defined. She wondered how long it had taken him to return, if the mere second between the transmission and his appearance was actually days, weeks, months for him. Her eyes swelled at the thought of him raking his brain for days on end trying to return to her sad, broken heart. A tear fell onto her cheek and he carefully brushed it away.

"What's wrong?" he whispered, his hand lingering on her cheek.

"How-" her voice cracked and she thought her chest might explode from all the emotions, "how long did it take you?" She looked soberly into his eyes, the smile plastered onto his face, but the twinkle in his eye dimming slightly.

"Does it matter?" For some reason it did, and she nodded. He sighed, "a few hours, just short of a day, I suppose…" he had released her and had turned away, he seemed to be aging in front of her eyes as he leaned over and rested his elbows on the console, rubbing his eyes vigorously.

"Is that all?" He suddenly whipped around and gave her a venomous look, but she understood why; that it had been a mere second for her and an entire day for him. "But, I mean, it could have been worse."

"That's very true," and he shuddered at the thought that he had thought he would never see her again, it made him sick.

"It's just," she placed a hand on his back, "you look completely knackered." He smiled faintly at her, the dark circles under his eyes completing his exhausted look.

"Well, that's because you don't know what I was doing those twenty some hours," he stood and faced her again. She was glad that he wasn't upset, and so he was glad.

"Well it seems that you are never going to tell me-"

"No, not yet, we'll be there in," he pondered a moment, hands in his pockets, "two hours I suppose." She smirked at him, she loved when he made that face. The most handsome man she had ever seen and she loved him. For so long now, she had wanted him; wanted his love, his body. She had wanted to run her fingers through his unruly hair, to feel the muscles hidden beneath his shapely suit. To memorize the contours of his body, to know what it felt like to be held in his arms, what his skin would be like to her touch. Their friendship meant the universe to her, but she had always wanted more. She had it now, his love, but hadn't he made it rather clear, early on, that he did not 'dance' with humans? He had 'danced' before, he was a father once, isn't that what he had said? That usually requires some 'dancing', at least for humans.

A horrific thought struck her then. The fantasies, the little daydreams she had allowed herself, knowing they could never come true, because he would never reciprocate her physical love, had always assumed he was…a 'man'. He had two hearts. What else could he have two of? Or none at all? For so long all she had wanted to do was express her love for him, she had done it verbally and she longed to do so physically, but what if…what if they weren't….'compatible'? Her heart and body yearned for him, and a shiver ran through her at the thought that they may be in love, but unable to take it further.

Then another, even worse realization came to her. He had never really shown that he wanted to take it further. In fact, any and all advances she had ever made had been met with disdain or were simply ignored. *Well if all I have is his friendship and love, I will take it and never regret having anything less*. But a small voice inside did regret it.

She stood there, beaming from ear to ear at him, and his hearts beat a happy salsa in his chest. Every fiber in his body was stretched, like rubber bands, he was so excited and relieved and anxious and happy.

"Soooo….what can we do to fill the time?" He grinned at her and raised his eyebrows seductively. For the past three months, he hadn't hardly slept and the three hours or so of sleep he had had in those three months had been filled with her. Her scent, her smile, the way she stuck her tongue between her teeth when she was flirting, the roll of her eyes when he went off on wild tangents. He had missed her, he loved her, and the only though that had kept him going these past three months was to have her back in the TARDIS. To see her jacket lying nonchalantly over the console chair, to hear her laugh as they hurtled through time and space, to hold her in his arms, to kiss her…

He had denied himself the life they might have had, however short-lived it would have been, because he knew she would grow old and frail and love him till her dying day, as he would love her for the next 900 years or more. He had remained at arms length…most of the time, and politely and halfheartedly rebuked or ignored any and all invitations she had hinted at. But since she had been gone, the life they might have had had filled his dreams and daydreams. He would find himself having completely stopped in his frantic search for a means of getting Rose back and having been daydreaming of kissing her, undressing her, the way she would taste, the smell of her hair, for hours.

But he had been gone for some time, maybe she had moved on with her life. Maybe the love they had was of friendship, camaraderie, not lovers. She had said she would spend the rest of her life with him, and he loved her so much, he was willing to see her wither and pass as he had never done for anyone else in so long. If all she wanted now was his company and the adventures they shared, he would be happy; happy, but never fully content.

"Well, I'm not sure, what would you like to-" but as she said the words, she saw his eyes loose focus and roll back into his head. She barely had time to prevent him from falling over and managed to hold up most of his weight, his knees hovering inches from the floor. "Doctor!"

He shook his head and she helped him up. "The after effects of the adrenaline rush." He lent on the console, one hand rubbing his bloodshot eyes. "And I'm completely drained." His voice was weak, tired. She held onto his arm, a worried expression wrinkling her face.

"What HAVE you been doing?" He sighed. "I mean, you look like you haven't slept since I've been gone." She meant it as a joke, but gaped at him when he let out a muffled, "Well I haven't."

"Let's get you to bed," she held tight onto his arm and supported a very small amount of his weight as she started to lead him down the hall. "Why haven't you slept at all?"

"Time Lords don't need that much sleep anyway; waste of time," they were moving painfully slowly down the softly lit corridors. "And I was trying to save you, find a hole, a breach." His eyes had closed and his speech was becoming slurred; he was falling asleep as they walked more and more slowly down the seemingly endless corridor. "And then Susan…"

"Susan? Who's Susan?" Rose stopped a moment to look at him in hurt, but he was in his own sleepy world and didn't hear her. She let it slide; he was here, and that was all that mattered. "But Doctor, wouldn't it have been more helpful had you been rested when you were trying to come get me?" They continued on and she couldn't help but grunt at the TARDIS for having made the hall between the console room and his bedroom so long.

He wrinkled his brow in the way she loved, eyes still closed, "Couldn't sleep. Dreams. Rose. Smile. Scent. Taste. Skin-" He was practically sleepwalking now, and mumbling as they walked. Rose was concentrating on finding his damn bedroom and only paused a full minute after he had said this.

"Doctor, you dreamt of…me?" This struck a nerve and his eyes fluttered open, a wide grin splitting his face. "What did you dream about?"

He held a heavy, clumsy hand to her cheek, "Rose. My Rose" and his smile grew before his hand fell and his chin crashed down onto his chest. She stood there in wonder and amusement for a moment or two before realizing, thankfully, that his door was just two feet down the corridor. She fumbled to get the door open without letting him slip, unconscious, to the floor, before managing to get into the dim room.

She had never been inside the Doctor's room. She knew which door it was; he had pointed it out incase he was in there and she needed him, but she had never seen the inside. Her room was white soft walls, a white square bed and soft blues and purples in the fabrics; very light and soft and serene. The room she just entered was calm as well, but in a very different way. The walls were warm bronze colored and had the same faint glow as the rest of the walls had. They arched into a somewhat high vaulted ceiling, giving the room an almost church-like feel. There were numerous small tables covered with alien artifacts, books and half-taken-apart gadgets. A small sitting area with two plush brown leather chairs and round oriental rug was directly in front of her, a door to a bathroom or small wardrobe was on her right, and against the far left wall, a large oval bed covered in chocolate brown and bronze silks sat beneath a slightly lowered section of ceiling, giving it a somewhat protected feel versus the rest of the open, comfortable room. Despite its size, the room was quite cozy and inviting, having the feeling of having been lived in for many years, which, she realized, was very likely an understatement.

She wound her way through the treasured clutter and managed to plop the Doctor down on his bed; his weight bringing her down onto the bed in the process. She lay there, his arm strung beneath her neck, looking up at the ceiling for a moment, then sighed, and rose. She looked down at him, helpless and unaware, snoring slightly, his legs dangling off the edge of the bed. She laughed a light, smothered laugh, as not to wake him, at the fact that he snored, mixed with the extreme elation that had yet to leave her body since he had reappeared on the beach. She found his snoring rather adorable really, and moved to make him slightly more comfortable. With much effort, she managed to get his jacket, tie and shoes off and situated him so his head was resting on a soft pillow. She was just about to pull the covers over him when an icy hand gently grabbed her wrist.

"Rose," his voice was low and soft and still sweetened with sleep.

"Yes Doctor, I'm here." She bent over him, smiling.

"No," she blinked. "No, go away," her smile slid from her face. "Go away, don't torment me." He started to toss slightly, though he still hadn't opened his eyes.

"Shh, Doctor-" she whispered.

"Stop. It isn't fair. I'm looking, I'm trying; please go away." He was pleading and she put her hands on his shoulders to try and stop his movements.


"I must find it. I must- Rose, I love- Rose, I can't- sorry. Kiss. Rose. No-stop!" He was fighting the nightmare and she started to panic slightly. The only time she had seen him do anything like this was after he had regenerated and he still was expelling excess energy. The idea that he might be ill, or even dying frightened her enough to give her voice strength.

"Doctor!" She said his name loudly and firmly and his bloodshot eyes flickered open. "Look," her voice was more kind, "see? I'm here, you saved me, I'm here." She stroked his cheek and his eyes glazed over and his eyelids drooped, but he maintained eye contact.

"I- Rose?" She smiled and nodded and the corner of his mouth twitched into the slightest smile. "Hello."


"Sorry, tired. Didn't sleep much," his eyelids closed and he turned onto his side. She looked down at him a moment, worried, but finally moved to go. Again, his cold fingers stopped her. "Stay. Real." She opened her mouth in protest but he, eyes still firmly shut, shook his head and swallowed, trying to find his way up through the murky layers of sleep, "Stay, so I know you're real."

Again, she wanted to protest, but she knew he would sleep fitfully if she wasn't there, and, greedily, she realized she might not be able to do anything much without his presence, so she slowly and gently lay down beside him. Before she had even settled herself, he was asleep, his breathing soft and rhythmic. She lay facing him, hand beneath her cheek; watching his chest rise and fall, close enough to count the light freckles on his nose. This was the longest she had ever been this close, physically, to him; at least without being bound together by some maniac trying to destroy or conquer the universe, and her heart skipped a beat to realize she could easily reach out a hand and stroke his cheek, rustle his hair; close enough to kiss him ever so lightly on the lips so softly he would never know she had done it. She was content to lay like that forever; safe and warm and at his side.

He knew he was awake before any of his senses started to send signals to his brain. He was in that state where the mind is conscious, but the body still slumbers and he enjoyed the serene, worry-free freedom it presented for the briefest of moments before stimulating his muscles and nerves. It was then that joy spread through every fiber of his being; the knowledge that she was onboard, safe and sound, gloriously overtook all other thoughts before he registered the information his newly-awakened body was sending his over-active brain. I can feel the heat of another body. I can hear the steady rhythm of someone else breathing. I can smell her.

He tensed the muscles of his arms slowly and realized they held a slumbering person in them, keeping them wrapped tightly to his stomach. One of his hearts leapt to his throat and the other dropped out of his belly completely as he slowly opened his eyes and confirmed that he was, indeed, holding her sleeping form to him, her back pressed up against his stomach, in his sleep. He savored this for a split second before his mind began forming innumerable questions; why had he been asleep, why was she in his arms, how had he gotten into bed, and why didn't he have any socks on? He wiggled his toes under the blankets and raised his head slightly to peer down towards the end of his bed. He saw his covered digits moving and saw hers still wearing socks and laying on top of the covers. He deduced she must have gotten him somewhat ready for bed and managed to get him into bed after he had given in to the need for sleep he had been fighting for two months, before laying down on top of the bed herself.

Well now that that's sorted… He lay there for a while, savoring the contours of her body pressed against his own, the way they fit together perfectly. He listened to the sound of her solitary heart; how even in slumber it beat faster than his own. He studied the soft glow of her hair in the semi-darkness and counted the number of freckles on the cheek he could see. He wanted this moment to last for all time; to have her safe and innocent at his side. His hearts filled with love and a tear slid down his cheek with the joy her presence made. She had been lost for too long and now she was found.

He placed the softest of kisses on her temple and whispered her name in her ear. "Rose." She moved slightly, snuggling closer to him and bringing a broad grin to his face. He repeated her name with a slight laugh in his voice and this time she inhaled deeply and opened her eyes. She blinked twice before turning slowly to face him. "Hello."

"Hello." She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, stretching her legs and pointing her toes. Her hair was mussed and her mascara was visible in small clots dotting her under-eyes and he had never seen her more beautiful. She took a deep breath and it caught in her throat. Her hand flew down, away from her face and she looked at him, horrified. He frowned and she quickly and clumsily scootched away from him on the large bed. "Sorry, I- must have fallen asleep-" She rose and awkwardly straightened her jacket and ran her fingers through her hair, completely missing the large puff on the left side of her face. Her eyes darted around the room, looking every where but at him and, even in the little light, he could see the blush in her cheeks.

"S'all right," he sat up and got out of the bed. She involuntarily moved so the bed stood between them. "Talk about falling asleep," he stretched and yawned and brayed like a horse, making her laugh, "I can't remember a thing after setting the coordinates." He looked around as though he had never seen his room before, "how did we get here?"

She shuffled her feet, "I sorta half carried, half led you down the corridor." He looked intrigued at her and she pushed back the image of the same face he makes with his spectacles. "You were sorta out of it." She smiled at him, remembering how he snored and rubbed the back of her neck.

"Yes well, I can imagine what with the not sleeping for three months," he started to make a slow semicircle around the bed towards her, hands clasped behind his back, "and then being both emotionally and physically drained by the stupidest lot of people, whom I love and adore, who just decided to drop a major life altering secret in my lap," he was half way round the bed, "which they only decided was important enough to tell me years after it would have made a huge difference in my life and the course of history of the entire universe, had some git bothered to tell me before hand, but never mind," the space between them was closing, "and then to have the greatest relief and joy to have you back on board, safe and sound, happy and healthy," he stopped about a foot away from her, "so of course I was knackered enough to fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, sleepwalk to my room, and practically hold you prisoner till I woke up." The biggest grin he had ever seen was spread across her face.

"s'only logical." Her tongue was squeezed firmly in the corner of her mouth, between her teeth, as she tried to speak levelly and not laugh.

"Only logical. God I missed your laughter." He hadn't meant to say it, but he did. She laughed harder; he smiled wider.

"God I missed your rambling!" They both laughed and he picked her up in a great bear hug and spun around, their laughter and the soft glow of the TARDIS filling his room.

He set her down and grabbed her hand, "well, let's see where we are then." He raised his eyebrows up and down and she squealed. He paused mid stride on the way to the door. "did you just squeal?"

"Ya, what of it?" She put her free hand on her hip.

"Nothing, just checking," and he dragged her to the console room.

He danced and leapt and twirled and did all manner of steps a four year old in a tutu might perform as he punched buttons, flipped levers, adjusted screens and even hit a knob with his trusty mallet. Sometimes she wondered how the TARDIS managed to stay in one piece with all the banging and not-so-gentle tinkering he did to her. Then she remembered the number of times the TARDIS hadn't stayed in one piece…but those times were greatly outnumbered by the times his fiddling had saved the day, so she figured they went hand and hand and just made him more him.

She rocked on the balls of her feet, anxiously awaiting the first new excursion they would have in three months, since Torchwood. She new that his normal shenanigans could account for some of the bounce in his step, and she liked to think her renewed presence there accounted for most of it, but he was a little giddy even by his standards. It was there destination, which he refused to inform her of, which must have accounted for the brilliant twinkle in his eye and the loud bursts of laughter he spurted out intermittently. She couldn't help but laugh softly too; partially at him, mostly with him.

"AHA!" he gave one last dramatic tweak to a dial and stood before her, triumphant, hands in his pockets and the wickedest smirk on his face. She tentatively held her breath and waited for him to tell her where they are. He looked very smug for a moment then made a face.

"Well?" She couldn't take it any longer, "where are we then?"

"I-Well actually," he rubbed the back of his neck, "I just thought of a slight problem we might have…" he stared off into space about three feet over her head. She let out an exasperated sigh. She really did HATE surprises; they caused so much stress.

"I'm not even botherin' to ask what it is; you're obviously not gonna tell me." She stormed over to the seat and plopped down, arms crossed and frowning. He still stood there contemplating as she grew bored of pouting and moved on to picking at her nails contentedly before, after about 3 minutes, his voice made her jump.

"Got it," he rushed over to her and her smile slid right back on. "I'll just go first and…clear the air a bit." He tapped the top of her head before bounding towards the door.

"Oi, what am I supposed to do, sit around here and wait?" She rose to her feet and called after him.

"And try not to get into trouble!" He continued to make his way to the exit while walking backwards and sending her a warm, excited smile.

"But-" she was cut off by his handsome face disappearing behind the closed door after wiggling his eyebrows at her. She looked around, finding nothing to release her frustration on and just grr-arrghed and sat back down again, resigned to twiddling her thumbs.

Her disappointment and frustration were minor, easily dissipated if he would come back. The contentment she felt in his presence had filled her to the brim and without him, the gnawing hole in her heart let out a soft growl. It had eaten away at her for three months, threatening to swallow her whole. He hadn't been gone three seconds and she could feel it; just waiting to resume its consumption. She studied the glowing pillar in front of her fondly and it made the distant pain retreat further. She was home, and though he wasn't there, she knew he was coming back; that they wouldn't be separated; that it wasn't just a dream and her life the walking nightmare.

She had barely survived her brief sojourn in the other universe; the loss of him and their life together had been the loss of her existence. Her family had tried to support her, and they had managed to keep her going, but she had been hollow; her lonely cries echoing in her very soul. Even with the dreams, his whispering in her ear, it had been unbearable. She couldn't, wouldn't move on. What else was there?


She had decided that long ago, before Time Vortexes, Dalek invasions, regenerations, Sycorax, Werewolves, and Torchwood. She new it from the moment he said, with such gentlemanly charm, "Nice to meet you Rose, run for your life!". He was it; her life, her universe, her everything. She had promised him forever and, against all odds and the universe's efforts to keep them apart, they were together once more. More importantly, upon reaffirming her vow, this time he accepted. This time was different. It made it all the harder for her to sit calmly in that warm, humming room, waiting for him to check for the all clear.

Since when did he check for the all clear? No matter where or when they had landed, they had rushed out the TARDIS, inhibitions be damned, smack-dab in the middle of things usually ending in them running for their lives. Was this how it was going to be? 'Stay here, Rose, till I make sure the big bad wolf is down for a nap'. Treading softly on the road more traveled by? Where was the fun in that?

She shook her head. These thoughts, these…doubts; she couldn't have doubts. He was her Doctor; their separation hadn't changed that. He was the same man in whose hands she entrusted her life every time she walked through those doors. She needed him, and if this was to be their life from now on; safely scoping out possible dangers before going headlong into them, she would take it.

She bent over and rested her elbows on the console, glancing with respect and adoration at the knobs and levers, letting her mind wonder to "a happy place". That meant that she was so enraptured by wicked little ideas of what she would do to him given the opportunity, she didn't notice his re-entry into the room, smiling as broadly as he could.

"Well?" She stood up expectantly, arms folded across her chest, hip cocked and toe tapping. His left heart did a flip-flop in his chest.

"Well!" He quickly closed the distance between them, hands in his trouser pockets. "I think I've got most of it sorted; just have to play it by ear, as usual, wont we?" He gave a half heated laugh and it worried her more than if he had rushed in, panicked.

"For the final time, Doctor, where are we?" She asked it slowly and calmly and he could clearly hear the worry in her shaky voice. This was the last thing he wanted; for her to be anything but happy and energetic and excited. He had the biggest surprise he could think of to show her and he had made her voice lower and throat tighten.

He approached her, closing the few feet remain between them and looked kindly and seriously into her eyes. He instinctively reached out for her hands, which she gladly moved into his, and spoke gently and reassuringly. "We are, Rose Tyler, on the one planet I never thought we would ever see." Her brow wrinkled and her eyes flickered over his face and he let the corners of his mouth twitch into a small grin, his anticipation unable to be withheld. "Outside those doors lies an impossibility; an anomaly and I still don't believe it," he sighed heavily and looked briefly into space, flashes of memory filling his mind for an instant, "but its there." He could see the figurative cogs turning in her mind, but he didn't let her work her way to the end. "Gallifrey; my home world."

She didn't have anything to say. Her mind had gone blank. All she knew was that he was squeezing her hands and beaming down at her like a child on Christmas morning. That was all she needed to know; 'but's, 'why's, and 'how's could wait. "Gallifrey?" She just wanted to confirm. He nodded vigorously and she could feel the joy radiating from him so she did the only logical thing to do. "Let's see it then!" And she started to make a beeline for the door.

He held fast to her right hand, however, and brought her to a halt on the ramp. "There are a few things I need to explain or prepare you for." He was excited too, but better now then later when she could accuse him of not readying her properly. She pouted slightly but gave him her attention. "Firstly-"

"There's a list?" He nodded and she put her hands on her hips impatiently.

"First, you can't wear that," he gestured to her outfit of black pants, trainers, pink sweater and black leather jacket.

"Why, what's wrong with it?" She looked down and wiggled her toes disappointedly.

"Nothing!" here he was making her feel bad again; *rude and not ginger…never-mind*. "It will make it more obvious that you are human, a fact they really don't like-"

"Just a 'Silly Ape' right?"

"Yes, well-" he didn't know what to say. The phrase he had adopted was actually much more PC then the original in Gallifreyan. He motioned to the bag she hadn't noticed he'd set by the door. "I brought you a proper outfit to wear." She grabbed the bag, without looking in it and stormed off to her bedroom to change and freshen up. He shouted after her as she disappeared into the depths of the TARDIS, "I'll just wait here then, shall I?" Her response was to firmly close the door before he said anything else. "Right, then I'll just wait right here."

He turned to face the glowing pillar of light, not really looking at it, a million thoughts flying through his overactive brain. His mind was so filled it didn't seem like two minutes had passed since she had left, (in fact it was 12 minutes, 39 seconds and 5 nanoseconds) before he whipped around to the soft tapping on his shoulder.

"Doctor," the wrinkle on his brown smoothed as he met her eyes. They were kind eyes; he had always thought so, so filled with sympathy and curiosity. He involuntarily pulled away from those eyes and looked her up and down appraisingly.

Before him she stood a vision in swath of scarlet fabric wrapped around her in a fashion somewhat akin to a toga. The many layers shimmered in the soft light, the scarlet revealing hints of orange and gold. Her feet were in small golden sandals, the heels perfectly straitening out her back and forcing her shoulders down and back. A slit revealed one milky white leg to mid thigh and a delicate gold link belt rested on her hips, accenting her perfect hourglass figure. One strap adorned her shoulders, crossing over her right with a gold pin with the intricate seal of Rassilon pinned just below her clavicle. Her arms and left shoulder were left bare and it was the space between shoulder and nape of the neck where his eyes rested a little too long. She repeated his name, a nervous laugh in her voice and he swallowed before quickly glancing up to her face again. There he saw she had pulled her hair back into a messy bun at the top of her head with small pieces framing her face. She had in delicate gold earrings which, he believed, he had bought her on Aretium, a lovely little planet covered in giant moths but served great kebabs, and her grin revealed the tip of her tongue held firmly between her teeth.

He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it again. He then formed a few syllables but nothing coherent until she laughed at him.

"Doctor, are you speechless?" She placed a hand on her hip and tilted her chin up defiantly at him. He attempted to regain composure, but his mind was a lovely, warm blank and he cleared his throat to buy him time.

"No, not speechless," he frowned at himself, "just can't think of anything witty to say." *dear Rassilon let that have saved me*, but no luck. She turned away and swayed over to the opposite side of the console, letting her hips move back and forth under the semi-sheer fabric. His right heart leapt into his throat.

"So, is this the typical dress on Gallifrey?" He put his hand in his pockets and concentrated on the out she had mercifully given him. "I don't want to be wearing last season's colors." She smirked at him.

"No, actually the colors are from my chapter, Prydonian; scarlet and orange." She nodded, and he knew it was more of a sign of hearing him than understanding. "You see there are numerous chapters, each assigned their own level on a general hierarchy and each assigned roles in the community and, coincidentally, colors to be told apart from other chapters. Prydonians wear scarlet and orange, Arcalians wear green and Patrexeans wear heliotrope-"

"Heliotrope?" She raised an eyebrow at him and he thought back on that particular choice in fashion.

"Well, just an example," he scratched the back of his neck nervously, now the moment came down to it, he was anxious.

"Anything else?" She looked innocently at him, also eager and nervous. He ran down an infinitely long list of things he could/should/wouldn't tell her.

"Oh, I'm afraid they won't let me update the translator circuit on the TARDIS to translate Gallifreyan, so you won't be able to understand what they say."

She let out a soft 'oh' at this; she knew the TARDIS didn't translate Gallifreyan because the control screen had been a funny picture of circles and lines her whole time onboard. She then thought back and realized she had never actually heard him speak his native tongue. She had no idea what it would sound like, but, remembering the beautiful symmetries and patterns the mere numbers of Gallifrey were comprised of, she imagined it would be a longwinded, confusing and beautiful language.

She took a deep, steadying breath. "Anything else?" He paused then shook his head, and a great grin spread across his handsome face. He reached out a hand and wiggled his fingers which she hurriedly entangled with her own. They half ran down the ramp and, as he opened the door she asked, "hey, why do you get to where your suit?"

He kept her gaze as he pushed open the doors and they both stepped out. "Because I look so devilishly handsome in it!" but her laugh was drowned out by a great, controlled applause. Rose stopped dead in her tracks; arm looped with the Doctor's and stared blankly at the sight before her, gaping. He bent down close to her ear, "and also, I probably should have mentioned, I'm the king."

"Well, alright, the title isn't actually 'king'," he explained to her as they marched in a processional leading from the completely out of place blue box to the great spiraling tower looming over the citadel, golden clad guards an all sides, right hands resting calmly on their belts. "It's actually 'Lord President of Time'." She snickered, a title which fit him so well, but the half smile faded. She was mad. She was trying to absorb everything; to digest, and he had kept something like this from her. It hurt. "You see, I was elected as the next President after the first failed attempt to stop the Daleks during the War. Actually, I was president a few centuries ago, but that's a long story…"

She was only half listening to his rambling. She had taken one good look at her surroundings, too mad to look at him as he spoke knowing she would loose all anger, and decided she had time to yell later. She was marveling at the elegant, refined beauty around her. The city gleamed around her, each white or silver surface glinting and glowing in the double suns. (Actually, one was the red sun, the other was the copper moon, Pazithi Gallifreya, as she found out that evening upon asking him.) Past the spires she could see a distant mountain range, grey against the yellow sky. The landscape inside the city was full of blood-red grass and blue trees filled with white and yellow flowers which looked like lilies, but smelt of roses. She couldn't help but smile; it was perfect.

They were climbing stairs, still outside, walking past thousands of faces who watched with subdued joy and polite attention. It was a strange feeling, as though, anywhere else, there would be people dangling from windows, throwing confetti and screaming at the top of their lungs. Here, the men and women, all of seemingly similar ages and, Rose gladly noted, wearing similar garb to her gown, but not as ornate, applauded and stood calmly with smiles on their faces. She was reminded of when people saw a show and it was good enough for a standing ovation, but not quite whistle-and-cheer worthy. Somehow, it made her nervous. She glanced to her right, seeing him walking beside her, happily prattling on, having no clue she wasn't hearing a word, or simply not caring. She took his hand, all anger forgotten, and he stopped mid-sentence.

"You alright?" He looked at her with slight concern, bringing her hand up and giving it a squeeze.

"Never better." She smiled and they continued in silence, escorted, finally, into the tallest building in the city, with a faint teal coloring and shaped like an hourglass. The inside was light and they walked over to a wall on their right, lined with, what she could only assume were, elevators.

"Latem Brilliam Hauterime attesh'mel enhauter," a guard turned and saluted to them. She stared at his lips moving, trying to decipher what he might have said. He stiffened beside her.

"Dumel votrem," he leant into her ear and whispered, "he said 'the High Council is waiting upstairs' and I said 'thank you'." She was so caught up on the feel of his cool breath on her flushed neck she barely caught what he said.

Dazed, she let out a soft, "thanks," and let him lead her into the lift. The doors closed upon them and, as they started the slow ascent, she let out loud breath she didn't know she was letting out.

"Well?" he looked like he had found a puppy and he was asking if he could keep it.

"I tell you what, Lord President," she emphasized the title and he held his breath, "not half bad!" They both fell into fits of laughter. It seemed too much; their adventures usually meant they were running for their lives at this point, not about to address the High Council of a reborn planet because one of them was the 'Lord President. She laughed harder as she was swept up in a great bear hug, her feet dangling inches from the floor, her arms held tight around his neck.

