This is the sixth fic in my 2013 Advent Calendar!
Note: This story is originally MA, but that rating isn't allowed here so I've edited down the smut to being less graphic. For those who want the uncut smut, this story is available on teaspoon, ao3, and my tumblr.
prompt: "The newly-regenerated Tenth Doctor finds Rose asleep in the wardrobe room with his old leather jacket wrapped around her shoulders. They have a heart-to-heart about regeneration, how it hurts, and all the reasons she knows it's still him."
THE LEATHER JACKET
Rose rouses from sleep by someone rocking her shoulder with a gentle, but steady, hand. She smacks her tongue, darting it out to wet her lips, licking the corners of her mouth with quick swipes, and frowning at the unpleasant taste. Her neck aches, her back aches, and she feels something hard digging into her left buttock. She snakes a hand under herself, finds rough texture covering something delicate, and pulls out the object, her other hand rubbing her eyes before she flutters them open. She hums out soft, displeased moans at the light in the room, scrunching up her face and squinting. In her hand rests a glittery, silver stiletto, heel jet black and sharp. Drawing in a deep breath through her nose, she stares at the object and tries to wrap her head around why she slept upright and on top of a shoe, and why everything smells like the Doctor. Leather, machine grease, the cologne he pretends not to use, and the faintest trace of cinnamon. She takes a few extra sniffs and—
She turns her head, and when she sees brown eyes where she expected blue, pain pierces through her chest for a split second before warmth replaces it, filling her up and bringing a smile to her face.
"How are you?"
"I think I fell asleep."
"Yes." He sits on his haunches beside her, brows drawn together, and eyes searching hers in concern. "I thought… We should probably move to the galley, hm? You can't be comfortable. What d'you say? Cuppa?"
He holds out his hands, and smiles, but the crinkle between his eyebrows stays. She doesn't understand why at first but, as she stands, something falls off her shoulders with a swish and brushes against her bare calves. His leather jacket. She woke up from a nightmare earlier and, by habit, padded toward the Doctor's room for comfort, but she stopped herself right before she knocked on his door and sought out something familiar instead.
She feels her cheeks heat up. "Uhm… I'm-I'm— Doctor, I just— I mean, I don't—"
He brushes his thumbs over her knuckles. "It's all right, Rose. Perfectly natural. It's not every day your…ehm…" He sighs and raises his shoulders, lowering them with a slight shake of his head and breathing out something indiscernible. "I…"
"Best mate? We're still… Aren't we?"
"Yes." He squeezes her hands before dropping them. "It's not every day your best mate changes, well, everything. But…Rose…" He reaches out, fingers grazing her cheek, reminding her that she cried before she dozed off, and she pictures him following the tear tracks. "I'm still me."
"I do know. You look—" She ducks her head, fringe falling down over her face to hide her blushing. "You look at me the same." She pauses for a while, then tosses her hair back and looks him in the eye. "But everything else… I think— Yeah, I still expect that daft, old face every time I go to the console room. You know what I mean?"
He slides his hands into his pockets, nodding.
"Just gimme a few more days, Doctor, yeah? I just need to…say goodbye, I suppose. I'm never gonna see—" She glances over her shoulder at the dark garment pooled by her feet. "Dunno. Just—"
"You—" It comes out more as a croak and he clears his throat. "You can keep it."
He gives her a warm look she feels all the way down to her stomach, fluttering building and turning into swoops when he leans forward. She doesn't realise she held her breath until she releases it in disappointment as he bends over and picks up his old leather jacket. He holds it out in front of her, smiling and jiggling it when she hesitates. She indulges him with a smile, but gives him a good-natured eyeroll before putting her right arm and then her left into the sleeves. Her hair is caught under the jacket, but he gathers her tresses in one hand, his fingertips brushing against her neck, and pulls her hair out before she can do so herself. She shivers.
"All right?" he asks.
"Yeah. Thanks." She turns around, clutching the front panels of the garment to close it over her chest. "Can I really keep it, though?"
"Of course. It's not for me anymore. I thought…maybe you wanted, or needed, a…memento?"
