A/N: Final part! I've sort of written a sequel-that's-not-a-sequel, and I'll post that later this week. (As a separate story, not a seventh chapter) It's a lot sadder, though, so you might guess what it is about. I've had such a ball writing this story, I couldn't just say goodbye to the verse and my own head-canon, and there might be other additions in the future. Thanks for all the reviews on this one! Hope you'll come back for more. :-)
The Doctor lay on his side, propped up on one elbow, which gave him an excellent viewpoint for admiring the figure lying next to him. Rose had been asleep for a while now, and he really wished she'd wake up. Actually, he'd been hoping this for quite some time - four hours, thirty-three minutes and seventeen seconds, to be precise. Rose was lying on her stomach, breathing in and out in slow, even puffs. The sheet across her back had ridden down a bit. At first this had happened because she occasionally twitched in her sleep - then he'd let his hands assist a little. In fact, he thought - his fingers following the curve of her spine without touching - he could trace a line all the way down without her even noticing. If he just slipped his hand lower, he didn't even need to move the sheet further. She suddenly stirred and his hearts leaped. To his disappointment however, she rolled over onto her back without actually waking up, the sheet tangling around her hips, although he had to admit this new position offered its own aesthetic merits. He still wished she'd wake up though. His hand drifted to her stomach of its own accord. Oh, the things he could do. He wondered if she would mind waking up to his fingers caressing her in certain places.
He was spared further consideration when her eyes fluttered open and she stretched lazily. Waking up and realizing he was watching her, a smile spread across her face.
"Hello," he said.
"Hello," she answered a bit sheepishly, not quite awake yet and feeling distinctly hazy, her body heavy and lethargic. First thing she noticed was the Doctor didn't look tired at all. On the contrary, he looked positively excited. She sat up, pulling the sheet over her chest, and surveyed the room. Remnants of last night's activities were strewn about on the floor and at the foot of the bed was a tray with a bunch of leftovers; it might have been sandwiches and fruit. Her stomach growled.
"How long have you been awake?" she said.
"A while." The Doctor let a guilty eye fall on the tray. "Actually, I made us breakfast. Making breakfast. That's good, isn't it? But you didn't wake up, and I wasn't going to wake you up. I know how you are in the morning, and besides, I was famished. So..well...I ate it. And it was ...well...tasty."
Rose bit her lip and nodded demurely, pretending to be disappointed.
The Doctor's eyes widened. "Of course I can get you something, what do you like, chocolate? Bananas, apples, pears?" He shuddered. "No, no. No pears. What else? Toast? Yes!" His eyes lit up and he hopped off the bed, rushing for the door without bothering to get dressed.
Rose watched him go and felt a shot of regret that he was wearing his boxers. She let herself fall back against the pillows with a sigh. Her stiff muscles protested against the increased action and fragments of the previous evening popped into her head with startling clarity. She grinned to herself. She tried opening their mental link to ask what the Doctor was up to, but it proved more difficult than last night to reach out. Must be her exhaustion, she figured.
When the Doctor returned, he carried a plate with a huge pile of buttered toast and jam on it, together with a mug of steaming tea. The smell of the food made Rose realise she hadn't actually eaten anything since the previous morning. She felt ravenous. The Doctor put the plate in front of her on the covers and her mug on the dresser to the side of the bed, then climbed back in next to her, watching her observantly as she attacked the toast with less than lady-like manners. Between munches, she glanced around the room. The candles had burned down hours ago, but now that they were both awake, the TARDIS had adjusted the lightning so that it appeared to be morning, accommodating her human biological clock. She swallowed another bite and eyed the Doctor who had fallen uncharacteristically silent. How amazing was it that she could be here in this beautiful place? With the Doctor beside her, in his boxers?
She grabbed her mug of tea and took a generous swig. It went down well, the warmth relaxing the tight feel in her chest. So, if this was the dreaded 'morning after', it wasn't all that bad. If the way the Doctor eyed her was any indication of what their life would be like from now on, she reckoned she would have very little to complain about. His eyes were filled with something akin to what had been there last night. She swallowed again - without toast this time.
She placed the mug back on the dresser, and licked her lips.
"So," she began, then stopped as the Doctor suddenly leaned in and kissed her. It was a soft, gentle kiss with just a hint of silky tongue against her bottom-lip and it was lovely. Rose let him lavish more of his careful attention to her mouth. He had been rather obsessed with that part of her right from the start, and once or twice last night she'd wanted to tell him to change tactics - on the other hand, he was very good at what he was doing and she sure didn't mind more of it. Kissing the Doctor was like touching fire wrapped in silk. All his power, the beauty of him, hers alone.