"Rose I can't believe it! It's impossible, simply impossible!" He still held her tight and she didn't have a care in the world. This was easily the happiest she had ever seen him. "I not only have you back, but Gallifrey!" He was almost squealing. "Wait," he pulled away just enough to look her, sternly, in the eye. "I haven't died have I?" She shook her head, biting her lip so not to laugh at him. "Gone mad? Lost my marbles? Inhaled airborne aspirin?"


His voice lowered as he quickly responded, "Time lords are allergic to aspirin." Then it rose back to its fevered pitch as he still held her tight to him, "been kidnapped and put into a coma? Dreaming? Oh, Rassilon's Rod, tell me I'm not dreaming, Rose!"

"No, you're not dreamin'," he then squelched her harder and she patted him on the back. Her cheek was pressed up against his and she could feel his smile against her own. They embraced each other in silence, his two hearts beating against her one, and she felt something else against her cheek; a tear. She pulled back as he set her down, her arms loosely around his neck and his around her waist, settling at the small of her back. He still smiled, but tears were slowly rolling down his face.

"This is the best day of my life," he said calmly to her. Without thinking she wiped away one of his tears. Suddenly, his big, watery, brown eyes were much closer to hers; she could see the small droplets of salt water clinging to his long lashes. She was very aware of his hands pressing gently on her back, and she couldn't breathe. The next thing she knew she had turned away, looking at the corner of the small white lift, his mutterings of "sorry" and "didn't mean to" falling on deaf ears.

"'S'all righ'," she mumbled and thanked any alien race listening as a bright ding and the opening of the doors signaled they had arrived.

The rest of the day passed in a flurry of activity and ceremony. They were taken to numerous large rooms filled with important looking people wearing these crazy collar things which, in her opinion, looked very uncomfortable. She was jostled from room to room, on one stopping to tell her what was going on, not even him. He was too busy speaking in that beautiful language without pausing for breaths, spectacles perched on the ridge of his nose, hands in his pockets or gesticulating wildly or singing something or other. She had no idea what the position of "Lord President" really entailed, but they were keeping him busy. He hadn't said more than two words to her since they left the lift, something for which she was slightly glad.

It gave her a time to cool off a bit; left alone with her own thoughts, not seeing rhyme or reason in the happenings around her. She would wait patiently in the corner of whatever board room or lecture hall they were in, glanced at every once in a while by some man in long robes as though she were a child trying to drag Mummy away from an important business transaction. That or she was completely ignored. She hadn't decided yet which was worse.

After about eight or nine hours, the sun completely sunk behind the mountains and the moon a pink pearl in the heavens, she yawned and, though she tried to stifle it, he heard her. He looked up from the maps and charts splayed before him and the 15 or so other men around the table and scrutinized her. She had been shuffling her feet, wondering when she could get something to eat and hadn't realized that, above everything else, she was tired. It seemed to have been years since their catnap on the TARDIS (they HAD only slept for about 2 hours), and she had been awake well over 30 hours before that, waiting for him to appear.

She smiled shyly under his gaze, bashful at being the 'child' in the room and feeling as though she were stealing his attention. He didn't smile back, but the corner of his mouth twitched up slightly and he nodded towards the lone woman in the room, also standing in a corner, as though in attendance. He said a long phrase which could have been the Gallifreyan ABC's for all she could tell, but she thought she heard her name in the middle. When he was done, he turned right back to the task at hand and she walked smoothly over to her. They smiled at each other and the woman, wearing a soft teal dress not unlike hers, took her gently by the elbow and motioned for her to walk with her. She looked furtively around the woman, wanting his attention, but trying not to interrupt. She hadn't caught his eye by the time the were about to walk through the open doors, but, just as they were exiting, she heard his voice in that melodic verse.

The woman bowed and said, "Yes, of course Lord President," and ushered her out of the room.

"Wait, you can speak English?" The door closed behind them with a soft hiss and she let the woman guide her along the softly lit corridors. She shook her head and corrected herself, "I mean, you can speak something other than Gallifreyan?" The woman smiled at her and patted her arm.

"Yes, all Time Lords and Ladies can speak hundreds of languages," she stared blankly at her so she continued. "The Lord President asked that I communicate with you in a language you might understand," she had a kind face and had easily been the kindest person she had met so far, so she probed her for more questions.

"Where are we going?" She glanced around the numerous columns and doors and had absolutely no idea where they were.

"The Lord President has asked that I show you to your room," she nodded.

"And what's your name?"

"My name is Clarachelmansoromandia," she looked at the woman, mouth slightly open. "You may call me Rachel. I believe it is a name on your home planet?" She nodded again.

"Are- are all Time Lord names that…long," she didn't want to seem rude, but she had nothing to go on, and it seemed her room must be on the other side of the city as far as they were walking.

"Yes, our names reflect our status; as we age, our names grow," Rachel replied calmly and precisely. *No wonder he just goes by 'The Doctor', his real name would probably take longer to say than New New York's*. They paused in front of a lift and entered it when the doors opened.

"Do you know The Doctor?" Rachel had dropped her arm and she wasn't quite sure how to stand. She felt awkward in her presence; unequaled.

"I have known him since he became Lord President," well that didn't help her.

"And when was that, exactly?"

"Just before the fall of Gallifrey in the Time War," the smile had left her face and she didn't question her further. They stood a moment in silence as the elevator continued its slow ascension.

"When will he- when can I see the- the Lord President?" she was missing him already and the feeling of fear started to brush the tips of her consciousness. She didn't like being on a planet where the locals believe you inferior in every way, where they spoke a language she couldn't understand, and seemed too busy in their own business to hardly acknowledge her existence. Her feet and fingers were itching for something to go wrong; she pictured the elevator opening in a dark room where she was to be fed to some slimy creature as the politicians downstairs kept him preoccupied.

She let out a slow breath as the doors opened, she peaked outside, and saw that there was nothing, slimy or otherwise, waiting to have her for dinner. Rachel lead her down the hall, intricate doors interspersed along either wall as they made their way to the very end of the corridor.

"The Lord President will be occupied indefinitely," she waved a ring in front of a small panel to the left of the door and it opened. "Is there anything else I can get you?" Rachel held out the ring and she tentatively took it from her.

"Um, yeah, do you think I could get some chips?" She met Rachel's gaze and the woman smiled kindly at her, the idea flickered through her head that she must be a teacher or something.

"I'll see what the kitchen staff can do. Goodnight my Lady," she bowed slightly and headed back down the way they came.

"Wait, wha'?" she couldn't have heard what she thought, but Rachel didn't turn around, so she pushed the door open further and peaked inside. It was dark, so she fumbled around the wall for a light-switch. She felt the wall to the right of the door for about five feet before knocking into something hard with her thigh. She turned around and felt the other side of the wall before muttering, "Where are the bloody lights?" Upon her words the room was filled with a feint golden glow and she spun around. "Righ' voice activated…fun," but she wasn't really amused. She folded her arms and sighed before letting her eyes take in 'her room'.

To her left stood a magnificent bed, covered in inviting silks and satins in shades of burgundy and burnt orange. On either side stood spindly side tables of glass, which, she determined, must have been what she had stumbled over in the dark. To her immediate right there was a large wardrobe and mirror and, further along the wall, a beautiful vanity covered in trinkets and a fresh bouquet of semi-transparent flowers. Directly in front of her was a door which led to a darkened bathroom and a very large, luxurious sitting area complete with bookshelf. But, the thing that caught her attention the most, was the fact that the entire fourth wall, to her left, was missing. Well, not missing, but it was merely marble columns and a rail with steps down to a courtyard.

She walked slowly around the room, tracing her fingers over the trinkets on the vanity, smelling the exotic flowers and looking at her dress in the mirror before going to survey the courtyard. She leant down and rested her elbows as she soaked in the atmosphere. It was a beautiful night and she realized she must be on the top floor of the building; the stars almost seemed closer. The moon cast a cool honey glow over the courtyard, so she could make out some of the details. It was square and covered with red grass which, in the dark, looked almost black. There was a small pond with a small waterfall so the entire room was filled with the gentle trickling of water. In one of the back corners stood a few chairs for enjoying the courtyard, and a few patches of flowers were scattered around the perimeter. In the center stood a good sized tree, the leaves of which were pure silver and, to her amazement, as a small breeze picked up, the leaves clinked together almost as wind chimes in the night. The sound and the entire surroundings were breathtaking.

She wasn't sure how long she stood there, the warm glow of the room behind her and the paler glow of the moon in front, before she felt a cool hand on her upper arm. She whipped around with a slight start and came face to face with him.

"Oh, Doctor, you scared me!" She held a hand to her heart, trying to calm down her pulse. He beamed at her, holding his hands behind his back and rocking on the balls of his feet. "What are you doing here? Rachel said you were going to be busy all night."

"Yes well, you see, Gallifrey hasn't fully recovered yet, so I sent everyone off for some rest. And I wanted to check up on you," they both turned out to look at the courtyard, and stood in uncharacteristic silence for a few moments.

"'S'beautiful, "she whispered, half to herself. It had been a very long, trying day.

"The first night Gallifrey has seen in, oh, so many years," his voice was strained, with both sadness and joy. She turned to him and he looked older, the lines of his face deepened in the semi-darkness. She reached out and took his hand in hers, missing his cool touch. The past three months seemed a forgotten nightmare. They hadn't fallen right back into things, but his presence back in her life convinced her 100% that he was her future, in any capacity.

"I'm sorry," he squeezed her hand in thanks. They lingered there a moment longer, "So, what was all the running about today about?" she tried to lighten the mood as they dropped hands, he stuffing his in his pockets and she crossing her arms over her chest. The smile fell from his face.

"Time Lord stuff," he turned away and walked into the room. She turned to look at him, dissatisfied with his answer.

"Like…? Come on, I've spent all day being ogled and ignored, tell me what it was all for," she sounded harsher then she meant, but she HAD been hurt by how the other Time Lords had treated her, but she knew it wasn't his fault, not really. To her surprise his eyes flashed a silent warning at her, a look she rarely had directed at herself.

"You wouldn't understand," he turned his back to her and laid his long coat which had been over his arm on the bed. He rubbed his face in his hands, but she wouldn't let him off that easily.

"Doctor, I've left my Mum and Dad and Mickey, I've left the family I always thought I wanted to be with you," she caught herself, "to travel with you. I will spend the rest of my life with you, but you can't brush me off like this." She started to walk across the room to him, her arms uncrossing and fists clenching slightly. He wouldn't look at her. Emotions she had tried to suppress were rising exponentially, along with her voice, "I'll take the 'silly ape' nonsense from the rest of your lot, but I won't take it from you! Your planet might not like humans, I get it," the words were tumbling from her mouth, thoughts she had never truly thought out were pouring out without second thought, "but don't you ever act ashamed of me!" She stopped abruptly, the realization of what she had said caught her throat. She hadn't realized it before, but all day, as the others had given her sideways glances and even rolled their eyes, his body language had turned more and more to that of embarrassment. *Maybe he even asked Rachel to show me to my room because he couldn't bare having me in the room any longer.*

He turned to face her, bending over slightly to look her more squarely in the eye. "You're right, Rose, Gallifreyans don't like humans, they believe they are below them; using only a small portion of their brain, their illogical emotions associated with all actions, their inability to even manage traveling across space, let alone time. It IS a part of our culture to dislike lower species; it is pounded into our brain from the day we come out of the Loom. I am not always proud of my people; they can be downright cruel to other species; but I am different from them in that regard. Don't EVER think I am ashamed of you-" he stopped abruptly in his tirade and looked into her slightly watery eyes. He let out a long breath through his nose and, picking up his coat in a fluid motion, turned to march out the door.

She bit her lip and, before she could stop herself, she yelled after him, "so then, Rachel calling me 'my Lady' was just another jab at my being human, yeah?" He stopped in the open door way, his back still to her.

"No," his voice was calm and she could hear a hint of sorrow, "Rachel is a kind woman, she was being polite." He didn't move.

"But, if I'm a 'lower species', why should she bother?" She didn't know what had come over her…maybe she was tired, but the pounding in her ears and her quick breaths encouraged her to be defiant, to argue. There was a part of her, she realized with horror, which still hadn't forgiven him for trying to send her home, for leaving her for three months without him, for dropping her almost like Sarah Jane. This bitterness made her mouth sour, but what he said next made her heart stop.

"She was being polite because the only way for you to be allowed on Gallifrey was for them to think you were my wife," he closed the door quietly, without having looked back, and left her in silence with a ringing in her ears.

He marched from the room, more angry with himself then with her. *Stupid, delusional, idiot! HAD to go and ruin the best day you've had in years by going and telling her that little white lie you told to smuggle her onto the planet. Bloody IDIOT!* He didn't look where he was going, his feet taking him down halls he had known for centuries. He still couldn't wrap his brain around the fact that these WEREN'T the same corridors; merely copies. He had never walked past that alcove, never followed that vein in the marble, and never glanced out that window before in his life.

But his mind wondered. The million thoughts he held were bouncing around; hitting, rebounding and resonating within his skull and he rubbed the bridge of his nose in an attempt to focus in on what was important.

Yes, he had told the guards which had been posted outside the TADIS when he arrived that she was a human, practically a child, posed no threat, and, when they looked like the weren't going to allow her to step foot on Gallifrey, let alone inside the Citadel, he told them she was his wife. As Lord President, it was the only guaranteed way of securing her 'admission' without a lot of follow up questions about political asylum or the destruction of her race. They had only shown slight shock, but recovered quickly. He was Lord President and his word was law…to a certain extent. And every single Time Lord knew he was the one to break the rules, defy the High Council and tramps through Time and Space with the lowliest of species. Why wouldn't he go and marry one, especially since there hadn't been any Time Ladies to choose from?

He had never meant for her to find out; he had never really thought it through. He had been to anxious to show her his home world, and to see it himself to ponder the consequences. Now, hands in his pockets, his head bowed and feet kicking at specs of dust on the cool marble floors, he meandered around the place, unable to settle, and afraid that, if anyone saw him, they would wonder why he wasn't in session with the other senators.

Guilt raked at his stomach, causing it to twist painfully. Again, he hadn't thought it out carefully; of course, even IF she were his wife, the other Time Lords wouldn't have treated her well…they simply HATE humans. *Well, maybe 'hate' is too strong a word…disparage. Time Lords disparage humans.* He had come to a balcony on the other side of the spire. He paused and looked out onto the city; twinkling brighter then the night sky above it.

Gallifrey was a truly beautiful place, and he knew almost all species had a certain affinity and biasness towards their planet of origin, but he had seen almost every planet out there, and would still compare the sun-soaked fields of bright red grass, the sounds of the softest wind whispering and laughing in the silver and blue branches, the elegant majesty of the Citadel, encased by its translucent dome. He sighed.

He had really made a mess of things. All day, he had been looking over the data concerning the regeneration of the planet and signing this that and the other about the next steps to be taken; the Looms requested permission to increase production by 500% in order to take the current population from 1million (and 2) to the 5 million the planet supported. The Matrix needed to be updates and information gathered and sorted concerning the past years Gallifrey hadn't witnessed. Scientists in all fields were busy regaining control over the Eye of Harmony and checking the balances in the Void and monitoring the portals between universes. He sighed again, this time ending it in a half grunt, half moan.

He had so much to do and he was so tired. The catnap they had on the TARDIS should have been adequate to replenish him, but his eyes were heavy and his brain numb. Then he felt a shock run through him; creeping slowly down his spine and running quickly to his fingers; remembering curling up beside her on his bed, her soft hair against his cheek, the feel of her rhythmic breathing, her lone powerful heartbeat. For a moment his senses were overcome by the mere memory of they joy and….completeness he had felt in that moment. He had to turn around, to go find her, tell her exactly what it meant to him that she was back in his life, to take her up in his arms and loose himself to the emotions he felt for her…or at least go and apologize.

He turned around, determined, and took a few energetic steps before realizing he had no idea where he was. Somewhere, in his mental rantings, he had moved from rooms and corridors he knew, to ones he didn't, and, unfortunately, they all looked alike.

"Blast!" He shouted, in a miserable attempt to relieve some emotion. He spun around pathetically, trying to retrace his steps when a laugh came from the shadows behind him. He didn't turn around; of course anyone who had seen him tugging at his hair and spinning like a top was prone to laugh. "Well, are you going to help or just laugh at me as my exhausted brain tries to remember the winding road I traveled to get to this exact place?" He was squinting down one of the three halls he had a choice of going down, not even sparing a glance to find his observer.

"Oh, I think I'll just enjoy the sight of you lost, as ever," the woman said quietly, but with the hint of a smile on her voice. He looked down the next corridor, weighing it versus the first.

"I'm not always lost-" he stopped mid argument and spun on his heal to face the woman who was leaning against a column behind him. His voice caught in his throat and the color drained from his face, "Romana?"

Her eyes lost focused as she stared a hole into the creamy texture of the door; the whole while one word reverberating in her mind. *Wife*.

She didn't say a word. Didn't move, didn't blink, hardly breathed. She could still hear his voice wrapping around the word long after the sound of his footsteps died away. She was numb; she couldn't even summon an emotion past her shock.

Her anger had died instantaneously. She knew she had no reason to be mad at him. She knew, logically, that he had only said something like that as a last resort.

A tear fell down her cheek and she took in a rattling breath. She wasn't mad. She was sad.

She KNEW it had no meaning behind it and the flickering image of the two of them at some alien alter, sporting those ridiculous robes and collars the other Time Lords had been wearing, which had flashed across her mind for a nanosecond at the word 'wife' seemed a cruel and hollow joke. In that moment, with the release of anger, possibility had reared its ugly head and it had scarred her.

She shakily felt her way, more than walked, to the bed, the tears threatening to consume her. She would never be that, a wife, not only because he would never be a husband, but because she would spend the rest of her life with him and never find one. She had known for so many years she would abandon any dreams she might have had for him, and, not a few occasions (much like this one) she had willingly defied him and renounced 'her life' for his. Weren't her Mum, Dad, and Mickey in an parallel world at that very moment? Hadn't she returned BOTH times he had sent her home? Hadn't she known that life without him wasn't life, but merely existence?

And that was what made it worse. To know that either way, with him or without him, it still hurt. One alternative hurt much more than the other, obviously, but to be around him and always wanting more…it was mental and emotional torture. She couldn't lie to herself anymore. That one word had made her come to terms with the fact she couldn't ever be satisfied with their life together the way it used to be. That word, that solitary word, implied the difference between a life of bliss and a life of longing.

She stopped crying. She had finally made up her mind. No more beating around the bush, no more hiding blushes and awkwardly ending embraces. She, silly ape that she was, was not going to let him dance around the subject. She had promised him forever; he owed her something in return, and she was going to cash in.

She sat up straighter on the bed, rubbed away her smudged mascara and sniffled slightly. She waited, with a new found resolve, for him to come back. She waited to tell him what exactly having him back in her life meant to her, to melt in his arms and loose herself to the emotions she felt for him.

She never planned to fall asleep.

The woman stepped out from the wall, a big smile spreading across her features. He stood there, mouth slightly open, eyes scanning every inch of her face. She came within arms reach, and he could clearly see every detail of her visage. It hadn't changed in over 300 years.

With a whoop he swept her up in his arms, her feet trailing through the air as he turned her about, and her calm laughter sparking so many memories in his mind's eye.

"Oh Romanadvoratrelundar, my dear friend! I thought I'd lost you!" He set her down and pulled away so he held her shoulders.

"No, I lost to you remember, after the first attempt on Skaro?" She looked at him with fake sternness as his cheeks seemed they couldn't scrunch from smiling any more.

"well…but you stepped down more like. You made a much better President then I did," she looked him squarely in the eye.

"Quite right. I, for one, didn't blow up the planet!" She placed her hands on her hips in mock seriousness.

He released her shoulders to stick one hand in his pocket and the other to pull at his earlobe. "Yeah, bit of an accident that was…miscalculated the refraction of the alorbonic chromasis beam in the delta Omega field mistake, really. You can believe me I've been slapping my forehead about that one for some time," he fidgeted slightly, still not comfortable retelling the events after the Fall of Arcadia. Yet he knew that, of any Time Lord in existence, Romana would be the one to playfully scold him for a miscalculation rather than interrogate him as to how he took it upon himself to destroy a galaxy.

"You never were very good at calculating alor-chro beam densities; always used to switch around the 'n's and the 'Θ's." She clasped her hands in front of her and looked over him. "Well, this regeneration has been kind."

"Two regenerations since you last saw me," he was slightly sad and ashamed; regenerating so often meant he had been somewhat careless…

"Dear Doctor; always willing to sacrifice a regeneration for some ill fated species or another," he had half expected her to criticize or laugh, she was one of the most kind hearted Time Lords or Ladies he knew, but she still showed traces of their smugness. On this occasion, however, she set herself apart and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"You haven't changed in just over 600 years, I was there, I remember," he remembered the shock he felt at seeing her step into the console room, a new face that she had 'stolen' from the Princess Astra after trying out a few other possibilities. She still had a face of a very young woman, with the air of a very wise one. "I still can't believe it's you!"

"And I'm the one who still has the same body…"

"But, I mean, everyone DIED…but, now you're standing here and it's simply impossible! I mean, it stands to reason that they would catalogue the consciousnesses of past Presidents out of respect and possible demand, but to see you here…the same old Romana!" he couldn't contain himself and grabbed her in another, slightly less passionate, hug.

He set her down and she started to lead him back to the part of the building he remembered. They talked about nothing in particular; mostly things that had happened since he had met Rose, and he assured her she would love her and that they would have to sit down to lunch tomorrow. They reached his door after hours of discussion and walking down the labyrinthine corridors. She bid him good night and he took a deep, steadying breath.

He had forgotten, momentarily, why he had been in such a huff when Romana had found him. Now, he was here, faced with the imminent possibility of rejection and even abandon by her. He knew he could no longer go on this way; wanting more and not acting on it. His hearts were going to burst from frustration and restraint if he didn't address his feelings for her. And he knew they would wither if she didn't reciprocate them. But he had made up his mind and, though he was exhausted in every application of the word, he knocked lightly on the door before passing his ring over the security pad and it swooshed open.

The room was almost completely dark; a single honey orb illuminating to room with a faint glow. He peaked his head in before stepping into the room and calling out her name softly. He was met with the calm, rhythmic breathing of her sleeping form. He let out a long, deep sigh; he didn't need to confront her, not tonight. He walked over to the bedside; she had fallen asleep on the middle of the bed, covers still tucked under the pillows. Her hand was brought up by her face and her hair had come loose from its bun and spilled around her head. Her cream skin radiated in the light and she still wore the chiffon dress he had given her. She was a goddess and he carefully laid his long coat over her for warmth and as not to wake her.

He stood there a moment longer, allowing himself to feel his love for her, before yawning and crossing the room to the plush sofa. He lay down, head on the far side, so he could watch her sleeping, and arms crossed. A light breeze tickled his cheeks, but the cool air didn't bother him. In that moment, he was the most content he had felt in his life; the woman he loved was sleeping safe in his bed, his people were once again monitoring space and time, and he would never be alone again.

This contentment washed over him and, with the hectic and trying events of the day somewhat forgotten in his fatigue, he fell asleep with a smile on his lips.

She awoke to the light sound of birds singing, a breeze rustling the musical leaves of the silver tree just outside the bedroom and a knock on the door. She sat up, the brown coat falling from her shoulders onto her lap; realizing she must have fallen asleep and he must have come back and covered her so as not to wake her. She spied him asleep, arms crossed and laying on his side on the couch facing her. She smiled; all bitterness from their argument the night before forgotten, or at least no longer as acidic. There was another light knock on the door and she stood up, brushed her hands down the front of her dress and hastily through her hair before she opened the door.

Rachel stood before her; hands clasped patiently in front of her and a light smile on her lips. "Good morning, my Lady," she bowed her head slightly, "I hope you slept well," she continued without a response. "I'm afraid I am in need of the Lord President." Her eyes darted over her shoulder and into the room for a split second.

"Oh," she turned around and watched his slow breathing for a moment; she hadn't even had a chance to talk to him, to apologize and/or confess, and they were taking him away again. "Yeah, sure," she stepped aside and, since Rachel did not pick up on the body language and enter the room, she walked over to his sleeping form and gently shook his shoulder. "Doctor? Doctor, they need you," he sniffled and she smiled as his nose crinkled. She gave him a slightly harder shake and spoke louder, "Oi, Doctor, up and at 'em-" his eyes flashed open and he sat bolt upright, almost bonking their heads together. She stood up quickly and took a step back; she had the impression he might not be the happiest Time Lord ever after being woken up. He stared up at her, complete confusion etched across his face.

"Rose?" she just stood there and his face turned to pure joy and excitement. "Rose!" he leapt off the couch and grabbed her elbows. "Oh Rose, there's something I need to talk to you about-" she cleared her throat and motioned her head over her right shoulder slightly. He frowned and looked over her shoulder, seeing Rachel waiting patiently just outside the door, head bowed out of respect.

"Oh," the exuberance left his countenance. He leaned in a little closer to her face and whispered, "what does she want?"

"Don't know," she whispered back, inclining her head slightly to close the distance between them. "Showed up askin' for ya." His eyes once again left her face and stared at the still form across the room. "Listen, Doctor, I need to talk to you too-" he dropped her elbows without meeting her eyes and started to walk across the room.

Half way there, he paused and turned around. "Rose, I'll talk to you later…" he headed out into the hall, a sour expression on his face and Rachel quietly greeted him with a lower bow and a short phrase in Gallifreyan. He nodded and looked back into the room; meeting her gaze and flashing her a brief hint of a smile before letting Rachel lead him down the hall.

The door closed silently and she sighed a heavy sigh. He hadn't seemed upset with her, but sometimes she couldn't tell what he was thinking. Now it wouldn't be until later that night, probably, until she could speak to him. Meanwhile, she had no idea where she was, she knew no one and she had nothing to do. She glanced around the room; filled with the fresh morning air and bright morning light is was a place of simple beauty and tranquility. She looked out over the courtyard for a few moments before deciding to take a shower.

She headed to the bathroom and, after a few gropes, remembered and mumbled, "Lights". There was a long mirror, a toilet, a very large deep bathtub and a small, glass chamber she could only assume was the shower. She found a stack of thick crimson towels and set two aside before carefully peeling off her dress and opening the door. She looked around, trying to find any sort of faucet or tap but, after a fruitless moment she jumped slightly as a hot thin shower literally rained down on her; the entire ceiling covered with small holes the near boiling water (just as she liked it) dripped through. It felt lovely and refreshing. After a moment she then tried to find toiletries with which to clean herself. She then spied a shelf on the other side of the glass which contained brightly colored bottles and soaps. She reached a hand out the door and snaked her arm around so she could sort through the bottles without leaving the comforts of the shower. The bottles had no labels and were all different shapes and sizes so she grabbed as many as she could and pulled her hand back in. The first she opened was a rather large bottle filled with a daisy yellow goop. She smelled it and it smelled like lemons, but with the consistency of honey; body wash, she determined. The next was the smallest bottle filled with a non-viscous green liquid. It smelled of mint and she laughed as she realized it was mouthwash. She set it back on the counter before opening the rest of the bottles she had grabbed.

She found a bottle of clear, lavender smelling shampoo and a matching white conditioner which she set next to the body wash. She guessed at what the others were used for, but the most interesting bottle was a tall thin one filled with a deep blue substance. She smelled it and images filled her mind; the most recent of which was waking up just the short time ago. She inhaled deeply and remembered what it was the smell reminded her of; him. It was the fresh, cool part of his scent that mixed with the more amber, and warmer parts of his natural musk that formed his smell. She didn't know what it was used for, probably body wash (though she did entertain the idea it was hair gel), but took another few whiffs before closing the lid and putting it on the counter with the rest of the bottles she didn't want.

She proceeded to wash her body and hair, fully enjoying the Gallifreyan shower; it changed temperature and pressure at her thought and, the last few minutes she stood under the water, it was a steady torrent; messaging her shoulders and back as well as removing the last of the conditioner from her hair. The water stopped just when she wanted it to, and she wrung her hair out before opening the door and grabbing the towels, wrapping one around her head and the other around her body. She opened the bathroom door surreptitiously, just in case, and, since no one had reentered the room, she walked over to the wardrobe.

