First Nights

The Doctor hoped, desperately, and perhaps foolishly, that the walk back to town would be silent. His head roared—too loud and too quiet. Only one heart beating its slow waltz, all his memories accessible but not immediate, no Daleks threatening the end of the universe. No TARDIS. He'd always known she was present, always, wrapping his mind like a warm blanket, but he didn't know how quiet it would be without her hum. He needed to make sense of it, to find his equilibrium. Rose was quiet, but Jackie was chatting, filling the silence between the three of them with words. He should pay attention, she was telling him about the Tyler's life here, mentioning little differences between this universe and their home. Sounds, just sounds: syllables and phonemes stripped of their meaning, vibrating against half-Time Lord eardrums.

He looked over to Rose. Her eyes were empty and dark. She'd let go of his hand once they started climbing the dunes to the road. She needed her hands to balance and, as much as it annoyed him, so did he. When they got to the road, he looked over to see her hands stuffed in her coat pockets and her eyes fixed on pebbles crunching beneath their feet. He gazed at her a few moments. When it seemed clear she couldn't hear his mental pleas (was he still telepathic, even?), he crossed his arms tightly across his chest. It was cold, after all.

From the fog of his mind, he heard Jackie say that once they got to the main road it would be about a half-mile walk into Eikelandsosen. He was grateful Bad Wolf Bay was near a town, even if—and it took him longer than he'd have liked to remember it—it only has around 500 residents right now. He was impressed Jackie remembered the rather Norwegian name. Granted, he imagined the events of her last trip to Bad Wolf Bay made an impression on the mother bear.

After an hour or so (it was cold but they all were too tired to rush), they arrived at the front porch of a small tavern-and-inn style building. The Doctor was uncertain, but Jackie assured him they stayed here last time. The friendly woman who answered the door smiled at them brightly, waving them in. He would call it cozy if he wasn't focused on how much smaller it was on the inside. Looking around, he exhaled deeply, only realizing how shaky he was when Rose's small hand squeezed his elbow. He looked down at her, then, pulled together the best smile he could, desperate to show her how much comfort he found in her touch. She returned the smile, weak and watery but warm.

Jackie never got over penny-pinching, and she figured they would only need two rooms. Once they got up to the rooms, Rose gravitated toward her mother—safe and familiar and, well, she wasn't sure how the old-fashioned, motherly hostess would feel about an unmarried couple share a room. If she told herself the truth, she didn't know if she was ready to be alone with the Doctor yet. She wanted to, but she didn't know if she would hit him or start ripping his clothes off or crying or (and in the end she thought this was the most likely possibility) all three at the same time. She figured he deserved her a bit more coherent than that when they'd finally sit down to talk. Rose didn't turn to see the Doctor's reaction. She needed some time to gather herself and she knew one sign of hurt in his eyes and she'd lose the tiny, tenuous grasp she had over her own mind.

Once they got into the room, Jackie plopped on the edge of the bed to give Pete a call. Rose curled up in the overstuffed wingback chair and promptly fell asleep. She woke to Jackie's hand on her shoulder, shaking her gently. Once Rose sat up, Jackie thrust her hands under Rose's arms and pulled her to her feet. Before Rose could react, her mother practically pushed her out the door. Rose fought back weakly, until she heard Jackie's voice come through the other side of the door, "Rose, you can come back after you at least try to talk with him a bit. Now grow a pair. Don't argue with your mother." Rose couldn't help but smile at her mother's crass encouragement. She heard a few curse-laden mutters before Jackie retreated further into the room. The more things change…

She dropped her forehead against the wall, feeling overwhelmed and powerless, then pivoted to face the other side of the hall and the door to the Doctor's room. She examined at the door, wondering if the Doctor would somehow hear her if she looked hard enough. After another moment, she sighed heavily and pushed herself from the wall with her shoulders, the step she took felt strangely momentous.

She breathed again and knocked. There was no answer. She waited a moment and knocked again. She put her ear to the door to listen for any movement. She knocked again. After a few more moment, she felt the panic bubble up into her throat and tried the knob. The door was unlocked, so, brow furrowed, she cracked the door open. "Doctor?" she called softly, in case he had fallen asleep. She stepped inside, hand still on the doorknob, the physical connection to the door somehow making her feel less like she was invading his privacy. His bed was still made, the bathroom dark inside its open door. The panic choked her now; she was drowning in it. He was gone. She pulled the door closed and, hand still gripping the knob, took several deep breaths. She told herself he must have gone downstairs for a moment; maybe there was a little shop she hadn't seen. She'd just sit and wait for him to come upstairs. It would only be a minute. Bad timing on her part was all.