He eased off the kiss and licked his lips in a pensive manner, then smiled. "Raspberry," he stated. Rose giggled.
"So," she started again, "What else have you been up to while I slept?"
"Mmm, pretty much nothing."
"Sure you didn't get bored?"
"I watched you sleep. That was entertaining." He knew he was fibbing a bit, but it wasn't all that far from the truth. And somehow 'I wanted to feel you up beneath the sheets while your brain's delta waves peaked at an amplitude of two hertz' probably wouldn't make her idea of a romantic chat. He opted for the easy explanation. "You were dreaming. I couldn't make out what about. And you snored a little."
Her expression turned to disgust. "Oh my God, was I dribbling, too?"
The Doctor chuckled, amused at her sudden bashfulness, considering all the things they had done only hours ago. "You may always dribble on me. In fact, it might even be beneficial to your physical health. You know that spit is actually electrically conductive? Contains electrolytes. All those free ions hopping around in your mouth need monitoring, so regular sampling of your saliva could add considerably to my- hmmph." A pillow landed on his head, smothering his well-meant argument. He growled under his breath and pounced on the blonde-haired culprit. The tray at the foot of the bed clanged to the side. Rose rolled over, nearly laughing her head off. The Doctor trapped her beneath him, his knees on either side of her hips.
"No more talking, have mercy!" she heaved between laughs.
"Rose Tyler, I am the Doctor. I was made to talk, and you will listen."
"Nonono," she tried to put a hand over his mouth, but he gave it a wet swipe of his tongue and she pulled back with a yelp, wiping her hand on the sheets.
He grabbed her hands and spread them against the mattress, palms up.
"Oh, you think you're so impressive." Rose bit her bottom-lip again.
"You know I'm so impressive. But what else don't you know?"
With their mental connection not yet fully recovered, Rose fell quiet. The Doctor's words lingered in the space between them, the air nearly humming with electricity.
"I lied," the Doctor stated bluntly. "When I said I'd done the mind-link before. Well, I have of course, but not with someone like you. You scare me, Rose. There are too many reasons why someone like you should avoid someone like me. Some lives are meant to stay apart. And I've pulled you into mine. Literally."
"Are you a bit thick?"
"You still don't get it, do you?
"What don't I get?"
"You're still thinking up excuses."
The Doctor swallowed, his Adam's apple bopping up and down. He bent lower, until his mouth was next to her ear. "No, Rose, I'm not. Listen, I don't care if you snore, or dribble, or run around the TARDIS naked." He paused, reflecting on what he'd just said. "Okay, well, maybe that last thing I would mind, but only because you'd have to beat me off you with a stick and that sounds really painful." He looked down again. "Anyway, my point being, I don't give a toss about our age difference, or the fact that you're human, and I certainly don't mind that you finally opened my eyes to show this stupid old, new-new Doctor what he's been missing out on for years." He spoke slower to let his words sink in. "But what I do mind is the fact that I can't tell you how much you mean to me. That's because there are no words Rose. Not even in my own language, and certainly not in yours."
"Then let me say it for the both of us, Doctor." She looked him straight in the eye. "I love it when you babble. I love it when you think you're so impressive, because you are. Even when you're being too clever for your own good and you come out completely daft. And you're arrogant as hell. But you will never forget what it's like for all of us, being less than you. That's why you help people. Because you know we struggle. All the time. And that's why I don't mind being less clever than you, or younger or what ever. I will never leave you, because there is nobody who will ever match you."
The Doctor gazed down at her with undisguised awe. He had trouble formulating a response; suspected their might not even be one.
"How far does our link stretch?" she asked out of the blue.
He arched one eyebrow, trying to fathom where she was going with this. "Oh, well, I'm not sure. Quite far probably, anything short of a different universe."
"Okay, so even if we were separated, I'll always know where you are and come back."
"Come back? Even if I got you stranded on the opposite side of the universe, and I couldn't get to you?"
"Yeah. Of course. I'll just invent something. Some really nifty piece of technology that nobody's ever thought of. That's the sort of woman I am."
The Doctor started giggling. It wasn't the sort of laughter he normally engaged in, but this time it was well deserved, he thought. "Rose Tyler. Saviour of Doctors everywhere." He frowned. "No I take that back. Skip the plural. There's only one me. And right now I'm looking at the only you. And you're naked. Did you know that?"
"Got a problem?"
"Nope." He ducked down to prove his point. Rose squealed as he placed some very sloppy kisses along her throat and collarbone. Rose was quite sure where they were heading now, and it wasn't opposite sides of the universe. Her thoughts were cruelly interrupted when she felt something wet and sticky touch her toes and she gave a disgusted groan that had the Doctor pause in confusion to check if he'd done something wrong.