Inside were drawers, which were filled with undergarments and socks and nightgowns, and a rack of robes and dresses, all of the same color as the one he had given her the day before. She flicked through some of the dresses and pulled out a few for closer inspection before settling on one. It was much more simple then the one she had worn the day before, and, though it was the same color, it was a completely different style. This one was made of crimson and gold satin and was much more binding than the first. It had gold braided spaghetti straps which crisscrossed on her back and the braid continued all the way around the top of the dress and accented her chest, crossing between her breasts and going around like an empire waist band to be tied in the back. The rest of the dress was the deep crimson and the satin stretched tight around her curves until her mid thigh where it loosened and flared into a slightly fuller skirt. If the dress he had given her the day before had made her feel like a Greek goddess walking along the corridors, this dress made her feel like a gorgeous devil. She didn't know why, exactly, she wanted to feel beautiful and sexy and, from the few women she had seen so far, she wasn't exactly sure why such a dress was even in the Gallifreyan wardrobe, or, for that matter, HIS wardrobe. She smirked at the thought of his mouth gaping at the site of her in the dress and she went on to do her hair and makeup; the toiletries for which she found in drawers and cupboards in the bathroom and vanity.

Once she had finished, she slipped on the ring which unlocked the bedroom door and she put the TARDIS key around her neck. The dog tag chain looked horribly tacky with the elegant dress, but she needed the comfort the piece of metal brought her. She sat at the vanity, and, bored, took her time in looking over the trinkets. She opened a wooden box and it started playing haunting and ethereal music. It was filled with bits and bobs such as old watches and, what looked like a broken sonic screwdriver. She realized then that this was HIS room, not just a guest suite. She continued to rummage through the small box with her index finger, surprised at all that fit in it and, with a laugh, realized it was probably 'bigger on the inside'. She was just about to close it when she noticed that there was a compartment below the tray on top which she promptly lifted out. Inside lay an old, silver pocket watch covered with beautiful engravings of what she recognized as Gallifreyan symbols, a silver fob lay at its side, and, next to that, a long gold necklace. She pulled the later out and stared at the simple beauty of the chain; it was a delicate twisted rope with a small yet sturdy clasp. Without thinking twice, she pulled off the TARDIS key and removed it from her chain. With nimble fingers she laced the gold chain through it and clasped it around her neck. Studying her reflection, she decided the chain somehow made the whole thing 'work' and she smiled to herself as there was another knock on the door.

She tucked the key into the top of the dress, only the gold chain visible, before standing and crossing to the door. She opened it, expecting to see Rachel, but instead, her gaze was met by a young woman of her same height, wearing robes of the same scarlet and orange as her, with strawberry blonde hair and a warm smile on her face.

"He-hello?" She shook her head, remembering they could understand her and that she just couldn't understand them. "I mean, can I help you?" She gave a faint, polite smile.

"Yes, my name is Romanadvoratrelundar, but you can just call me Romana, or Fred, if that's any easier," she held out her hand and she carefully took it, settling on 'Romana', she had never liked women with men's names. "The Doctor told me a little about you," she eyed her up and down and, though normally she would have, she wasn't affronted, "but you seem to be quite different in person." She beamed at her.

"Yes, well," she suddenly felt embarrassed in the dress and whished she had picked out something slightly less…curvaceous. But, never one to return a heartfelt smile for a frown, she tried to give Romana a smile. "Limited wardrobe and all-" She still fidgeted.

"Mmm, yes, not quite like the one in the TARDIS," Romana's eyes glassed over for the briefest moment before meeting hers again. "Anyway, you look lovely. Would you like to join me for a quick bite?"

At those words her stomach gave a lovely rumble and she finally gave a true smile, "Oh, yes please." Romana stepped back and she followed, allowing her new friend to lead her along the winding corridors and down a flight of stairs. There, Romana took her out to a balcony, on which sat numerous women (the most she had seen since arriving), all chatting in their beautiful language and sipping hot drinks or eating breakfast. Romana motioned to a table in the corner, overlooking a large square 50 stories below them. She was glad she wasn't too afraid of heights, otherwise she would have had to move away from the spectacular view.

Her attention was drawn away from the busy activity far below them by Romana's voice, "Nice cup of tea?" She smiled at her.

"Ooh, yes please," she turned her gaze downwards again as Romana rose and walked to a counter on the far wall; it seemed to be a kitchen from which all of the patrons were getting their food. She came back and after a few moments of small talk, what she could only assume was a waitress, came over and took their orders for breakfast. She allowed Romana to order for her, having no idea what a traditional Gallifreyan breakfast consisted of. A few minutes later they were sitting happily sipping tea and nibbling at delicate pastries filled with cream and a fruit which reminded her of something between a raspberry and a strawberry.

As they talked, mostly about him and their adventures, she learned of Romana's travels with him and his past regenerations. Nothing too in depth, Romana didn't want to tell her anything he wouldn't himself, more of silly jokes that only his companions would appreciate, much like those she had shared with Sarah Jane. She didn't notice the hours tick by until the slant of the sun started to warm her back and shoulders.

"Well," Romana stood and she followed suit, "we better get going, don't want to be late!" She beamed at her and took her arm and started to quickly lead her down the numerous hallways taking stairs here and there and two separate lifts. She guessed it was about 10 or 11 am (she had woken just after sunrise) and she had no idea what she could possibly be late for.

"Romana, where are we going?" She half laughed, running out of breath as their pace increased. "What are we going to be late FOR?"

Romana just rolled her eyes at her, a very 'him' thing to do, "Oh don't be silly!" she laughed but guessed Romana would not be one to call her an 'ape'…at least not to her face. She knew that look too well to think she could get any more information out of her, so she followed in silence, at least happy to be out of the room, doing something, even if it was just aerobics.

Finally, Romana pushed open a door to a small, intimate chamber. The walls were a soft, pleasant magnolia and the furniture was inviting, light, and happy. There was a large mirror and vanity on one wall, another door and a small sitting area. Despite the lack of a window, the room seemed light and airy and serene. She liked it, but was worried…it had the slightest feel of a waiting room.

To her horror, Romana's next words confirmed this. "Now, just wait here, the attendants will be in shortly." She took both her hands in her own.

"But, what am I waiting for?" despite her worry, Romana's sure fire and happy attitude kept her spirits up.

"Just don't worry, you look beautiful! That dress is perfect; I'll be right back with your collar," she gave her hands a quick squeeze and darted from the room, excited.

She was left alone, suddenly, and without a single clue as to what was going on. She had a sinking feeling that this might be one of his surprises and then went off day dreaming about where he had gotten off to. She only waited a few minutes before three women came in, all wearing scarlet. They beamed at her and bowed their heads slightly saying "My Lady," in chorus. She just smiled and gave a really awkward curtsy in return, not knowing what else to do. They took hold of her, dragging her over to the vanity and sitting her down on the small stool. They laughed and chatted amongst themselves in Gallifreyan as they pulled on her hair, prodded at her with makeup and fidgeted with her dress and shoes. She tried to protest and ask them what they were doing, but they just looked at each other and laugh. The more she protested the less funny it was and their laughter was mingled with …resentment? She didn't want the people covering her with blush and mascara to be in a bad mood, so she kept quiet and still and they regained their joviality.

Not a moment too soon, Romana came in from the first door with a large gold collar in hand; similar to the ones she had seen some of the men wearing their first day. This one was slightly smaller, more feminine, and it wasn't solid. Instead it was like lace made from gold; swirling, intricate patterns cut away from the mettle so it was more see-through then solid. Romana kindly pushed the other women away, who had finished whatever the hell they had been doing to her and they stood back, surveying her with pride.

"Oh you look lovely!" Romana carefully placed the surprisingly light collar around her neck and on her shoulders; its graceful 'wings' haloing her head where her hair was pilled in an intricate up-do.

She couldn't take it any longer. "WHAT is going ON?" She stood and Romana took a step back, the smiles slipping from her and the others' faces. "What!" But before any of them could reply, there was a commotion outside the only door anyone had passed through and it was suddenly thrown open.

He walked in, fury written into the lines creasing his frowning face as he quickly took in the five women in the room, his eyes lingering a moment longer on her. "OUT!" he shouted and pointed out the open door, where a guard's head was just peaking in. The three attendants bustled out, bowing as they walked and pardoning themselves in Gallifreyan. He breathed heavily as he watched them go before turning on Romana. "Please leave us alone a moment," his voice was low and calm and only filled with the anger he had for the others. She nodded, gave her new friend a hug and kissed his cheek before calmly leaving the room. He stood there, wearing long crimson robes with gold sashes and a solid gold collar, matching her own attire, thinking a moment before she interrupted him.

"Doctor, what is going on? Why is there a guard outside? What were they doing? Where have you been?" her questions were calm, if not pleading; she felt resigned. The argument they had last night, the day before and this morning all weighed on her. She had an inquisitive mind, a thirst for adventure, and she did NOT like to be kept in the dark. His brown eyes looked flashed at her and then quickly returned to their point in space.

"Rose, hush, I'm trying to think of an escape-"

"Escape!" Her nerves suddenly kicked back into full attention. She had thought there was nothing she would need to escape on Gallifrey. "What's after us?" He glanced nervously at the unused door and swayed on his feet, still not meeting her gaze. If didn't know better, she would have said he was nervous…not nervous, embarrassed.

"We need to get back to the TARDIS and get far away from here-" he started to ramble and since he still wouldn't look at her, she crossed the few feet separating them and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He immediately stopped in his plan and let out a soft sound. She thought it might have been a moan.

"Doctor?" She asked the wordless question softly and he sighed, slowly bringing his eyes up to meet hers. She led him silently over to the sofa in the corner and he leaned over, resting his face in his hands. "Now, please tell me what's going on," she rubbed his knee softly, comfortingly.

He kept his face in his hands, "Rose, we need to escape from them, the High Council." He paused and she was about to ask why when he continued on his own. "You see, the Council has dictated that a union between Time Lords must be sanctified by a member of the Order of Rassilon. There were none, Gallifrey having been destroyed, so the union isn't binding." He glanced up at her, paying no attention to the confusion on her face and beginning to talk more to himself then to her. "They didn't tell me they were planning a Union. Those bloody know-it-all's have to control EVERYTHING. They can't just let a Time Lord be!" He was getting frantic, hands ruffling his hair. She pushed gently on his shoulder.

"Doctor, speak English," she wasn't understanding him at all. He frowned at her.

"Oh, sorry, was I speaking in Gallifreyan?" She paused and laughed at what he thought she meant.

"Oh, no!" She beamed at him, which sent his hearts soaring, giving him some peace of mind, "I meant you aren't makin' sense, just tell me why, exactly, we need to leave? I thought you had important things the High Council, or whatever it's called, needed you to do."

He opened his mouth to begin another rant, but stopped, locking eyes with her. He seemed to search her face and his face became apologetic and flushed with embarrassment. "Unfortunately, the High Council does have something important it wants us to do."

"Us?" She didn't think she liked the sound of that.

"Rose, they…they want us to be Joined- to…to get…to get married." He almost winced at her, but he needn't. She didn't blow up like he thought she would. Rather, she had a very contemplative look on her face.

"So, the hair and make up and bling," she pointed to their collars, "is for a wedding," she shook her head, "OUR wedding?" He nodded slowly. "Today? Now?" He kept nodding, frown growing, waiting for the 'boom'. "As in, you and me, alter, 'I Do's and a honeymoon, now?" He sat a little further back in his chair, attempting to get out of arms reach. She sat quietly a moment before asking him calmly, "You want to escape our…'Union', to run away?" It held no deeper question then that of confirming what he had already said.

He stumbled over his words for a moment, unable to tell her that no, he would love to get married; to stay on Gallifrey a few days before heading off to a few resort planets for a honeymoon, to be hers for the rest of her days, to hold her in his arms as lovers, not just as friends, to kiss her again. "Well," he settled on a tactic which couldn't get him slapped…too hard, "don't you?"

She opened and closed her mouth, glanced away a split second then met his gaze, a huge smile spread across her face. "No."

"You want to get MARRIED?" he tried not to show shock and amusement and horror on his face, but from the frown and blush that marred her face, he feared he had.

"I- what? No-it's just, I mean-" she quickly stood, twisting her fingers together nervously, trying to take back what she had said. He stood too, but he didn't cross over to her, she the one who now couldn't make eye contact with him.

"Rose," his voice was calm and soothing and her stumbling words caught in her throat. She wanted to cry; how could she have thought he wanted to marry her? He hadn't ever shown he wanted to have a relationship of that sort, and she thought he might like a trip down the isle? She resisted the urge to hit herself in the forehead and repeat 'stupid, stupid, stupid!'.

He wasn't sure what was happening. Had he imagined her saying she wanted to marry him? Or had she said it by mistake and was trying to quickly repair the damage? Suddenly, it didn't matter to him. It became clear. In that moment he wanted nothing more than to stride over to her and kiss her senseless; letting her know everything, have everything he had been trying so hard to keep to himself so neither of them would be hurt. Her mortality meant nothing; he had known, from their relatively short separation, that one lifetime with her was better than centuries of regret. He wanted his Rose; he had her heart, he wasn't so thick as to think he didn't, and he knew he couldn't dance around his desires any longer.

He wanted to kiss her and that is precisely what he did.

Before she could form a coherent sentence, she heard him take two long, determined strides (it was a very small room) over to her. She turned to look at him but before she could speak, before she could think or even breath, he had taken her face in his hands and she was lost.

His lips had met hers in the most tender, comforting, loving way she had ever thought possible. She didn't think; didn't want to wake up from such a lovely dream, didn't want to loose the feeling of his body pressed against hers, his hearts pounding against her chest and his lips covering her own. She had closed her eyes and when he finally, gently, slowly pulled away, she kept them closed, mouth staying lightly open, lips numb.

"Rose, I love you," she opened her eyes to stair into his very serious, heartbreaking, brown ones. "I love you more then you can possibly imagine. Do you have any idea of the things you do to me? Your smell, the sound of your laugh, the way you always ask the right things and never do as you're told. I-" his eyes searched her own, hoping she would understand, "I'm in love with you." He said simply, releasing her face from his cool hands and taking the smallest step back.

She stared at him, shock slowing all synapses in her brain. "I-" she held a hand up to her lips which tingled; missing his. She knew it was a dream; he had kissed her and said all the things she had wished he would say since the first time he took her hand. He was staring at her with hope in his eyes, a vulnerable expression she had never seen him wear. His chest was rising and falling slightly faster then normal. His hands balled into fists at his side.

Suddenly, the hollowness and numbness she had felt since they parted was gorged by the elation that engulfed her. Her distressed face broke into a huge smile and her heart rate increased to a steady purr in her chest. She flung her arms around his neck and he joined in on her joyous, triumphant laughter, swinging her around and crushing her to him, shouting 'BRILLIANT!' a few times. He set her down and kissed her again, this time it was filled with passion, desire, energy and excitement that they had never been able to share with each other. Her hands fussed his hair and he held her firmly to him, finally allowing his body to fit tightly with hers. Their mouths danced and circled and touched and tasted until they both had to come up for air.

"Oh, Rose, you don't know how long I've waited to say that!" He shook his head at her, almost scolding.

"YOU have no idea how long I've been waiting for you to KISS me!" Her face was flushed from emotion and passion and they stood their, hand in hand, both shifting weight and letting out small laughs; unable to contain their respective rushes of adrenaline. They stood there in their joy and revelation for a moment before she smiled at him and jerked her head over her shoulder. "So, we goin' out there then?" She stuck her tongue between her teeth teasingly and gave him a sexy smirk.

"What?" He looked at the door they hadn't entered through. "You mean-"

"Yeah," she nodded slowly, gripping his hand tighter. His face stretched in a jubilated 'O' as his eyebrows met his hairline and he stood on tiptoe; the delight filling him so much he needed to stretch to contain it. She laughed, holding a hand to her smile, at the face and, before she could pull him towards the door, he had fallen to one knee. "Whatcha think you're doin'?" She looked down at him, perplexed.

"Isn't it custom to ask first? Don't they still have chivalry in the 21st century?" He asked her rhetorically. It was her turn to make the 'O' face. "Rose," he sighed, trying to slow his voice, lower it from its excited pitch, catch his breath and calm his racing hearts. "Would you do me the extreme honor of-"

"YES!" She held her hand back up to her mouth, "Sorry," she blushed deeper, but shifted with impatience. He loved her all the more for it.

"Oh, bullocks, now I forgot what I wanted to say-" she slapped him playfully on the chest and he grinned mischievously at her.

"Don't you DARE!" He was about to start again when she quickly added, "and don't give me any of that 'now, are you sure this is what you want' exit strategy stuff," she waggled a finger in his face. He wasn't going to lie, the thought did occur to him to make sure this is really what she wanted; that was one of the reasons he felt he should ask her properly…to give her an 'out'.

"Well, is it?" She made a face at him and cocked a hip. "Is marrying me really what you want?" He rose to his feet, feeling like an idiot on the floor and not feeling much below his thigh.

Her face became serious to reflect his own; her voice lowering to an almost whisper. "Doctor, there is nothing in the entire universe that would make me happier. I promised you forever. I love you, too." All doubt left his mind, and his smile returned, bringing hers along.

"Quite right too," he held out an arm for her which she wrapped both of hers around. "My Lady Rose, would you do me the honor of making me the happiest Time Lord in the universe?"

"Lord President Doctor, I think I shall," and together, happier then they had ever dreamt possible, they walked to the door opposite to the one they had used to get into the room. He placed a long-fingered hand on it and pushed.

An ear popping cheer rose all around them and they both squinted in the sudden light. They stood at one end of a long mall, surrounded by silver and blue trees and filled to burst with what must have been the entire population of the planet. The shock worn off, they ran up the mall, applause filling their ears, heading towards an averaged sized clear silver spire. They climbed the numerous front steps until they were about three stories above the crowd and he turned around to wave at the masses before leading her inside.

The decibel level dropped considerably, but the room was still full of people; mostly dressed in the scarlet and orange they were wearing. She looked around. The silvery glass spiral was truly transparent, the golden light streaming in through the curves of glass to twinkle and dance on the congregation. She realized it must have been a church, or at least the Gallifreyan equivalent; it had the solemn, sanctified feel of a church.

"Right, now, " he turned to her, taking her hands in his, "a few things-"

"What were they all doing out there?" she interrupted, "I thought they hated me. I thought they would have been completely God smacked to learn their Lord President was off to marry a 'silly ape' like me." She was breathless from the energy the thousands of Gallifreyans had been dissipating. They had smiled, waved, cheered at her; still in their proud, respectful and maintained manor, but she hadn't seen disapproval on any faces.

"Well," he puffed out his cheeks and stared off into space over her head, "someone might have told them who killed the Dalek Emperor." Her mouth dropped open, he swallowed hard, "and who helped defeat both the Daleks and Cybermen at Canary Warf and effectively save the universe by closing the Rift." She slapped him playfully on the chest, astounded that he would brag about her.

"You didn't!" He met her gaze, grinning cheekily. He wiggled his eyebrows, playfully, in the affirmative.

"They took quite an immediate liking to my Bad Wolf, 'silly ape' though she may be. I think that might have been what sparked this," he nodded over his shoulder to the small, regal looking crowd. "a kind of thank you; making our 'marriage' official and all that. They might even be giving you a key to the citadel."

"Really?" Her eyes lit up and he looked at her sideways, telling her she had swallowed the bait. "Oh, shut it you!" he smiled again but, returning from their sidetrack, he regained a serious tone.

"Now, Rose, we are in Omega's Tower; it's equivalent to Gallifrey's Vatican, if you will. A member of the Order of Rassilon will perform a Union in which we are essentially…well, Joined." He stopped for a minute, trying to find the right words, translating them from Gallifreyan. "They will Bind us to each other so that we are a single force in Time and Space." She looked slightly worried and confused. He sighed and took a deep breath, "You see, some Time Lords, myself included, believe in the Great Moral Dialect, which essentially states that the Moral Universe refines itself towards goodness just as the physical Universe keeps expanding. This leads to the ultimate superiority of Good over Evil-" he stopped in the middle of trying to explain the religion of a small part of the population when he saw her glazed over eyes and happily befuddled expression. "Rose," he sighed, "I'm sorry; going off on Gallifreyan religious beliefs when I might as well be trying to explain the mating rituals of Solifreemy II. It's just, there's so much I've never taken the time to explain to you-"

"I don't care," she still had that pleasantly dazed look, staring past his face and seeing something deeper. "I trust you; I love you. I don't care if I have to sing 'I'm a little teapot' while doing the chicken dance in my knickers if it makes you happy. Whatever the ceremony is which will…Join and Bind us, I don't care." He was lost for words and just smiled at her. A horrified look spread across her face, "I don't have to do that though, right?" He laughed and merely scooped her up in his arms as a reply.

"My Rose; willing to completely debase herself in the name of love," She gave him an evil eye, "I'm going to have to remember that-" but before she could retaliate with a witty reply, a man walked over to them, still standing by the front doors.

He bowed and spoke to him in Gallifreyan. He turned to her and said with quiet excitement, "They're ready for us."

She took a steadying breath, suddenly overcome by the fact she was about to MARRY him. She laughed to think what her mother would say; and her not even in a white dress. He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze and bent over to her ear, his cool breath making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

"Oh, and by the way, love the dress," she smiled to herself, happy he had finally noticed the gorgeous gown she was wearing; always a bit late he was. "I can't wait to take it off you."

She blushed the whole way down the isle.

The, for lack of a better word, church was truly beautiful. Somewhere around 6o people stood in quiet respect in a circle, an alter and a very official-looking man standing in the center in a pool of multi-colored light; the curves and sweeps of the crystal building acting like prisms. He led her slowly to the alter, hand in hand. They stopped before the man wearing cream and gold and he bowed at the waist. She hurriedly followed suit, looking at him from the corner of her eye to see when he stood. He straightened and she did likewise; releasing hands. The ceremony started as the, what she mentally thought of as priest, started a long and low chant in their mesmerizing tongue.

The whole thing was very long and drawn out, he would periodically whisper out the corner of his mouth directions for her; to kneel, to turn and face him, to turn back, to bow, to pray, etc. She let out the smallest gasp when the 'priest' held up a glinting, foot-long dagger for the assembly to see before holding it out to him. She gave him a worried look as he turned towards her, not liking where this might be going. He held the dagger in one hand and reached for her wrist with the other. She resisted the motion enough so that he gave her a gravely serious look and whispered, "Trust me." She let her hand be raised in his own and her body tensed as he brought the dagger closer. She looked away from its razor tip and made eye contact, taking a breath before nodding slightly to give her consent. He carefully took the tip and traced it along the pad of her hand, leaving a long dark red line in its wake. She looked up again at him, brow slightly furrowed at the lack of pain, and he whispered, "Anesthetic." She kept her hand out as he held the dagger out to her and motioned for her to do the same to him. This worried her even more before he made the same face he made when he needed her to trust him. She carefully brushed the blade across his palm, trying desperately to not hurt him, anesthesia or no. Still, a two inch gash was left on his hand and he priest took back the dagger.

He took their bleeding hands in his own a moment, saying things she didn't understand, before pressing their palms together; her right and his left. She grimaced slightly, reminded of a movie she saw once where two childhood friends had made a blood pact in much the same way. She had thought it horribly disgusting and idiotic. But as their hands were pulled away from each other by the priest, she saw all blood was gone and both their hands healed with only white scars left, and her disgust was replaced by wonder and curiosity. She was definitely going to have to ask him what THAT had been about, but it was neither the time nor place to go inquiring about Gallifreyan Union ceremonies.

Her attention was brought back to the present by his hands in hers, turning her to face him. The priest held his hands high in the air, inviting the congregation to something. The people around them all lifted their hands to eye level, palm to palm, encircling them. Suddenly the room was filled with a tangible energy and, as she looked around, she knew something was different.

"They've stopped time," his voice made her neck whip back to look at him. "The Time Lords have stopped time throughout the universe in our honor; a moment for just the two of us, alone." He grinned happily at her. "It's comparable to 'you may kiss the bride'."

This she could understand and her heart leapt to her throat. "You certainly can," and she was once again lost in his embrace. They poured themselves out in that simple kiss; revealing themselves to each other in a way only soul mates can. All too quickly, she felt the energy dissipate and suddenly the room was filled with living, breathing people again; time restored throughout space. As she stood, his arm around her waist, applause broke out and she could her bells ringing; at last one thing they had common with Earth. He led her back down the isle, through the front doors and out into the bright Gallifreyan day.

The ruckus had increased 10 fold. The mobs had rushed towards the front steps in their excitement, trying to see the happy couple in all their glory. He was all too happy to present his Rose, his WIFE to his people; the epitome of all good things human which he had been trying to show them for so long. She stood, the new Lady President of Gallifrey, resplendent in the colors of his Chapter, glowing with marital bliss, before them with the largest grin she possessed plastered across her face, the arm of the man she loved around her waist, and the cheer of thousands of happy citizens in her ears.

After a few minutes of showing her off, he finally conveyed her into the room they had had their fateful conversation in. His brain was buzzing and he darted around the small, comfortable room, in the middle of which stood his completely shocked wife, stock still. He couldn't get his mind around the fact that she was now, by every Time Lord right and regulation, officially his wife. He put his hands to his head, ruffling his hair, pacing the room, unable to stand still in his excitement.

"That was…that was-"

"Brilliant!" she piped in with the perfect word, catching his eyes, a fire reflecting in them. He grabbed her and spun her around.

"Oh Rose, Rose, ROSE! MY Rose; my WIFE!" He set her down and resumed his pacing. "I can't- that was…it's just- Did that really just happen?" She answered with a laugh. "It's just…this morning, I wouldn't have thought in a thousand, million years you would marry me-"

"Well I wouldn't have thought, in a thousand, million years, that you would ever ask me. Bloody Hell, I didn't know Time Lords GOT married," she moved closer to him, his need to move starting to rub off on her.

"What would your mum say?" His voice raised few notches as he laughed at the idea and she joined him.

"I'm just glad she didn't see the ceremony; it took ages and I didn't understand a word. What was the hole 'blood oath'' thing about?" He waved her question away.

"I'll explain the whole thing later if you want. At the moment, though, I just want to kiss you." She wasn't about to complain, but just as he made to take her in his arms, the door to the inside of the building burst open and six or seven men wearing all black entered.

"What the-" he started, trying to get between them and her. Before he could reach her, however, they were each held firmly by two men. They struggled and she started cursing and kicking as they began to drag her from the room. She heard him repetitively scream her name before a cloth was put over her nose and mouth and she lost consciousness.

The beautiful dream of the past few days shattered into a true nightmare as her figure went limp and he struggled against their captors. He was shouting, screaming; panic and anger gripping his chest. He pulled with everything he had against the men holding his arms, but to no avail. They were not Time Lords, nor humans, but hired help; mindless, masked drones without feeling or higher brain functions, slabs. He couldn't reason with slabs; couldn't talk his way out of it or get them to slip up. Still, he kept his muscles tensed against their hands, breathing heavily and giving them the most deadly look he had.

"Where are they taking her?" He knew they couldn't answer; they didn't even have faces, let alone mouths. Still he shouted, emotions flaring and brain racing to find a solution, to find her and to find out who had set this up. Two slabs held his arms, two stood outside the door, where he noticed the Imperial guard unconscious on the floor, and the fifth calmly walked up to him and fished in his robes. He had his suit on underneath, the extra layer not bothering his lower, Time Lord, body temperature. The slab simply ripped the crimson robe down the front and fumbled in his pockets and brought a fist out containing his sonic screwdriver. His eyes flashed down to it. "Who do you work for?" again, he didn't know why he asked when they wouldn't, couldn't say respond, but it was SOMETHING, it was more than flickering thoughts and images, so he went on. "Only someone who knew me would know to look for that."

The slab turned away and the two holding his elbows half dragged half led him out the door. However, the doorway wasn't wide enough for three of them to fit, and one slab let go of his arm. He took the advantage and yanked his arm free, trying to sprint down the hall. He fell hard as one of the slabs standing guard tackled him to the ground. They stood him up, his anger boiling, and, before he could plan a further escape plan, they sedated him as well. He let out a sorrowful "Rose…" before his eyelids fluttered closed.


He sat bolt upright. He immediately regretted the action as his head burst into a million pieces. He held a hand to his temple, swinging his legs over the side of the cold metal bunk. He stared around, thankful that the low lights did little to add to the throbbing pain in his head, and saw, to his slight dismay, he knew where he was; one of the holding cells in the basement of the Panopticon.