She turned, back against the door, and slid to the floor, knees against her chest. She held her knees together tightly, fearing she would fly apart if she didn't keep hold with all her strength. Alarms rang between her ears, shaking her already overwhelmed brain like so much Jell-O. There was an earthquake or a hurricane or a tornado or a bombing raid coming and she needed to be curled up against the ground or be swept away, pulled from time and space and existence.

She couldn't blame him, created by some miracle only to be unceremoniously dumped on this alternate world without his beloved home and ship. She realized then that she hadn't cried, really cried, since she'd had to leave Donna bleeding in the street. She tried to ease into it, but her first shaky breath completely broke any semblance of control she had. She forced herself to be quiet out of courtesy for her fellow guests. It might be better to go into the Doctor's room, hid behind the walls, but she couldn't. She couldn't be surrounded by his absence. Besides, she felt there was something appropriately miserable about weeping in the fetal position on the floor of some unknown Norwegian hotel.

She let herself cry without care for her appearance. She felt her eyes growing red and puffy, reveled in her hiccoughs, let her sobs scratch against her throat. She didn't know what she expected in all of this; but it wasn't this. That's not true. She did know what she expected: that sprint in the street to end in the best snog of her life, the Doctor to grab her hand and pull her back into the TARDIS where the two of them would (against all odds) defeat the Daleks and restore the universe to its rightful state, and finally to start back where they left off—best mates travelling the universe and righting wrongs—and also sex. She imagined really fantastic sex. That's what she expected, dreamed. As she cried, she let the tears and mucus and saliva wash away the rational responses to this whole mad situation, and whatever shreds of naïve childhood faith that vanished with them.

Rose woke to a shuffling footfall. She didn't realize she had fallen asleep, probably as a result of her eyes swelling shut from tears…not to mention her physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Rubbing at her crusted eyelids—she must have been something to behold—she saw a pair of battered red Chucks. A tiny thrill of hope lifted her head. The plimsolls were followed by lanky blue pinstriped trousers, a matching jacket, and finally, the Doctor's concerned face.

"Rose?" He crouched down beside her.

"Doctor?" Rose breathed, voice cracked and raw. "Oh, God, I…"

"Rose, what's…are you…Why are you sitting out in the hall?"

"I just," she paused, stretching her back and legs. "Mum kicked me out. Said I should talk with you. Figured she was right…but you…"

"I wasn't here," the Doctor grimaced and ran his hand over his face. "Oh, Rose. I'm so sorry."

He'd been holding together pretty well, if he did say so himself. The immediate tasks of getting off the beach and then getting to the hotel and finally getting to his room kept him from thinking about…everything. He was in his room for ten minutes before he started pacing. He couldn't take sitting still. Rose had smiled at him, and that gave him a foothold for hope in an otherwise overwhelming situation. But then Rose hadn't even looked at him and followed Jackie into their room. He wasn't expecting anything…physical. But he thought that at least she would want to talk with him, spend time with him. Clearly, she didn't.

Her sudden absence broke any veneer of confidence he had managed to hold onto since the TARDIS disappeared. Even when she wasn't talking to him, when she wasn't even touching him during the walk into Eikelandsosen, at least she was there. He could see her, and that was enough. He only had one heart, but it was slamming against his ribcage with the force of three or four. He felt…what was it? It wasn't fear, or anger, or confusion, or sadness, though it had aspects of all of those. Panic. It was panic. In fact, considering the increasing constriction in his chest and uncontrollable tremors in his hand, he was quite sure he was having a panic attack. That was new. He couldn't say he liked it.

He took a shower and cleaned his clothes with the sonic screwdriver he kept in his blue suit. Not what he intended to do with a spare, to give it to a spare him, but he was thankful for it now. Out of the shower, he paced for precisely eight minutes and thirty-four seconds before he decided pacing his room wasn't going to help. The room was too confined. The pacing had no objective, no end goal, just walking in circles. When he stubbed his toe on the bed frame, he swore and grabbed his room key. He would walk somewhere. Somewhere outside. Somewhere he could get to—arrive and return. Simple objective, easy to complete, fresh air to boot.

