Colors rioted throughout the crowd, rampaging down the street and assaulting the innocent eyes of spectators. Paper lanterns, strung between booths, swayed in the breeze, casting dancing shadows that toyed with perception. At least, they looked like paper lanterns, but the Doctor said they were really a type of bioluminescent chrysalis that had been collected by the children. Musicians were playing on the green, but were almost completely drowned out by the cheerful noise of the crowd.
Rose bounced on her toes, her hand locked in the Doctor's. Her pale yellow skirt danced around her knees at the movement. She leaned into his side.
"It's beautiful," she murmured. He smiled down at her. Rose told herself that it was the glow of the chrysalis lanterns that softened his features, nothing else.
"It is," he agreed, his lips brushing her hair.
Rose couldn't help the shiver that danced down her spine, and was grateful for the breeze that had just sprung up. The Doctor looked at her with a touch of surprise and wrapped a leather-clad arm around her shoulders, rubbing her upper arms to warm them. Rose looked up at him, slightly taken aback, but was far from complaining as they strolled down the street examining brightly colored wares. The Doctor's voice was almost constantly in her ear, describing the objects that caught her fancy.
"It's a pity Jack's missing this," Rose commented as an exotic beauty glided past. She met the Doctor's eyes mischievously. "I'd hate to think what he did to give himself a hangover. Must've been dreadful."
"Serves him right, I'm sure," the Doctor told her with a grin. "Maybe he's just not as impressive as he likes to think."
"Well, that's a given," Rose rejoined. "Entire galaxies aren't as impressive as Jack thinks he is."
They had just stepped onto the green when a voice called from a nearby stall. "These joys are fleeting."
Rose and the Doctor froze; each of them tensed. There seemed to be an undercurrent to those words, the threat of the universe to tear them apart. Neither seemed to realize that their hands had clenched around the other's. "Immortalize them," the voice continued. It seemed to have a benevolent smile in it, now.
After a quick scan, Rose realized that it was coming from an older man with wild hair tossed by the gentle breeze and cloudy eyes. He waved a paintbrush as though to beckon them over. Curious, Rose began to walk towards him. The Doctor hung back at first, and when Rose felt his hesitation, she turned to look at him, their hands still clasped. He searched her eyes before examining the painter's booth.
Rose knew he was assessing the risk. Too often, a lighthearted outing had resulted in them running for their lives, and at times the Doctor was openly paranoid about her safety. It warmed her heart to know how much he cared, even as it broke it to be reminded of how he'd lost everyone he cared about. She stepped closer to him and took his other hand in her free one.
Meeting his gaze squarely, Rose spoke calmly. "I'll be fine. You're with me, yeah?"
The Doctor nodded and Rose could see him relax slightly. She smiled and squeezed his hands before turning back and leading the Doctor to the painter.
On closer inspection, it was hard to believe the man wasn't blind. His cataracts were almost completely opaque, leaving only a ghostly impression of his iris and pupil. Compared to some species Rose had seen, this was normal, and Rose knew better than to stare.
Still, she couldn't help but wonder how he could make such exquisite works as she saw. There was a picture of this festival that was correct in every detail. How could he know about the burn mark on the wood of the food vendor three stalls down?
"Being blind doesn't mean I can't see," the man told her without prompting. Rose blinked at him. A blind seer: it was like something out of Greek mythology.
A more sinister thought struck her. "Are you in my head?" Rose demanded warily. She had come to trust the TARDIS with her thoughts, even found the ship to be a great confidant and advisor. And the Doctor, though he didn't know it, could take all of her that he wanted. Only once had he created a telepathic link between them, in order to protect her from an alien who fed on the minds of the young, but it had seemed to pain him, and he had cut it as soon as he could. She heard him crying in his room that night, and it had broke her heart to know how much he'd hurt himself to keep her safe. She suspected that doing something like that with anyone since he'd lost his people would always hurt him.
But this man, the stranger with the pallet, he had no place in her mind and no right to invade it.
"No, child, but your question was written all over your face." Rose looked over at the Doctor, puzzled. He shrugged. "It would be my honor," the man continued, "to present your portrait." The painter put down the brush he had been toying with.
"Sorry?" Rose asked. She was handed the canvas that sat on the easel that the painter was perched before.
Her breath stopped. She could feel the blood rushing from her brain as warmth filled her cheeks and, to her mortification, pooled low in her belly. The Doctor, concerned by her stillness, came up behind her, looking over her shoulder at the painting. Rose wanted to pull the picture to her chest and shield it from him, or him from it. She wanted to throw it away. She wanted to do anything but stand, frozen, as the Doctor looked down at the image.
With him as close to her as he was, Rose could feel him still behind her. She forced herself not to shiver. She tried not to think about the picture she clutched with whitened knuckles. She tried not to imagine the Doctor's lean frame pressed against her from behind. It would be so easy to lean back and feel his strength. She tried not to wonder what it would be like to have his arms wrap abound her, to have one drift up to graze her breast as it did in the painting.
