*Alrighty, this is my first Doctor Who fic, and really all I can say is that I hope you like it...even if you hate me afterwards...


Rose has a tendency to ramble when she's tired and close to sleep. He'd made the discovery months ago (relatively speaking), the first time they'd fallen into bed together, but it never fails to fascinate him. She's never been particularly guarded with him, but being able to see her like this? So soft, so vulnerable, so utterly human. It's breathtaking.

There are nights when she'll talk about her mum; wonder and worry about how Jackie's getting on without her. Or she'll mull over the places they've been, their adventures. He loves those nights, loves hearing how their escapades looked through her eyes, loves the way her accent thickens with sleep, making some words almost unintelligible. If he thought her saying Raxacoricofallapatorius was cute before...

There are rare occasions when she scares him a little. When the things that she says on the cusp of sleep make him wonder if there's still a tiny bit of the Time Vortex left in her head. If there is, he hopes that it's not hurting her, because he'd have no idea how to help her; wouldn't even know where to start. So he can only hope that, if it is there, all it does is give her strange dreams and premonitions.

Tonight, he's relaxed, tracing patterns into her skin as she tells him about the dreams she's been having lately. There's a recurring one about Jack in a dress, engaged in a sword fight. His opponent is always different - Mickey, her mum, even Cassandra - but the rest of the dream remains the same. "It's a beautiful dress," she comments offhandedly. "I'd wear it."

He chuckles at that. "Any more?"

Rose hesitates. "There's one," she says, "but..."

"But what?" He's on alert, and his hand's gone still on her shoulder.

"Well, it's just that...I dunno if it's a dream or a memory," she tells him. "I mean, it feels like something that's happened before, but I don't know how it can have, y'know?"

He nods. This is starting to feel like one of those scarier nights. "Why don't you think it could have happened?" he asks.

"Because I'm talking to you," she explains. "And not "you-before-you-were-you" you, but you."

"Ahh." He pauses. "What's happening?"

She's quiet for a moment, remembering. "It's the middle of the night, New Year's, I think. And we're standing in the street talking, you and I. But I don't know you. You ask me what year it is, and I tell you 2005, and you tell me I'm gonna have a great year, and then...that's it."

They're both silent for a while after she finishes. "What makes you think it might be a memory?" he asks slowly.

She sighs. "This is going to sound crazy, but I think I remember having that encounter with someone. And it would make sense for you to tell me that 2005 would be a great year because, well, that's the year I met you." There's a pause. "I'd rather it be a dream, though," she adds.

"Why?"

She ducks her head. "Well, because if your future self is visiting my past self, then obviously I'm not with you at some point in the future." She sniffles. "And I don't wanna think about that possibility. I don't want to think about what could possibly happen to take me away from you."

His hearts clench. He doesn't want to think about that either. "Rose," he murmurs. She looks up at him, and he cups her cheek, wiping away the tears that have fallen. "I promise that I won't ever leave you of my own volition." He kisses her softly. "And I won't ever let you go without a fight. Okay?"

She nods and snuggles into him, her breath evening out as she falls asleep. He resumes the pattern he'd been tracing on her shoulder. The same circles, dots, and lines, over and over. The same message over and over. I love you, Rose Tyler.

And less than a week later, in the midst of a war between the Daleks and Cybermen, he fights like hell to keep her with him. He really does.