The first gust of cold Norwegian wind made him second-guess his plan. He felt icold/i. He didn't like that at all. He also noticed he was hungry. Cold, hungry, and panicked: he wasn't so sure he liked this human thing. It wasn't too late in the evening, so he wandered in to a small shop and ordered some food. His Norwegian was rusty without the TARDIS's aid, but he was happy to know he kept his languages. Well, at least Norwegian and English. He convinced the old man to fry some potatoes, resulting in something like chips. He ate one order in the shop, as well as a salmon smorrebrod. He ordered two more portions of "chips" to go. He got the distinct impression Mr. Nils Haugen thought him strange. He had no idea.

The walk and food eased his mind. . He thought perhaps the promise of chips would lure Rose from Jackie's room. He just needed to survive the night. For that, he needed Rose. There would be time to contemplate his existence tomorrow. He made his way back to the hotel, and felt the tremor of panic tickling his mind. With each step he took up the narrow stairwell, the reality held deliciously at bay by fried potatoes and salmon sandwiches became more and more evident. When he reached the top, he saw Rose, and for a brief moment thought everything would be okay. Then he saw her face.

He crouched beside her; she told him she'd come to talk with him and he wasn't there. Twelve hours in and he'd already let her down.

The Doctor stretched his crouching legs, unfolding to full height. Rose looked awful, as bad as he'd seen her. Her lips were beginning to chap and crack. Her eyes were red and puffy, but worse than that they were utterly lacking in their usual sparkle. He understood her exhaustion and sadness, he felt that too. But the hopelessness terrified him. He remembered her smile earlier in the evening; she was hurt but she managed to smile. This Rose…the one he saw now, Rose without hope…it was too much.

He held out his hands to Rose and wiggled his fingers. He hoped it would work. He searched her face for any hint of their future. He was pleased to find the tiniest ghost of a smile as she took his hands and let him pull her up. Perhaps he still was an optimist, hoping and dreaming no matter how far-flung or improbable hopes and dreams seemed on this cold, dark night in tiny coastal town in Norway.

"Well, I'm here now. And," the corners of his lips turned up ever so slightly as he pulled a brown paper bag covered in grease stains from under his arm. "I've got chips. Well. Something like chips." Rose smiled at him; he could still see the sadness in her eyes but he would take what he could get.

He opened the door, turning the old-fashioned key in the lock. No key-cards or bioreaders in Eikelandsosen. He briefly wondered if she still had here TARDIS key. He opened the door, standing aside to let her in. His eyes flicked up to her neck; he could see the metal chain he had given her catching the dim hall light between her t-shirt and her neck. It gave him hope for a brief moment, until he remembered its presence was nothing more than a reminder of everything they'd both lost. He distracted himself by fiddling with the doorknob.

Once inside, he handed the bag to Rose. He sat on the edge of the bed, leaving the armchair for her; it had a side table so it would be easier for her to eat. He imagined she was hungry. The gusto she brought to the chips ultimately wasn't proof either way—she was never delicate around her favorite food.

"These're gorgeous," she said between bites. He smiled. She was gorgeous then; so very Rose, so alive, so there. He didn't mean delicious, but he imagined…no, he stopped himself from imagining.

"Thought old Nils did a fine job. Made a nice smorrebrod, too, but I thought you'd appreciate these more."

"You brought these just for me?"

"Of course," he shrugged, flopping back onto the bed. "I figured you'd be in need of a refuel. Wasn't expecting you outside my door, though."

"Yeah," Rose set the bag on the side table. "Sorry 'bout that."

"Whatever would you apologize for?"

"I was a mess."

"Understandable. I'd be more frightened if you looked completely normal. I might think you'd gone mad," he lifted himself up on his elbows so she could see his smirk, know he was joking.

"I…" her breath caught, she shook her head as if to clear it. "I thought you'd left."

"Left? Don't be daft," he chuckled, mirthlessly. "Wherever would I go?"

"We are kinda in the middle of nowhere," she shrugged and grabbed another chip. "Guess I was being a bit daft."

"I meant…you don't think?" The Doctor sat up rapidly.


"You think I want to leave," he whispered, fingers grasping fistfuls of the quilt on the bed. "Really leave? Rose."

"Just that…I mean…I get it, I'm not trying to guilt you or nothing," Rose didn't look at him. She inspected the bag for the next chip; it looked like it must be a very important choice. He tried not to grimace. "Staying still, not your style, yeah?"