Had the Doctor's breathing sped up, or was it her imagination? She could feel his breath puffing against her shoulder and neck, just where the paint version of him was laying a fevered kiss to her skin in the image neither of them had managed to look away from.
The painter spoke, causing the Doctor and Rose to jump apart. "Every festival, someone comes who is at a crossroads. This year, it was you."
The Doctor and Rose exchanged a glance that blossomed into a lingering look, speaking volumes: uncertainty, fear, affection, wonder and want. The emotions were so jumbled that it would be difficult to know if either of them got the whole message.
Confused and frustrated, Rose looked back at the painter. He was gone. The stall was empty, and the canvas she still held was blank. When she looked up at the Doctor, he looked just as perplexed as she felt. He shrugged again, his jaw tense in annoyance.
As the Doctor led Rose back to the TARDIS, he knew that they both were examining every face they saw, looking for anyone who resembled the blind painter. They didn't talk; they didn't touch, not even to hold hands; they didn't even walk very close to each other. Looking back on it, if anything had happened to Rose then, he never would have forgiven himself.
When they reached the TARDIS, the Doctor immediately walked over to the console and punched in the dematerialization sequence. He could barely meet Rose's eyes when she offered a wan smile and a transparent excuse to escape his presence.
He sighed heavily. It was probably best that she was gone. He couldn't expel that vision from his mind.
It wasn't the nearly pornographic aspect of the painting that haunted him. Rather, it was the little things. The look of pleasure that was still visible on Rose's face, despite the fact that her head was thrown back to grant him better access to the creamy skin of her throat. Somehow, the painter had managed to make it apparent that Rose knew full well what was happening, who was doing it, and that she consciously welcomed it free of any outside influence. Or was that just wishful thinking?
The moon that shone down on them was one that the Doctor was familiar with. It orbited the planet he had both longed and feared to take Rose to.
Barcelona. The Doctor could sense some great change there. This incarnation didn't have the knack with precognition that some of his bodies had. He had felt that if he took Rose to Barcelona, everything would change between them, which was why he had refused to take her, despite how much he knew she would enjoy it. Try as he might, he could find nothing able to silence the voice in his head whispering with sinister delight that she would want to leave. After all, she would have every right.
It hadn't been long ago that he'd found an excuse to establish a temporary link between them. Just thinking about it made every muscle in his body relax with the wonder of being so close to her even as he tensed with the need that still coursed through him at the memory.
Refusing the intense desire to sweep through her mind and bond himself to her permanently, to claim her as his for eternity, had taken all his willpower. His instincts screamed to be satisfied, but he knew that Rose was not his to claim. He had tried to hide how much he had fought with himself during that experience. He had limited his intrusion into her mind, but still Rose had tensed at even that slight incursion, a sure sign she wanted him out of her head.
When he had cut off the link, there had been nothing that could ease the pain of withdrawing from the vibrant warmth of her mind. But Rose had seemed unaffected. He had hoped for some sign that she might return his affections. He'd been disappointed.
And so, he had continued to avoid Barcelona.
But this portrait. It seemed that the painter knew something he didn't. The Doctor knew that seers were fallible. They only saw the most likely timeline, and so they could be given visions that prove false in time. Still, nothing could have given the Doctor more hope than that fleeting glimpse. He sent a brief request to the TARDIS to help him not screw up this landing, and he started entering coordinates.
Rose sat on her bed, staring at the blank canvas. She knew the Doctor well enough to know that he would avoid her for at least the next 24hrs. It was just as well; she would need at least that long to be able to look at him without seeing that picture.
Frustrated, Rose pushed the empty canvas to the side and threw herself onto her pillows. She needed to do something, anything, to stop the cycle her mind had trapped itself in. She decided to go for a run. The past few planets they'd visited had been peaceful, and she feared she'd become out of practice.
The wardrobe didn't have any of her running clothes in it. Actually, it didn't have any of her clothes in it at all. A single, white garment that she had seen only once before floated on a hanger.
"You've got to be kidding me," Rose snapped. "Are you trying to get me killed?" The ruffles at the hem of the sundress danced in response. Rose groaned.
A knock at the door startled her. "Hey, Rose," the Doctor called, "we've landed. Dress for warm weather."
"O-okay," she replied, failing to keep her voice steady. After the footsteps faded away, she glared back at the wardrobe. "I'm not going out in that," she muttered sullenly. "I'll go in what I'm wearing."
Although Rose didn't move, a seam split all the way down her side.
Heaving a sigh, Rose reached for the white sundress that matched what she'd worn in the vanished painting. "How did you even do that?" she demanded in a sulk.
The Doctor grinned at the console as the TARDIS materialized. The sensors indicated that they were exactly where and when he'd intended. He stuck his head outside the doors. The weather was perfect. It was mid-afternoon and sunny, warm but not too hot.
He couldn't stop the proud strut that infused his step. Rassilon, he'd been around Jack too much. At Rose's door, he hesitated. Maybe he should wait, give Rose some space.
