A/N: So, welcome to chapter 10! It looks like the muse is back, but I've made her sit in the corner because there's been family things and this thing called university that I still haven't quite got the hang of yet. This chapter's a little bit racy, so if you're on the younger side, get gone. Also, I want to say an enormous thank you to all my readers for sticking with me through this literary drought. I do simply love each and every one of you.
Disclaimer: The Doctor isn't mine. Please don't sue me, I'm poor. This is a complete work of fiction for my own personal pleasure in writing.
It wasn't particularly late when the Doctor made it back to their room, but he was weary and ready to close his eyes. Sleep isn't the right feeling, the right sensation. This feeling was just being tired.
When he peeked his head into the room, he noticed two things: the first, that Rose isn't on the bed where he left her half an hour ago, and that the lights in the room have changed. There's a low, even glow all over the room; nothing was under harsh exposure but by the same token there were no corners of shadows, either. Everything muted and soft like this made his eyelids feel even heavier. He took a few slow steps into the room and listened; there, rumbling in the pipes underneath the wall, hot water was rushing, and he could hear the spatter and splash in the bathroom – Rose, presumably, in the shower. He decided in that moment to give her some privacy and instead of lying face-down and spread-eagled on the bed, he drifted instead over to the piano on the other side of the room. This, at least, wouldn't require his gritty-feeling eyes.
He lifted the lid of the piano just a touch, remembering how the warm sound fills the space differently when the music was allowed to breathe. Then he paced back to front of the piano and took a seat in front of the ivories; the bench was wide and long, smooth black leather with legs long enough for him to feel comfortable when his toes reached for the pedals.
He touched the keys; long, slender hands spread out, but he doesn't actually play a note. Instead, he paused, first pulling himself out of his suit jacket and then loosening his tie. When the knot was hanging halfway down his chest he reached underneath and undid the first two buttons of his collar. Then, in a terrible stereotype, the Doctor cracked his neck in two quick, sure jerks and rolled his shoulders like they weren't attached to his body. He took a deep breath, held it for a moment in the near-silence, and then, with eyes still closed, went to work on the buttons of his shirt cuffs; they were undone and then rolled evenly up to just before his elbow. Then the Doctor opened his eyes for the first time since he'd sat down, and took in the vision before him. Familiar hands connected to familiar arms hovering over the familiar keys of a familiar piano. All of it was so known, so comfortable. But even with this around him, there was a new feeling in his chest, something that had never been there before. It was nostalgia without the hurt, it was sadness long after grieving and like being held in those first few seconds of wakefulness after a nightmare when your instincts say run and fight but there are a pair of real arms around you that tell you safe and alright and trust me. Inside the Doctor's head and hearts, at that moment, were all of these feelings. So he did what he'd always done. Make something out of what hurt.
First, the Earth classics, the pieces that this instrument was meant to play, the Bachs and the Beethovens and the Chopins. Songs that swelled like waves and crashed into pieces; pieces that then floated like the feathers from a bird's broken wing. All of the things that he was feeling, and the Doctor poured it all out into the music, the math of it keeping his hands alive and his breathing in time. His eyes were closed – he never looked at the keys when he played, he hadn't for centuries. Instead he made himself count the numbers and solve the equations and trace the lines of pathos and logos until he didn't have thoughts left. When this finally happened, he changed over, heart full, to the songs that he'd brought in his memory from Gallifrey. Songs that were sad and long and so, so slow; they reminded him of those days of drizzly rain that never really started but never really stopped, either. The Time Lords were the oldest people in the universe. It made sense to him that their music should feel like it never, never ended until that final note struck and there just wasn't anything left. The numbers were gone, the equations in the music had been solved. The logos had all been used up; the Doctor was left sitting bereft before an ancient piano with nothing but the emotions of the pathos in his lap.
Rose slipped out of the bathroom while the Doctor was still playing, his whole body rocking and moving with the tide of the music. She'd only been in a towel, fresh out of a hot shower, skin warmed to pink. She decided that there were better options than what she was in, and so traded her thick, damp towel for a faded cotton robe she'd had since Noah was born. The sleeves were excessively long, coming all the way down to her fingertips, but the body of it was short, making it only about halfway down her thighs. She quickly ran her fingers through her hair, now longer than it had ever been.
She approached, and he knew within a few seconds that she was just behind him. Neither said a word, and the Doctor filled the silence with another melody, this one warm and low and slow. It was short, and the Doctor stayed fairly contained while he played this piece, his torso only swaying slightly in tempo. It ended, and then the Doctor spoke.
"I could feel Noah moving around in his sleep. That was a lullaby from Gallifrey. I haven't played it in centuries." His voice was quiet, and Rose imagined all the things he was thinking.