"You're joking," he could feel anger seeping into those same cavities recently bubbling with panic. He tried to calm himself, his voice. How on earth could she possibly think…

"What? No. I just…" Rose finally looked up. He caught her gaze with his, desperate to hold it and somehow tell her everything he wanted to say. She had to know how much he needed her, how much he wanted her. He didn't know if he was ready to say it yet, but he had to show her. After a few long moments looking into her eyes, Rose's eyes flicked down at her lap. He caught the faintest blush. "Doctor, I…"

"Look, have you had a shower yet?" He pulled at his ear, maybe he shouldn't push too much so soon.

"No, not yet," she

"Why don't you take a shower? I took one earlier. I can sonic your clothes clean."

"You nicked the sonic?"

"Naw, had two; one in each suit. Anyway, can't nick what's mine, now can I? Anyway, your clothes. Won't smell like fabric softener, but it'll make them feel clean and it won't smell badly."

"Oi, you saying I smell?"

"A bit," he sniffed, smirking. She smiled back, quickly looking down at her shoes as though smiling was uncomfortable. She looked up again, no longer smiling but no longer hopeless. The Doctor supposed that was improvement enough for now.

"Right, well," Rose nodded. I think a shower is a good idea. I'll be out in a mo," The Doctor nodded back at her. He watched as she turned and slipped into the bathroom without looking back. He sighed and fell back down on the bed.

Rose sighed as the hot water soaked into her hair. She could smell oil and smoke as the water hit her, see the soot and dirt circling the drain beneath her feet. Her hair deserved the "repeat," after the first lather and rinse. Conditioner next. Simple steps, easy to accomplish. Normal life. She sat down against the back of the tub, pulled her knees to her chest, and let her head roll back against tile wall. She sighed heavily, then turned to unwrap the little soap provided by the hotel. Cursing inwardly, she thought perhaps it would have made more sense to unwrap dry paper with dry fingers. She made a right mess, but had just managed to free the tiny bar from its paper prison when she heard a knock on the door.

"Rose?" the Doctor's voice called, muffled through the door.

"Come in," she heard the door creak open, then began lathering the soap over her limbs, taking time to be unnecessarily thorough on her fingers and toes. She heard the door close and the Doctor's footsteps shuffle in.

"Sorry, just going to sonic your clo…" The Doctor's breath caught. She could almost feel him blushing. She forgot he offered to sonic her clothes clean—he used to do it all the time when they'd get stuck in a jail cell overnight or emerged from an adventure covered in some variety of mud, slime, or goo—and had left her knickers and bra on top of the pile. Apparently he was still an oblivious prude. She heard the whir of the sonic before the Doctor finished his sentence. He coughed a bit, "hmm, sonic your clothes. I didn't have to touch anything."

"I remember how it works," Rose said, smirking. "I forgot you were comin' in, or I'd've hid the girly bits."

"Yes. Right. Well," Oh, he was thoroughly embarrassed now. Somehow that comforted her. The more things change… "It's all clean, anyhow. I'll be outside. Well, outside the bathroom, but still in the room. I assume you knew that."

" 'S all right, Doctor. I'll be out in a few," she smiled to herself, biting on her thumbnail while she imagined the blush in his cheeks as he tripped out of the restroom, closing the door behind him.

She wanted to forget all the complications and contingencies and just go back to being them. How long would it be before she could just enjoy having him around without thinking about everything? Could she ever? Part of her didn't even question that he was the Doctor. Another part of her didn't know if she could ever just accept that.

She sighed and let her head fall, water flowing over her.

How long would it be before the Doctor got bored and wanted to leave? Could she ever be a replacement for the TARDIS? Would the real Doctor ever come back? Would she go with him if he asked? What if he never came back? Was the Doctor outside the real Doctor? Was…

She kicked the faucet off abruptly and ran her hands over her face. There was time to worry and wonder and question, but this was Day One. She needed rest. He probably did, too. They had to talk, a bit. There was no denying that. But there was time. They didn't need to solve everything tonight. Driving herself mad in the shower wouldn't help either of them.

She toweled herself dry, then wrapped her hair into a turban. She looked at her clothes, reaching out to run her finger along the surface of her shirt. It felt clean, even new; it had that particular bouncy quality of brand new fabric. She smiled, he'd probably used the fanciest setting—he never used it because he claimed it took too much out of the screwdriver and he didn't want to risk encountering an adventure with at half-power. "But were I to use it, you'd be impressed, Ms. Tyler—like brand new!" he'd said, grinning his silly grin. She'd rolled her eyes at him then. Now…

She dressed, pulled a hair tie from her jean pocket and tied her hair back into a messy ponytail. She regarded her reflection, hazy through the steam. Her face had cleared up a bit at least, angry red splotches replaced by the flush of heat. Her eyes still looked tired, though. Not her best look. Being around the Doctor reminded her of years past, herself when she was nineteen: before seeing the universe, before being stranded, before dealing with the grief and loss of losing the Doctor, before being forced to grow up faster than she'd have liked. For her it had been four years since she'd stayed at this same hotel. Those years seemed multiplied in the lines on her face, lines her mum swore she was making up. But she felt every moment. How long had it been for him? She'd have to get a good look at his eyes—his face might change but those had never been able to hide.

