A/N: Waiting for my lovely Beta to return verdict on the last chapters of 'Momentum', I thought it would be nice to share this with you. I wrote it over a period of months and it's quite poetic-y. (Yes, I know a bit long to work on a one-shot. Humour me. It's art!) Deciding on the rating was quite difficult. In the end I settled for M, but it's not really that. At least I don't think so. Just to be on the safe side, though. Well, hope you enjoy! :-)
Long after it's over and dust has settled on the moment, he will remember how it began.
For the Doctor knows Time. And Time knows him.
Now, on a far away desert planet, the name of which he's already forgotten, he thinks they are safe; merely a breath away from the sound of drums. In this night, in this sumptuous room he's chosen, they stand facing each other, immersed in the sight, while outside shimmering coral heat refuses to recede and threatens to build into a storm. The Doctor suspects the stifling air has made him feverish; he's thirsty and his throat feels constricted. He tugs at his tie, pulling it loose, but the choking feeling persists. Then one quick whiff of fresh air swirls in through the open window and past the linen draperies, carrying with it the smell of incense, sand and age. The Doctor breathes in heavily as the breeze flutters past him and touches the smooth fabric of Rose's dress, leaving only a small rustling sound to disturb the quiet. She looks at him, Rose does. In the veiled glow of a dozen oil lamps, the flickering lights throw shades of midnight across her face, and his breath catches. How can he not be spellbound? She's spectral; his mythical creature; the one who thrills him and magnetizes his soul. Eve, and Helen and Cleopatra, all captured in a single immortal vision. Bad Wolf.
Then he blinks, and she's Rose again. Less than mythical, but so much more than his Arcadia: his companion, his best friend, his… Does he even dare think of such a dangerous notion? Inwardly he shivers at the implications; still shunning the forbidden fruit.
Oh, he knows. Is past pretending he doesn't.
Even after he spend what seems like a lifetime ignoring it, falling for her so incredibly hard still astonishes him. Staring into her eyes now, he can see a reflection of that same pure, stupefying sense of wonder. That same trepidation mixed with want that has led them to this place – to where he soon won't be able to hide anymore.
Music from the courtyard outside has begun to filter through; a single low melodious voice accompanied by a rhythmic drumming, the pulsating tones carefully building towards each other, like a lovers' dance. The sound is hypnotising, while every second that passes inches them closer to impending seduction. In his mind it's already far too late. In that most secluded of places, there is no distance, only the closeness he craves; the intimacy and solace that he's sure he will only ever find with her.
As they wait and hold back, the Universe itself stretches like a rubber band, their galaxy hurtling through space, continents moving while Earth races along at 1040 miles an hour. Everything moves. And he feels it. He can feel it all! From the smallest subatomic particle to the cells of her human body; vesicles propelled by motor proteins moving at a velocity of 0.00000152 miles per second - her heart constantly pumping blood at thousands of times that speed.
Oh, that frail heart of hers. He's always so afraid that one day it might decide to stop. Gone, just like that, abruptly and arrogantly taking all of her with it, leaving him behind as merely another victim of humanity.
The Doctor's thoughts shatter. The beauty in front of him is a sinful reminder of worlds to be lost. He will betray her again, he knows that. It's inevitable. Along with his courage, he feels his knees buckle and reaches for reassurance by steadying himself against the rough wooden doorframe. Never mind that she's only a few feet away. It seems like a gaping abyss to cross, and yet, he has no choice but to take that action. His desire, his need for what lies beyond is too strong. So he tentatively steps, and steps again, until there is no more distance between them; only the music that fills the room with a presence of its own.
Standing face to face, he is close enough to feel her body heat through his layers of clothing as if she were about to burn right through into his skin. He craves that burning now so very much. Touching her shoulder with his hand, he lets it trail down her arm until he holds her wrist between his fingers, feeling the steady beat of that precious heart.
She lifts her other hand and cups his face which he instinctively rubs against her hand like a cat, her fingertips grazing his lips. When she opens her mouth and takes in a sudden gulp of air, he immediately wants to follow it back to her, but stops himself in time.