The Doctor spun around on the bench, lifting his legs so he faced Rose properly. She was only a few paces away, not wanting to invade something of the Doctor's that was so very private. Then, eyes drinking her in, he reached out to her with both hands. The need etched into the lines of his face made Rose remember that very same look that Noah wore as a baby. Something is not quite right and you're the only one who can fix it.
She took those few steps into his embrace, his hands first holding solidly against her hips, the bones real under his palms. One arm slides down, over the roundness of her bottom until it settled against the backs of her thighs, pulling her in that little bit closer. They don't speak; the Doctor had gently pressed his face into Rose's belly, and she can feel his forehead, the line of his nose, the warm spot where his breath comes out. Her hands are on his shoulders and in his hair. It's long and silky between her fingers and she tries to think about the last time they stood like this, a lifetime ago, maybe longer.
"What was it called?" she whispered. The last chords are still ringing in her head.
"Something Gallifreyan," the Doctor mumbled. "But it's a sad song. It's called something like Water Music." He sighed and tilted his head back, looking at Rose with big, sad eyes. He drinks in the sight of her in these soft shadows like a dying man. Her body is the same as he remembered it, nothing feels different, but her eyes tell another story. All of her changes happened on the inside.
Rose holds the Doctor close, palms on his shoulder blades. He copied her, spreading one hand flat out against her belly. She can tell what he's thinking when he looks back up at her.
"Tell me what happened." The Doctor whispers his request shyly. "Tell me about it. What was it like for you?" His voice is strained and his hearts hurt.
Rose only meets him with silence for a moment, and he whispers again. "Please, Rose." He's not begging, but this idea has been weighing on him heavily. She rests one hand on the back of his head and gently pulls him against her again, his cheek pressed in to the fabric of the robe. She holds him there for her own benefit. He is warm and solid and real. The memories do no bring comfort, but he does.
She starts to whisper to him, words that are feelings and not stories in themselves. Words likes long, because she carried him for fourteen months and never really knew just how long he was supposed to be there to be safe. Long because she spent her nights alone, because she was in labour for the better part of three days. Rose said words like lonely, because at first her mother had been so, so angry. Because, when she was farther along, when she went out in public people would see the big belly and the bare ring finger and give mean looks, whisper to one another. She used words like lonely because he hadn't been there.
Then she uses another word, and this word is happy. Because while maybe not in the way it happened, she had wanted children in her future, and with Noah being from the Doctor it made up for the fact that maybe it was too soon and she wasn't ready.
Her fingers are still in his hair and he is still holding her close. He won't look at her because he can feel tears threatening and Rose understood this, she was gentle. Her voice is a whisper that seems to bypass his ears completely and the words are just there in his mind.
"Noah's yours… so that made it easier. Doctor… that just made it worthwhile. It made it right." She placed her hands on each side of the Doctor's face, nails gently scratching his scalp and tracing the edges of his ears. Eventually, he looked up at Rose, the remnants of tears still in his eyes.
She looked at him with warm eyes. "Bed, yeah?" There might be a few tears of her own, but the Doctor's vision is swimming and it's a non-issue. Her hands trace down from his shoulders until their fingers are intertwined, and then she took a step back, pulling the Doctor up to his feet. Once standing, he pulled back, and Rose is tightly in his arms when the tears finally fall.
"You're back with me," he whispered fiercely, voice choking. They are pressed as tightly together as two bodies can be, but Rose felt her chest constrict with something else. She spoke softly into the hollow of his chest, her cheek pressed against blue cotton. "I said forever, Doctor. I meant it."
He took her face in his hands then, his thumbs brushing over her cheekbones. It's then that he kissed her, and Rose responded equally. The kiss is deep and slow, and there was no edge in it, no demanding undercurrent. Minutes pass as they familiarize themselves with each other once again, breathing in tandem. Rose's fingers carded through the Doctor's hair and he copied her, his slender hands tangled in her damp hair. He tilted her head back and kissed a line along her jaw and then down her neck until he reached the hollow between her collarbones and Rose couldn't help but to hold her breath at the feeling. It's then that they pause, noses together and breaths coming in soft gasps between them. Rose held his face between her small hands and kissed the dried trails that his tears left behind.
They stayed like that for another moment longer, just content to hold one another again. Then, the Doctor took both of Rose's hands in his and they stepped away from the silent piano, his overcoat and suit jacket abandoned on the bench as the pair make their way back towards the bed. The room was silent and neither of them really knew how to go about the next few minutes. They were neither tense nor nervous, no, they were mostly just uncertain. The lights in the room dimmed again, the TARDIS aware of her occupants' circadian rhythms.