Right. She rubbed her palms over face. They needed to talk a bit before she couldn't stay awake any longer. Set some ground rules for whatever was ahead of them.

The Doctor heard the door creak open and sat up. Rose emerged through a billow of steam. She did know how to make an entrance, his Rose. She looked fresher, less defeated. He was a bit surprised by how much better it made him feel. He also felt a bit stupid for being surprised. He loved Martha and Donna, but it was always different with her, how much power Rose held over his emotions. That cheeky little grin could turn the Oncoming Storm into the Last of the Sun Showers, complete with rainbows. She stood by the bed, biting her lower lip and wiggling her toes. She was waiting; it was his turn to say something.

"You look better. How're your clothes?" He remembered her little clothes pile and suppressed a blush. All of space and time at his disposal and one human girl's knickers turned him into a schoolboy.

"Actually, they're great. I feel like a new person," Rose sighed, her face relaxing. He chuckled at her and she responded with a confused (adorable) look.

"Sorry. Just thinking," he smirked. "I'd say the same, but…it's a bit complicated, isn't it?" By the end of the joke he felt sorry he'd started it. A little too close to the quick there, old chap. His eyes flicked up to Rose; she looked…uncertain how to respond. Quite right. "Listen, Rose. I'm sorry."

"What for?" Rose looked up at him, full in the face. He smiled and patted the bed, shifting over to the side. She looked to him and to the edge of the bed. He stopped breathing for a moment, waiting for her decision until she nodded almost imperceptibly and sat. He could feel her tense and relax, could feel the quilt shift with her weight. He wanted to reach for her hand, to lace his fingers between hers, to feel her blood pumping under the soft skin of her palm and the soft vibration produced by their fingerprints rubbing together. He resisted. He'd let her make the first move.

"About earlier," he answered once she relaxed. Still, his fingers twitched. "I didn't mean to be snippy."

"I think we've both got reasons to be emotional," Rose muttered in response, rubbing her palm with her thumb. She wanted to drop it, he could tell. He wasn't going to.

"It's just…what you said…you thought I'd leave…did you think I was lying?"

"What?" Rose's voice hitched, she turned towards him.

"Did you not believe me when…" He sighed. He'd rather not talk about, but he had to. They had to. They didn't have time to waste. He looked back up to Rose, held her eyes with his. She looked confused, maybe even hurt. "Rose, I…I told you I… I love you. I want to spend my life with you, if you want me. But you think I want to leave. Did you think I was lying?"

"No, it's not that," she looked away, her gaze finally finding her toes. She wiggled them when she was nervous. He filed that fact away.

"What then? Do you not trust me?" He wanted to reassure her, that's what this was about. Not about accusing her. Well, maybe a little. But only in order to reassure her. He decided to reach for her hand, laying his gently atop hers.

"Of course I trust you, but…"

"But?" He asked, urging her on.

"Will you let me finish a sentence?" She laughed. He panicked for a moment, until he saw that she was teasing. "That hasn't changed, has it?"

"Right. Sorry,"

"This is just so bloody confusing. You're the Doctor but you aren't the Doctor."

"Tell me about it. I haven't even figured out how this me was created. Couple of ideas, but I haven't thought it through. Part of the reason I went for a walk. To be honest, Rose…I'm scared. Terrified. Panicked. Completely confused." He had been looking at Rose, but his gaze shifted to the empty space in front of him.

"Me too," Rose sighed. She turned her hand so their palms met, her thumb rubbing lightly across the side of his hand. "Also, I'm bloody exhausted."

"Me too," he looked back at her face, seeing the cataloguing the evidence in favor of her conclusion. Her face was gaunt; cheekbones more sunken than before, circles under her eyes darker even than earlier that day. He felt it himself, too. He didn't realize how true it was it until he said it. His limbs felt heavy, even his organs felt tired. It was a strange feeling, once he thought about it. They were quiet for a few moments, still holding hands.