Time. Far more than just an abstract notion one can resist, or ignore, or try to, until her ruthless nature becomes apparent. To the Doctor, Time has fingers and nails of fiery air that scratch his skin, bloodying him, telling him it's all useless. He is Time's creature; not her master. She lurks in shadowy corners of his mind and mercilessly laughs at his prancing. All the running in the world can't stop him from remembering what he doesn't want to. At night, as he desperately tries to avoid the impact of silence, infinity whispers to him -
He thinks it's fine that way. After all, who else might question the word of one who is Judge, Jury and Executioner to the universe?
Oh, yeah. Rose does.
Beautiful, brave, incredibly stubborn Rose.
Time looks at her with a weary, eternal eye. She doesn't play by the rules, and Time despises her paradox. Although omniscient and fractious by nature, she remains stoic, for encountering the Bad Wolf has taught Time to be patient. Like a spider, she waits for him to stumble and fall into her web. While the Doctor can see Time, he doesn't know the future; that would be too simple, and simple is not what the Doctor is about. Destiny is always right under his skin, unravelling him like yarn, until he's nothing but darkness and shadow, his once clearly defined edges blurring into confusion.
Looking at Rose also means seeing into himself, and there he finds only death and destruction - every mistake he's ever made; every life he's ever seen snuffed out, whether by his own hands or in his name; sightless eyes and blood drenched hands - never the same, but always choking him and punching a hole in his chest, twisting, tearing him apart, like he deserves. Killer of his own kind.
Again he curses himself for looking too deeply. He knows he shouldn't, but he does.
He's never going to tell.
How could he possibly tell her that there's not a single timeline where he doesn't mess up her life? How he's haunted by the number of times and ways he's seen her die? By now, all he can hope for is that it won't hurt too much in the end. For either of them.
Even while confronting the edges of despair, he is fast being swept along by the rush of sensations pulsing through his body, drowning out reality, although he doesn't fail to notice the rapid quickening of Rose's pulse beneath his touch when he moves closer; the way Rose keeps her eyes riveted to his, as if they are preparing to leap into the unknown and need just that last comfort of bravery. Using his hold on her, he exerts the slightest bit of extra force, gently pulling her in. She settles against his chest and he immediately wraps his arms around her waist. With her body so securely pressed up against him, he can feel every angle, every delicious curve of her, and without conscious thought he tightens his hold further and starts rocking them slowly. It's far beyond any intimacy they have shared before, but still not an actual confirmation either – more a coming together of bodies and minds, silently letting each other know where they are headed.
Through the haze that is his mind, the Doctor notices the music beginning to change. Where at first the drumming was subdued and appeasing, almost like a lullaby, the rhythm has now become more demanding, matching the rush of blood pounding through his veins. The excited skip of a double heart beat, faster still now, spells her name with every thump.
The last beat is where their lonely dance begins to edge towards the forbidden. Then, while they move and the music swells, suddenly there it is - a spark.
He sees himself.
He knows it can't be him, but it is. And they are together. How odd. He even looks happy; they both do. They're older and she takes his hand, smiling as she pulls him through life. It's difficult at first – living, growing old, being so vulnerable – all light and soft flesh and… human?
Now he's confused.
He's always known that he'd meet his match one day, only he never imagined this nemesis would come in shades of pink and yellow and smell, oh so delicately, of vanilla and strawberries.
Even now it seems to take forever before his lips reach hers. He kisses with reverence at first, almost shyly, but she responds to him instantly, lips parting and imploring him to do the same. He opens his mouth and lets himself be drawn in eagerly to taste more of the gorgeousness that is Rose.
Without surrendering Rose's lips, one of the Doctor's hands slips lower, his featherlight touch tracing a line from her shoulder to her clavicle and from there it is only a short distance before he reaches uncharted territory. Sensitive, silky curves and exquisite warmth beneath his palm. He wants more. When his mouth dips to the hollow of Rose's neck, a soft moan escapes her, and she clutches him tighter, driving them both deeper into new worlds of love and lust. There's no holding back now. They cling to each other like it's their last hope for salvation. The Doctor wants to know everything, wants to know her in the most complete sense of the word. Not slowly, like he imagined it before - more essential, but still suffused with more than a wholly primal urge, for his desires go deeper than that, are born from more than what can be expressed by possessing another.