He heard footsteps on the cold stone floor and he looked up to see three faces he only faintly recognized. "Councilors," he nodded at them, trying to hide the fact he felt as though his head was about to perform the next Big Bang.

"Lord President," the middle one nodded in response. They stood at the door of his cage; the bars giving off a faint electric glow in the gloom. Their somber faces seemed hollow in the eerie light as they frown at him through the bars.

"Oh, I see I haven't been removed yet," he gave them a hollow laugh and managed to stand, though he leant heavily on the metal table he had awoken on.

"No, not yet," the one on the left said. He took a deep breath, trying not to loose his patience. THESE people could talk; they could tell him what had happened.

"Where is she?" He asked, glaring at them, giving them no confusion as to whom he referred.

"With an old friend of yours," the last one quipped with a slight laugh. His hearts skipped a beat.

"So what is this? A coup? You know I don't want the presidency, you can elect whom you like," he was scolding an impatient child.

"Unfortunately," the middle one continued, he thought his name might have been something like Coralnious...Korylniam, maybe? "The people wouldn't stand for it; the Savior of Gallifrey, the great Restorer. They wouldn't take a new president and they certainly wouldn't appreciate your death."

He closed his mouth, his next question dying on his lips. He wasn't sure what to make of it; they couldn't kill him and they didn't want him to step down, at least right now. His brow furrowed, trying to think.

Then his hearts dropped, settling on the only thing that would drive his own people to imprisoning him.

He reached out to her in his mind; knowing he should be able to sense her at the least…he wasn't sure how long until the telepathy kicked in…an extra quark to the Gallifreyan Binding ceremony. He could feel her; a fuzzing at the top of his brain. He let out a small sigh; she was alive but unconscious…he still had time. He scanned the three figures, and, if he had been a Scathinamien, they would have burst into flame from the looks he gave them.

"If you harm her-"

"I'm sorry, Lord President, I don't think you understand. You are detained at a previous engagement, and so is she. There will only be a short time of mourning; she was only The Lady for a few short hours…" they let out a cold laugh, bouncing off the hard walls and echoing in his brain. "Then the people will forget about her and her little fight with the Daleks, you will disappear back off on another one of your meddling sojourns and we will, once again, be left to run Gallifrey."

He was about to stride across his cell menacingly and spit a very brilliant remark back at them, when he stopped, mid stride. His body tensed as he felt a new onslaught of his waning headache and the feeling of cold, hard marble against his flesh. He held a hand up to his cheek, looking up at them. The smile he gave them scared them much more then any words he might have said and they shivered from something other than the dank dark.

The first thing she felt was the cold hard floor pressed against her cheek. The second thing she felt was the mind numbing headache that split her skull open. Involuntarily, she tried to bring a hand up to her forehead, but she found they were bound behind her back. She kept her eyes shut tight; the bright light in the room seeping through her eyelids so she saw red. Her ears were filled with a white noise which drowned out all other sounds…and yet she couldn't hear the white noise itself.

She curled tighter into a ball, grief hitting her in the stomach like a physical blow. She sobbed silently and kept her eyes closed, not letting a single tear flow. As her headache lessened from a blinding pain to a throbbing one, she felt a buzzing, like a high-pitched frequency vibrating in her brain, but not making a sound…or was that the white noise?

She swallowed hard. She was made of tougher stuff then this. She thought it through and determined that, if he was still alive, he would find a way to rescue her; he had gotten her out of the alternate universe, and he had said that was impossible…But she couldn't think that way 'IF he was alive', of course he was. Logically, they had no use for her if he was dead so she wouldn't me bound and gagged and being held prisoner. *Wait, they gagged me too?* She bit down; teeth meeting flavorless, wet fabric. She made a guttural noise in frustration and kicked the air.

"Oh, awake at last, Sleeping Beauty?" A cold, drawling voice washed over her. She flinched as an icy finger traced her exposed jaw line. "Haha, yes of course-" a clear, low tone stopped him and she felt him move away. "Yes? He has? What? NO! Don't come up, don't interfere, let him come to me-" she felt him take more steps away, the one-sided conversation fading to a hum.

She took a deep breath. If she knew anything, it was who was coming, who it was that struck such a hateful and impressed tone in the voice of her captor.

*Rose?* She inclined her head, trying to find the source of the all-too-familiar voice. *I'm speaking to you telepathically, Rose, stay calm. Just think rather than speak.* she could have cried at the sound of his voice…even if it was inside her head.

*Doctor, it's bloody good to hear your voice-*

*Yes, the same to you-*

*Wait, HOW can I hear your voice?*

*As I said, it's telepathy-*

*but I couldn't- we haven't done this before-*

*It's part of the Union-*


*Listen, Rose, I promise I will explain it all alter, but right now I need you to listen to me. Where are you?*

*Don't know, they put me out and I woke up here.*

*Well…what does the room look like? What's around you?*

*I don't know, I haven't opened my eyes…* She could just picture him wiping his face, sighing, trying not to loose his temper.

*Look around, I'll see what you see.* She took another deep breath and cracked an eye open, afraid of the horrors that might be her fate, on display. She hadn't shifted from her original position, so most of what she saw was filled with cold white marble floor. She looked around, eyes meeting white wall. *Rose, I need more, you could be anywhere!* She heard the frustration in his voice so she slowly and quietly, as not to alert her captor, wiggled around so she could see more of the room. She let out a gasp at the vision she saw.

The ceiling looked non-existent. She looked out onto all of space, the domed ceiling stretching out forever; she lay at the very edge, looking out into an ocean of the universe. It stopped her heart. *Help at all?* she chided, predicting there weren't many places one could find this on the ceiling. There was a pause; the buzzing at the back of her brain the only indication he was still there.

*Rose, I'm coming.* He said it in a cold and calculated voice; the voice he used when he didn't want her to know something was terribly wrong.

*What is it? Where am I?* She tried to remain calm, to keep a clear head, which was hard considering how much it hurt and the fact there was one extra Time Lord in it.

"Well my dear, not long now," the man's voice sent a shiver down her spine as he walked up behind her head, just out of sight, and some how she knew he had felt it too.

*Rose, who is it? Who has you?* his shout echoed in her head and as his shadow fell over her, she struggled to get a good look at his face. He had short black hair, green crystal eyes, a goatee and he wore a black velvet, high necked suit. All he needed was a pitchfork and tail and he could have been the Devil himself, she laughed bitterly to herself.

*Doctor, do you recognize him? Do you know him?* Nothing…no response from the other end of the line, just the empty buzz letting her know he was still listening, still watching, still hearing.

"Any moment our very good friend will strut through those doors, prepared to threaten, bargain, and plead his way out of the situation," he walked around from her head towards her feet, turning right way up in her line of vision. He held his hands behind his back, chest thrown out and chin up, almost modeling for her. "But he knows it's no good with me, my dear," he squatted beside her, bringing his hands to hold themselves between his knees. "Or doesn't he recognize his old friend?" he bore into her eyes, and she realized he knew who was really watching from behind them.

She could almost feel the tensions spread through his body as one word came across their connection before he cut off, leaving her alone in her head, *Master*.

He stood her up. Her heart was racing and she teetered on her feat as he held her firmly, painfully, by the arm. "Not long now, my dear. I've waited centuries; I believe you can wait a moment more." He led her away from the wall, and, as she turned around, all fear and pain left her mind.

She stood on a balcony, spanning the entire circumference of the cavernous room. The universe hung overhead and, as she stepped closer to the railing, she thought Hell lurked below. She peered down into, what she could only assume, was a black hole. There was no light, yet she could see the steady swirl and spin radiating from its center, rippling gold and feint colors, causing the white noise in her ears which was only punctuated by the sound of her blood rushing through them. A new fear gripped her heart. She knew what a black hole meant, she had seen it on that horrible rock, Krop Tor, which defied logic, remaining in orbit with nothing but the bleak darkness overhead. There, they had, impossibly, stayed a safe distance away, the possibility of escape present. Here, she stood not 10 feet above it, feeling the slightest pull at the hems of her dress and the wisps of her hair towards its draining center.

She struggled harder in his grasp, the instinct of 'flight or fight' taking over any noble ideas of witty comebacks and brave defiance. To her dismay, he merely laughed and gripped her with both hands.

"Ah, I see you have at least some knowledge of a black hole," she didn't respond and couldn't take her eyes off of the pit before her. "Don't worry, it is controlled. This is the Eye of Harmony, my dear, the ultimate source of power in the universe. It is what gives Time Lords their ability to travel through time; parts of it are present in each TARDIS. It is no average black hole; it was harnessed by Rassilon, before Time and it holds the Time Vortex in it heart. It was the only thing to survive the Time War… apart from our dear friend," she heard the bitterness in his voice and felt the little happiness it brought her. He paused a moment before continuing, "Do you know what's truly terrifying about a black hole? No one knows what lies on the other side," insanity shone in his eyes, but she was too afraid to notice, "Somewhat like death." He held her next to the too short railing, the only thing protecting them from slipping and falling into the abyss. He held her tightly and forced her too look down, over the edge, directly below them where the edge of the black whole faded and the distant floor below could be seen. She then knew what he was going to do with her. And, when she heard the beautiful sound of distant doors slamming open, she knew why he hadn't done it yet. He wanted him to watch.


He ran through the doors, surprised they weren't locked, and quickly scanned the room. It was empty save for the shushing white noise and the two lone figures he had been looking for. He sprinted to his left; following the 10 foot wide balcony circling the room.

As he got closer and closer, the fear gripping his hearts started to squeeze tighter. He knew the Master; he knew him all too well, and so to look around the room and not find some new device which would help him concur the universe, or alien mercenaries prepared to do anything he told them to take down the Time Lords and gain their power, was unnerving. He was 20 feet away and came to a stop, short of breath, upon seeing her bound, gagged and held firmly in his lone grasp.

"Let her go!" She looked him up and down, his red robe and collar gone; thrown off in his sprint to her side. He looked so tired, and the lines on his face deepened with rage. He wouldn't meet her eyes, but tears sprang to hers. She didn't know what history he and this 'Master' had, but she knew, by the look on his face it wasn't a good one. The look on his face was one that sent shivers racing along her skin, making every hair stand on end. It was the look of the 'Oncoming Storm'.

"Ahh Doctor," he laughed, "the great Lord President of Gallifrey!" His booming voice echoed in the hollow room.

"Master, let her go," his voice was soft and cold and filled with rage and, to her dismay, fear. "She has nothing to do with this." It was the look on his face that made his hearts fall; the look of triumph.

"I'm afraid, Doctor, she has everything to do with it, your little 'Bad Wolf'; destroyer of the Daleks, killer of the Cybermen, new Lady to the President... the woman you love." He spat out the last word at him and bent his face down besides hers so he could smell her hair.

It made his stomach flip. In that moment, it became painfully clear. The look of rage and anger fell from his face and was replaced by one of panic. With horror, his eyes flickered from her crying face, to the dark, endless chasm to the right. The Master saw this and laughed.

His only hope, the only thing his brain would let him do, as he took a step closer and they stepped back, was to keep him talking. "How did you survive?" Changing the subject gave him time to think, as he plastered on a less vulnerable expression.

"I hid," he stuck his chin out, defiantly, "in the Matrix, I erased an entry and downloaded my own." He wasn't loosening his grip and, to his dismay, he edged them closer to the edge.

"Just let her go," he couldn't help it, fear was taking over and all witty banter and self assurance had, now, completely abandoned him. This was a situation he couldn't talk his way out of, but every moment bought them time; the Imperial Guard had been called and were on their way.

"I'm afraid, Doctor, that that is exactly what you don't want me to do," her thigh was pressed against the top of the railing and she let out an involuntary whimper. He took a step forward. "Ah ah ah, I think you forget, Doctor. You are unarmed and have nothing I want. What could possibly convince me to just let her leave here with you?"

"What could possibly convince you that you will get away with it?" His voice, he was grateful, was full of anger and didn't shake with fear. But any hope he might have had of intimidation was lost as the Master reached around her, fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a small device. Behind him, his TARDIS appeared; a tall cream column with a secret door. He was left to hope the guard would burst in upon them within the next few moments.

"I'm afraid, Doctor, that I must be going…I only have so many regenerations left and I can't wait to see what I manage to do with them!"

"I will find you," he took a few steps closer, but nowhere near close enough to grab her, "I will hunt you down and you will pay." She shivered at the tone in his voice.

"I don't believe you will, Doctor. I think I have finally found the way to destroy you, and this, you cannot regenerate from. Somehow, surviving the Time War didn't kill you, but this will," and before he could think of anything to do to prevent his worst nightmare, the Master had pushed her over the edge.

She heard his screams and the Master's laughter as she seemed to fall in slow motion. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she felt him connect, the buzz in her brain merely a slight annoyance. It was too late, the horizon of the black hole drew nearer and nearer and she was no longer afraid. Her eyes swam in the golden light of the center of the Eye of Harmony and she continued to fall, whispering a silent 'I love you' to him before the world turned black and she knew no more.

"Ia besoil predria sel teprium," she heard a murky voice far above her whisper in a strange tongue.

"Alloru," and this voice, too, seemed far away, but somewhere in the murky depths, she recognized it.

She made an effort to rise, to get closer to the comforting voice. Slowly she fell back into place. Feeling spread from her chest to the tips of her fingers and down to her toes, she could hear the soft murmurs of distant conversations and the hums of machines. She smelt a sterile, empty smell and felt a light, warm blanket covering her and a cool hand in her own. With much effort and, to her surprise, pain, she tensed her muscles and squeezed the hand.

It squeezed back reassuringly and its owner brought their other hand to hers, stroking the skin tenderly. Someone took her other wrist and she instinctively flinched away, immediately regretting the painful action. The person holding her hand stood and bent over and she felt their presence over her.

"He just wants to take your pulse," he whispered in her ear, warm breath tingling her skin. Something fell into place in her brain and she managed to open her eyes.

She blinked hesitatingly, trying to become accustomed to the soft clear light in the small room. She saw a white ceiling and then pale green walls. She couldn't move her head and, suddenly panicked, she let out a guttural moan, unable to form words.

"Shh, Rose, it's fine, you're fine, don't try to move," he had sat back down at her side, hands still clasped in hers. He must have made some sign to the man trying to take her pulse because his cold fingers laced around her wrist again and pressed gently to take her pulse. She shut her eyes as she swallowed painfully, her throat rough and dry. She licked her lips and tried to form words, but her throat closed up and the deep breath she took sent a shiver of pain down her sides. "Don't try to talk either-" *Talk to me this way.*

Relief spread through her and she closed her eyes since she couldn't see him anyway. *Doctor, what happened? Where am I?*

*You're safe; in the small hospital on the outskirts of the citadel.*

*But what about the Master? What happened? I should be swirling away in a black hole-* She could feel him shudder mentally at the thought of her miraculously escaped fate. But she didn't understand how she could be laying somewhat comfortably in a recovery room.

*You…something happened, Rose. I'm not quite sure how-I don't understand-… you DID fall into the black hole, but you passed right through. Actually, it slowed you down a little…*

*Is that how I survived the fall? It slowed me down enough that it just cracked a rib or something? Some plan that was!* She would have laughed at the failed assassination attempt, but her sides were, again, wracked with a sharp pain. When he didn't respond, she became worried. *Doctor? Is that all? I'm not going to die or somthin', am i?*

*No. No, Rose, you're fine, a bit bruised and battered and- but nothing…fatal.* He was avoiding something, he was nervous and there was more he wasn't telling her, so she waited. But, to her disappointment, he gave her hand a quick squeeze and his comforting presence left her mind. "You need to sleep, Rose."

He stood and as he kissed her forehead, she saw his troubled, tired face enter her vision for the briefest moment. She tried to voice a protest, but the words cracked in her throat and a wave of exhaustion washed over her. He looked down at her a moment before grabbing his coat off the end of the bed and quietly ducking out of the room. She felt hurt and worried about what he hadn't told her, but, at that moment, she was too happy to be safe and sound and too tired to care. He had barely made it down the hallway before she was in a light slumber.

He walked quickly and purposefully down the corridor, taking a sharp left and pushing a door open marked 'Osalis'. The woman dressed in white sitting at the desk of monitors quickly stood and bowed. He ignored this annoying formality and put his glasses on, leaning down over the glowing screens. He touched one, searching files and images until he brought up the one he wanted.

He had to keep reminding himself that she was alive, safe and sound in the hospital. She hadn't been sucked into the depths of the black hole, she hadn't…died.

He took a deep breath, forcing himself to concentrate. It calmed him some to have been there when she woke up, holding her hand, seeing her reassuring smile and hearing her voice, even if just in his mind. That was just one reason he loved her so much; she lay, impossibly, recovering in a hospital and she was managing to make him feel better, worrying about him; laughing away the dangers that almost separated them, again.

He scanned the image in front of him again, sliding his fingers across the glowing glass to turn it every which way. He turned without a word, feeling even more confused and trying to think where he might turn next for answers. He needed answers, for when she was well enough. She would ask and he wanted to give her comfort. He wanted to know how, why. He needed to know so he didn't break down from the fear that had barely loosened its grip on his hearts.

As he turned back into the main corridor of the small building, striding to the front door, he bumped into Romana, hands filled with Flowers of Remembrance.

"Oh, Doctor, I was just-" she motioned down the hall, towards her room. "I remember it is a tradition on Earth and I thought she might like something to brighten her room when she awakes." His worried, tired brain started to slow down in its thought process and his right heart leapt into his throat, making his words raspy.

"Thank you, Romana, she's already awake." Her face made a surprised 'O' before spreading into a wide smile.

"Oh, that's wonderful! How is she feeling?" The concern on her face wore away at his already weakened emotional barriers; he couldn't do this, couldn't carry on a conversation, couldn't detach enough to think of what had happened and not of what MIGHT have happened.

"She-" his voice cracked and he felt a tingle in his sinuses, "she's sleeping…" He opened his mouth to say more, but it died on his lips; caught in his tight throat. She looked up into his face for a moment before grabbing his arm and pulling him into a room to his right. It was a small, empty, waiting room with four chairs, a small table, and a window. She led him over to one of the chairs and he sat down, shaking, and she sat next to him, holding his hand. His eyes were out of focus as he glanced blearily around the room. Somewhere he registered it was empty; only Romana at his side. It was then he let the tears fall.

She wrapped an arm around his shoulders and he bent down, burying his face in her shoulder, letting quiet sobs rack his body. She rubbed his back and whispered comforting words and sounds in his ear. She knew him; knew he cared so much and would never let anyone see his weakness. But she knew he needed to let go, to confront his emotions (the ones he usually tucked away, unable to face them) and she just held him.

"She almost-" he rasped out.

"Shh, I know, I know."

"He could have- for a moment I thought…" he dug his face deeper in her embrace and she rocked him gently back and forth.

"I don't understand, it's impossible, she should have-" he was getting angry, not one to wallow in sorrow for any length of time.

"But isn't it better this way?" She tried to calm him, "Isn't it miraculous and beautiful and a sign of the complexities of the universe we still haven't discovered?" He pulled away sniffling.

"That doesn't sound like you, Romana," he gave her a sideways look as he bashfully wiped his face on the handkerchief she offered.

"No, it sounds like you," she smiled at him, memories of all the things he had taught her when she was all about science and laws and definitudes. She remained silent as he sighed, gathering himself back up from his momentary release. "What's important is that it means she will never-" he glared at her.

"Don't say it." His voice was back to normal and had a threatening hint to it. "Don't say it until we're sure." His voice dropped to a whisper, "don't get my hopes up." He looked away, off into space. She made to get up; grabbing the flowers she had set on the small table in the corner. "It would be the greatest thing I could ever ask for." She turned at his voice and saw he still looked into nothing; seeing the timelines before him, imagining the life it might mean.

"I'm just going to set these in her room," she said quietly, turning around and opening the door.

"Thank you, Romana," he looked at her and her heart swelled; he had a small smile on his lips.

"I'm just sorry we didn't make it in time," he stood and put his hands in his pockets. "I'm sorry we didn't know what the chancellors were doing, it would have prevented all this," she bowed her head, now the one letting her guard down. He walked up to her and when she met his gaze her eyes were filled with guilt and anger. "I'm sorry we didn't stop him."

"Next time, Romana, next time we will." His voice was light but part of him was cold, hardened. "I won't let him hurt anyone again." She nodded and headed down the hall. He breathed deeply and left, heading the opposite direction, out the front door and to the citadel.

He still had questions and he wasn't going to come back to her empty handed. He owed her that much.

*Doctor* She woke with a deep breath, his name the first thing coming to her mind. She had had a terrible dream; a swirling void of emptiness filled only with the sound of manic laughter.

*Rose? You're awake. I'm just down the hall, wait a tic.* She felt the now familiar humming in her mind, keeping them connected and she sighed. She reached a hand up to her temple and rubbed her forehead. She then pulled it back and stared at it, surprised, as he came into the room. "Oh, good, feeling better are we?" He marched straight over to the chair on her right and plopped down.

"Yeah," she cleared her throat, feeling it hadn't been used in a few days and he quickly handed her a glass of water. She slowly sat up, feeling much better and now, obviously, able to move, but she was still weak and felt a little achy all over. She gulped down the entire glassful and he took it from her, quickly crossing the room to fill it from a jug on a stand in the corner. "What happened?"

She could see him visibly tense. She needed to know. He needed to tell her. After all, they WERE husband and wife now. The thought made her spirits soar and she couldn't help but let out a light hearted peel of laughter. He turned around and looked at her quizzically, but wore a small smile.

"What?" He leaned back against the stand, glass of water momentarily forgotten.

"I just remembered," she held up her hand, the one with the light scar across her palm, and wiggled her fingers, much in the same way a newly engaged woman might flaunt her ring. She had on the sexiest smirk, tongue stuck firmly in her cheek, as she sat back against the pillows. He too, couldn't help but laugh.

"Yes," he nodded, grabbing her glass and walking slowly back to her side. "I'm still a little giddy too." He smiled at her in earnest and stood by her as she beamed at him.

He loved her, Rassilon, how he loved her. Even here, laying in a sick bed, hair a mess, makeup gone, dressed in a horrid yellow hospital gown, she was a goddess; her smile was his sun and he basked in its warm, healing glow. He set her water down and slowly bent over, placing one arm around her shoulders and bringing her chin towards him with the other. She brought her hand up to his neck and he kissed her slowly, delicately, and with tenderness. It was nothing but chaste, but she was breathless when he pulled away.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to that," she said, blushing.

"Well then, we'll just have to keep practicing," he whispered and leaned in for another, slightly longer kiss. When her lips met his, everything else melted away; all the fear and apprehension. He focused on her and her alone and she was enough to satiate every anxious synapse of his mind.

He pulled away and smiled warmly at her and finally sat down. She took his hand in hers and glanced over his shoulder at the bright orange sky out the window. She then looked around the room, taking in the smooth white equipment surrounding her, the diodes and tubes running from her chest and arms, the pale green walls and bright white, glowing ceiling, the small stand in the corner with the jug of water and a book on it, the small door leading to, what she guessed, was a lavatory, the table on her left side with a beautiful vase of yellow flowers resembling lilies, and the door out to the hallway and rest of the small hospital.

She waited. She knew he would tell her everything, the look in his eyes had assured her of that, and she already knew the vital information; he still loved her, he was happy, and she wasn't about to leave him anytime soon, via death, black hole, or any other means. So she waited, rubbing the back of his hand, listening to the soft hum of the machines and his quiet, steady breathing.

"Rose, I'm so sorry," she turned to look at him, frowning at the tone of his voice. His eyes were big and tear-filled, and his face had drained of color. "It's all-"

"Don't you dare say it's all your fault," she interrupted, an edge to her voice, "don't even think it." She eyed him till he closed his mouth and gave a faint nod.

He sighed and she turned to him, ready to listen and, as usual, ask questions. "His name is the Master. He has been my rival for, ohhh, centuries, now. The last time I saw him, we were in San Francisco." He fleetingly glanced into memory before continuing, "I stopped him from taking control of the TARDIS and I thought I had destroyed him, but a decade or so later I heard he had come back to Gallifrey and disappeared."

"So this was before the Time War?" He nodded. "How did he come back? Did he regenerate?"

"No," he inhaled sharply, "it was impossible, I don't know how he managed it; it wasn't a death one can regenerate from…normally." He wouldn't meet her eyes.

"What kind of 'death' was it?" She asked, tentatively.

He paused, deliberating. "He fell into a black hole." The look on his face was stone; jaw clenched, brow furrowed. She didn't know what to say. "The Eye of Harmony, in fact-well" he interrupted himself, "the part of the Eye that resides in the TARDIS, in every TARDIS, connecting it with the Time Vortex." He shifted in his chair as she accumulated and sorted through the things he was telling her. "Actually," his voice brought her back, "it was what you looked into and absorbed back on Satellite 5." A slight shiver passed over her. "I think that's why he tried to-" it was still too painful to say the words, "it was the best revenge."

"So, he actually fell into the Eye of Harmony, but it took him over 10 years to get from the TARDIS to Gallifrey?"

He nodded slowly, adding, "and, somewhere along the way, he regenerated. Maybe that's what brought him back," his eyebrows rose to his hairline as he stared at nothing in particular, lost deep in thought.

"So what did I do?" This is all interesting information, but she was getting impatient and extremely troubled at how she had managed to survive. "You said I passed right through…" she didn't know enough about black holes to continue.

"You fell," his face grew dark at the memory, but he kept going, "you fell off the balcony, and you fell in. No where near the center, mind you, but you definitely passed through the Eye itself. It held you for the briefest moment, shining gold and silver, red, purple, blue…but then you kept going. It didn't drag you in. You started floating down gently, but the further down you went, the faster you went and then-" his face contorted into a look of horror and confusion. "You stopped. I ran down to you, about eight or nine stories below the balcony. You should have- the fall was too long, the body can't-" his eyes were swimming again, not looking at her, but focused on a spot on her blanket. She placed a hand on his cheek and made him look at her. He made eye contact and she smiled at him. He smiled back, looking completely exhausted. "But you were alive. Every bone in your body should have been crushed, but you were breathing. Sporadically, but breathing none the less. And then you went into shock." The smile left his face and was replaced by one of mere confusion, staring off into space again. "Your heart stopped and," he swallowed and looked her in the eye. She shivered because above all else, he seemed scared, "and…you glowed." She raised an eyebrow. "You glowed with an energy I have seen on rare occasions and felt more often then that," he scootched to the edge of his seat, taking her hand in both of his and looking her squarely in the eye. "I saw it fill you once before; the same golden light of the Time Vortex that almost killed you on Satellite 5. That's the only time I've ever heard of the energy passing through a human. The only other time I've seen it, is when a Time Lord is regenerating."

He stopped, trying to get the words to sink in. But, as the confused face she made confirmed, he knew he would have to explain further. "Rose, I think you weren't sucked into the Eye because you were once Bad Wolf, holding it within yourself; it recognized you. I think," he inched closer to her, dropping his voice down slightly, "I think the Vortex somehow confused my Time Lord blood, from the ceremony, with your own DNA and, when you should have died from the fall, it helped you regenerate."

"But- but that's impossible!" She finally found words. A huge, happy grin was spreading slowly across his face. Now he had said the words, told her what happened, it suddenly became real, tangible. She had regenerated.

"I know!" His voice was high and light, a feeling of joy finally spreading through his limbs.

"But I can't have, I mean-" she suddenly looked horrified and brought her hands up to her face, feeling each contour. "I don't look different, do I? I didn't change my face?" He took her hands down from her face, with both of his.

"No, no, Rose, you still have the same body," he had wondered about this before, but since he couldn't let himself believe she had regenerated till now, he hadn't really dwelt on it. "I think you didn't have enough Time Lord DNA to change EVERY cell in your body. I think it just changed MOST of your cells." She looked at him, still worried.

"What makes you say that?" he jumped up and started to fiddle with a small screen on the other side of her bed that had been turned off. After a brief moment, he stood back and turned it around to face her so she could see the X-ray like image on it.

"Because, Rose Tyler, Lady to the Lord President of Gallifrey, you have two hearts."