Hearing Rose snipe at the TARDIS, the Doctor grinned and rapped sharply at the door. He didn't pause before telling her to get ready. Joy and pride welled back up in him. He could tell from Rose's voice that the painting had shaken her in exactly the way he wanted her to be shaken. He needed to make his move before she regained her equilibrium.
He gave himself a once-over. The green jumper was clean. He had taken a shower and changed while the TARDIS headed for Barcelona. Hesitant footsteps sounded from the corridor behind him. For a moment, the Doctor wavered between turning to greet her and pretending to be working on the TARDIS like he normally did.
No, he thought. It'stimetostoppushingheraway.
Looking up to smile at her, his breath caught. She was staring at her feet, hand fidgeting nervously; a light blush stained her cheek. It was clear that she knew exactly what she was wearing.
Shutting his mouth before he started stammering, he swallowed hard. Isshetryingtokillme? His eyes drank her in. The dress was of lightweight white cotton that was gathered at the shoulders and flowed down from there. The neckline granted him a glimpse of her cleavage, the smooth flesh making his mouth water. The hemline fell to mid-thigh giving him a view of her legs, toned from running but still soft and supple.
"What'd I ever do to her?" Rose demanded gesturing towards the console. "These are the only clothes she would let me wear!"
"I don't think she's mad at you," the Doctor assured her, thinking that the TARDIS was obviously on his side.
"She's making me wear a black bra and knickers under a white dress!" Rose snapped.
The Doctor's brain shut down at the image in his head.
"I don't know what'll happen if I get wet. I hope this planet doesn't have a law against wet t-shirt contests or something."
He became aware of a choking sound from his throat.
"It'll-it'll be fine," he assured her, offering his arm. "Shall we?"
There was a chime in Jack's room. "I'm almost ready, girl," he told the TARDIS calmly, putting in some milky contacts that bonded with the cornea for 3 hours. They could fool doctors, they were so good. Hell, they could fool ophthalmologists and eye surgeons. He teased his temporarily sparse white hair into something Einstein would approve of.
"Alright, the rest is up to you." He stood still as the TARDIS worked. When he checked himself with his partially restored wrist panel, he knew that not even the Doctor could recognize him. His timelines were nothing like what he knew to be his own. By the time he had gotten to the console room, they had landed at the fair that the Doctor and Rose had just left. Or, by local time, where the Doctor and Rose would arrive in about two hours.
He started unloading the paintings. The TARDIS had shown him several images of where the Doctor and Rose would be going. And, when Jack had spent time in the very early 1900s, he'd been taught to paint by Claude Monet. The still-lifes he'd created from the TARDIS's sources would be enough to fill the small stall. The last painting he placed was an image the TARDIS had pulled from several of Rose's timelines.
Just as he'd readied himself, Jack heard Rose's laughter. A quick spray down the throat and his voice was altered. He waited for the pair to pass before calling out, "These joys are fleeting."
Rose took a few steps ahead of the Doctor as soon as they exited the TARDIS, a wide grin on her face. Her breath caught when his hand snaked out and snagged her wrist, pulling her against him. His eyes sparkled as he noticed the way her breath hitched and her cheeks flushed. Rose cursed him silently.
"Stay close," the Doctor murmured in a husky tone that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention, yearning for his touch.
"Is it dangerous?" Rose was mortified that her voice came out almost as dark as his.
"No," he said simply, and began to head off to the right, her hand still tightly encased in his. He glanced back at her and Rose knew he had to know how confused she was. Why the need to stay close in a safe place? It looked like a fun-park, for Pete's sake. Oh well, she'd figure it out for herself. In the meantime, she would simply enjoy his proximity.
They came to a small pen that was full of frolicking, furry bodies. Excited barks filled the air. The Doctor handed a coin to a man in the ticket booth and guided Rose in, a hand on the small of her back.
"I don't get it Doctor," Rose told him, as several of the animals rushed over to greet them. "If you wanted to see dogs, why come here? Don't get me wrong, they're cute but so is any pound puppy on Earth."
"Take a good look, Rose."
Rose shot him an exasperated glare. He loved being mysterious more than was good for him, sometimes. She sighed and bent to examine a black and tan creature that was sniffing at her shoes, tail wagging. "Hey, there," she said happily. It looked up, ears pricked. Rose reached out to scratch those ears when she realized what she was looking at. "Doctor, this dog has no nose." As soon as she said it she winced, knowing what was coming.
The Doctor didn't disappoint. "Then how does it smell?"
"You're the genius, you tell me. I could've sworn it was sniffing my shoes."
"It was," the Doctor said happily, that gorgeous, manic grin of his plastered on his face. Roe knew he was in his element. "Their whiskers act as lots of little nostrils, carrying the air to the scent receptors."
Rose looked carefully and noticed that the whiskers were moving in different directions.
"Stereo smell," the Doctor said as smugly as if he'd created them. Who knew? Maybe he had. "They can tell what direction a scent is coming from."
The dog Rose was petting craned its head to give her a lick. When Rose laughed, it jumped up for better access. Her face scrunched up happily as the dog licked her face. She giggled through her nose, not daring to open her mouth. She'd always wanted a dog, but didn't fancy getting snogged by one.