"My foot. Yuck, what is that?" She pushed the Doctor off her lap and picked at the offending piece of fruit that was sticking to the sole of her foot. The Doctor's tray had tipped over and the remains of his breakfast were on the now not-so-nice blankets.
"I think you made a bit of a mess." The Doctor said innocently.
"Me? It's your bloody fruit. What is it with you and fruit anyway? Everywhere I go there's always peels and sticky-bits."
"You sound like a wife."
"You calling me a nag already?" She rolled off the bed and grabbed the sheet that wasn't messed up, wrapping it around her body, and stalked over to the wardrobe.
The Doctor crawled to the other side of the bed and jumped down to cut her off. She took two steps back and he followed. He snatched the edge of the sheet and pulled. She cried out and pulled back, the only result being less sheet to cover herself up with. The Doctor tugged at his end again and the momentum caused Rose to fall into him. He smiled. His motor control had certainly recovered in the past few hours, and so had his smugness.
"Rose, I called you my wife. But I meant it as a good thing. Unless of course you don't like it. Then I suppose I'll have to call you something else."
"Like what?" Rose said reluctantly. She wasn't ready to give up on her pout yet.
"Dunno. What about my Highly Regarded one? No? Too snooty perhaps." He considered for a second. "Cherished one? Most Favorite? Doll-face? Pet?"
She slapped him in the chest playfully. "You're bonkers."
He grinned. "Oh yes!"
She pointed over his shoulder. "What's behind there?"
The Doctor looked behind him at the door she'd indicated. Rose used the distraction to snatch back her sheet and cover herself properly again. This might be the 'morning after' but she wasn't going to bounce around the TARDIS naked - whatever the Doctor said.
The Doctor opened the door and peeked inside. His smile widened. "Come and have a look."
Rose glanced past his shoulder into a decidedly non-Victorian bathroom. There stood a huge bathtub with shiny fixtures, and a wealth of gleaming blue-and-white tiles. On the opposite wall was a large rack with towels and bottles.
"How come this side's Victorian, and that one's not?" Rose said.
He shrugged. "No idea. That bedroom used to be my room. But it didn't look like this last week. One day I walked in, and everything had completely changed. She does that sometimes. The TARDIS."
"The TARDIS actually redecorates?" Rose sounded incredulous. "But how does she know, did she pluck everything from our memories, or what?"
The Doctor shrugged again. "She might even have had something to do with our initial telepathic link. Never happened before, but I wouldn't put it past her. I'd better have a stern talk with her later. Privacy, all that."
Rose grinned. "I don't mind. Just don't understand why."
"Got any particular reason you would for instance...well, say...have fantasised about this room?" He leaned back semi-casually against the door-frame.
"Might have. Nothing to do with werewolves, though."
The Doctor took two steps forward, crossing over into her personal space, and adopted a downright devious look. "Rose Tyler, care to share with the class?" He took one corner of her sheet and started fiddling with it, then gave it the smallest of tugs.
"Okay, yes!" Rose yielded.
"I used to fantasise about you and me being in that room. In that bed. A lot. But it was all your fault. The entire time we were there you were all over me. Put ideas in my head, you did. And it kept cropping up over the past few days."
"Really?" He started rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, big fat grin across his face.
She shuffled her bare feet. "Did it mean something to you too?"
He didn't even hesitate. "Of course. Even before we got there. With that damn skirt. Really, Rose. You were practically changing clothes in front of me. Why'd you think I made that stupid joke about the bin-bag?"
Rose felt her confidence soar, so she kept up the interrogation. "If the TARDIS took the Torchwood-room from my memory, does that mean this...this palace is yours?" She indicated towards the shiny new bathroom. "How does that fit into your fantasy?"
The Doctor tugged at his ear, unintentionally signalling his discomfort. He stared down at the floor. "That's sorta private."
"Private?" Rose gaped. "After what I just told you? And the bonding and... and the sex?"
"You'll think it's stupid."
She gave him her most indulgent look, saying try me.
He mumbled something and Rose shook her head, not catching any of it.
"I wanted to wash your hair," he repeated a little louder.
Rose's lips formed into a silent 'O' shape, before she closed her mouth and nodded. "All right."
His confidence returned as if he'd switched it on. "Really? You don't think it's a bit too 'serial-killer'?"
"Nah," she waved her hand and gathered up her sheet where it had slipped to the tiled floor. "You're more of an all-round maniac than a psychopath."
"Right. So does that mean I can run a bath?"
