A/N: AU and unbeta'd, so let's see how this goes.
He's stroking bits of his TARDIS again, and it's driving her mad.
He rarely did this in his previous regeneration. He is so much more tactile now – with her – with everything. His hands, once strong but hesitant, are now firm and limber and perfectly sized to fit into hers. It's as if this regeneration was made to drive her perfectly crazy. Maybe it's her fault. Maybe she did this to him when she looked into the heart of the TARDIS. Maybe it happened when he kissed her – maybe she left a permanent imprint on him. Maybe this regeneration was made just for her.
It certainly is not helping her in her current state. He's muttering and stroking the TARDIS, touching it tenderly and whispering to it. He closes his eyes as if he can hear and feel the TARDIS, and she knows that he can. She's heard him talk about a mental connection to the TARDIS. She's seen proof of how alive the TARDIS is.
Sometimes she thinks the TARDIS creeps into her dreams, connecting them. She thinks that she – the TARDIS – knows that their timelines are permanently interwoven, and takes some of the blame for it. She wonders if the TARDIS has conscious thoughts, or if her humming is all omniscient sub- or semi-conscious.
She'll ask the Doctor. If he ever stops stroking the TARDIS and driving her mad. Which is he doing right now.
She wonders if he knows the effect this has on her. How she watches his nimble fingers tuning the buttons on the TARDIS console, his hands sliding along her smooth surface. This image should be a laugh, and sometimes is. She watches his lips move silently, knows that she would hear impossibly quiet Gallifreyan if she were closer. It makes her shiver. It drives her mad. His hands could do that to her. His mouth could be whispering softly to her, speaking of the stars and the suns that were no longer, claiming her in a language she almost understood. He could be doing all of that.
Sometimes the image of the Doctor touching the TARDIS so intimately does make her laugh. He's a caricature of himself sometimes, but she loves him all the more for it. Sometimes his quirks amuse her.
Other times, they arouse her.
She hears Gallifreyan at night, in her sleep. It comes from the inside, but not from her; where would she have heard it? She understands every word in her dreams and can speak back. She speaks with the Doctor, speaks with people who no longer exist, even people who never existed. She sees Gallifrey, feels the warmth of its suns, stands under the beautiful red sky. She takes the Doctor's hand, kisses him, feels him stroking bits of her the way he strokes the TARDIS. She feels their bodies interweave the way their timelines do, complex and constant and constantly moving, hands and fingers and bodies and sighs and whispers.
When she wakes up, she doesn't remember what they are whispering. She remembers the intimacy and the feeling of his rough skin on hers. She remembers the feeling of him in her, moving against her. She remembers his words but not their meaning. She knows that he whispers things that he has never said to her outside of the dream world, things she wishes he would say. Things she wishes she could say.
She knows that she shares these dreams with the Doctor. She watches him touching the TARDIS and can almost feel his hands on her skin again.
He looks away from the console, sensing her staring at him. He looks her hard in the eyes and she squirms under his gaze. Can he read her thoughts? Can he tell she's remembering the tender version of him she is only allowed to see in her dreams, in his dreams? Can he hear her heart beating, see or smell how aroused she is?
She stays transfixed, lost in his eyes. She can almost read his thoughts. She sees Gallifrey's burning suns reflected in his eyes, sees their bodies burning together under them, twisted and entangled and interwoven and intertwined. She sees him losing his world and gaining nothing but her. She sees his hesitation toward her, his inability to give to her what she receives in his dreams.
She steps toward him, crosses the room between them, fills in the empty space with her presence. His hand is still resting on the TARDIS console, and then it's in her own hand, and she fixes their fingers together the way she wants to fix this moment in time. She stands on tiptoe to rest her forehead against his and a barrier breaks. It's as if she's dreaming now, dreaming enough for the thoughts and memories to come pouring in and she knows just what to do, just what to say. She guides his hands to her waist and then slides her own hands all the way up his arms and cups his face gently, her fingers resting on his temples. Feelings pour into her – his feelings. She lets him see hers. His hesitance mixes with her sureness. He matches her with his fears and she shares her own, so very different from his and still so very real. She gives him her love, coaxing him to give her his. Slowly, he complies. Bit by bit he unravels. He is still hesitant as he lowers his head and meets her lips with his for the first time in his new body.
The kiss is soft and tentative until she allows him to feel what she feels. Suddenly his arms are wrapped around her, their bodies pressed together, as the Doctor rushes every thought and feeling into her mind, screaming panic and relief at the same time. She brings him down, softens the kiss, calms his body and mind. Finally she pulls back her face but keeps her hands in contact with his temples, intent on letting him know everything. His hands are slowly stroking her waist over her shirt. His eyes, not the only visible (or, rather, tangible) sign of his arousal, are a darker brown, but she still sees some fear in them.
She pours more calm, more happiness into him. Her giving is no loss. She receives the sound and feel of his uneven heartbeats slowing down, evening up. She smiles at him, allows him to return the smile. She stands on tiptoe once more, her mouth moving to his ear.
She whispers two words. Just two words, and they have nothing to do with the end of the universe this time, or at least, she hopes not. His body tenses and relaxes once more before he lets his fears fade. She feels excitement creep into his body, feels it in her own. He laughs.
"Rose Tyler, what have you done?"
She's done what she can, she's done more than was possible. When she looked into the heart of the TARDIS, she saw impossibilities, and though she remembers nothing of them, she knows that she took them and made them hers. Her heart, though still singular, is beating more slowly than a human's should, closer to the speed of the Doctor's hearts. She feels an energy in herself that she had never felt before the Bad Wolf, a natural but alien energy. She will never be Time Lord, but she has molded herself as best she could.
She whispers those two words in his ears again. He whispers them back, his voice heavy with their emotions combined.
The words are barely translatable, stronger and surer than anything her human tongue is supposed to be capable of. The Gallifreyan language twists itself around her tongue; she can barely help it once the words begin to spill out. I love you. Two words in Gallifreyan, even heavier with meaning. Together they whisper the things that, up until now, they have only been able to whisper in the dreams they share.
The TARDIS hums quietly around them.
Four hearts are pounding together here tonight.
A/N: Thanks for reading. Only one more chapter coming up. Please review.