Despite his increasing urge to resolve, to absolve them both right there, possibly against the nearest available surface, he finds the strength to momentarily restrain himself. It's not that he doesn't want this with her, oh, how he wants to, but he needs it to be her decision. Luckily, she is Rose and no other could know him better. So she takes his hand and begins leading him to the bedroom, and he can't do anything but follow the path she lays out before them.
Removing clothes is a complicated process that requires more precision than they're able to muster with the constant distraction of touch. Shirts, and jackets and buttons all exist to keep them from discovering what they so desperately need. Mouths keep insistently seeking each other out, exploring and demanding more. Only when the last agonising piece of fabric is conquered does the Doctor allow himself to fall into her further.
With the pendent night as cover, he feels the soft resistance of fingers and hands and hips and eagerly drinks in the sounds that flow from Rose's throat when he strokes her side with the most delicate of caresses; slender fingers fleeting over hot smooth skin, leaving goose bumps in their wake. His head dips down and his lips follow the path of his fingers across her belly, making her breath hitch. He absurdly and irrationally wonders if being human makes her more sensitive to this than him. Then Rose unexpectedly twists and manoeuvres them until their positions are reversed and he suddenly finds himself at the receiving end of her affections. Her roving hands and frantic kisses quickly reacquaint him with his own sensibilities, leaving him gasping for breath. She smiles against his chest. The Doctor discovers that he rather likes his favourite girl's new found confidence and answers by grabbing her waist, making her squeal in delight as he flips her on her back and pins her against the plush mattress. He nuzzles her throat, and even without knowing it they cross over towards that final piece of intimacy.
The Doctor slowly looks down at her, suddenly hesitant before meeting her eyes, he still finds it difficult to grasp why he should deserve this with her. Inwardly, he curses himself for his irrational fears, forcing his gaze up. And stops.
Seeing the love and raw honesty in the depths of her dark eyes, shakes him to the core. He wants to speak, but can't. Breaking eye contact, he buries his face against Rose's cheek, her fingers instinctively stroking the back of his head. In an instant, it surges through him, pushing to the brink and spilling against his eyes. And she feels it too, the salty moisture that touches her cheek, from where his lips trace a line back towards hers. His mouth, warmer than the rest of him, lingers and a small sob escapes the confines of his soul, floating into hers.
Then she turns her head and whispers make love to me. And he finally, finally understands what it is to be truly powerful.
At last, in the essence of her need, he abjures his own doubt and despair; seeking out that one perfect place to exist, to live within her, to feel the joy and indulgence of the sanctuary she offers. He revels in his power and hers, and not afraid to lose himself anymore, he enters her. Together they run, straight into the center of their reality, and their urgent whispers merge – his garbled words of encouragement, his lover's breathless sounds of pleasure; she calls his name, letting him know she's his and only his. Moving as one, again and again, he feels their love flare as it begins to consume them both. Past the point of no return, he's quickly losing the ability to focus on anything but the insatiable need that's driving them on. And then firm ground drops away and they fall over the edge together.
Much later, on a far away desert planet, the Doctor thinks that for once he's done something that he will never ever regret. Even in the years to come, in his darker hours, he still believes that.
From where he's sitting in his deck-chair, the Doctor watches Rose as she carefully removes some stray weeds from the dark soil. She's forever pottering around in that garden of hers. Last March she planted all these summer-flowers that have just started to bloom, turning their garden into a sea of purples, reds and yellows. A little while ago he suggested she should create a Rose garden, in honour of her gardening skills, but she playfully swiped his arm, asking if he didn't think that would be rather self-centered. He'd merely shrugged. After all, he's Rose-centered. Besides, she'd pointed out, she doesn't want anything with thorns in her garden; she likes her garden gentler than that, especially in light of their new situation. She'd wiggled her eyebrows and walked away, smiling knowingly. It had taken his still superior intellect a while to gather her meaning, before he'd hurried after her, a grin from ear to ear.
He's pulled from his reverie by a line of cool shade falling across his face. He smiles up as Rose leans forward and presses a kiss to his lips. Handily, he pulls her onto his lap, returning her kiss slightly more passionately. They sit together for a while, silently enjoying the warmth of the late afternoon sun and he recalls another time and place when he believed anything like this would make him a lesser being. Rose's hands lie still on his chest, feeling his heartbeat, and he realises that in a way he's indeed less now than on that long ago night. But it's okay, because she makes him whole.
And that's just brilliant.