"This you sleep?" Rose mumbled. The Doctor looked up at her, he thought she might have been dozing off as they sat together.

"I think so. Maybe not as much as you in the long run, but right now..." He shrugged.

"We gonna figure this all out tonight?" Rose asked him. She let go of his hand, stretching her arms above her head and arching her back in a mighty yawn.

"I doubt it," the Doctor responded, barely above a whisper. He was trying very hard not to watch the arch of her chest. Definitely a difference in his hormonal system,then.

"Right. I've got a proposition," Rose slapped her lap lightly and stood up, turning so that she faced him.

"I'm all ears. Figuratively, of course. Well, old-old me might have been, literally," he grinned, trying to play off his nerves. There were a ridiculous number of possible propositions she could be making and he had absolutely no idea how to respond to any of them.

"Okay, so, here's the deal. I'm with you. No question about that. We're in this together, yeah?" She was looking at her feet until, at her last question, she looked up at him.

"Rose. I'm lost without you. I'm not going anywhere." She held out her hands to him. He looked at her, uncertain what she was trying to get him to do. She smiled at his confusion, wiggling her fingers. iAh/i. He took her hands and she pulled him up.

"Right. So we don't have to worry 'bout that. Neither of us. Tonight we get some sleep. Start fresh tomorrow?"

"Sounds brilliant," He smiled. His Rose always is.

"Can I hug you?" she asked. She looked afraid he might say no; it took much of his self-control not to laugh at her question. Instead, he dropped her hands and opened his arms wide. She slipped her under his and wrapped them around his shoulders. He hugged her back, tightly. He was surprised that he felt tears welling in his eyes. Human bodies and emotions and their interactions were very strange.

"Would you mind staying here tonight?" he whispered into her hair. He almost hoped she didn't hear it.

"You want me to stay?" She pulled back, searching his eyes for any meaning she might be missing.

"If you want."

"Yeah. But…I'm not ready. I mean, for anything…"

"Me neither," he chuckled. That wasn't what he meant at all, but he could see how it would sound that way. "I just find I'd rather keep you in visual proximity until I'm sure this isn't a dream." Rose smiled at that.

Rose watched the Doctor as he excused himself to the bathroom. He moved the same, mostly. She wondered, briefly, how long she would continue to inspect him for differences. She didn't like it, she'd rather not do it, but she found she couldn't help herself. Once the door closed, she sighed heavily and fell onto the bed. She realized she didn't have any pajamas, and she didn't really want to sleep in her jeans. She slipped them off and quickly crawled under the sheets. She was happy that even this tiny little hotel in the middle of Norway had several layers of blankets. She and the Doctor could both have blankets without having to sleep under the same sheets. She could go pantsless without having to worry about…things.

Things that, if she was honest with herself, she wouldn't mind worrying about later. But tonight, it was too soon. She was feeling pretty good about where they stood at the moment, but she had a feeling that today's events, like any of her other injuries—it would hurt worse tomorrow. For now, though, she would rest.

She must have dozed off, because the next thing she noticed was the Doctor's weight beside her on the bed. He was not under the blankets, but had spread his jacket backwards across his chest. His feet, still in his red Chucks, crossed at his ankles. His eyes were closed, his breathing even. She turned slightly to see if she could find a bedside clock, but it seemed to be on his side of the bed.

"Doctor?" She asked quietly, wondering if he was still awake.

"Hmm?" he responded. She looked up to see his eyes open and fixed on her. There was a gentleness there that almost frightened her.

"Did I wake you?" she asked.

"Nope. Not asleep yet," he whispered, a small smile gracing his lips.

"Oh. Good," she smiled back at him. She paused a moment, thinking of what to say. She'd started the conversation after all; she figured she should say something. She spoke the first thing her mind settled on. "'S just, I wanted to say, I missed you." He did not respond immediately, worrying her. Had she said too much? She thought that would be okay.

"Rose," he finally said. She heard a small crack in his voice. "I missed you, too. Very much."

"'N whatever happens," she followed quickly, suddenly realizing how much she wanted him to know this. "Whatever happened, I'm not sorry. I'm glad you're here."

"Me too," the Doctor answered. She felt him lean toward her, felt his chin against her head. She leaned back into him in an armless hug.

"'Night," she mumbled.

"Goodnight, Rose," he whispered so quietly she felt the vibrations of it in her hair more than actually heard him.

She was afraid and unsure. Her heart had been dragged through universes and sand and she felt raw into her very soul. But tonight she thought she might sleep better than she had in a long time. First night of a new life.