Suddenly, the weight of the dog on her legs and its tongue disappeared. Rose ran the back of her hand over her face to wipe away the slobber before opening her eyes. The Doctor was glaring down at the pup with the same look he got when he looked at Mickey.
"Doctor," Rose admonished. "He wasn't doing any harm."
"You 'ave no idea where it's been."
"There are only 7 diseases that are communicable between dogs and humans, Doctor. And his tag says he's been vaccinated against all of them. Besides, you wouldn't have brought me here if it might be dangerous."
The Doctor shifted uncomfortably and set down the dog who ran off to rejoin the group. He offered his hand, and Rose allowed him to help him up, squeezing his hand.
"C'mon, then," she told him. "Show me what else is in this place." The Doctor grinned and took her hand, dragging her off towards a tower.
By the time they reached the top of the sixth flight of stairs, Rose had decided that whatever the view might be, it couldn't be worth it. The Doctor led her out onto the terraced top, and Rose changed her mind. The amusement park sprawled lazily along the gentle swells of the hills that rose and fell like playful dolphins rushing to the white sand shore of a brilliant cerulean bay. Beyond the park, the hills faded to a dark green of the pines that spread to the horizon. Rose placed her hand on the crenellated stone wall, and a cool mist was sprayed down on her. It was heaven after that climb.
"They installed these a few years ago, since no one was making the climb anymore." The Doctor said, coming up close behind her.
"Why didn't they just install an elevator?"
"Illegal. This tower is a holy place to them."
"Why's that?" Rose asked, turning to face him, her back to the wall.
"Millennia ago, when the colony on this world was still new, this tower was part of a temple to their chief god, Potestatum. Potestatum was powerful, but he had the weight of the world resting on his shoulders alone." The Doctor's eyes burned as spoke what seemed to be formulaic words, gazing past her towards the hills. Rose took his hand, squeezing it gently; she knew how he must sympathize with the lonely god.
"Potestatum was the only god who cared for the people of this planet. Most of the gods were indifferent to the human settlers. The settlers kept close to the shore so that they had an easy food source, but the god of the sea, Pontum, did not appreciate them invading his domain so frequently, and did his best to make their lives difficult, but even he didn't dare go against Potestatum overtly. The people began to worship Pontum in order to appease him, but he killed those who came close enough to offer gifts of conciliation. Potestatum asked for help from the other gods, but none would help. Potestatum knew that he would have to stop Pontum on his own, but didn't know how he could win."
His gaze turned away from the distance to fix her with a heated stare. "He asked all of the other gods for help, but none would answer him. Finally, one tiny human girl, called Corollaria, came to him and offered to help him. She was barely of age, but she refused to be quelled by the fear that had gripped the other humans. Potestatum was touched by her bravery and her compassion but he refused, not wanting to risk this fragile girl who would doubtless be needed by the humans should he fall to Pontum. He was stronger than Pontum, but the sea god was tricky, full of dark schemes, and supported by mysterious creatures of the deep. He left her behind, and went into battle alone."
Rose shivered, knowing how that young girl felt, having watched the Doctor walk away from her offered help when she first met him. "As Potestatum waded into the sea, Corollaria, afraid for the god, ran to his temple, and she climbed this tower to better see the battle, praying he would stay safe. From her vantage point, Corollaria saw one of the beasts circling around behind Potestatum while he was engaged with Pontum. She yelled out to him, and by the grace of the winds, her voice carried to his ears. The beast threw his javelin not at Potestatum, but at Corollaria in anger for her betraying his plans. For a moment, the world was still, and then rage filled Potestatum that the girl who represented all he was trying to save in these humans had been snuffed out."
The Doctor's voice had become hollow, and his hand gripped Rose's hand tighter, as if afraid she was gone as quickly as that girl. She put her free hand on his upper arm, lending her presence. "In minutes, Pontum was defeated, Potestatum's fury carrying him swiftly to victory, but in victory he was empty. Potestatum rushed to the temple, but he was too late, she had already fallen into the underworld. It was then that the king of the gods first felt truly alone. The other gods, who had refused to help him saw his grief and decided to finally take a stand. Together they brought the girl back from the underworld and for the love that had blossomed between the mortal and the eternal, Fate allowed her to enter immortality on this spot. Some of the power that turned her into a goddess leaked into this tower, imbuing it with the ability to weather the years intact."
The Doctor's hand seemed to tremble as it brushed a damp tendril of hair back from where it stuck to her cheek. "And it is said, that if a pair of people come to this tower they will learn, before the night is out, if Time will let them be together." Rose shivered, and the Doctor blinked and shook off the tone that had fallen, trance-like over them. "At least that's how the story goes."
He stepped away from her, not meeting her eyes. In fact, he wouldn't look any higher than her chest. Rose glanced down. Bugger. She had forgotten, during the course of this outing, which absolutely couldn't be a date, that the TARDIS had strictly enforced a bizarre dress code. The mist machines had slowly soaked through the white sundress until the top clung tightly to her every curve. The black bra, which was barely more than a scrap of lace, was plainly visible through the suddenly sheer fabric, as was the way her nipples had tightened in the cold water. Rose's arms twitched to cover herself, but the dark look in the Doctor's eyes, the way he examined her, unconsciously licking his lips, kept her from moving, letting him look, hoping he'd touch.