She turned to him and, standing on her toes, pressed a very delicate kiss to his lips. He closed his eyes and savoured the taste of her mouth. His hands found their way to her waist and he let them slip between the folds of the sheet. Her skin felt warm under his fingers, and soft like a peach. The kiss became a little less delicate as he moved one hand lower beneath the sheet and encountered a different type of warmth. He'd wanted to do this since before she woke up. To his defeat, Rose suddenly eased off their kiss and he felt rather bereft as she stepped out of reach. With a proud smile she turned and walked out of the bathroom, trailing her sheet behind her as if it were a royal robe.
"Definite yes," he mumbled, and proceeded to fill the bathtub.
"This one, or this one?" Rose held up two different bottles of shampoo, or what she hoped was shampoo. The labels weren't all that clear. The Doctor had already sat down in the bath and was playing with scoops of water, letting them run through his fingers.
He looked up and pointed to the right. "That one. The other wouldn't really make you happy. It's something they use on Peloosh Five to clean up children. Kids there have this really tough skin, like a hide, a bit scaly even, but most of it falls off later and they end up looking absolutely fine. Mind you, that stuff is sold as an aphrodisiac on Kralor."
By the time he was finished, Rose had chucked the bottle into a very convenient recycling bin. She discarded the cumbersome sheet and lifted one leg over the edge of the bath, dipping her toes in the water to test it. The Doctor's mind jumped from detergents and bootleg-stimulants to a much more pleasurable subject. Rose sat down gingerly, a bit unsure on what to do next.
"So, have you done this before?" Rose asked, like she was chatting up a stranger in a bar.
The Doctor picked up on her sudden unease without fail. "No," he said, and lifted a hand, cupping her cheek. "I told you. Not like this. Not the way we are."
"But surely you must have, you know, had feelings for others, before me?"
This was a subject she shouldn't have broached and she knew it as soon as she saw his eyes turn that little bit less transparent. She could have kicked herself. He'd been telling her over and over how special she was to him, and still she'd gone blundering in. To her amazement though, the opaque flash in his eyes passed and they became clear again.
"It's complicated," he said, then hesitated. He motioned with his hand for Rose to turn around and she did so silently, the only sound being the water flopping against the side of the bath as she sat down again, her back towards him. Now that she couldn't see his face anymore it felt like he released a mental sigh inside her head. Their connection was returning. Even through the sudden tension, she felt it work its calming effect on them both like a cool balm.
Taking the sponge from the side of the basin and sloshing soap on it, the Doctor started moving it over her back in long careful strokes. The alien soap didn't foam but caused Rose's skin to shine with an almost iridescent shimmer, like a mermaid's tail.
"I told you I was a dad once. That sort of implies that I had a significant other. Even my people had that concept. We weren't that cut off from our feelings. But imagine, Rose, spending your life with a single individual for hundreds of years. That's some commitment. It takes more than declarations of love and a bunch of flowers to make a partnership like that work. So our relationships tended to be a little more... well, calculated. A bit more arranged."
The Doctor applied the oily soap everywhere he could reach and still keep the pretence of decency, at least for as long as he deemed it necessary. His mind was beginning to cloud with images of a far more intimate nature.
Rose turned her head. "Arranged marriages?" She had a flash of insight. "Is that why you took me to see ourselves? Back on that rainy planet. Because you wanted to see if I understood what it would mean to be with you?"
The Doctor stopped his ministrations with the sponge and let it rest against her shoulder.
"Yeah," he said at long last.
"And I passed your little test?" Her tone got a bit cranky. She wished he'd carry on.
"It wasn't a test for you, Rose. It was one for me. And it was a stupid idea. Because it backfired and you very nearly died. And that's how it's going to be with me. A dangerous life." He resumed his work with the sponge but it had lost some of its charm by now. He threw it aside and let his hands slide over her arms instead, feeling the smooth effect of the soap and the water. Just touching her like this chased off a fair number of demons. She truly was his reprieve from himself, his salvation. He carefully poured water over her shoulders to remove every last trace of soap from her body.
Rose was eager to recapture some of their harmony. She shifted backwards and he assisted, putting her more or less in his lap, his front against her back. It was a very relaxing way to sit and she slid lower in the tub. From this position the Doctor had easy access to most of her - and he wasn't slow to pick up on that.