He looked so happy; happy, but not without care. Like a child who got the leather coat they wanted for Christmas, but feared it was the wrong size. He looked at her anxiously, reading the changes in her face. She remained calm, surprising herself, thinking and listening. She saw the image he was showing her on the screen; something akin to an X-ray, showing her chest with two, distinctive hearts. She closed her eyes and held her breath; listening. The rushing sound of blood didn't fill her ears, her chest didn't begin to constrict and her head didn't begin to pound; the usual signs of holding ones breath too long, but she could feel the steady double beat in her chest 'Thetathumpa thetathumpa thetathumpa thetathumpa'. She opened her eyes and looked up to his somewhat bemused expression.

"Respiratory bypass system," he explained and she nodded. Somehow she was remaining silent, peaceful; a complete opposite to how she had taken HIS regeneration. She had been skeptical and afraid and angry and lonely. Now, sitting here, in the soft, clean room with him, it didn't seem real; didn't seem like any thing to get upset about. "Rose," he sat down on her left side, his face telling her she didn't fully comprehend what this…change meant, "Time Lords only grow their second heart after their first regeneration. Rose," he brought her hand up and kissed it, a gesture which melted her heart and swept all thoughts of second hearts and black holes from her mind, but his next words brought her calm and self assurance to a screeching halt. "Rose, you're a Time Lady."

"I'm a what?" Her voice cracked from lack of use and he reached around her, handing her the glass of water.

"A Time Lady, and I think," his smile faltered slightly as his mind moved from mostly fact to guess work, "I think you have another 11 regenerations to go." He was apprehensive as to her reaction.

Her reaction was to spit out her mouthful of water. "I what?" She was afraid. Regenerating once, as a means of survival, she could handle, but 11 times? "But, I thought, I mean, I thought only Time Lords-" but his raised eyebrow reminded her that he had just said she WAS a Time Lord-Lady-Person. She settled in the bed, setting down the empty glass. "Let me get this straight because I think I might have a concussion. Here are the facts; we are in back my universe because Gallifrey, home world of the Time Lords, was somehow miraculously restored." He nodded, smiling at her slightly. "You are the President of said planet and yesterday we…got married." His smile was growing but he interjected.

"It was a few days ago, actually, you aren't fully Gallifreyan so your body took longer in the regeneration and healing process, much as I did last Christmas." She nodded, accepting this.

"And right after the ceremony, I was carted off by a psychopath called the Master, your 'arch enemy', and he tried to kill me by throwing me into a black hole as an ironic, twisted, act of revenge," his smile faltered. She knew that, had the Master succeeded, it truly would have been his ultimate revenge; she felt more love and guilt then she could put into words, just knowing it would have killed him and he wouldn't have come out with just one less regeneration. He might have had Gallifrey back, but he would have lost the most important thing in his life, and they both knew it. "Rather than pull me in, the black hole- Eye of Harmony- recognized me since I once held the Time Vortex and let me pass through. Your DNA somehow got confused and, when I should have died from the fall, it made me regenerate into a full-fledged Time Lady. Is that right?"

"Actually, you aren't a full fledged Time Lady. My DNA only joined with yours because I have double helix DNA, Time Lords have triple helix DNA and, blood containing triple helix DNA been in your body, it wouldn't have done anything," he seemed so much happier when he was rambling.

"And why," she rolled her eyes, and he knew it was because he hadn't answered her next question, though he knew what it was going to be, "do you only have double whatsit DNA?"

"I'm half human," her jaw dropped, and he leaned back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head, "on my mother's side. Don't even ask me how THAT happened, Time Lords don't give birth, and somehow her DNA was spliced with Time Lord DNA during the Looming process." She had no idea what most of that sentence meant, so she decided to probe him about it at a later time, right now she had more questions.

"Alright, so, the whole," she held up her hand with the scar, "thing was because they wanted me to have Time Lord DNA in me?"

"No, actually, it's a traditional part of the ceremony. When a Time Lord and Lady Join, which isn't a very often occurrence, they share each other's DNA. This has a number of benefits. One, you already have seen, is the psychic connection. Time Lords are all a little psychic, but we can't carry on conversations telepathically. Only couples who have gone through the Union can do that." She nodded; she liked this surprising bonus. "Another," he continued, swallowing, "is to help keep them together; when one regenerates, their partner will age accordingly, preventing a beautiful young woman from having a crippled white haired husband." He laughed at himself and as he did so, she studied his face.

He HAD been looking slightly younger, the lines which had darkened with fear and stress having lightened, and his skin looking more colorful and taught. He had only looked in his mid thirties, but he sat before her, a man of over 900 years not looking a day over thirty. She again reached a hand up to her face, wondering if maybe he hadn't quite been telling her the truth; she might still look like herself, but maybe, reversely, she had aged, more than her 20 actual years showing on her face. She didn't have anyway of finding out so she decided not to think about it until she could study her features in a mirror.

She looked into his eyes and saw the concern there. "Rose, are you alright, do you understand?"

"Are- are you sure? About all this, are you sure?" her double pulse was heightened.

"I've been researching Gallifreyan history; something I'm only allowed to do because I'm President, and I've been studying your physiology and I've run every blood test from here to 63rd century Earth I could think of," he cracked a grin which made her calm down again, "and that's a lot of tests. And I think that, yes," he crossed his arms, "I'm sure." She smiled, but, suddenly, before she could even think why, she let out a cry and tears came to her eyes.

"But I'm not human anymore, am I?" He gave her a look of sympathy and reached up to wipe away her tear.

"No, not physically." He moved his hands to her chest, letting each palm rest over each of her hearts. "But in here," he then moved one to her temple, "and here, you are still Rose Tyler, the woman who saved me from myself," she sniffled and smiled weakly, "the woman I love. The woman I kept trying to get back to, the woman I married, because one lifetime with you, giving me memories to last the rest of my life, was better than centuries wondering, alone." She looked back into his eyes and knew he was telling her the truth. She laughed lifting the somber mood.

"Well that's good, 'cause it sounds like your stuck with me," he smiled and leant back handing her a tissue, "at least for your final two regenerations." She stopped, realizing what she had said so lightly. He only had two bodies left, she had 11. Sure, she was more accident prone then he was, but considering the number of times he offered to sacrifice himself, she was looking at possible centuries of living without him.

"Oh, a few more then that, I'd guess," she met his eyes, skeptical, and he smirked at her. "Didn't I tell you? The best quirk about Unions; you get to renew your number of regenerations to that of the younger partner. You just gave me another nine bodies to go through, Rose, and I'm planning to spend all 11 of them with you."

She had only been awake two days before they said she was well enough to leave the hospital. She was still weak and slightly disturbed, but not upset, by the changes in her life. The first time she was able to walk to the bathroom she looked herself up and down, noticing she had gained about an inch in height, had lost a stone in weight while still retaining her curves, and, of course, had a thin scar along her right palm which she thought was the most beautiful mark she had ever seen. She scrutinized her face for a long time; her eyes had hints of gold and purple flecks, her hair had grown a few inches and, for some reason, her teeth were whiter. All in all, she looked the same; it was definitely Rose Tyler looking back out the mirror, but there were hints that her body had, in fact, altered. Her eyes had gained another laugh line and she had an extra freckle or two and she looked as though she had aged five years. In fact, she imagined, it was as if her whole body had aged slightly; she stood with her shoulders slightly further back, walked with a hint more purpose and, somewhere along the way, she had lost a little of her cockney accent.

She was worried these changes might affect him; sure he had altered every cell in HIS body, but she had been a mere human until a few days ago and she didn't HER regeneration to put him off. To her amusement, though, she discovered he wasn't exactly averse to the slight physical changes as she stepped out of the bathroom, her clothes he had brought her from the TARDIS hanging looser; jeans a size too big revealing her midriff and shirt not exactly covering every inch of her chest.

"Well, what do you think?" She crossed her eyes slightly, not having slurred her words together, before remembering that he had changed his entire voice, let alone his accent. His first words after his regeneration came flooding back from memory and she laughed now able to get a glimpse of how weird new teeth might be.

He was standing by the door out to the hallway, hands in pockets, staring at her blatantly. He cleared his throat before responding, "Rose Tyler, I forbid you from ever wearing Gallifreyan robes. Ever." She was about to remind him that she never had, in fact, worn the traditional and more conservative robes most of the Time Lords and Ladies wore, but he quickly darted around the room, gathering the half dozen things in the room belonging to them; a few books, her soiled dress, the flowers Romana had brought, his spectacles. She watched him in his excitement. She knew he hated hospitals-had told her so once- and they were both eager to get out of the small, if not orderly and bright, sterile room. When he had everything either in hand or pocket, he held out a free arm and she crossed to the door, taking it.

With careful, easy steps he led her from the hospital out into the bright morning. They took their time walking to their room in the citadel; he eagerly pointed out significant buildings, rattling off everything that went on inside as she just marveled at the beauty around her. She could see why the death of this place had left a chasm in his heart; it was perfect. He had never been fond of his own people; they had exiled him even, but they were still HIS. But their planet, his home away from the TARDIS, was a place of serenity and beauty; every place, every building, every tree whispered to her secrets of Time. No one was in a rush, no one was arguing, no one was passing through the city without taking note of at least a dozen views, a dozen gardens, a dozen gleaming spires. These things could be valued and truly SEEN by a people who had all the time in the universe. A people who, until a week ago, had been nothing but information stored in the Void and memory.

When they finally got back to their room, she inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of the flowers out in their courtyard. She walked out into the bright sun again, watching the pattern the light breeze made in the grass; turning it from shades of gold to scarlet to burgundy. He went about their room, putting things in order and she laughed at his semi giddy, semi nervous attitude. She had been feeling it from him since they had discussed her regeneration. Something was on his mind; something he both feared and couldn't wait for and she had a pretty good idea what it was.

He had just turned to join her in the courtyard, coat thrown over the end of the bed, when there was a light nock on the door. A pout crept across his face, making his light dimples come into view, as he walked to open it.

Rachel was on the other side, bowed, "Lord President, the High Council requires your attendance." She spied her out in the courtyard, simply soaking in the smells and sounds Gallifrey carried to her on the breeze.

He too looked at her, a pained expression on his face before pleading with Rachel, "But I just brought her back-" she had a stern expression on her face and said nothing. "Oh, alright, just a minute."

He left the door standing open as he leapt across the room and down the steps out to her side. "I managed to fend them off while you were in the hospital," she gave him an unbelieving expression," alright, well, I down right refused to leave your side," that she believed with a smile, "but I think any longer and they might force me into another regeneration," he was kidding and had a big grin across his face and she understood that this was his way of asking if she would be alright for a few hours on her own.

"You go ahead and play President, Doctor, I think I might sit out here and then go to bed, the trek up here took it out of me," she placed a hand on his elbow and squeezed it reassuringly. He smiled at her and turned to dart back to the door, but as he reached the steps up into the room he turned around. Before she could ask, he had given her a quick, loving peck on the lips.

He wiggled his eyebrows as she giggled, "Practice, Rose, practice!" And he was running to the door. She turned to look at the silver tree in the courtyard and caught the "Allons-y!" he exclaimed before closing the door behind him.

The slant of the sunset turned the world crimson as her eyes fluttered open. She lay in one of the chairs in the courtyard, having dazed off earlier that afternoon. She looked around her, stunned, for a moment, eyes settling on the tinkling tree which, in the warm crimson glow looked, for all the world, a burning bush. The wind had picked up and it was the cool breeze which had woken her. The sky above her was changing from burnt orange to deep lavender with streaks of emerald green and amber. The beauty of it held her captive; watching the distant wisps of cloud pass by her framed view of the Gallifreyan night sky.

She felt the cold lashes of the wind on her face and hands, but it didn't seem to bother her. The grumbling in her stomach, however, made her rise to her feet and take the few steps up into their room. The lights glowed into life and she stepped into the bathroom to freshen up before heading out into the corridor in search of dinner.

To her surprise, she was met by an armed guard, clad in cream and gold, standing sentry outside her door. She paused, not knowing if she was to stay in her room. He hadn't told her NOT to leave, and she had left her room without him earlier. Then again, Romana had come to escort her. But she felt somewhat defiant at having to be guarded and made a mental note to scold him about it later.

She was about to turn around in a huff when her stomach gave a loud growl and made her face the guard again. She looked down the corridor and back at his immovable face and shifted weight once or twice. Nervously, she stepped across the corridor to stand directly in front of him.

"E-excuse me, um," he hadn't even flinched, "I was wondering if I- where there might be-" his eyes flickered to her own for the briefest second before flashing up over her head again, "could you just…" she couldn't even be sure he understood her, "point me in the direction of the kitchen?"

He didn't move and, for a moment, she feared he wasn't going to respond. "Of course, my Lady, I will be happy to escort you to the dinning hall," He turned on his heel and she, happy in light of the prospect of food and company, but not elated at the armed tour guide, followed.

He led her down and down, corridors, stairs, lifts, until the reached a large domed room, filled with people. She took in the soft golden glow and quietly conversing Time Lords and Ladies, sitting at scattered tables, eating, realizing this was the Gallifreyan equivalent of a restaurant. She took a few steps in to the room and realized her guard had stopped at the doorway. She nodded to him, and, to her surprise, he nodded back, before winding her way through the tables. There was no ordering station and she saw an empty table which was set for two. She looked around, briefly, wondering if she should just sit, before throwing inhibition to the wind and sitting down. She held her hands clasped in her lap, glancing furtively around at the other tables, unsure of the next step towards service. Luckily, service found her.

"Puval ja aldo'oru votrem?" She turned around to meet the smiling face of a young woman. Her mouth hung open for a moment, brows furrowed, before the young woman looked at her in shock. "Oh! My lady, I'm sorry, I did not recognize you," she let out a deep breath, thankful she didn't have to mime what she wanted for dinner. "May I help you?"

"Uh-uh yeah," she stuttered, "yeah, could I just have some chips?" The young woman looked somewhat puzzled and, to her dismay, she realized they probably didn't have chips on Gallifrey. "Right, well, how about," she fished around in her mind, trying to quickly think of a dish they might have that would appease her growing appetite, "chicken, do you have any chicken?" Again, awkward confusion. "Do you have fish? Sausage? Burger?" the woman was starting to look very worried. "You haven't got a lovely, nice, cheesy pizza back there, would you?" She looked up at the girls face, pleadingly and, to her surprise, a huge smile spread across her face.

"As a matter of fact, my lady, we have a lovely Dactyl egg Pizza this evening!"

She paused, but, succumbing to the hollowness in her belly, nodded and gave a half-hearted smile. The young woman scurried off and she was left on her own again. She scanned the room, taking in the calm visages, straight backs, hushed conversation and conservative garments around her. Not a moment had passed before her waitress had returned, a huge smile on her face.

"My Lady, our best bottle of Rassilon's Red," she showed her a beautiful hand blown bottle filled with a deep red liquid which sparkled in the soft light. The waitress poured her a glass and set the bottle on the table before bustling off again. She picked up her glass and cautiously took a whiff. It smelled divine: a scent not unlike fresh strawberries and limes mixed with a headier, warmer musk. She took a sip and found it very refreshing; the aftertaste of alcohol masked completely. So she waited, sipping wine, watching the people around her and wondering what in the world a Dactyl egg was.

Her food seemed to take forever and she refilled her glass for the third time. Or was it the fourth? She wondered if they had to wait for the Dactyl to actually LAY the egg before they could make her pizza…and she was just about to stand and look around for her waitress when a solid hand landed on her shoulder and a firm voice whispered in her ear.

"I think it's time we left, Rose."

She whipped her head around at the familiar voice and almost fell from her chair as the room kept spinning. When it stopped and she was able to see his face swimming in front of her, she realized he had her by both shoulders, an extremely worried look on his face.

"Watcha' gone and done this time?' She mumbled and shook her head, his face hard to focus on all of a sudden. In response he looked over her shoulder and reached out, tutting, taking the almost empty bottle in his hand.

"Rose, did you drink all this?" She tried to look at him, honestly, she tried. Eventually she just closed her eyes and nodded, unable to focus on his face. Had she been in any fitter state, she would have been insulted at his laugh. "I believe, Miss Tyler, that you're drrrrunk," he rolled his 'r', smiling at her, then stood up straight and cocked his head. "Or is it Mrs. Doctor? Ooh, now that's a puzzler-anyway" she once again gained his attention, "as I said, allons-y!" He bent over as to help her up and she gently pushed him away.

"But my dinner hasn't come yet-" she pouted.

"We'll catch something on Terriven 4, now come on, up you get," he helped her stand and she once again made to push his hands away.

"I can do it myself-" but before she could finish her sentence, his arms were wrapped around her waist, preventing her from falling, as she had almost done.

"Rose, you're drunk," he stated, as though this should quiet any qualms she might have of leaving dinner early.

"But, I thought Time Lords couldn't get drunk," her words were starting to slur ever so slightly and her eyelids were low.

"No, not usually, but half a bottle of this stuff," he nodded to the bottle of fine Gallifreyan wine, "and on an empty stomach on top," he muttered, "and we can get more than a bit tipsy." He was speaking louder and louder as her attention was drawn to something over his left shoulder.

"But why do we have to go?" She pouted again as he tried to take small steps from the tables with both of his arms still holding her upright. "I like it here."

He eyed her incredulously, "you like it here?"

"Yeah," a huge, lopsided grin spread across her face, "everyone's so stuffy and proper," she giggled as she leaned dangerously low over a neighboring table, making both gentlemen sitting there stare agape at her, " 'slike a tea party!"

By now he had given up trying to help her walk and had put her arm around his neck and was almost carrying her out the dining hall, her speaking nonsense about tea parties and Paddington Bear and giggling the whole way. He came to an abrupt stop at the door leading from the dinning hall as the guard came into view.

"Can I help you, Lord President?" He stepped in his way, blocking their exit.

"No, I um-" he faltered and she staggered away from him.

"Oh, look, it's my old friend Mr. Guard!" She walked up to him and put an arm around his back. He merely looked on with levels of horror, anxiety, and amusement. "we go waaaaay back-" she was gazing fondly up at the guards stony face and he quickly stepped up, peeling her from around the guards waist.

"I'm afraid her Ladyship has had a few too many glasses of wine," he smiled at the rather buff guard apologetically, "I'm just going to run her up to our room." The guard paused a moment, considering this, before stepping back, allowing him to lead her into the hall. When the guard fell into step behind them, he turned around, awkwardly. "Oh, no, thank you, you're assistances are no longer required." Again, the guard paused before bowing and turning away. "Come on Rose," he sighed with relief and made his way, as quickly as possible with her strung round his neck, through the winding corridors and out into the fresh night air.

It was cool, but nothing to a Time Lord, and he carried her as she laughed and barely managed to cling to him, and he could feel the warmth the alcohol had created in her body. In the semi-darkness, he led her across lawns of black grass, through a somewhat busy square lit by hovering globes and down a series of gradual steps. To his relief, he eventually saw the dark silhouette of a tall blue box against a white marble wall. He looked over his shoulders, thinking his departure, had been far too easy, and pulled out a key from his pocket.

As he fumbled to try and get the key in the lock while still keeping her upright, he gaped in fright as she tore herself away from him, spreading her arms to the night sky and singing at the top of her lungs.

"I was walking along, minding my business, When out of an orange-colored sky, Flash! Bam! Alakazam! Wonderful you came by." He rolled his eyes and turned the key as she spun around. He opened the door and headed inside as the hum of the TARDIS picked up from soft murmur to an excited buzz. He flicked a few switched and turned a dial as she meandered in, dancing and posing on her way up the ramp, "I was humming a tune, drinking in sunshine, When out of that orange-colored view, Flash! Bam! Alakazam! I got a look at you." He pulled the lever, closing the doors and pumped the bicycle pump a few times before hitting a hard spot with the mallet and sent them hurtling through Time and Space.

She was still waltzing around the console room, boisterously singing, "One look and I yelled "Timber", "Watch out for flying glass", Cause the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out, I went into a spin and I started to shout, "I've been hit, This is it, This is it!" I was walking along, minding my business, When love came and hit me in the eye, Flash! Bam! Alakazam! Out of an orange-colored sky" He caught her as she spun madly out of control and almost fell, nearly cracking her head open on the console.

"I never knew you were a Nat King Cole fan, Rose," he smiled down at her, seeing the haze in her eyes and her red swollen lips, "now THERE was a singer-" he set her upright, leaning against the console. "did you know he smoked over three packs a day because he thought it kept his voice low? Pity it killed him, wife was a doll, though, never once complained about his affairs. AND," he twisted a few more knobs, not noticing she had curled up in a happy little ball on the jump seat, "he was actually 54 at his death, not 46 as most people thought," he put his hands in his pockets as he stared up at the tall green column before him, galloping along, "his mother accidentally put nine months rather than nine years on the census record." His voice trailed up into higher octaves with his amusement. "Wonder if your mum ever did that, lied on an official document about her age-" he looked over to her, ready for an evil eye, but found her happily and soundly asleep. He smiled to himself and carefully sat down next to her, pulling his long coat over her like a blanket, and watching the view screen as the galaxies whizzed past.

She was completely comfortable; warm, content, and she sighed, pulling whatever was keeping her cozy warm, closer around her neck. She felt a soothing hand run lightly through her hair and delicately over her temples. She rubbed her face against the firm pillow beneath her and jolted upright when the pillow flinch and giggled. She nearly fell of the console jump seat and blinked a few times, staring straight into his smiling face. Her head had been resting in his lap and he had been involuntarily stroking the side of her face.

She blushed, and the sudden head rush brought on a faint headache. "Good morning," he said, all to cheerily. She merely mumbled in response, shifting to a more comfortable sitting position, holding on to his trench coat and secretly taking in the smell of him. "Did you like Rassilon's Red? I've got a whole case full, somewhere," he had popped up and was squinting at the view screen, spectacles hanging on the tip of his nose.

"It was lovely," she said only half jokingly. She didn't remember ever moment of the previous evening, but she was pretty sure she had come this close to hitting on a guard…

"So!" He turned to face her, leaning against the console and crossing both arms and legs. "Where to now?" He had a fire in his eyes that made her hesitate.

"Why did we leave so…James Bond-ish?" The corner of his mouth twitched.

"Well, I thought you must be bored with silly old Gallifrey-" she eyed him and he uncrossed his arms and rolled his eyes. "Oh alright, alright!" he pushed his glasses up on his nose, "I mean, it's not like they NEEDED me. I love them, don't get me wrong, but Time Lords are just so," he held both hands before him, weighing words, "so…so bleh." He flashed his tongue out and she laughed. "I mean, I'm the happiest guy in the universe that they're back, but, well, let's just say I was reminded why I spent so many years away. They're just…stagnant, constant. They just sit there, watching what's going on and never expand, never…develop," he turned away, somewhat ashamed he was so easily bored with his own people.

She stood, draping his coat over the back of the jump seat. "I just thought, I dunno…we didn't even meet your family." He wouldn't meet her gaze. She had asked about his family tentatively. With everything that had happened to her over the past week, she had never asked about his family. He was a grandfather, wasn't he? Why hadn't he even mentioned his grandchild? Then a thought struck her. She was his wife, right? So, who had been the mother of his children? Where were his children?

"Rose, Time Lords don't give birth and raise families in the way you think." His voice startled her. She hadn't even realized he had been listening to her thoughts and she made note to keep a closer eye on them in the future. He didn't meet her eyes as he fiddled with the TARDIS, but she stayed at his side, waiting for an explanation; she was a Time Lady now, to some extent, she needed to know these things. He gave her a furtive glance and sighed. He swiveled and plopped down on the jump seat and she leant against the console, arms crossed. "Time Lords, long ago, were 'cursed' with sterility. This wasn't too disappointing, since the act of mating and raising families evoked too many bothersome emotions so, they invented a process where strands of biodata are woven together," he laced his fingers together in demonstration, "Looming."

"So, if you don't have…children, then how are you a grandfather?" His smile slipped slightly.

"There are Houses, families, if you will, belonging to each Chapter. You remember about Chapters?" She nodded.

"Scarlet and orange is Prydonian...and, something like Paterxens wear heliotrope."

"Patrexeans, yes," he smiled, remembering how tickled she had been with 'heliotrope'. "Well each Chapter has multiple Houses and these Houses house the Looms and act as families; the senior members of which are called Cousins; I'm a Cousin of my House."

"And what's it called then?"

"Lungbarrow," he was tugging at his earlobe. She had never asked him many questions about Gallifrey before; it had always been to painful for him. Now, she was caught up in it, and it seemed fascinating. "It's one of the five oldest Houses, founded by Rassilon himself in response to the 'Curse'," he swallowed. "About three centuries after I was loomed, the House was shut down due to over looming, but Susan had been Loomed. Since the Chapterhouse was closed and she didn't want to go to the University, I offered to let her come with me on the TARDIS," his eyes were out of focus, looking at memories. "It was a sign of respect on Gallifrey, to call an elder Cousin, Grandfather, and, when I brought her to Earth, she learned of the human meaning. I was much older in that regeneration, and it made a good alibi; she was my granddaughter in 1960's London, and I was her white haired, crotchety old grandfather who lived in a blue box in a junkyard."

Rose had sat down next to him, lightly placing her hand on his. He took a deep breath and continued, "I loved her like a human grandchild, just as she loved me. She would have stayed with me forever, but I made her move on with her life; I might have been old, but I could take care of myself. So I left her with the man she loved, even though she protested, believing I needed her. I hadn't seen her for centuries-" his voice caught in his throat and she didn't press him, but shifted to rest her head on his shoulder, looking across the domed room to a spot on the far wall. "She died, in the War, she died, fighting on the frontlines with me. I didn't know it at the time, but…She's still dead. She wasn't one of those who were brought back. Only about ¼ the population was stored within the Matrix, and she- she wasn't one of them."

She hadn't understood everything he was telling her, but she did learn a few things. She now knew he had never fathered children, in the human sense, and part of her was selfishly glad. She now knew why he hadn't taken her to meet his family; he didn't have a family like she had, and the only person he had ever thought of in that regard had been gone for years. She let him tell her the story; he was taking steps across the line they had never crossed before in telling her about Susan. He had been emotional before, had shared memories, but had never really confided in her his deeper regrets and sorrows. Her hearts ached for him; to never have a family, to never fit in with your own people. She couldn't imagine it.

She gave his hand a tight squeeze which he reciprocated and smiled up at him. He smiled back and she felt his love for her, his gratitude, that he could share this with her now. It made her feel many emotions, but the one which stuck out was nostalgia.

"Doctor, do you think we could-" she fidgeted, playing with the hem of her shirt, "if we've got no where else, pressing, to go," she gave him a puppy dog look, "see my mum?"

He smiled back at her with only a slight grimace. "Thought you might like to see her," he stood up and walked briskly over to the doors, "we arrived about 4 minutes ago." He opened the door and the soft breeze of the London suburbs filtered into the room.

She ran to him, recognizing the sliver of landscape visible out the open door, and hugged him furiously. "My Doctor," she kissed him, lingering just long enough to leave him quite happy he had decided to stop for a visit with the in-laws.

"Might not want to do that in front of her, though, if you still want a husband afterwards," he followed her out the door, grimacing from the innumerable slaps Jackie could threaten.

She turned to face him as he locked the door. "Also might want to keep an ixney on the arriedmey," her laugh made him smile.

"Oh, and don't tell her I got you turned into an alien," but she was running off to the front door of the Tyler Estate, "Rassilon help me if she finds out her daughter isn't human anymore…"

She jumped up and down, rubbing her arms after ringing the doorbell. He walked across the lawn to join her at the front door. She peered anxiously in the windows, trying to see if anyone was home, and knocked excitedly. He stood, hands in his pockets, waiting for someone to open the door, a few paces behind his excited wife, not quite as anxious to see the occupants of the large house they were standing in front of. After a few minutes, he got fed up and peered into a window too.

"You lived here, you don't have a key or anything?" She pouted at him.

"You're the man with the sonic screwdriver," she pointed out, but he was prepared for this.

"I am not about to force entry into anywhere your mother calls 'home'," he eyed her and she harumphed at the door, before turning, with a smile, to face him.

"Give me a boost," he looked at her warily before bending down, cupping his hands. She put her hands on his shoulders and stepped into his hands. He held her aloft as she felt around the molding above the large oak door. "Mum always left a key above the door at the flat, don't see why she wouldn't here as well.

"Just- hurry up," he grunted out between clenched teeth. Her knees were knocking into his sternum and she wasn't exactly light.

"Oi," she looked down at him, "if you don't like a girl with a bit of curve to her-"

"Rose, I will never complain about your curves-" he interjected, but just at that moment, the door swung inwards, and he came face to face with a very pregnant and robe clad Jackie Tyler. "He-hello."