The hot climb to the top of the tower seemed hours ago, and the chill from the mist sank into her even as the Doctor's gaze heated her blood. Rose shivered again, and the spell was broken. The Doctor shut his eyes for half a second and then he sprang into action, chattering about her catching her death up here. He draped his jacket around her shoulders, and for a brief instant the heat was back in his eyes before he took her hand and led her back down the tower.
Far too soon, the evening was waning. A chill had entered the breeze that danced through the stalls, causing Rose's dress to flutter. Street lamps had come on, casting a yellow glow to the world. And the moon was just rising in the purple dusk, a white sliver floating beyond the horizon. In this light, the Doctor's strict lines were softened. He smiled more, and the tension he usually held in his lean frame had melted away. Rose and the Doctor walked down the road, hand in hand. They chatted softly, like teenagers in church sharing a secret with smiles and furtive glances.
The Doctor had never felt so at ease.
He could tell Rose felt completely unbalanced.
Throughout their visit to this funfair known as Barcelona, the Doctor had acted differently. He felt a confidence with her he'd never had. When she thought he wouldn't notice, Rose burrowed into his jacket and inhaled. The dreamy smile on her face was enough to set his hearts thrumming. They'd picked up candyfloss and she'd eaten a chunk from his fingers, licking them clean as slowly as possible. He wanted to lick his fingers to see what they tasted like after they'd been washed clean in a manner that made him feel quite like getting very dirty. He wanted to lick her lips to see what they tasted like with candyfloss clinging to them, with him clinging to them. Really, it had taken all of the Doctor's willpower to keep from dragging her off to the TARDIS for a thorough shag.
Blinking rapidly to dispel the images which had taken up residence in his mind, the Doctor led Rose away from the bustling fun fair, up one of the hills that surrounded the bay. As they perched themselves on this grassy vantage point, Rose sat closer to the Doctor than normal, her hand still firmly tucked in his. They sat in the dark for long moments. A wind came down over the hill, sweeping past them. The Doctor used this as an excuse to pull Rose closer, his arm around her shoulders, her head tucked comfortable beneath his chin. Rose yawned and burrowed into him.
The Doctor closed his eyes, relishing this closeness until a muffled boom announced the beginning of the fireworks. They were far enough away that the colored lights speared the heavens long before the sound of the explosion reached their seat.
The colored lights danced in a merry gavotte, and Rose showed the expected enthusiasm, but all the Doctor could focus on was where her hand rested on his thigh, the heat sinking in and setting his blood to simmer. The fireworks of this time period were much more sophisticated than Rose had seen before. A sparkling spaceship launched itself into the heavens. A flag full of stars waved in a jaunty breeze. A glimmering dragon raced a burning phoenix out over the ocean.
The show wound to a close, and the Doctor forced himself to concentrate so that he would be able to get up without embarrassing himself. Rose turned to him, her eyes alive, cheeks flushed. Her smile was warm and inviting. Her tongue peeked out, and his hard work was undone.
She took his hand, rubbing her thumb comfortingly over his knuckles.
"Doctor, what are we doing here?" she asked in a tone that would soothe the most skittish colt.
The Doctor shook his head slightly, not understanding. Rose inclined her forehead, to something behind him. The Doctor turned, reluctant to look away from her, and saw the moon, which had fully risen from behind the mountains. The moon from the painting.
"Ah. It's not what you think."
"Doctor, I honestly am not sure what I think. Will you tell me what's going on?"
The Doctor nodded. She certainly deserved it. "'Ve wanted to bring you here for a while. Since before Jack, actually. Knew you'd love it."
"So why didn't you?"
"I was scared."
"Of a funfair?"
"Of losing you."
"At a funfair?"
"I knew everything would change. I just didn't know how."
Rose waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't know how, so he shrugged ineffectually.
"Doctor, why would you think this place would change everything?"
"Time Lords are…slightly psychic."
"You've said as much before."
"We can also see time lines. It's how I know when something needs to be fixed. Normally, we can't see much of our own time lines. I could tell that things changed here, I just didn't know how. I thought maybe this was the place you would realize that you deserve better'n me, and ask to go home."
Rose shook her head slowly. "Doctor, you're not just oblivious, you're mad if you think I'm ever going to want to be anywhere but right here, next to you. For as long as you'll have me. However you'll have me."
The Doctor tensed. "Rose, you don't know what you're offering."
For a moment Rose bristled, indignation flashing in her eyes, but then she nodded. "You're right. I probably don't. But I'm offering all the same. I know that there's nothing you can do that will scare me off. I know who you are, Doctor. Everything else is superficial." She took a steadying breath. "Doctor, I love you."