Rose approached the Doctor, her eyes asking permission for something that really, between them, is old news but is startlingly unfamiliar to these two bodies. He nodded to her in just the slightest and that was it – his tie was carefully lifted from his neck and then left to drop on the floor at their feet. Her fingers work slowly on the buttons of the oxford, and when it finally hung open in front of her, Rose gently gathered the material in her hands and untucked it from the Doctor's trousers. He shrugged his shoulders and it fell away. Touching Rose's hands stilled them, and for just a moment they pause and he toed off his chucks. Then he turned his eyes and his attention to her and hooked a finger in the sash of her robe. Hands moving slowly, he pulled at the ends of the knot and the robe slipped open, trailing lower over Rose's thighs. She was bare beneath it but the material still clung to her shoulders.
Breathing deeply to keep her fingers from shaking, she worked on the Doctor's belt, button, and zip. He hooked his thumbs into the waistband and then, with one push, the fabric falls from his slender hips to whoosh as it meets the floor.
They'd been standing at the foot of the bed and it was then that Rose stepped away, walking backward along the footboard until she's at the side of the bed. She placed one knee on the mattress, her intentions clear in the air. The Doctor's eyes never left hers as he copied her actions, until they're parallel on opposite sides of the bed. Then, Rose raised her hands and rolled her shoulders and just like the curtain at the live theatre, the fabric falls, except this is only the beginning of the show, not its closing act. His eyes traced her form and she can see them in the light, dark and hungry for something they haven't had in years.
She raised her other leg so she's kneeling on the bed now, and the Doctor crawled forward on his hands and knees to meet her halfway. He reaches her and doesn't know where to start and all of those same thoughts are reflected back at him in her eyes. Rose's hair is still damp and hanging long down her back, and her eyes huge in the dark, free from makeup and with pupils blown to almost completely fill their irises.
He places his hands on her shoulders and hers settled in the crook of his elbows. They skate down her back, pause at her waist briefly – long enough to pull her gently closer towards him. There was no hesitation on Rose's part, but in the years she's spent without a lover's touch, she's following the Doctor's lead.
He ducked his head to lick along her collarbone and breathe in her smell. Her breath is racing and it pushes her bare breasts up against his chest. His hands continue their venture, remembering the dimples of her hips on her back and the way the full curve of her bottom fills his hands. Her response is to drag her nails down his chest, the little hairs giving raise to goosebumps all over his body in one giant shiver. They make eye contact then, and it's all Rose can do to not die on the spot.
He was looking at her not unlike after their first together, and the memory kicks her into action. Without thinking, she leans forward into the kiss and he met her in the middle, just like always. Soon enough, tongues come out to play and teeth nibble along lips until Rose's body reminds her that there's thing called air that comes in really handy once in a while. She leaned her head back, breaking the kiss and heaving a deep breath. The Doctor takes this an invitation to venture farther down her body. Lips preoccupied with her collarbones, his fingers wander up her ribs one by one and then linger lightly over the swells of her breasts, warm and heavy in his hands. Slender fingers reach for nipples that are fuller and darker than he remembered, changed for having nursed a baby. He loves them, and idly he imagines what kind of Madonna and Child pose they would have made.
Rose moans under his ministrations, her head lolling forward on his shoulder. His lips trace downward, kissing the soft flesh of each swell and then planting one with an open mouth in the hollow between them against her sternum. He lets his tongue trail wetly across her skin and circle each nipple in turn. She cards her finger through his hair and desperately holds his head against her chest, breathing deeply and trying her best to not be overcome with sensations and rush this.
Her own hands are desperate for him, looking for anything that will bring him closer to what she needs. She settles for his slender hips, hands snaking around his back to bring their bodies together. Rose's breath was coming to her in short, gasping sounds, and she let out a soft sound when the Doctor settled his hands on her shoulders and they fell together against the pillows.
Their eyes lock and their fingers roam, and Rose could feel a sense of completeness settle in her chest, heavy and warm. The Doctor, for his part, can feel the love leaving the tips of his fingers and filling the room – the air is thick with the electricity of it, like love can be this thing that fills you up from the inside until you're bursting with it.
And that's how they feel, tangled in the sheets and hungry for each other. Eight years of absence have painted need on to their skins, and the only way to wash it off is to bring themselves together, to fill each other's senses until there's no space for anything, until there's no room for anything but love.
A/N: And here was chapter nine. I would really love to know what you think about it. It's rough writing right now because school is demanding so much of my time, but I'm managing, I think. Also, if you're interested, don't forget to check out Promise Me Something, the Jack/Martha companion piece to this work! I bet GrumpyCat is grumpy because he doesn't get reviews. Hint hint.