The Doctor moved his hands to her front and pressed her against him, hoping that she wouldn't want to leave now that he'd stopped talking. Being without their mental connection, even for a short while, already made him feel strangely vulnerable. As he began stroking her belly her muscles twitched involuntary beneath his touch. He drew lazy, circular patterns on her stomach and imagined he could feel her meld to the shape of his body like warm honey. His fingers drifted lower, until he found that place again that reminded him of how she had writhed in his arms the night before, and how hard he had come inside her. The mere thought caused heat to pool in his groin. He knew he wanted to feel that tightness again, and even though Rose's body was soft and yielding now, he was certain she wanted it too. He covered her entire warmth with the palm of his hand and cupped it, squeezing lightly. All at once Rose's passivity shattered and she tilted her head back, letting out an intense sigh that left her immediately flustered. The Doctor stifled a grin, smiling into her shoulder instead. The sudden feeling of warm skin under his lips left him reeling. He wanted to hear more of that sound, and he wanted to taste more of her, so he kissed her again, running his tongue over her neck.
Eyes closed, Rose took in the sensations like a parched traveller finally offered a drink. The Doctor's hands moving across her skin were like a potent stimulant, turning her thoughts to mush and creating fire in places she had forgotten could burn. Beneath her, she could feel the hard evidence of how quickly her longing was affecting the man she loved.
"I think we need to get out." The Doctor pushed at her sides, rousing her from the moment.
Rose stepped over the edge of the tub and grabbed one of the fluffy towels from the rack. But before she had a chance to use it, the Doctor came up to her and pushed her back against a ready-available stretch of wall, lavishing kisses to her mouth. He was urgent and even a bit needy. Rose felt the return of his arousal sweep through her body, the link intensifying and translating every one of his movements into a clear message. Need. Now. The shared emotion triggered a response in her she hadn't expected so soon. She pushed into him with the same frantic need he was experiencing, mouths crashing, lips squeezing into each other and the purpose of hands reduced to caressing skin and hair and everything they could find. In moments, it was like she was reliving their first intimate contact amplified with the magnitude of a landslide.
Pressing her up against the wall, the Doctor sought out every inch of her he could find; her mouth, her breasts, her belly, until he couldn't go lower without kneeling. But she already had him at her feet since the day they met, so he acceded to her in the only possible way he could - physically sinking to his knees before her. He kissed her belly and her hands weaved into his hair.
He dipped lower and Rose cried out as his mouth brushed the hot centre of her desire, her world going into hyper-focus with him as the sole point of existence. The warm, wet touch of his tongue was gentle, insistent and excruciating, and almost more than she could bear. She pulled him up and he barely had enough time to draw in a panting breath before she crashed her mouth to his again.
The link was surging at full strength and Rose projected her wishes into the Doctor's head. Bedroom. But his reply was wavy and fragmented, like he'd lost all focus. Can't. He grappled for her leg and she accommodated him by lifting it so he could take hold of her thigh without bending down first. His grip was tight and his mouth hot against her neck. It wasn't gentle lovemaking, nor was it rough either, but rather acute. With every second Rose felt his need for her building and her own matching his, and neither was going to end this just because there wasn't a convenient bed beneath them. He grabbed her below her other knee and lifted her up properly. The Doctor pushed up and Rose gasped at the sudden change as he filled her, satisfying their hunger to be close, closer still.
He calmed, before moving with surprising gentleness and ease, as if merely being inside her like this was enough to soothe his urgency. Of course it wasn't like that, and once they found the right angle his increasingly deeper thrusts soon became another challenge, one more hurdle to take, but she wasn't going to let him run ahead alone. Every stride he took, she would follow, right until the end. Rose clung to his neck as he slid in and out of her, and her ability to keep her mouth in check failed her - she cried out and threw a series of deeply arousing incentives his way. He moved harder and faster at each word and each moan that left her lips, until the cycle of need and giving rounded its final tour, exploding simultaneously inside their minds and bodies like a dam breaking. Together they rode the shockwave. Heedless, indifferent to time or place, until the only reality left was completion and boneless satisfaction. At last, the Doctor's grip on her legs faltered and Rose sagged back against the wall, without breath or power to speak. The Doctor slipped from her body, but retained a hold inside her thoughts, sending her wordless messages of devotion.
He tried to collect himself and pressed his forehead to hers, to allow them a brief respite and chance to fill their lungs with much needed air.
"I remember you calling this cheap," Rose husked.
He grinned, eyes closed and still out of breath. "Mmm, not always." He kissed her lips. Their minds rekindled without the slightest effort, but their exhausted bodies resisted anything more than tenderness. Together they found their way back to the bedroom and crawled beneath the sheets.
Before his head even hit the pillow, the Doctor was nearly gone already, sleep cruelly luring him away from Rose as she lay curled up in his arms, warm and secure.
"Yes?" He fought his way back to consciousness.
"Next time we take a bath together, if you still want to wash my hair, that's all right."
He smiled in his mind, but had no faculties left to make a decent reply, so he send her silent words instead.
I love you.