"Watcha think you're doing?" She put the hand not holding the door open on her hip. "Can't a woman get her sleep around here?"

"Oh, sorry," he bent over, letting her step out of his hands. She tucked her hair behind her ear and straightened her jacket.

"Rose!" Jackie's face changed from anger to joy as she held out her arms, taking her daughter into a tight embrace. "Oh my darling, I know you said you were coming back, but I was so worried!"

She pulled away and looked between him and her mother, glancing at her belly, "how long have we been gone?" He didn't have time to respond.

"I'm due in a week," Jackie was looking her daughter up and down, slightly confused, but as she caught her smile, Jackie shook her worries out of her mind. "Well come in then, no use you catchin' cold out there. Let me fix you a cuppa."

"Oh, that sounds lovely Mum," she squeezed his hand before heading after her somewhat waddling mother to the kitchen. He rolled his eyes and closed the door. A regular, emotional, possessive Jackie was hard enough to handle, let alone one jacked up on hormones.

He called after her, "where is everyone, Jackie?"

"Pete's at work and I gave the staff the week off. Figured I didn't want 'em seein' me waddling around in my dressin' gown at all hours, and I'll be heading to the hospital any day now," her voice trailed off as she led her daughter to the kitchen.

He glanced around the ornate foyer. It had been quite some time since he had been here last, and that time he had been a bit distracted by the Cybermen who were trying to take over the planet. The house had a slightly eerie feeling; nothing a human could detect, just the universe's slight displeasure at having people there who shouldn't belong. This world's Jackie had died. This world's Rickey had died. This world's Rose was a yipping dog. Yet, there stood a Jackie and Rose Tyler at the kitchen counter, discussing babies and Pete's job. He shuffled in, not wanting to draw attention to himself. After a minute of chit chat that he didn't listen to, the two women sat down at the table, placing a hot steaming cup of tea before him. He was quite content to stare at his wife at the other end of the table while sipping Jackie's excellent tea as the mother and daughter gossiped about nothing that would interest him.

He loved to follow the lines and hollows of her face, always had, and they were slightly different now, so he had the immense joy of learning them all over again. Her hair was down, and he loved how the added inches made it just the right length to brush against her shoulders and fall into her eyes, giving her an added measure of both maturity and mystery. Her face, though still hers, looked slightly longer due to the weight loss and added height. The regeneration process had merely aged her; finally taking her from the last year or so of transition from teenager into the blossom of true womanhood. He loved it. He also loved the fact that his appearance had youthened by a few years; his hands were stronger, his skin more taught, a few muscles more pronounced.

Before his regeneration, he had been conscious of the stares her fellow humans had paid them. He had been older, she had been younger, and, on this planet, their apparent age difference had been frowned upon. Not that he had done anything inappropriate, he had never thought she would think of him in any way one could frown upon, in that body. He had been content to let his love stay dormant, tucked away with his other emotions. It had been quite a different matter when he had regenerated; looking as though he had lost ten or fifteen years. His new body was young and lithe and full of energy. This brought with it a flood of possibilities which, this regeneration, found harder to suppress. He had been prone to more daydreams, had found more reasons to hold her hand, to embrace her. He had even started flirting a bit more, especially with Jack gone.

He could now thank Jack for making him recognize the beast, Jealousy, within him. He might not ever had recognized his own feelings for what they truly were, had Jack not threatened to 'dance' with her. He had known so much love in his life, had a place in his heart for so many people, yet he couldn't tell why his love for her was different. He thought it might have been since he had been so cold and hollow after the war; feeling love again felt strange. What Jack showed him was that he didn't just love her, he was IN love with her, and that was completely new. Someday, when he worked up the courage to face Jack, and the impossibility that he now lived, he would have to make note to say that very thing to him.

"Don't you think, Doctor?" he was pulled from his thoughts by her voice, saying his name. He stuttered, furrowing his brow and tugging at his earlobe. She laughed, though Jackie seemed a bit perturbed that he hadn't been enthralled by their chatter. "I said, don't you think Romana is a lovely name?" He was still perplexed and she surreptitiously inclined her head to her mother's round belly.

"Oh. Yes! Yes, yes, yes… Romana's a lovely name, personal favorite," he took a large gulp of tea, happy to find it had cooled to just the temperature he liked.

"Well, I'm not sure, sounds a bit," Jackie frowned, "foreign."

She laughed, "Yeah, a bit, but it's still pretty," she took a sip of tea, finishing off her cup. She rose and went to the sink to put her cup in, when there was the sound of a door opening down the hall.

"Jacks, I'm home!" Pete's voice echoed down the hall and Jackie stood to meet him.

"Where's the lovely mother to be?" Mickey's voice followed, excited.

"Kitchen," Jackie said simply, taking his cup and her own and setting them on the counter, empty. The two men entered, Pete with his arms wide, ready for an embrace. They stopped dead, the smiles slipping from their faces at the sight of him, sitting casually at the kitchen table.

"Doctor?" Both men let out, puzzled, before Mickey darted from behind Pete, exclaiming, "ROSE!" and taking her in a huge hug. Pete's attention was duly taken from the Doctor and placed on his semi-adopted daughter.

"Hello sweetheart," he placed a hand on her shoulder since he couldn't pry Mickey's arms from her.

"Hey Dad," she gasped out, "Ok, Mickey, I'm fine, I'm here, it's fine." Mickey had been whispering words of how afraid he had been; worried that she couldn't come back, or that if she did, it would make the universe implode or something.

He stood, putting his hands in his pockets and saddling over to the family reunion on the other side of the kitchen counter. Pete took him by the hand, nodding a curt, "Doctor," and giving him a thankful, if not overly warm, smile.

To which he nodded in return, pulling his hand away as soon as was polite. He still had buried fears of touching Pete; creating a paradox in their universe, blowing a hole into this one. They waited in silence as Mickey still held her in a death grip and Jackie shuffled around the kitchen, tidying up. When she finally managed to pry Mickey off, Pete suggested they move somewhere more comfortable and motioned them into the less formal sitting room.

She sat on the sofa, her mother at her side and Mickey sitting backwards on a chair not inches from her. Pete sat in an armchair, completing the family unit and he was left, only somewhat annoyed, to stand and pace around behind them.

Their attention was for her, how she was, what she had been doing, how she had managed to get back to them. He was slightly annoyed further when they all confided the fact that, despite her telling them she would be back, as she now demonstrated, they feared and eventually assumed they wouldn't see her again. Seven months she had been gone, give or take a week, and they hadn't had a single sign from her. Jackie almost cried at that point, but she held her hand and Pete, reassuringly, pointed out that it had all worked out in the end. She was here now.

"Rose, you're stayin' 'till the baby comes," it was as much a command as a question, Jackie looking plaintively into her eyes. She glanced over at him as he stood admiring the lovely inlay of the fireplace behind Pete.

Without even needing to nod, he silently told her they could do whatever she wanted, and she replied with a warm, "Of course, Mum, we'll stay until the baby comes." Jackie looked as though she were about to ask for more, but upon seeing the way her daughter sent a thankful look in his direction, she shut her mouth and was grateful for the time they gave her.

"Well, should be any day now," Jackie shifted, her large belly making remaining in any position for too long uncomfortable. She remembered being restless while being pregnant the first time, but this time around it was more of an ache to budge every few minutes or so; no pacing around the kitchen at three o'clock in the morning this time around. "We're all prepared, got my overnight bag stored in the coat cupboard by the door, doctor's just a phone call away, which is more than I can say for this one," she nodded in his direction and he arched an eyebrow playfully.

"I'll have you remember I never said anything about trans-universal telephone service," she smiled at him while Jackie ignored him.

"Well, if you two are stayin', Rose, why don't you show the Doctor to a guest room?" Jackie stood, holding onto the couch's armrest for support. Pete jumped up, holding his arms out as if to spot her, and she waved him away. "'Sfine, just going to go back to bed," and she began her slow toddle out the living room door and towards the stairs.

Pete followed, the nervous father not wanting to leave her side. Before disappearing around the door, he kept his head insight, "Rose, we're glad you're home." Pete smiled at her, sent a glance in his direction and headed off to help Jackie get into bed.

Mickey stood, "Yeah," he placed a kiss on her cheek. "Well, I gotta get goin'. Jake called me just before we got 'ere, askin' if I could go 'elp him with a Pygmy Puff situation."

She laughed, "a WHAT?"

"Pygmy Puffs, like from Harry Potter. They're these little round fluff balls that landed 'bout a month ago. They look cute 'n all, but touch 'em and ZAP! You're fried worse then a chip left at the bottom of the basket. They've been breedin' an' no matter how many we catch, a new batch pops up at the local power plant. See you later!" He crossed to the doorway, smiling. She noted how different he was now. This universe suited him; he had taken the place of a man who was his complete opposite, shifting him into the middle ground. She smiled a goodbye and he too popped out of the room.

She smiled to herself, feeling love and contentment that she had only dreamed of. She reveled in life for the moment; everyone happy, healthy and where, when and with whom they should be. She only felt the slightest pang of guilt that Mickey still loved her in a way she could never reciprocate, but she knew he knew where her heart lay, and he was moving on, slowly but surely. He felt no animosity and she was grateful.

Her attention was drawn to the handsome man gazing fondly into her face. She focused on him and let out a contented sigh. At that moment, she didn't think there was a single thing that could make her any happier. But, as he held out a hand, helping her stand, before taking her into his own loving embrace, she found she had been wrong. He hadn't said anything to her, and didn't need to open their mental connection. In mere looks and touches, she knew how happy he was she was happy. She grabbed his hand and began to tug him from the room.

"Come on, I'll show you around."

"I've been here before, Rose, remember? Big shiny metal men? Ear-pods controlling everyone's brain?" They were going up the grand stairs now, she still pulling him along.

"Oh, I remember. Two months I lived here, tracing your footsteps," there was a note of pain in her voice at the memory, but she sent a smile over her shoulder to reassure him. "And you in that tux…" her tongue pocked dangerously from between her teeth.

"And you in that maids uniform," he winked at her. He was happy to note a quickening in her pace down the hall. She reached the end, pushing open a door, and closing it behind him as he entered the bright pink world he usually associated with her bedroom. "Mmm, very Rose Tyler."

"Mum," she answered simply. He glanced around. The room had the haunting feeling of someone just moving in and hurriedly decorating and having a distinct lack of the personal mementos she had kept horded in her room on the TARDIS. As a matter of fact, for her bedroom, it was unnaturally tidy and clutter-free and he attributed this to the fact that she had been gone half a year and the maids had probably put her room in order months ago.

There stood a quaint oak four-poster bed against one wall, light pink comforter neatly folded down to reveal magenta sheets. There were three windows, one on the far wall and two on the wall opposite the bed. Between them stood an antique vanity which matched the bed, covered in beauty supplies. A wardrobe stood against the closest wall. There remained a faint hint of "non-permanent guest" about the place; the only pictures he saw stood on her bedside table. He picked them up, one at a time. The first was one of Pete and Jackie, heads bent together, the sunset in the background. The second surprised him, as his own long features looked back at him. He showed it to her with a questioning raised eyebrow as she plopped down on her bed.

"The security cameras that night at the party." She frowned at the picture. "I had nothing when I came through, 'cept the key to the TARDIS and my mobile. I didn't even have a picture," she swallowed and, for some reason, he couldn't meet her gaze. That day was still too hard for either of them to talk about. "Dad thought to look through surveillance footage; just as a way for me to see you. That picture," she nodded at the silver frame which he set back down, "was the best one."

Her round eyes met his. She shifted to sit on the edge of the bed and he bent over, slowly, closing the distance between them. She reached her hands up, pulling his face closer to hers and kissing him. He placed one hand on her back and, forgetting everything else, slowly laid her down on the bed, kneeling to keep his full weight off of her. As her hands rubbed through his hair, over his shoulders, loosening his tie, his hands moved to her waist, pushing her shirt up a few inches to run his cold fingers over her stomach. She gasped and he deepened the kiss, memorizing the taste of her as he always had wanted. She moved to take his jacket and coat off in one fluid motion, and the effort of pushing the heavy material off his shoulders made her break the kiss for the slightest moment.

That was all the time he needed to remember where they were and what they both wanted to do. He stood up and she made a very confused face, tilting her head and pouting slightly as an inquisitive puppy. "Wha'?" Worry etched her face and he tried not to look at her swollen pink lips.

"Rose, Jackie is-" She sat up.

"At the other end of the house, fast asleep." There was a fire in her eyes that he so wished had popped up anywhere but in her mother's house. ""Sjust kissin', Doctor," she bit her lip, making it quite obvious to him that kissing wasn't all she had in mind. It took a great deal of self control for him not to lean over and bite that lip too.

He cleared his throat, trying to keep his voice in a normal octave, "I- I just…can't," fear flashed across her face and he felt immediate guilt twist his insides, "not here. Especially not on that bedspread," he finished and relief passed over her eyes.

"And what's wrong with my bedspread?" She placed her hands on her hips and, for all the world, looked like a little girl not getting her way.

"Its just too, well, it's very pink, isn't it?" He looked, somewhat, disgusted, at the sheets. She laughed.

"Alright, fine," she stood up, fixing her top and giving him a look that made him swallow hard again, "I'll show you to your room then."

"Rose, really, I don't need a room," she had marched determinedly from her room in the direction of the closest guestroom. 'Time Lords don't sleep that much, remember?" She opened a door and stepped inside, inspecting the slightly smaller guestroom. "I don't want to be a bother; if I get tired, I'll just pop into the TARDIS or-" she turned on him.

"OR, you will simply climb into that fluffy bed," she pointed, "and take a catnap." He looked somewhat affronted.

"I do NOT 'catnap'." She stared at him, hard, for a moment, before he resigned, recognizing her mother in her, and glanced back to the perfectly acceptable bed. "well," he pouted slightly, still defiant, "at least it isn't PINK." She let out an exasperated sigh and stormed back out of the room, firmly shutting the door behind her, leaving him standing alone, and very confused. Just because he wasn't about to perform every unmentionable act he could think of while her mother was under the same roof, hadn't meant he didn't fully intended to keep kissing her.

He pulled at his hair in frustration. One moment he was pushing and she was turning away, the next she pushed and he stepped back. He had a horrible, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. What if this awkward tug-of-war never reached equilibrium and they couldn't keep the center of the rope between them? They both wanted it, they both knew they both wanted it, but, he worried, maybe their relationship just couldn't ever develop into that, despite their desires.

A beast deep in his belly let out a low grumble and he decided that he was going to make an effort. He may have Rose Tyler's hearts, he may have Rose Tyler's eyes and lips and hands, but he was going to do whatever it took to get the rest of her; the part that shut down all other thoughts, desires, and functions that weren't pertaining to him, having his hands on her. He was going to seduce Rose Tyler, and he was going to enjoy it.

She closed her own door just as firmly and flopped onto her bed, burying her head in her pillows and letting out a frustrated groan. They had been getting somewhere; somewhere she soooo wanted to visit. She shivered from the memory of his fingers tracing along her skin; the lightest, smallest touch and she couldn't get the goose bumps on her arms to stand at ease.

She turned over, holding her head and staring up at the ceiling. Had she done something wrong? Hadn't he been the one making all the romantic moves lately? All those 'practice' kisses on Gallifrey; she had just gotten used to the feel of it, not the feeling of his lips on hers, but the simultaneous soar of her hearts and fall of her stomach. She had kissed him, really, for the first time, when they had landed just the hour or so ago. She had loved the split second where his face had been blissfully blank; there had been no thoughts racing through his mind, no plans being formed, no jokes, nothing, except her. But then his eyes had re-focused and he was his witty self again. She had wanted to see that face, among other things, when she had kissed him a few moments passed, and, to her extreme joy, it had started to go further then just a kiss. He was kissing back, she had his full attention for that moment, and, somehow, she had lost it. He had started to dribble on about her mother being just down the hall, saying he couldn't, he wouldn't, do…anything, while in her vicinity.

She had finally taken steps towards their mutual goal and he had pulled away. It hurt her, it worried her, and it annoyed her. After everything, after months of waiting, after a surprise wedding and almost dying, after the hospital and, especially, after years of wondering, she wouldn't take it. She sat up, tongue in her cheek as she thought, and nodding her head, deciding on what to do, she jumped off the bed and walked quietly down the hall to the bathroom to take a shower. The Doctor may be a hard man to hold the attention of, but she was going to do it, using whatever means necessary. She was going to seduce the Doctor, and she was going to enjoy it.

He was sitting in the slightly musty armchair, facing his door, reading a book he had discovered in one of his pockets. There was no therapy better then reading a book the human way (Time Lords can read hundreds of pages a minute, flipping through a book in a few seconds and remembering every word), and he needed to relax a bit before dinner, before starting in on his master Rose-seducing plan.

She crept down the hall, hoping Jackie wouldn't yell at her too much for dripping on the wood floors, and, taking a stabilizing breath, knocked lightly on his door and popped her head in before he answered.

"Hey," his eyes flew up from the book and looked through his spectacles to his wife, standing in the doorway, "just wanted to let you know, we're going out for dinner." His eyes were trailing over her; the water droplets shimmering on her shoulders and arms, her damp hair laying against her neck, the flush in her skin from the recent hot water, the short black towel keeping her covered. Correction: the VERY short towel, BARELY keeping her covered. His Adams apple bobbed as he subconsciously traced the smooth line of her legs to where the towel kept them from view. "Mum says last time before the baby, special treat." His eye flicked up to her face. She grinned, that pink tongue of hers held firmly in the corner of her mouth between her teeth. "Better dress up," she wiggled her eyebrows and closed his door softly.

Though she had disappeared from his sight, his eyes lingered on the spot where she had been standing, recalling the memory. He realized his mouth was open slightly, and he quickly shut it, shaking his head and wiping his eyes under his glasses. So, she was playing dirty. Alright, all's fair in love and war, round one to Rose. But, as he folded his glasses and placed both them and the book back in his coat pocket, he smirked. Round two was going to go to the Doctor.

She sat across the table from him, trying desperately to listen to the mindless gossip her other was spitting out. Jackie sat on her right, munching happily on her lobster while chattering away. Mickey sat to her left, her father to his left and the man who was blatantly starring at her sat before her. They were in one of the best seafood restaurants in London; black table cloths, oversized square plates and small white candles dotted the tables in the modern, dimly lit room.

She starred down at her mahi-mahi, suddenly not hungry; not for fish anyway. She fidgeted in her seat, feeling his clam eyes on her, feeling the path of fire they burned up and down her skin. When she couldn't take it any longer, she glanced up at him. He never took his eyes from her as he steadily ate his dinner. He merely gave a flicker of a smirk when she let out an inaudible moan.

The sound was a mixture of anger, desperation, and pleasure for, though he didn't make a sound, though he didn't even form words in her mind, he was filling her head with thoughts. Flickering images, smells, sensations, ideas, passed before her inner eye. His new abuse of their "mind meld" was preventing her from participating in the small talk because the sights, sounds and sensations she was experiencing involved herself and the cruel man facing her doing things she would normally blush to be thinking about privately, let alone while her mother tried to catch her up on the latest Big Brother fiasco. She felt a thin film of sweat break out over her body and she took a deep breath, crossing her legs under the table. She subconsciously brought a hand to her neck and felt the racing double beat beneath her skin.

She couldn't take this payback. It was torture and she finally met his unrelenting gaze, a slightly desperate pout forming on her lips. Her intention was to get him to stop, no matter HOW appealing the things he was showing her were, but she ended up racking her heavily lidded eyes over his face and torso. He had taken her advise and dressed for the occasion, trading his brown pinstripes for a crisp black suit. He retained his converses, but not tie constricted his neck and no T-shirt peeked from between the folds of his stark white shirt, the top few buttons of which had been left casually, teasingly, open. She had ogled him as she came down stairs, wearing a sexy little black number herself. Though she was used to this version of him in a suit and the old version of him in black; the dark, mysterious look was a refreshing surprise which her eyes had greedily poured over.

Just then, her wardrobe musings were distracted as he popped a shrimp in his mouth and slowly, painfully, sucked his fingers clean before taking a sip of whine, eyes boring into her the entire time.

He let out a chuckle as he sipped his wine, happily noting that her lips had parted, hanging hungrily open as he had licked the cocktail sauce from his fingers. Her eyes resting on his hand as he set his wineglass down, he decided on a new tactic. He stopped filling her mind with the constant stream of dirty little daydreams and of the things he was going to do to her whenever they managed to take their honeymoon, and worked on eliciting already played out temptations.

He sifted through her memories, her mind unguarded and waiting, picking recollections of little things he had done on purpose or completely innocently, that had made her pause; a time he had slowly loosened his tie while computing Brachneliem equations in the console room, a sexy smirk he had given her after a playful innuendo, once when he had sucked his fingers clean after sticking them into a jar of marmalade. She shivered as the memories played inside her head and his smirk grew. He continued this torture, feeling her increase in blood pressure and body temperature until a waitress took their plates away.

She had shut her eyes tight and he felt her fight his romp through her brain momentarily, her willpower giving in a burst of protest. He pulled back and she sighed heavily, the lure he dangled in front of her no longer imprinted behind here eyes, but he smiled outright as she met his eyes and he ordered dessert.

She was going to kill him. She had thought dinner; his eyes fixated on her, a fire there she had rarely seen, was bad enough. Then dessert, he had ordered some chocolate, caramel, ice-cream concoction and, for half an hour, he had sat, enjoying the tasty treat mouthful by mouthful, sucking the spoon slowly clean as he eased it from his mouth, rolling the flavors over his tongue before helping himself to another bite. She had sat riveted, watching the bob of his Adams apple, the flick of his tongue to like the caramel from the corner of his moth, the purse of his lips in pleasure as his eyes fluttered closed. His oral fixation had been a thing to tease him about, to play with in her daydreams. Now, nothing seemed less silly, less immature; it was a weapon to be used against her, a tool, a temptation, a possibility which made her throat go dry and her temperature rise.

After an eternity, and she truly wondered if he hadn't slowed time so the whole experience had played out for days rather then hours, they had risen from the table. She had been a bit unsteady o her feet; not from her half drunk glass of wine, but from the reeling imaged in her mind (all of which placed their by her own devices), and a rushing, gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach. He had placed a cold hand on the small of her back to keep her steady as he led her to the car. She knew her mother had been talking the whole time, new Mickey and her father had been sending her worried looks throughout the meal. She knew people's heads had turned to watch the well known Tyler's and their mysterious daughter; she knew the worlds buzzed around her, but the whole time his light touch created the teasing pressure on the small of her back, she sensed nothing else. Her blood rushed in here ears and her breaths became heavy. He made no inappropriate moves and whispered no dirty promises in her ear, but her heart with the light, familiar touch.

As he had helped her into the car, she had smelled the sickly sweet smell left on his breath and, without thinking, she had leaned in to kiss him, wanting to taste the chocolate there, mixed with his own flavors. He had pulled back slightly, stopping her and giving a small smirk along with a slight shake of the head. Inside her mind she heard his voice *I don't think so, Rose, what would your mother say?* She had pouted slightly, but saw his point, however unjust. He mother had already seated herself in the back of the lime, inpatient to get back to the estate and into bed.

He had held out his hand, helping her in and sitting next to her. The whole ride home, he had chatted to Pete on his left, leaving her mind silent and empty. Rather, he had skimmed his fingers along the side of her bare leg, letting them slip from his own whenever they had turned a corner, each time his fingers getting higher and higher up her thigh. She had held her breath, biting her tongue the entire trip, bursting from the car as soon as they pulled up at the house and running inside, away from his torment.

She ran right to her room, breathing heavily, running her hands from her face, down her neck, and hugging herself, wishing, imagining, her hands were his. She heard their voices come into the house and quickly, she grabbed her robe and headed for the bathroom to take a long, cold, shower.

He set smugly in his chair in the guest room, reading. The evening's payback had been cruel, to both of them, but the looks and sighs she had produced made it worth it. He couldn't focus on the book in his hands; he was tired, not having kept up a mental link like that for years. And, on top of that, he was mentally and emotionally drained from the same onslaught he had given her; he had tried his hardest to prevent himself from reacting to the shared images, but in the end, he had 'rewarded' his hard work in the car, letting his fingers trail feather light along her creamy thigh. He had been almost as glad as her when the Tyler mansion swam into sight. The longing, the tension, the waiting…it was agony; beautiful, addicting agony that they both happily partook of, in anticipation of the eventual release.

He was completely exhausted; the last time he had slept for a few hours was their first night on Gallifrey. Since he had nothing else to do, knowing the TARDIS had been safely moved to the garage, he got ready for bed, wearing only his underwear and the T-shirt he had worn under his suit earlier, turned off the lights, and climbed into the downy warmth.

She took a deep breath and blew it out, facing the dark wood door the guest room. She didn't know if she could go through with her own dose of retribution which she had envisioned during her long, cold, shower. It was risky; she wasn't sure if she had the willpower to maintain her self made promise: to do nothing she would be embarrassed to tell her mother about while in her house. Well, almost nothing.

She glanced down at her bare toes and noted there was no light spilling from beneath the door; he must have gone to bed…a rare occasion she was going to take full advantage of. She subconsciously smoothed the front of her nightgown down and ran a nervous hand through her hair. She laughed to herself as she remembered the numerous times she had snuck out to meet Jimmy Stone and do…things. She was a million times more nervous as she stood there in the cold hallway, and this time, if everything went as planned, she wouldn't even approach the things she had done with Jimmy. Well, at least not too closely.

She pulled her shoulders back, set her chin up and put herself in a mental state of complete innocence. Where would the fun be if he had an accidental and unfair mental hint at what her retribution was going to consist of?

There was a slight rap on his door and he lifted his head as her stark white form silently entered the room.

"Doctor?" She whispered, hands keeping the door from closing the entire way. She glowed in the darkness, all light cast from the waning moon out the window caught by her pale skin and the thin yet conservative silk nightgown she wore. He half sat up, blinking, trying to get his eyes to see her beautiful shape in the night.

"Yes, Rose, what is it?" He whispered back, afraid something might be wrong, already thinking of ways to get her and her family downstairs and into the TARDIS. At his words, she closed the door and silently moved away, to the chair over the back of which his long trench coat was laid. Or maybe Jackie had gone into labor? He dismissed this thought, knowing she would be much more agitated and wouldn't be wearing a little sliver of cream silk. He heard her bare feet against the wooden floor as she moved back to stand by the bed and in front of the door, her outline sharp against the dark walls.

"I couldn't sleep," she trailed off, leaning far over the nightstand, evidently looking for something in the dark. He knew where this was leading; on the occasions she hadn't been able to sleep before, she had sought him out, whatever he was doing, and merely sat with him, or watched him fidget with the TARDIS controls, till she fell asleep in a little ball, clutching a blanket to her shoulders. He frowned in the dark; he wasn't sure her climbing into bed with him, even if just to feel his comforting presence, would be smiled upon by the other occupants of the house.

"Rose, I'm not so sure this is a good idea-" he heard her fumble with something on the nightstand and then realized what she had been looking for.

"'Salright," she whispered as the sound of the sonic screwdriver buzzed in the silence, it's faint blue light shining on the brass door handle. "Mum can't get walk in and I set an alarm on my mobile to wake me up before her so I can sneak back to my room." She said it calmly as she worked, setting the tool back down before climbing into the bed, under the sheets. "'Sfreezin' in this place; no central heating." She pulled the heavy down comforter up to her chin as she scootched closer and closer to him.

He swallowed hard, glad she couldn't see his blushing cheeks. After their respective rounds at whatever twisted match of tug-of-war they were playing, his reserves were depleted, and there wasn't much beyond ROSE in his mind. She sighed contentedly as she slid between the sheets, her back finally coming to rest gently against his torso. She fluffed the pillow beneath her head and a few wisps of her golden hair brushed against his cheek. He was lost for words, his mouth opening and closing silently in unvoiced protest. After a few seconds, she let out a rattled breath, her body convulsing, and she pressed fully against him and he could tell she was honestly cold and he let out a surprise gasp as her toe-sicles touched his own warm feet.

"Sorry," she whispered, and he could hear the smile on her lips. She settled into her position, and, in the ensuing silence, he finally let out the breath he had been holding. This close, he could feel the pleasant beating of both her hearts, could hear the sound of her lungs taking in and releasing air, could smell that fresh, sweet smell he knew so well.