Her words floored him. He reached a trembling hand out to her, gently caressing her cheeks. She was so brave, his Rose. She'd fought his fear, his bitterness, and years of isolation to find him, to learn who he was. And, even knowing everything he was, what he was capable of, she still offered herself to him, fully. He stepped closer, pulled in by the gravity of her love for him.
"Rose Tyler," he said tenderly, stuffing his fear down, fighting off its sting. "I love you more than anything else in all of time." The warmth of her smile soothed the panic that speared his heart with the knowledge that everything he loved was ultimately lost. He dipped his head, hovering centimeters away from her lips. He could feel the warmth radiating from her, tempting him. "I'm going to kiss you. Is that alright?"
Rose had never had anyone stop to ask her if they could kiss her. It was respectful and sweet, and a waste of perfectly good snogging time. But she sensed that, for whatever reason, it was important to him. She nodded. His lips were soft and tentative, barely more tangible than his breath, but it sent tingles dancing into her chest, making her heart pound. She leaned into him, her hands sliding up to encircle his neck.
The Doctor, genius that he was, took the hint and deepened the kiss, wrapping his arms around her lower back and pulling her flush against him. His tongue flicked her lower lip twice, requesting entrance. She parted her lips eagerly, needing him to know he was welcome to take her. He tasted of candyfloss and fresh rain and Doctor. It was a heady mixture that she wanted to be hers. The Doctor explored her thoroughly, teasing out every secret of her mouth. He smiled against her when she moaned into him.
His hands grew bold enough to encircle her hips, grinding slowly against her. Rose lost the ability to think when she felt his erection press into her through her thin cotton dress. He slid a hand up to cup her breast, thumbing her nipple through her clothes. Her skin was on fire; even the sundress was unbearably restrictive. She pulled the Doctor back down to her to steal a hungry kiss, his cool lips the only thing that could soothe her. She ran a hand down his torso and cupped him through his jeans.
The Doctor froze, panting. "Rose," he breathed, visibly struggling for control. "Rose. Rose, Rose, Rose."
Rose smirked. If he'd forgotten how to say anything except her name, she wasn't going to complain.
"Rose," he tried again. "Please let me…I need to…"
A light pierced his eyes that might have been hope and might have been uncontrollable joy. "I love you." His words sent a rush of warmth through her even stronger than the first time he'd said it.
"I love you, too." She grinned up at him, giddiness bubbling through her. A million happy thoughts bounced in her mind. Every last one of them melted to a stop the moment his lips met hers in a quick, searing kiss.
And then he started to walk past her, only touching her where he held her hand.
"Uh?" was all she could manage while disappointment and panic speared her heart. He stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tight against him.
"Not here," the Doctor whispered. His lips brushed the shell of her ear, and Rose moaned, letting her head fall back. He gently nuzzled the exposed skin. A low growl escaped him when the fingers of one hand speared through his short-cropped hair. Her other hand reached down and around him to grab hold of his bum, firmly securing him against her. She rocked her hips back against him, mercilessly taunting his caged erection. He responded with punishing nips to the sensitive skin at her throat, before soothing it with gentle kisses. One of his hands slid up to cup her breast.
For a second, Rose saw them from outside of herself. They were the same tableau as that blind painter had shown them. She gasped at the same time she felt the Doctor stiffen behind her, all of him, not just the part she was wantonly rubbing
With a last, lingering kiss, the Doctor released her. "Not here," he repeated.
His hand twined with hers, and they ran, laughing, all the way to the TARDIS. Out of the corner of her eye, Rose noticed street vendors and tourists alike staring after them in confusion, but she didn't care. In this moment, all of time and space boiled down to the Doctor and Rose, together without a care in the world.
They burst into the TARDIS, a euphoric tangle of breathless limbs. Rose found herself pressed against the door while the Doctor slowly explored her mouth, relearning what made her burn with need, before banking the fire and pulling back. His smirk said quite clearly that he had no intention of rushing this. He took her hand and headed deeper into the TARDIS.
Rose had been in the Doctor's room plenty of times before. The first time had been the night Adam was on board, when she was headed towards the kitchen for a midnight glass of water and had heard a crash. The Doctor said he'd knocked some new gadget he was building off his desk, reaching for a tool and had tried to catch it. But he wouldn't meet her eyes when he said it, and when she applied the bandage, the scrapes were on the back of his hand. Rose had kept her mouth shut at that time, too busy trying to memorize the Doctor's most personal space. Since then, the universe, or more likely the TARDIS, had arranged it so that she was walking past whenever he had a nightmare. It was beyond painful to see the Doctor, who was so strong, broken by memories that continually haunted him. When the Doctor guided her into his room, this time, there were no injuries, no nightmares, just them.
The Doctor smiled nervously. "This alright?" Rose nodded. The Doctor still looked a little uncertain, so Rose let the large leather jacket slide from her shoulders. By now, her dress was dry, her underwear no longer showing. The Doctor swallowed thickly. Rose reached up to her shoulders, beginning to slide the straps down.
"Don't." The Doctor's words halted her. "Let me," he said, somewhere between an order and a plea.