He had feared that, after their recent tête à tête, their being in the same bed might lead to something other then…cuddling. He almost laughed at the thoughts that had flickered through his over active imagination when she had slipped into the room, then he laughed again at the thought of how DOMESTIC this was; his wife curling up next to him in bed, warming her cold feet against his, needing to be with him to sleep, to hear his breathing and feel his hands around her.

He then realized that, once she had stopped moving, he had woven his arms under hers and around her waist. He sighed; at any other time, in any other house, this would be a dangerous position for them to be in, but here, now, he felt no reservations pulling her sleeping form to himself and closing his eyes, the smell of her hair filling his dreams.

His eyes flickered open as he was pulled from the brink of sleep. He pulled his head back slightly, trying to sort out what exactly had woken him; the woman in his arms was moving, making sounds. He tried to pull his arms from around her to shake her awake, for she was obviously having a dream, and it was causing her some distress, but his arms were locked tight around her and he couldn't budge. She pressed her full body against his, and let out an audible breath. He whispered her name, but she didn't wake.

She moved again, and this time he couldn't form the name ROSE, his mouth merely forming an O, and his eyes rolled back into his head. She had just rocked her hips into his and, upon doing it again, she let out a deep moan.

He opened his eyes in shock, horror and amusement. Her leg had slid back between his and her thigh was rubbing against his. Her head was thrown back slightly and she was making deep, dark sounds which excited him almost as much as the grinding of her hips on his own. She was dreaming, and, as far as his genius mind could deduce, she was dreaming of some of the things he had been pumping into her brain all evening.

Upon the third and, so far, hardest movement against him, he tried again to extract himself from her, knowing that, if this continued for much longer, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from taking further steps. He repeated her name, slightly louder and close to her ear, he didn't want anyone to hear her, and she was getting louder.

"Rose," he sat up as much as he could, and saw her face was alive, though her eyes shut firmly.

"Oh," she groaned. She shifted again and he, horrified, could feel his body begin to respond in not-so-innocent ways. His hearts were thumping unusually hard against his ribcage, and his thought process was beginning to slow as his attention drifted to the hot, beautiful body pressed against his. She was starting to move faster now and he was able to extricate his arm. But before he could wake her, she said something with such need, such passion, it made his hearts come to a screeching halt in his chest: "Doctor!"

He paused, all manner of ideas flickering through his mind. Oh how he wanted to ravish her where she lay. Jackie's house be damned, the woman he had wanted for so long was pressed against him and moaning his name! His body had already leapt past his mind and was crying out to continue, to play along, but his last once of willpower kicked in and he physically shook his head before waking from the stupor her unintentional motions had placed him in.

His faculties regained, he somewhat happily noted that she had stopped thrashing and made no more cries; merely let out a contented sigh. His body was still rigid next to her now relaxed one, and, when he realized their limbs were no longer entwined, he slowly and carefully moved away from her and got out of bed.

Away from her body and the blankets, he realized just how cold the room was. He shivered as he stood, somewhat dumbfounded, watching her now inert form sleep peacefully in the bed. He wasn't completely sure what had just happened, and he wasn't completely satisfied with his very gentlemanly decision to leave her. So much of him wanted to climb right back into that bed and make her say his name like that again, but instead, he fumbled in the dark, grabbing the extra blanket he had spied on the top shelf in the closet, and curled up, rather uncomfortably, in the armchair facing the bed.

His hearts were still racing, and his mind was painfully awake and he knew he wouldn't find sleep easily. He resigned to pull the blanket around himself and try to doze off in the sitting position, waiting hours before his brain and body to calm down enough to sleep.

In the darkness, she smiled, hearing his defeated sigh emanate from the chair across the room. She snuggled deeper in the down blankets, soaking in both the residual body heat and the satisfaction that her retribution had gone off without a hitch. She had set her phone to vibrate and wake her up in the wee hours of the morning; hopefully he would be asleep and wouldn't notice her slip out. For now, she closed her eyes contentedly and pictured his face in the morning when she would ask him if he slept well.

The look on his face was worth a week's worth of sleepless nights. She was standing at the counter, wearing the same little cream number she had the previous night with the matching robe, which brushed the back of her knees, hanging open, and sipping her steaming cup of tea.

For not having slept more then three hours, she felt extremely refreshed. She wondered if it was the Time Lord in her; the doctor had explained that Time Lords didn't require much sleep as they had trained themselves to evolve beyond it's time wastefulness. She smiled at Mickey who sat at the table, munching down cereal, as she leant against the counter.

Mickey had moved in a few days after they had come across the void. Pete had thought it a little strange, but, then again, it was strange for him to have his wife back, a much happier Jackie then the one who had died, plus one bonus daughter. Yet, Jackie had insisted without ever needing to ask her. Her mother knew that having Mickey close at hand would be a comfort in this not-quite-identical world and Mickey was more then happy to live with his two best friends, for he had become even closer to Jackie ever since they had been practically abandoned by the one person they each loved most in the universe. When one of them had grown terribly nostalgic, the other would listen and laugh about old stories, and they would sit there, wondering on what planet, in what time the strange alien had taken their friend and daughter. He was just another Tyler in Jackie's eyes.

She stood there, sipping her tea and pondering on the mysteries of the universe while watching Mickey blankly, when one such mystery strode into the kitchen. She stifled her giggles in her tea cup at the sight of him; he trudged down stairs wearing the same ensemble as he had the night before and his trench coat which, this morning, doubled as a robe. His hair was the wackiest she had ever seen it; one side plastered against his head and the other doing a very good imitations of a porcupine. His eyes were puffy and bloodshot and, as his eyes lighted on her, they grew round, his face drained of color and he swallowed hard.

"Good morning," she chirped cheerfully, adopting the most caring and innocent look she could muster, "sleep well?" He first blushed, averting his eyes, then looked angry, and finally settled on nervous resentment as he mumbled a 'not quite'. He stood at the center of the kitchen, turned towards her and at a loss for words. She saddled up next to him, feeling only the slightest bit guilty. "Oh, have a bad dream?" he had no response. Just carefully didn't look her in the eye; she felt as though she were talking to a child who was too proud to confess to a nightmare. "Well, here, this will make it better," and she handed him the cup of tea she had made, just the way he liked it. His eyes met here, filled with gratitude, and he looked so like a tired puppy, she, without thinking, like it was the most natural thing in the world, as though she would be doing it forever, stepped up on tiptoe and pecked his slightly pouting lips. That brought a bright and happy smile to his face which was immediately ripped off by the angry scream behind him.

"What on EARTH do you think you're doin'?" A very large, very grumpy Jackie had entered the kitchen, unbeknownst to them. He stepped back from her daughter and tried to look as blameless as possible as the irate Jacqueline Andrea Suzzette Prentice Tyler bored into him with her eyes. "Get your HANDS off my DAUGHTER!" Her hands were balled into fists on her hips.

"Mum-" she tried to chime in, but her voice quavered with fear.

"Don't you 'MUM' me!" She began to shake her finger in their direction and they both took a step back. "YEARS now he's traipsed you around the universe; nearly getting us all killed and having me worried SICK that you might never come home. I put up with him changin' his face, I put up with the cheek, I put up with the mad codswallop he spews out," she began to get closer, her voice raised to its fullest volume, "but I will NOT HAVE HIM TOUCH MY DAUGHTER!"

Silence ensued during which only Jackie's labored breathing the Mickey's smugly eating cereal could be heard. Her eye flicked to him over her mother's shoulder as he gloated, and he said calmly, "Don't drag me into this muck, I aint had nothin' to do with it," before rising and putting his bowl in the sink.

She could feel him almost shaking beside her and almost laughed; he could stare down Daleks, patronize Cybermen, jeer at Slytheen and mock The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, but her mother made him shake in his trainers. Her absolute love for him suddenly surged within her and as the defiant confession of their recent marriage was about to escape her lips in his defense: "Mum, listen, I lo-"

"Rose?" Jackie's face had drained of color and the question was one of confusion.

"Jackie, I love your daughter and we-" she quickly cut him off. He had been shouting back, gaining the confidence from the love he felt emanate from her before she held a hand out and watched her mother anxiously.

"Mum?" Jackie's eye's traveled south and with them, so did hers, his, and Mickey's.

"I-I think my water just broke," she said breathlessly. He immediately rushed to her side, grabbing a chair with one hand and easing Jackie down into it as she went pelting through the house to wake her father, laughter bubbling under her shouts. Mickey looked terrified, but crouched at Jackie's side and took hold of her hand. His voice shook as he told her to breath and demonstrated himself. "Mickey, I gave birth to Rose, didn't I? I'm fine." She took deep long breaths and looked menacingly up into his brown eyes as he stood by her side, unsure of what to do. "Don't think this gets you off the hook, Doctor. I still haven't said my piece, and you can bet your pretty blue box-"

"Jacks!" Pete ran into the room, obviously having just been woken up and having thrown on a mismatched assortment of clothes. He darted to her side, kissing her forehead and bending low in front of her. "Are you alright? How you feelin'? Can I get you anything? Paracetamol?" Pete continued to list off things Jackie might want while they laughed at the memory of Jackie doing the same thing last Christmas.

Finally, Jackie calmed the excited new father-do-be (for this was the first birth of a child for him) and he helped her stand and walk towards the door where the car was parked outside, waiting, with Mickey, still petrified, following. She, just as anxious, flitted out behind Mickey, a change of clothes in hand, before she noticed his tall lean shape start to bring up the rear. Her worried and excited face looked into his with remorse.

"Doctor, aren't you forgetting something?" She looked him up and down and he remembered he was till in his knickers and an old T-shirt. He blushed and ran a hand through his hair, frowning at the bed head he possessed. "Listen, I don't think it's best for you to come right now. Mum won't exactly find your presence relaxing." He was only mildly disappointed she wanted him to stay behind. It was, after all, a terribly DOMESTIC thing to go see you mother in law give birth. He made a grimace at the thought that she was now his mother in law. "Listen, go upstairs, sleep, take a shower, and, for God's sake, come your hair," her eyes racked the top of his head, but her smile and the reassuring affection in her voice made his hearts soar. "I'll call here in a few hours, after the baby's delivered, and, if you've managed your tie without me, you can stop by the hospital-"

"Rose?" Mickey's voice echoed down the hall from the front door. She started to walk out to the car.

"Alright?" he DID look horrible and she felt the slightest pang of remorse for her retribution.

"Oh, that'll do me fine," he said, and his warm smile wiped away her anxiety as she headed out to the car and the new brother or sister who was impatient to come into the world.

He finished the now lukewarm cup of tea she had made him before climbing the stairs and falling into bed. Twenty minutes later he climbed out, already missing her and snuck into the hallway. He chuckled, remembering Jackie wasn't there to slap him, and walked into the pink room to his left. He cringed at the bright sheets, but they smelled like her and, climbing into the magenta sandwich, he snuggled her pillow and was immediately asleep.

When he woke three hours later, he felt completely rejuvenated and took a hurried shower before putting on his suit and running downstairs. He paused, remembering that everyone had left and he had no transportation, let alone any idea where they had taken Jackie. He was jus about to spring to the telephone to call her up.

As fate would have it, the phone rang as his hand was poised above it. "Hullo, Tyler residence. 4389-oh, now what was it," he pulled his free earlobe, "438- or was it 384- oh, never mind," he batted away an invisible fly, "do people even still answer the telephone with their number anymore?" He couldn't quite remember if that was still popular…

Her voice laughed on the other end and he smiled. "Jus' get down here, will you?"

"I would had I some mode of transportation and a map," he stuffed his hand not holding the receiver in his pocket and rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"We sent the car back, it should be out front," she explained, almost as if he were 9, not 900.

"Righto-" and he moved to hang up but her shout made him bring the receiver back to his ear.

"Wait! Doctor?" He mumbled a 'mmhmm?'. "Sorry 'bout Mum and all." He smiled and did hang up this time. He smiled because he had known what she was about to tell her mother in his defense. He smiled because she had kissed him without thinking; like it was a habit and she would be doing it for years to come. He smiled because, for once, the universe was giving him some downtime. He had never really believed in karma, but he walked with an air of deserving everything the world had to offer out to the car which would take him to the hospital.

Jackie had not given birth yet, but was in the last stages of labor. As he strode through the stark white corridors, he grimaced with the memories of hospitals. He hated them, he feared them; he usually left the scene before the ambulances arrived…but a few memories of hospitals flickered through his mind as he looked for Jackie's room.

He had been taken to a hospital when his seventh body had been shot and had suffered during the regeneration process due to the anesthesia. He shuddered every time he thought of how close he had truly come to an early death in the wee hours of that December morning. But he had met a remarkable woman that day, a woman he would always remember as one of his favorite companions; not THE favorite, but certainly up there.

His thoughts traveled to the next hospital in memory; one on one of the Time Lords' outer planets. A local hospital where a few Gallifreyans were being given attention after a Dalek raid had killed millions in the capital a few miles off. That same eighth body had cringed, hardened, in that place filled with fear and pain. It was the day he realized they could never win the war. The Time Lords would come out victorious, they HAD to, but both sides would loose, in the end.

It had been years after that that he had stepped into the foreboding but intriguing hospital on New Earth; the one without the little shop. His heart ached as he remembered her laugh; strained, a little forced, trying to catch glimpses of his new face out of the corner of her eye. He had wanted nothing more then to prove he was still the same Doctor, and she so wanted to believe him. Then everything had turned ghastly; if you could count that kiss ghastly…but it wasn't HER, was it. In the end, almost everyone had lived, but she was still wary of him, and he had had to think of ways to show how his new body felt, without frightening her back home.

Then he had waited nervously by her bedside in that hospital on Gallifrey, a fear deep in his chest telling him she would never wake, or, if she did, it would no longer be HER. It had unnerved him at the thought, and he suddenly mourned for all his companions; he now knew their fear when he had regenerated…and SHE hadn't even changed her entire body, merely a few minor physical characteristics.

He hated hospitals; places of death and disease and weakness. Yet he forced a smile on his face as he turned a corner and saw her pacing outside a room. He wouldn't let his emotions shake her; a birth was relatively harmless in this time, still bloody and long, but mostly risk-free. He appreciated her as he walked towards her, she hadn't seen him yet. She wore close fitting grey corduroy pants, a long, heavy blue and grey turtleneck sweater with black boots and a black belt over the sweater, accentuating her waist, while the length and color complemented her now taller form and slightly darker hair. Even nervous, make-up free, and unaware, she was breathtaking, and it was with a heart filled with love, pride, and a dim, but, ever-present, desire that he stepped up and she looked anxiously in his eyes.

She looked up from her pacing and saw his warming, comforting, reassuring smile. She lunged at him, wrapping her arms around his thin frame, pushing her face into the crook of his neck. He stumbled back slightly with the force, before gathering her up in his arms, shielding her from any danger the universe might throw their way.

"Rose? Rose what is it? How is she? How's the baby?" The concern in his voice melted away most of her tension and she laughed at her own human anxiety as she let go slightly, but still laid her head on his shoulder.

"No, she's fine, nothin's wrong REALLY, 'sjust," she sighed. "They told me about five minutes ago that the baby's wedged somehow or other, and they're going to have to do an emergency c-section." A single tear slid down her cheek and she brushed it away, hoping he hadn't seen.

He had. He gave her a little squeeze before leaning back to look into her beautiful face. "Rose, a c-section is nothing, everything will be fine, trust me," the pleading look in her eyes faded as he said these words; the words she needed to hear; the words she only believed because HE had said them.

"Yeah, I know, 'sjust me being silly is all," he rubbed a hand on her back, like a father might do, she supposed, "she's my Mum, you know?" She smiled feebly up at him and he gave her a slight pout. She laughed and he brightened.

"Come on, let's go see how ol' Jackie is doing," he put his arm around her and led her down the hall towards the doors marked ER. "She'll be fine, the baby will be fine, just wait and see."

"I HAVE to worry about her, it's part of the job description."

"I think you should be more worried about ME and how hard I'm going to get slapped when she remembers what happened in the kitchen this morning." She laughed and squeezed closer to his side as they walked.

"Yeah, you're in for a right treat, you are!"

"Hullo!" She peered through the window, bent at the waist, a broad grin splitting her face. "Yes! Hullo!" Her voice was high and exaggeratedly cheerful, as she wiggled her fingers and scrunched her nose at the little form wrapped tightly in a pink blanket on the other side of the glass. "God, she's beautiful."

"Yeah, she's perfect," Pete responded. He stood close at her side, merely watching with the wonder of new found fatherhood. This little person, this little bundle of arms and legs and heart and head, THIS was his daughter. He loved the young woman beside him, it was hard not to, but she was not HIS. HE hadn't been there at her making, HE hadn't watched Jackie grow and bloom with pregnancy, HE hadn't held her in her first moments of life in this world. No, it had been the same man; same face, same name, same everything, right to the DNA, yet it wasn't; different pasts, different memories, different futures. He would always love her as his daughter, but he wasn't her father, and he never could be. But he vowed he would be the father she never had for his own little girl; give her everything he could offer. He would be the father his other self never had the chance to be.

"Have you settled on a name yet?" He glanced over to her, but she didn't look away from her new baby sister, and he quickly looked back, the blissful smile never faltering.

"Nah, Jacks hasn't been able to settle, you know how she gets. Wants something classic, but not too popular, but not too old fashioned."

"Yeah, bet she toyed with another flower, did she?" He laughed, he sometimes forgot that she new his wife just as well, if not better, then himself.

"Yeah, well, I got her off that idea pretty quickly. Called her Mrs. Bucket-"

"It's pronounced 'Bouquet'!" They both laughed. The newborn babe they watched so attentively gave a yawn and, while she let out a wasn'tthatjustsoCUTE noise, his breath caught in his throat at the little miracle.

Moments passed in silence and understanding between them. "You know, you'll have to start calling her 'Mum' now." He gave her a puzzled look. "Mu-Jackie, you've got to start calling her 'Mum'. And she'll have to call you 'Dad'." She smiled at him and he brimmed with contentment.

"I like the sound of that; 'Dad'."

"'Daddy' maybe, or, at least at first, 'dada," they once again fell into a comfortable silence. For both having lived their lives without the other, Pete and his daughter from a parallel universe often understood each other fairly well. She looked to him to take care of her mother, and he looked to her so as not to mess up his marriage again. They loved each other, and that was enough.

He had looked in on the baby and left them to marvel at the infant. He didn't mind babies, babies just usually minded him. He remember, once, in his forth incarnation, he had offered a baby boy one of his jelly babies, thinking; real baby + jelly baby = happy baby with a sweet. It didn't go exactly to plan; namely the young boy's mother swooping down (quite literally) and squawking his ear off about baby health and germs and fat content in gelatin…it was a bad day.

So, remembering other such encounters with infants, he had decided to remain with Jackie as she recovered from the surgery in her room. This decision was mainly made upon learning she was unconscious and highly medicated. He sat in one of the colorless hospital chairs inside her room, staring out the window (which happened to have a lovely view over the Thames…being married to a multimillionaire paid off), as Jackie's prostrate form inhaled and exhaled slowly on the bed in front of him. She had had a chance to hold and feed her new little girl, before she had been taken away to be placed in the nursery with the other newborns. She had drifted to sleep about an hour previously as she had been wheeled from the ER to her own room.

He was thinking; not an uncommon thing for him to do, and what he was thinking of doing would probably cause some disturbance and possibly bodily harm, again, not unusual for him. However, as he sat debating with himself over the inevitable, it was rather decided for him.

"Pete?" Jackie's slurred voice asked the room at large.

"It's just me, Jackie," he rose and stood at her side. Upon hearing his voice, her face broke into a wide grin.

"'Ello!" She tried to focus on his face, but her eyes drifted over his shoulder. He remembered then that she was probably still on morphine. She, being the woman she was, had opted for the meds, a wise choice he decided, since she would have been screaming her head off at all the nurses and doctors without. "Aren't you a cheeky one!" She reached up a hand and actually pinched his right cheek.

"Jackie, listen," he swallowed, pulling his face away from her grasp and rubbing his now sore cheek. Better to rip the band aid off quickly; hurt less. "Rose and I-"

"You brought 'er 'ome," she said, her voice light and airy and happy and…disappointed.

"Yes well-" he didn't understand.

"She loves you," she nodded to herself, the grin still plastered on her face, thinking that was all the answer he needed.

"I know, that's why-" he stopped and listened. It was the rare occasion she would talk to him without raising her voice or threatening him in some way. He didn't understand why she would be upset with him. Then he remembered that she had seen their chaste kiss that morning and swallowed again.

"I was very angry you left 'er." He pouted, somewhat at a loss for what to say, somewhat affronted.

"I didn't leave, she was pulled through-"

"No no no, silly, before, before THAT. You left 'er and she went back to you. She loves you." He bit his tongue and pondered what she said. She may not be in possession of all her faculties, but he knew she was speaking her mind.

He thought back to those fleeting moments when he decided to send Rose home; leave her with her mother and Mickey and Pete in a new world where she could go on to live a long, wonderful life; a life without him. But she had come back; she had said she was never going to leave- not by choice, anyway- and it had sent pure terror through his body. It was in those moments he realized how deeply she loved him. And how deeply he loved her.

"Jackie, I love her too," he said softly.

"Course you do! My Rose, who wouldn't love 'er?" She managed to keep her glazed eyes on his face now.

"Jackie, we're married." His eyes went wide and he gasped at his own words. He hadn't meant to have it just slip out that way. His eyes hurriedly searched her face and he made sure to be out of arms reach. She just laughed.

"'Bout time!" She barked.

"I- WHAT?" He actually let his jaw drop.

"The way you two been making puppy dog eyes at each other. Lost little boy you are without my Rose." Her voice had lost some of the girly-ness and she was squarely looking at him, but the smile was still on her face, as though she found the whole thing entirely too amusing.

"But Jackie-" he sputtered. Of all the reactions he had expected, this certainly wasn't in the top ten most likely. His astonishment was stalled as a nurse bustled into the room, smiling.

"Mrs. Tyler, I'm going to give you a little more morphine. You're going to be sore for a few weeks, but you can leave in about 36 hours." She said this all quickly and concisely as she injected a small dose of clear liquid into Jackie's arm.

"Ta darling!" She called after the nurse, her high pitched tones returning and her eyes glassy once again. She laughed a little to herself about something he couldn't even guess at. She looked over at him and giggled again. "You're hair could do with a brush," she managed, thinking herself quite the comedian. "Better then the other you with no hair at all!" She laughed harder, but he didn't take any notice. He was thinking if, maybe, when this last dose of meds wore off, if she would remember; that gave him some glimmering hope. "At least she didn't marry you when you looked like HIM!" She had tears in her eyes. "That would have been a lark; you in your leather jacket at the wedding!" Well there went that theory. He only barely felt affronted at her bashing of his last incarnation. It hadn't been his best, obviously, but she had liked it all the same, so he hadn't minded the big ears. It WAS nice to have hair though…shame he wasn't ginger-

"Jackie! Do you realize what I'm telling you?" he snapped back from his musings, not noticing that she and Pete had just entered the room behind his back. "Rose and I got married, on my home planet, Gallifrey. She's going to spend the rest of her, now, very long life with me and I with her." He had raised his voice, somewhat defiant without any need, and somewhat disappointed that there WAS no need. "She's my wife, my universe- she's MY Rose." He finished, somewhat short of breath. He turned around at the sound of the sharp intake of breath behind him and saw her standing there, just in front of Pete, an unreadable expression on her face. He wasn't sure of what to say.

"Come 'ere you!" He turned back to look at Jackie, but saw she meant Pete, who still stood at her side in the door, looking at him gravely. He met Pete's gaze for a moment and couldn't read the look behind his eyes as he made his way to his wife's bedside.

"How ya feelin' Jacks?" He bent over and kissed her forehead, speaking softly.

"Rose got married!" Jackie beamed and he stood between her and her daughter, almost horrified at the way she was taking the news. Even worse, he heard his wife let out a snigger. He felt like he was part of some horrible cosmic joke; Jackie admonishing him for only FINALLY marrying her daughter, and her daughter, laughing at his hurt.

"I'm going back to the house," he announced softly to the room at large, and, head bowed and hands in pockets, he swept from the room, sidestepping her in the doorway.

She caught a glimpse of his eyes as he passed by, and the laughter melted from her lips. She turned and called after him, but he made no sign of hearing, so she ran after him, catching up half way down the ward hall.

"Hey," she grabbed his elbow and made him stop. "What's wrong?" His hurt puppy dog eyes turned on her and she let out a small laugh at his pout. The mask abruptly faded from his face and, though he no longer pouted, she could see the general hurt and confusion in his eyes. She lifted a hand to his cheek and became very serious. She waited for him to say something, as, usually, he would always and only talk in his good time, not before. Yet he said nothing, merely breaking eye contact and growing ever so slightly flushed.

"It's nothing-" but she had stopped him speaking with her mouth. She kissed him because she had felt what he was feeling, their mental link working its magic on some level. She realized what was bothering him; he had never, in 900 years, felt this way about anyone or thing, and part of him still felt guilty about it all, and some of him felt selfish, but mostly, he was proud. This, combined, meant he had, without realizing, WANTED Jackie to get mad; he wanted the argument because he was arguing with himself, still. When she hadn't fought back, he had let his feelings out, and he was both ecstatic and embarrassed. Time Lords weren't supposed to love, and he felt guilty at not feeling guilty about his love for her.

She knew all this in a matter of a heartbeat, and his emotions filled her and made her hearts both swell with love and break with it. When she finally pulled away, she rested her forehead against his, and they were both slightly out of breath.

"What was that for?" he asked, dazed.

"It was- I felt, I understood…what you said, to Mum I mean, I can't describe how those words made me feel," and she remembered how he had said she was his universe, and the elation and love filled her once again and he gasped. The emotions came off of her in waves and each crest hit him hard. He closed his eyes, just soaking in her love for him before looking into her gaze and letting a single tear slide down his cheek and she knew it was not from sadness.

"I thought you had laughed when I said that," he gave her a hint of his cheeky grin, knowing full well she had just proven she hadn't.

"Well, you WERE yelling at a woman in a hospital gown about possessives…" she gave him a cheekier grin in return. He laughed and kissed her lightly on the lips and an old man in a robe, walking with a cane, cleared his throat loudly in their direction as he walked into a nearby room. "Listen, go back to the house, I'll be back soon, I want to stay with Mum and the baby a little while, yeah?" He nodded, and straightened his shoulders, gaining a few more inches on her.

"I'll see you later," and he turned and walked out of the hospital. She let out a long sigh and stood stalk still, eyes closed, in the middle of the hall. She could still feel the residual energy of their brief exchange of emotions and she wanted to enjoy every last second of it. She marveled at how powerful their wordless conversation had been, wondering if all Time Lords communicated this way normally, as he had hinted, and mourned for him, knowing he had gone so long without it.

The next day passed by quietly and quickly; the entire household awaiting the homecoming of Jackie and the baby. Rose had knocked softly on his door, gaining entrance, and they spent the night curled up on the bed, facing each other, talking quietly about everything and nothing.

"When did you first love me?" she had asked, abashedly. He had smiled at her and pretended to mull it over in his mind.

"Oh, I think from the very beginning," he smiled and she rolled her eyes.

"You never."

"I did! You thought the shop window dummies were students dressed up for some reason I could never guess at, simply because you thought the only group of people likely to organize together for such a "prank" would be students. It was simple and brilliant and, compared to the other possibilities open to you, followed Occam's razor. Not many people would come up with such a logical, if improbable, explanation in such a short time." She just laughed incredulously. "I think I've loved you ever since then."

"Alright, well. When did you first realize I loved you?" She knew it would be her turn soon, but she wanted to know the answer. This time, he looked her in the eye and really DID take the time to think about it.

"Do you remember, when we were trapped in the cabinet room at number 10, and your mother was on the phone trying to get me to promise I could keep you safe?" She nodded slightly. "You didn't care that I couldn't make that promise; you didn't care what would happen. You trusted me, more so then ever before. You looked me in the eye and in that moment, I knew you loved me." She sighed. "Why? When did you realize you loved me?" He smiled, teasing.

"I've loved you ever since you couldn't see the Eye of London acting as a giant transmitter for the Nestene Consciousness." He screwed up his face, remembering and she chuckled. "You kept turning around, asking what daft thing I was looking at." He held his breath then made a pained face.

"Oh, yes, I remember now."

"I think your ears may have flapped in the wind," she laughed harder, bringing her knees up to her chest. He laughed too, tugging on his earlobe.

"They were pretty bad, weren't they?" She tried to say no, but couldn't keep a straight face. "How did you ever fall in love with such a daft old face?" He moved closer to her. They had never really talked like this before. Not about his regeneration, not about their feelings, especially for each other. There had been so many things he had regretted in their relationship and he tried not to poke at tender wounds. "At least this one's got hair," he joked.

"And a gab to match!" She laughed even harder, tears coming to her eyes.

"Hey! You think I'm "foxy"," he looked at her soberly, making her only laugh harder. "At least, that's what Cassandra said."

She slapped her forehead, the laughter fading, "you remember that?" He nodded and she groaned in pain.

"So when did you first realize I loved you?" The smile disappeared from her face and she stared up at the ceiling. He kicked himself; talk about a sore subject. He opened his mouth, trying to change the subject, but she replied softly and calmly.

"I knew you loved me from ever since that twisted museum in Utah. I mean, I thought it was just the love you have for all your companions," she turned to look him in the eye. "You couldn't kill me, not twice anyway," she let out a choked laugh and he gave her a weak smile, "that Dalek was everything in the universe you hate, and you choose my life over its death. That was love." She paused, looking down at her hands, fiddling with the hem of her shirt. He wasn't sure if she was going to say anything else when she sighed and became tenser. "I had hoped, sure, you loved me; all the hand holding and laughs. Even after Madame de Pompadour and Mickey and the black hole; after all that, I doubted, but still hoped it was more. Then, on the beach-" her voice cracked and she took a deep breath. He wanted to reach out to her, to hold her, to reassure her, but she looked him in the eye and he stayed put. "I thought you might have said it on the beach just because I said it." She looked away again, "or maybe you hadn't understood what I meant or something; you didn't know how I felt-"

"I knew, Rose. I always knew." She met his gaze for a moment.

"But no, I didn't know you loved me, that you were IN LOVE with me, until you got down on one knee and proposed," she laughed and a real, if small, smile spread across her face. She looked into his eyes and he was too choked to say anything. "I prayed, I dreamed, I hoped, I fantasized, I wished; I did all those things, but I didn't KNOW."

Her brown eyes looked into his, and he was not ashamed of the tears sliding down his cheeks. They moved together at the same moment and she buried her face in his chest as he wrapped his arms around her; both taking in the others scent and comforting warmth.

"I'm sorry. Rose, I'm so sorry," she said nothing, merely squeezed his body closer to her own. "I should have told you. I thought you knew. It's a horrible, pathetic excuse, but it's what I told myself every time I wanted to say it. I just couldn't, not before. But now," he pulled away from her, looking into her eyes, a warm smile on his face as he whispered in the darkness, "now, I can tell you 'I love you' you every day for eternity. I can say to you, 'I love you', in every language in the universe. I can whisper it in your ear while you're sleeping. I can flood your dreams with it as you sleep. I can hold you so you can hear it in my heart beats. I can kiss you so you taste it in my lips. The words I will never, ever, get tired of saying; I love you."

His face was mere inches from hers, and he could see the flush in her cheeks his words brought on. She blinked and smiled and cupped his face with her hand. "I hope you never, ever, get tired of hearing them either, because, Doctor, I love you too." He bent down and their lips met and he felt her melt in his arms. The kiss was so light and tender and, with it, they asked nothing of each other but acceptance, and received everything else their hearts held. When they broke apart they just held each other, he stroked her hair as she rubbed his tie between her fingers.

"How did it taste?" he whispered, the hot air brushing her lips. She bit her lip and met his gaze.

"How long are you staying with me?" She asked, only the slightest crinkle at her eyes betraying her smile.

"Forever," he responded, smiling himself.

"That's how it tasted."

"Doctor, Mum's back," she stood in the doorway to 'their' room (though they would never tell her mother that), after running upstairs to fetch him from his relaxing book.

He looked up at her over his glasses and pulled a pouting face, closing his book. "Oh, do I have to?" Even as he said the words, she bounced over to him, sitting in the chair, and sat sideways on his lap.

"Yes, you do," she pulled his glasses of and he gave her another pleading pout. She bent down close and whispered in his ear, "the sooner you come and see the baby, the sooner we can get back in the TARDIS-"

She hadn't even finished the sentence before he had stood, pulling her up with him and leading her out the door by the hand. They went downstairs and turned down the hall, heading to the living room. The pushed the doors open and found Jackie and Pete sitting on the sofa, a small lilac bundle in their intertwined arms, their head bent. Mickey kneeled by them, a small yellow doll in hand.

"Oh, Doctor, there you are!" Jackie's high pitched voice was only as happy as ever, and it unnerved him slightly. He took a few tentative steps into the room as she swept past him, joining the semi-picturesque family before him. She bent down and carefully took the infant from Pete.

His hearts gave a painful leap at the sight of her cooing at the new baby. He swallowed the surprising lump in his throat and pushed the thoughts away. She looked up at him as she walked towards him and said softly, "Let me introduce you to my new baby sister, Susan Nadine Tyler," He looked into her eyes and she nodded slightly as he hesitantly took the small life into his arms.

He fumbled only for a moment before instinct and memory kicked in and he cradled her in his arms. He rocked her softly, marveling at her tiny face which, even just days old, resembled that of her sister; a wisp of blonde hair patching her round head. She stared up at him, her eyes already brown like her parents' and as he smiled down at her he whispered a small, "hullo there," and she let out a little gurgling laugh. His smile widened and he could feel the happiness radiating from his wife as she stood by his side, looking over his shoulder.

"She likes you," she said, faking surprise, as she had always thought he would make a good father, the few times the thought had come to her. He had a gentle sternness with people he loved or he thought needed protection and he seemed to understand children better then adults, the few times they had come upon them in their travels. It had surprised her, at the hospital, when she had felt his awkwardness in the neonatal care unit. She thought maybe she had been wrong about him with children, but looking at him now, she knew her first assumptions were correct.

He carefully traced a long pale finger down Susan's nose, lightly tapping it, making her let out another wet laugh. "Mm, she's lovely," he mused, more to himself then the audience around him. He didn't notice Pete rise and come towards him, but handed Susan over ungrudgingly when Pete held his hands out. Pete smiled and excused himself, saying she needed changing and ducked out of the room.

Mickey helped Jackie stand, who, though having been in the hospital a few days, and despite having given birth during her stay, looked remarkably well-rested and happy. She looked at him appraisingly for a moment, to his slight discomfort, before motioning over her shoulder. "Rose, would you be a dear and help Mickey with the crib up in the nursery? Thank you darlin'."

She shifted eyes between her mother and her husband a moment, then gave a strained smile and replied, "Sure Mum. Come on Mick." Mickey followed her out the room. He was just about to follow, not wanting to remain in Jackie's presence for any prolonged amount of time, when she called after him.

"I need to talk to you Doctor." He cringed, his back to her, before turning around with a look of, what he hoped, was surprised innocence.

"Yes, well, I was just about to-"

"No, don't go swanning off to that bloody ship of yours," she crossed the room towards him, "I have questions, and you're going to give me answers." The glare she gave him made him abandon all hopes and his shoulders fell unnoticeably. She walked past him towards the door, but he didn't follow.

"Jackie, shouldn't you sit down, rest?" He motioned towards the sofa she had just vacated.

"I've been stuck in a ruddy hospital for the past two days, thank you very much, and I would like a bit of fresh air, if you don't mind," he held his breath, waiting for the raised voice to become a full fledged shout, but it didn't come. She took a breath, catching her own words, "I'll make us a cuppa and we can go out to the gardens," she walked out the door towards the kitchen and he caught a glimpse of the pain in her eyes. She had been filled with the glow of motherhood just few minutes previous, but he had just seen a hint of her true age mixed with the lines emotions had wrought on her face as she opened the door. He bowed his head, pushing his hands in his pockets, knowing some of those lines were his fault, and having a pretty fair assumption he was about to cause a few more.

Facing her across the wooden table he felt more self conscious and fidgety then when he had ever stood before the High Council under the scrutiny. The look in their eyes could never compare with the one in hers and he kept his hands folded in his lap, not nearly comfortable enough to reach up and take a sip from the steaming mug before him.

Jackie, on the other hand, had hers firmly clasped around her tea, her shoulders slumped as she looked at him. He had a hard time meeting her gaze, and all witty banter abandoned him. He sat there, lame and mute, his fingers pressing into each other as he awaited the verbal and, possibly, physical attack to come.

It never did and, as she let out one long, deep sigh, he realized it never would. He met her eyes and he fully saw the pain and loss there; she was not trying to hide it from his as she did with the rest of her family.

He was about to try and talk about the weather, the furniture or anything, rather then have the conversation he feared they were about to, but she beat him to the starting line.

"Doctor, I once asked you a question. I couldn't stop her, no one could, not even you, so I needed to know, I needed to have that answer to comfort me when I was alone back in that other world, when she was gone for months at a time. You never could tell me you would keep her safe, and I don't think, even if you said so now, that I would ever believe you-" he opened his mouth but she held up a hand, her voice remaining uncharacteristically calm. "So I don't want to hear it. Don't tell you you'll protect her, don't tell me you'll keep her at your side, fend off aliens, defeat monsters, destroy ships. I know you can't keep her safe, even if you try, because when she was here, she was safe, but she wasn't ROSE. She wasn't my daughter." She paused and he had no words. "So I have a different question, and this one I think you already answered, but I need to here the words once more. I don't know a lot about you, but I know, if you love her, if you REALLY love her, then you will do everything in you power, and I dare say that's quite a lot, to keep her out of harms way. So, Doctor, can I have your word, that you love my daughter? Because if I have your word on that, I don't think I can ask for anything else."

A tear fell down her cheek and her voice quivered ever so slightly, but she held his eyes throughout her speech and finished without breaking down. He hesitated the slightest moment before, in one fluid motion, he rose, crossed over to her, pulled her from her chair and took her in his arms, whispering into her hair, "Jackie, I love her more then I ever thought possible."

She let out a soft cry, the tears now flowing down her cheeks as she held onto him as though he was a buoy and she lost at sea. He held her, rocking slightly, letting her cry out her fears and anxieties, reassuring her and comforting her. Moments ticked by and she quieted as he said softly, "Jackie, I don't know if you remember, in the hospital, I told you Rose and I are married. On my home planet-" he paused, debating how much he should tell her, for now at least, "That's how much I love Rose, she's not just my companion, she's my wife." She sniffled and he added, "and since my people are alive, we can pop between dimensions like stepping into a new room; we'll be back to visit you loads of times." She pulled back, hurriedly wiping her eyes. It had been the rawest emotion she had ever shown him and it touched him. He knew she loved her daughter more then anything else, and so did he. In that aspect he and Jackie couldn't agree more.

She sniffled again and took in a deep, refreshing breath. "Well, you better be, because I may have just given birth, but I expect to have some grand children!" Shivers ran down his spine and his jaw went slightly slack, but she didn't notice as she bustled around the kitchen, dumping their now cold tea down the sink, as snappy and controlling as ever.

The rest of the week passed in a flurry of baby clothes, late night dinners, and slightly bashful, but no longer secret, sessions of handholding and random kisses. He was anxious to be in one place so long, but her joy, and his new found freedom around her and her family made it more bearable. They still hadn't taken any more steps in their relationship; she still felt uncomfortable with too much affection in front of her family, despite the fact they all knew about the Union. Susan slept most of the day, Jackie occasionally excusing herself to feed or change her, Rose, Pete, and, occasionally, Mickey, helping and holding and admiring.

It was a time he spent in relative quiet, merely watching the domestic life he didn't think he could ever have, let alone be able to stand. Yet, as he caught glimpses of her holding her baby sister, unintentional thoughts of children running through the TARDISs' corridors flickered through his mind. He would end up shaking these from his mind; they hadn't even made love yet and he was thinking about children. He wasn't even sure they could HAVE children, but a part of him hoped and argued that they were both half human…

It was a Sunday afternoon, the clouds hanging low and unreachable in the sky over London that the small family which was her universe, united, trekked out onto the lawn of the Tyler Estate. The blue box which meant so much to each of them in turn stood eagerly awaiting its own family to enter. As seemingly so long ago, on a distant beach in Norway, which would have been a true Hell on Earth for some, had destiny not intervened, the people most important to her lined up, ready to say goodbye.

The wind whipped at them, much as it had that day, but this time it rippled the supple grass the stood on, rather then causing waves to crash onto hard sand. This time everyone wore smiles because they knew for certain that this was not goodbye for forever, just until next time.

She stepped up to each of them in turn. Mickey gave her a great bear hug and she laughed before stepping up to her father, Susan in his arms. She tickled her sister's face, eliciting a rare giggle from the newborn. She stood on tiptoe and kissed her father and carefully hugged him, the bundle squeezed lovingly between them. As she moved to her mother, she noted that he had stepped up to both Mickey and her father, shaking their hands.

"Mum," she wrapped her arms around her mother, giving her all the reassurance and taking all the strength they each possessed. As she stepped back, Jackie moved some hair from her face, cupping her cheek.

"Be happy, Rose," Jackie smiled at her, knowing she finally would be and that she had always would be. She tilted her face down and kissed her daughter's forehead and gave her hand a squeeze before moving away.

Jackie turned to him as she moved back a few steps in the direction of the TARDIS. Jackie rose on her toes, hugging him, a hand gently placed on the back of his neck, his cheek pressed to hers. She bit back a mixture of emotions at the sight of her mother and lover sharing such intimacy. She didn't know what exactly had transpired between them, but not once had Jackie admonished him or told them to be careful. Maybe she had finally realized what they had known all along; he would do whatever it took to keep her safe, even if it wasn't always what they wanted. No one on Earth, or anywhere else in the galaxy or in any other universe, could promise anything more.

As Jackie moved away from him, she gave him a curt nod and a strained smile, trying not to cry. She repeated to herself her mantra that she would see the woman her daughter had become again; that this was best for her, for all of them, and that she had another daughter to look after now, she had finally let her first out of the nest and found she could fly.

Without any words, the couple moved to the open doors of the TARDIS, looking back over shoulders and clasped hands at the people they left behind but would see many times in the future. The doors closed behind them and they let out a sigh, ready to begin that adventure known as life.

The family outside waited until the sound of the universe filled the air, too powerful to be drowned by the wind, and the blue box faded into nothingness before any of them stirred. Pete headed inside first, gently rocking the babe in his arms. Mickey stepped next to Jackie and squeezed her hand, neither of their gazes leaving the place the incredible ship had just vacated.

"Will they be alrigh' Mickey?"

"Yeah, I do," he nodded and turned to face her. She tore her eyes away and looked at him and they smiled at each other. "I mean, it's the Doctor and Rose, of course they will." Together, they headed back into the house, their lives on that planet ahead of them.

He leapt excitedly towards the central column, a broad grin plastered on his face. She walked up the ramp slowly, smiling calmly at him. Part of her was saddened by their leaving; she had grown accustomed to being surrounded by ALL the people she loved, but the rest of her was so happy to be going, she could feel her pulse race at the very thought of it.

"SO! Where are we off to?" She crossed her arms and leant one hip against the console as he performed the ballet he called piloting the TARDIS. But as soon as the sentence was out, he had activated the Time Rotor and was standing very close to her. She barely had time to unfold her arms and shift her weight to both feet before his lips were pressed to hers, his hands cupping her face, holding her to him as though he was parched and she was cool, sweet water.

Without pause she opened her mouth to him and he delved inside, tasting, savoring, and devouring every millimeter. She couldn't quite remember how to breath, and then thought breathing was simply overrated as she fought back, gaining entrance into his warm mouth. She didn't remember fingering his jacket over his shoulders, but she heard the soft slush of fabric as it pooled behind him. His hands moved their way from her face to her shoulders and down, down to her hips, pushing her slightly against the console.

She let out a soft gasp as some lever or other poked into the small of her back, but as he took the opportunity to break away from her lips, she didn't care. He moved along her jaw, sucking gently on her skin, rubbing his teeth, sliding his tongue…and as he moved to the softer, more delicate skin of her neck, just below her left ear, she thanked whatever higher power might be listening that he had such an oral fixation.

She was breathing heavily, her fingers grasping at his hair, her head tilted back and her body firmly pressed against his when he breathed into her ear, "Rose?" She let out a muffled groan in response and could feel him smile against her skin. "Rose," it was a plea, a taunting whisper and she pulled his head back from her neck to look him dead in the eye.

"Wha'?" In response he smiled wickedly and her face first drained of color at the sight, before turning a deep rosy blush. He grabbed her by the hand, lingering inches from her face, before suddenly turning and pulling her towards the rest of the TARDIS.

Corridor after corridor, twists and bends, corners and even a staircase she never remembered unfolded before them, yet the distance didn't matter. She somehow knew, in the ever-changing halls of the great ship, where they were headed. And it made her head spin. He kept stealing glances back over his shoulder towards her, his eyes dark and his face deadest. He paused only once, after climbing the stairs, to bring her body to his own, pushed against the walls, kissing her passionately, bringing the frantic butterflies in her stomach to a dizzying pace. She was about to give in and abandon all hopes of finding their destination and stay just where they were when, just as quickly as he had stopped, he began leading her down the hall again.

Then they were there. He opened the door and she slipped past him, reversing their former positions and pushing his body against the closed door. She felt a sudden rush as she realized what she was doing, WHO she was doing it with. She broke their lips apart, breathing heavily, and admired her handy work. He wore a face similar to the one he had worn after that trampoline of a human had abused her body, kissing him due to a simple whim. He was dazed. But this face, it was so much more. His eyes were dark, hooded, and held a gleam of passion she had never seen fully before. His hair was just as mussed and his tie was askew from her mindless fingerings. His lips still parted in a slight 'oh' but they were dark and moist from her kisses. She had barely taken two deep gulps of air before pouncing on him again, unable to resist.

Slowly, he pushed off from the door, leading her towards the other side of the room. He was so drawn up in her wild embrace, the smell of her hair, the taste of her lips, the heat coming, not just from her hands, but the whole of her body, that he accidentally walked her straight into one of his leather armchairs, falling on top of her as she sat, unceremoniously. He regained his footing, taking the opportunity to take in a lungful of air as well. He may have superior Time Lord physiology, but at the rate his hearts were pumping, he felt as though he was drowning in her. He looked her over, truly taking in his fill of her body, no longer stealing glances or making excuses. It made her blush and he craved to find just how far down her neck and chest the beautiful color went.

She stood up, and he went to take her lips again, but she laid a gentle hand on his chest. She felt the double beat racing beneath her fingers and splayed both her hands over his chest. He waited, soaking up every touch, every movement, every agonizing moment. She slowly met his gaze and he bent lower to capture her lips in his. They no longer took the harried pace they had had earlier, but the kiss was no less full of desire.

She pulled away again, meeting his eyes. She reached up and took painstaking care hooking her finger under his tie and oh-so-slowly pulling it free. "You have no idea how long I've waited to do that," she smiled, poking her tongue between her teeth. Lightening fast, he kissed her, nipping gently at her devilish tongue.

"And you have no idea how long I've waited to do that." She let out a short laugh, and he bent down, nuzzling her neck as she made short work of his shirt buttons. He helped her pull it from his arms and throw it onto the chair she had fallen into, taking a few steps in the direction of distant bed. She then set her warm little hands to work, making their way up from the hem of his t-shirt, up his torso, pulling the fabric up and over his head. Again, she rested her hands over his hearts and he took her hands in his, bringing her fingers up to his mouth to kiss the tips of each one.

She met his gaze with dilated eyes and he thought the look suited her. "Your turn," she said so breathlessly, he thought he might have imagined it. When he hesitated, she took his hands slowly to the hem of her own shirt, placing his hands just under the fabric on her back. She let go as his hands weighed down and lifted her arms, as he had done. He looked her in the eye as he gently pulled the shirt over her head. That too he tossed aside and paid no attention to its destination as he kissed her again, leading her closer still to the bed.

Hands and lips roamed freely, exploring, learning, discovering and memorizing every morsel of exposed flesh. He loved the feel of her warmer hands on his neck, steadying his head in whatever attentions he was lavishing on her and he reciprocated the favor by lightly skimming his fingers across her breasts before messaging her lower ribcage, causing her to groan. Softly he lowered her onto his bed and, after a moment, stood up, gazing down at her flushed frame.

He studied her pearl-like skin on his bronze and chocolate bed coverings, the glow of fake yellow hair surrounding her face. How long he had wanted to see her like this, here, on his bed, a privilege he had always withheld from previous lovers until her. It had never even crossed his mind before; that he mightn't want to make love to her here, in his own inner sanctum. It seemed natural, almost as natural as when he had first awoken in this same bed with her wrapped snuggly and safely in his arms. She was breathing heavily and he could see the lust in her eyes. The basic, human part of him was anxious to touch her, feel her pressed against him in the most beautiful and ancient of dances, and the Time Lord part of him was having a hard time preventing him from rushing. He loved this woman more then he had ever thought possible, and this was the first of many opportunities he would have of proving it to her.

He stepped closer to her and she sat up, moving to perch on the end of the bed. She looked him in the eyes and he reached down, cupping her face as she began to undo his pants with agonizing slowness, maintaining eye contact. When they pooled around his feet, he broke eye contact, kicking them aside along with his trainers and socks. She lay back, her feet dangling off the end of the bed, and he crawled on top of her. He didn't miss the poke of her tongue out the side of her mouth as he kissed his way down her torso, ending at her navel, before his dexterous fingers began to undo her jeans. In a swift motion, they were thrown away, to bother him no longer.

He looked down at her beneath him, soft and luscious, and he paused, his active mind thinking how ironic it was that his whole universe lay in the body of this young woman, his life, his salvation, his future were of her doing and here she was, prone and waiting for him to complete himself in her. It made him love her even more, a thing he hadn't thought possible.

He attacked her mouth, pressing her deeper into his soft mattress, and when he pulled back, hearing her gasp for breath, he worried he might have hurt her, but he saw the hunger in her eyes as she sat up, flipping over to be on top of him. She sat on his hips and he could feel the fabric of her panties on his skin, and the warmth of her body beneath them. He placed his hands on her hips and she bent down to kiss him once more before whispering in his ear, "Shall we dance?"

"All across the stars?"

"From now until forever."


They made love in only they way two soul mates can, passionately, selflessly and without care of the passage of time. When they came, it was the others' name upon their lips. When they finally fell, spent, onto the pillows, it was in eacth others' arms. When they woke the next morning, they were still entwined in a lover's knot, and it should come as no surprise that it was the same for every morning thereafter, for forever.



"Go get ready."

She tried to focus on his words, but he moved from the left side of her neck, horribly slowly, to her right and she closed her eyes with the pleasure of it. "Huh?" was all she could manage.

"Go get ready," he moved his hands from her hips up to her waist, pulling her away from the console, but keeping her firmly against his own body.

"Where-" she cleared her throat and opened her eyes, the room spinning around her, "where are we goin'?" She met his eyes and saw the huge, wicked grin plastered on his face. He was staring at her lips, which, she supposed, were probably pink and swollen from his attentions. He moved quickly and captured them with his own, smiling at her sharp intake of breath and gently maneuvering her to face the ramp leading to the rest of the ship.

"Honeymoon," he said, with all the enthusiasm of a child heading for Disney Land. She had just enough time to regain her balance and perk her head in question before he turned away from her to flip some switches. She stood there a moment and he grinned up at her, pointed towards the hall, and went back to being busy, so she took a few confused steps in the right direction, before shaking off the feeling of not having him kissing her and walking to her room.

Packing for a honeymoon with the man of her dreams would normally have seemed to be a fun and enjoyable process, but as that man happened to be a 900 year old alien in possession of a ship that hurtled through Time and Space with more than the odd hiccough, she stood before her dresser, horrified by this daunting task. Her closet doors were thrown wide, dresses and t-shirts and jeans splayed haphazardly on her bed; her dresser in no more fit a state with the drawers spilling their contents onto the floor and surrounding furniture.

She let out a deep sigh, and ran her hands through her hair. Nothing seemed good enough, but, then again, she had no idea where or when they were going, so it wasn't exactly easy to through some things in a bag. She walked to her bed, riffling through a pile of knickers she had pulled from her dresser, and suddenly blushed looking at them, realizing just what it was they were about to do. After the weeks at home, with the constant flirting, taunting, suggestions; after years of wanting more from him, from their relationship, she was standing in her bedroom, trying to find just the right lingerie to wear on the night they made love for the first time.

A shiver ran down her spine, of both excitement and apprehension, and she let out another sigh. She had been waiting so long…she had almost refused to walk away when he had told her to pack, wanting to finish what he had started and so rudely and prematurely ended. It had taken all her willpower to turn from him and do as he said, but she had learned, after two years in his company, that what he told her to do was usually in her best interest to get done. So she had turned, butterflies picking up speed in her stomache, to go to her room and pack.

She was just about to run back and ask him what exactly she might need, when a loud buzz and ding, much like the sound of a finished load of laundry in the dryer, came from outside her bedroom door. She opened the door, not sure what to expect, when she noticed a medium sized suitcase sitting in the hall in front of her door.

She walked over to it and wheeled it inside her room, clearing a space on her bed before picking it up with surprising ease and plopping it down on the mattress. She unzipped it and, in very little time, realized what it contained, whispering a *thank you!* to the TARDIS who hummed merrily in response. She ran to her bathroom, grabbing a few bottles of shampoo and lotion and dumped them inside the suitcase. She darted around the room, collecting bits and bobs she thought she might want, not knowing how long they would be gone, and threw them into the bag as well. Finished, she closed it without trouble and let out a slight chuckle thinking *bigger on the inside…* before taking it off her bed and heading out the door to her waiting husband.

"All packed?" He said, grinning at her from across the console. He had, as usual, nothing with him save his trench coat over his left arm. As she crossed the room, he took her bag from her, wheeling it with his left hand as she latched onto his right arm, resting her head against his shoulder as they walked out the door.

They were in the midst of a large, warm room which was filled, but not crowded, with people. The walls were timber and stone, the floors the same and she was reminded of one of those posh ski resorts in the mountains; large hearths ablaze, patrons dressed in fur-lined coats and snowshoes. She looked up at the rustic chandelier and smiled happily. He led her among the people towards the front desk where he drew the attention of the concierge.

He was a heavy man, and she had to stifle a giggle at the image of a walrus. He had innumerable chins, a wispy smattering of a moustache and was completely bald. "Can I help you sir?"

"Yes, I'm the Doctor, I have a reservation for a cabin." He didn't make eye contact with her, but she simply took the opportunity to admire the décor and watch the differing species parade around.

"Ah yes, number 10, the best we have." The concierge handed over a large, antique key, which he took and put in his pocket. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"Nope," he smiled and her heart jumped up into her throat with the way he popped the 'p'.

"Very well sir, I hope you enjoy your stay."

Rather than respond, he finally looked down into her beaming face. She said, without breaking eye contact, "Oh, I think we will."

He set down her bag as he attempted to find the key in one of his bottomless pockets.

"Come on! It's freezing out 'ere!" She clutched at his trench coat, which he had thrown over her shoulders before they left the main lodge in search of their cabin. Luckily, they didn't have to look very hard, as a large sleigh pulled up in front of the doors and drove them to number 10, after he had given them their cabin number. Although his breath rose in great white puffs just as hers did, he didn't seem nearly as bothered by the near frozen air as she did.

He finally managed to pull out the key with a triumphant, "HA!" and fit it into the lock, letting her in first before picking up her bag and following her inside. She only took a few steps in before coming to a halt, admiring what she saw. She stood in the great room, the kitchen to her left, fitted with all the most modern appliances in the universe, but tastefully disguised to fit the style of the rustic cabin. The sitting room was before her, a few steps down, giving it a warm and secluded feeling, aided by the comfortable looking sofa and chairs, furry rug and blazing fire in the mantel. "Well, what do you say?"

She hadn't noticed he had set her bag down by a door to her right, which she assumed led to the bedroom. He surveyed the room, a look of both appreciation and skepticism on his face. When he turned to her, she saw in his eyes that this question was much more important then he had made it sound; he was trying to please her, trying to give her a surprise she would be blown away by. She was.

"Oh, it's perfect!" She caught a glimpse of his smile before she threw herself into his arms. She broke away just enough to capture his lips in hers, pulling him down towards her. She pulled away, grinning with her tongue between her teeth as he remained motionless for a fraction of a second longer than he needed to, blown away in return by her kiss.