Rose smiled and lowered her hands, stepping close enough to him that his scent surrounded her. His fingers trembled slightly as he toyed with the scant scraps of cotton that barred him from her smooth skin. Rose watched the Doctor's throat convulse as he swallowed nervously. She knew he was on the brink of losing control, and that was exactly what she wanted. He needed to know that she accepted all of him, that he didn't need to hold back from her. She nuzzled his neck, smirking when he froze. Her tongue darted out to taste him, tracing a quick path up to his ear. The Doctor moaned, his hands tightening their grip on her shoulders. She nibbled on his earlobe, tugging lightly when his moan became a low growl. He stepped back just long enough to haul the dress over her head. He wrapped an arm around her waist and hauled her back against him, assaulting her mouth hungrily.
With one hand, he undid the clasp of her bra, but she was pressed so strongly against him that it remained in place. The wool of his jumper was scratchy against her revealed skin, and Rose writhed in his grasp, desperate to feel his skin on hers. She pulled his jumper up until it was blocked by his arms, which refused to release her. She traced her fingers gingerly over the muscles of his stomach, following a sparse trail of dark hair down to his jeans
Frustrated by her inability to explore him, Rose pushed herself back a few steps. The Doctor looked at her with such longing, she almost gave in. Instead, she allowed her bra to fall to the floor. The longing in the Doctor's eyes was replaced by heat.
"I think you've got an advantage over me, Doctor," she teased, toying with her knickers, promise hanging in the air. The Doctor licked his lips. He opened his mouth, but nothing articulate came out. His eyes were locked on the black scrap of satin that hid her from his gaze. "It's more fun when we both get to play." The Doctor strode towards her, pulling his jumper over his head and dropping it carelessly behind him.
They crashed together a sensuous dance of lips and teeth and tongues, each of them lost in the rhythm. Rose's hands found their way to his belt buckle, quickly unfastening it and attacking the button of his jeans. When his jeans hung open, Rose slid her hands under his pants, wrapping her fingers around his straining erection. The Doctor stilled under her touch. She added the other hand, fully encircling his girth, pumping slowly.
At the top of each stroke, Rose gathered a bit of the fluid that was already leaking from his tip and spread it down his length. The Doctor's face was entirely slack, his eyes half-closed. Seeing the Doctor so at peace made Rose's heart clench. She sped up her actions until the Doctor started rocking in time to her hands. She felt him harden even further beneath her hands, and the Doctor snatched her hands away.
"Not like that," he pleaded, "not our first time."
Rose pouted up at him, but soon contented herself with licking his flavor from her fingers. It was salty and tangy but oddly addictive. Or maybe it was the look the Doctor gave her while he watched her lap it up that was addictive.
Without warning, the Doctor gathered her up in his arms and deposited her on his bed. There was a ruffling and a muffled curse at the end of the bed. Rose turned onto her side to watch, the Doctor's bare bum waved at her from where he bent to untie his shoes. Rubbing her legs together at the sight, she reached out a hand to caress the toned cheeks. The Doctor paused under her touch, which grew progressively more bold. He groaned.
"This isn't going to happen any faster with you doing that," he ground out.
"Well, we can't have that, can we?" Rose replied calmly. She gave his bum a final pinch, which elicited a small squeak and a swift glare. Rose simply grinned back at him until he broke and returned the smile kissing her softly before returning to untying his boots.
Seconds later, the Doctor joined her on the bed, prowling up her body. He was in no hurry, pausing frequently to drop a lingering kiss on her exposed flesh. Rose shivered under his touch, her heart pounding. He lowered his head to lick a slow path up her inner thigh, getting ever closer to where she needed his touch, but he pulled back before he got there. Rose couldn't contain a whimper when his touch left her. The Doctor smirked. He taunted her with a single finger caressing her lightly through the sodden black scrap of satin. Up and down along her slit he trailed his finger, slowly building up the heat that blazed through her veins.
Everything else, every other sight, sound, and sensation disappeared in favor of the slow friction building between her thighs. Rose knew it wasn't enough, but it was hypnotic. She was aroused and soothed at the same time, frustrated and relieved.
"Doctor, please," she pleaded, far beyond caring if she begged. The Doctor sighed with something like relief as he pulled her knickers down her legs. The last barrier gone, Rose willingly spread her legs, opening herself to him. The Doctor stared down at her with an endearing mix of lust and awe in his eyes.
He kissed her gently, coaxing her to respond before moving south. He licked one nipple and then blew cold air on it, relishing her shiver. He sucked the pebbled bud, his hand ministering to the neglected breast. Rose ran a hand through his hair, encouraging him to stay there. Every swipe of his tongue, every scrape of his teeth sent tingles straight to clit which was already swollen, standing proud. She arched up against him, getting a bit of pressure where she needed it. The Doctor chuckled darkly, the vibrations buzzing through her veins, fire in their wake. Rose shivered beneath him, her eyes squeezed closed. When she opened her eyes again, the Doctor was looking up at her with licentious affection. He released her breast after a final suck.
Rose tried to pull the Doctor up for a kiss, but he refused, backing further down her body. With his middle finger, he plunged into her without warning. Rose gasped and arched off the bed, her muscles clamping down on his digit. They groaned together at the sensation. He removed his finger slowly, and licked it clean, his eyes locked on hers. With two fingers, he opened her outer lips and blew cold air against her clit, which strained up towards him. Rose moaned incoherently, her hands fisting in the sheets. The Doctor took an experimental lick at her opening, and Rose jerked against him. He lapped gently at her clit and Rose melted beneath him.
She couldn't move, all the tension in her body migrating to her core where it coiled, waiting to explode. She moaned with abandon, anything that popped into her mind coming out in a pleasure-drenched homily. He began to draw patterns over her clit with his tongue, words of devotion in languages she'd never know but understood just the same in the midst of this unambiguous dance.
The Doctor thrust a finger into her again, and every muscle in her body tensed. He withdrew his hand before entering her again, adding a second finger. Two long, hard thrusts later, he added a third finger. Rose was teetering on the edge, a breathy little moan escaping her each time his fingers entered her. All that existed for her were the Doctor's mouth and fingers.
"Please," she keened between thrusts, her body clamoring for the release that only the Doctor could grant.
He lifted his head from where he had been torturing her aching clit. Rose sobbed at the loss. His eyes caught hers and held her. In his dark, Northern voice, he murmured adoringly, "I love you, Rose." There was a spasm deep within her as the floodgates were released. The Doctor sucked her clit into his mouth, extending her orgasm. When she was spent, he licked his fingers clean, grinning down at her in satisfaction.
Before the euphoria had passed, the Doctor raised a hand to cradle her face. "Precious girl, I need you."
Rose smiled lazily up at him. "I told you, Doctor, Any way you want me, you have me."
"For how long?"
The Doctor kissed her gently and closed his eyes. A moment later, Rose felt a pressure in her mind, like someone knocking. His was a familiar presence waiting there, and she welcomed him willingly, wrapping herself around him mentally and physically.
She used his distraction to roll him onto his back, straddling him. She paused for a breath before lowering herself onto his erection. The girth of him was a bit more than she was used to, but her muscles soon stretched around him and received him easily. Likewise, Rose let the Doctor sink into her mind, withholding nothing. Within seconds, he was in her, and she was in him. In a corner of her mind she recognized something new, something that inexorably made them "the-Doctor-and-Rose". Together, inseparable, but still separate.
Rose looked down at him, happy but confused. "I thought it hurt you, last time."
"It did," he admitted. "Leaving the warmth of your mind was physically painful."
"I didn't hurt you?" she insisted.
"Never." His eyes were so beautiful, fierce, as they held her. She couldn't doubt, not with him entwined inside her. "I wanted to make you mine, forever. But I couldn't, not until you accepted me."
Rose smiled down at him, relieved and amused. She bent over him and placed a small, sweet kiss on his lips. "You really are blind, Doctor." Before he could retort, Rose raised herself up off of him, and then lowered herself until he was completely engulfed in her. She was wet from his earlier ministrations, so there was no barrier to him.
Rose soon found a rhythm that was natural between them, vigorous and intimate at once. The Doctor's eyes bored into her. Being the sole focus of his concentration was a heady experience. She leaned forward and kissed him deeply, the new angle grinding her clit into him with every movement. She squeezed her inner muscles, pulling him so deep into her there was an edge of pain that sharpened the pleasure.
The Doctor's eyes glazed over, his hands digging into the sheets, knuckles white. She could feel how tenuous his restraint was. Increasing her pace, she took the growing burn and presented it to him through the link. "This is what you do to me," she whispered. The Doctor groaned, fiercely bucking up into her a few times before regaining his control. "Doctor, I don't hold back from you. Please don't hold back from me. I'm not going anywhere. I love you."
The Doctor growled and flipped her over. He began a punishing rhythm that quickly left Rose breathless. He snaked a hand down to pinch and grind her clit. With a breathy scream Rose came around him, every muscle clamping down on him, until after a few more thrusts he erupted inside her.
Panting, the Doctor rolled off Rose and pulled her into his embrace. Placing a soft kiss to her brow, the Doctor murmured, "Rose Tyler, you are fantastic." She could still feel the hint of disbelief inside his wonder as he asked, "How long are you going to stay with me?"
Rose smiled, lazy with satisfaction. "Forever, Doctor." She felt the Doctor go quiet, and when she glanced up, he had fallen into the first peaceful sleep she'd ever seen him in. With a contented sigh, Rose snuggled further into his arms and fell asleep.
Checking to make sure the Doctor was fully asleep, the TARDIS hummed smugly to herself. Her Rose was as good for him as she'd thought. Careful not to disturb them, the TARDIS moved herself back to the fair where Jack was waiting. When the handsome Time Agent had snuck successfully back to his room, he grinned up at the ceiling.
"How'd we do, girl?" A happy chime answered his question. "Well, it's about time. Those two are way too stubborn." The mirth of an ancient, all-powerful time-ship tinkled through the room to blend with Jack's pleased chuckle, but Rose and the Doctor slumbered on, content and unaware.