She snuggles deeper into the jacket, but stops herself just before she breathes in. "Uhm, yeah. Thank you, Doctor."
"Are you…" He runs a hand through his hair, eyes directed somewhere to the left over her head. "You said a few days. Are you gonna…" His Adam's apple bobs, lips working without a sound. "Are you, ehm, are you staying with-with Jackie after all, until the TARDIS is ready for, ehm, for…?"
"Uhm, no, I wasn't… But I could, if—"
"No!" His eyes grow wide before his face splits into a sheepish grin; she smiles at him, tongue poking out between her teeth. "I'm still the same man, Rose. Nothing's changed for me. I still want you here…with me, to travel—and you know what? We still haven't put on the kettle, have we?" He turns around on his heel, moves toward the staircase, and nods at her. " C'mon, then."
He takes brisk steps, darting through the time ship, and her shorter legs move twice as fast as his to keep up with him. Once in the galley, she sits down on her usual chair at his request, and he bounces around preparing tea and scones for them, babbling about this and that. She follows his every move, eyes drifting over long, skinny limbs, wild hair, wilder expressions, and a grin that, when he directs it at her, looks just the same as always.
She can't help but smile back, his contagious energy helping her forget that she, only moments ago, cried herself to sleep inside a wardrobe; however, her smile dies when he takes out the fruit tea they bought for her, and puts a bag in his cup as well. She worries her bottom lip as she watches him pour a splash of milk into his tea and sweeten it with several spoons of sugar. He used to drink a bitter, dark blend and would rather go without than adding anything to it.
"Your taste's changed, then?"
He whips around, eyebrows raised and cuppas in his hands. "Sorry?"
"You didn't say anything yesterday when we ate Christmas dinner. Dunno. Didn't know your taste's changed," she says with a shrug.
"Oh." He puts down the cups and takes the seat opposite her, leaning his elbows on the table. "Yes, my taste has changed. I thought…" He touches his tie before grabbing his cup and taking a sip. "A lot of things change."
"How about your— You get along with my mum, now. You were nice to her." She plays with one of her earrings and stirs her tea, staring into the swirls she creates. "Your taste in people change, then?"
"Yes, but—" He stops talking when her head snaps up and she looks him straight in the eye. "Not my…" His hand moves toward his chest, but he lets it drop to the table a second later, fingers touching the ear of his cup. "I justtold you that I still want you here, Rose. I've asked you to stay. You're still…" He sighs, drinks all of his tea in one go, and leans back in his chair, turning it to prop up his feet on the one next to him. "This is my tenth body—"
She gapes at him. "You've died nine times?"
"And whilst a lot—"
"If this is so common for you, then why the hell didn't you tell me? Would've been nice to be prepared that this could happen!"
"…of things change, like sense of humour, talent, tastes, how I deal with problems and people and…stuff, other things don't. It wouldn't be very practical if we were to change our feelings every time we changed bodies, would it? You'd have to remarry— Or, well, if you'd actually married for love, which I didn't—"
"You were married?"
"—but you'd at least have to change friends. I'm still me," he says, touching his chest. "I'm not just a stranger who received the Doctor's memories. I'm still me."
"I know. I'm just… It's a lot. And I'm scared. Not of you, but… It's just— I love our life. I don't want you to wake up and realise I'm the wrong flavour of human." She scrunches up her nose. "Eugh, I didn't mean—"
He makes an amused sound through his nose. "That won't happen."
"You can't know that," she says and sticks her tongue out at him.
"Yes, I can. You're my favourite. Although…" he says, eyes twinkling with mischief, "Suppose you're right. There are so many lovely humans out there. Brilliant species, really. Maybe I should consider my options? Trade you in for a newer model, hm?" She shoots daggers at him, but he only laughs. "No? Suppose… Yeah, I'll just keep you. Less work for me."
"Watch it, mister," she says, wagging her finger at him.
"Or what?" he asks, blinking at her, the corners of his mouth curled up.
"Or I'll tell my mum you agreed to take her to Prince Charles and Lady Di's wedding," Rose says, chin tilted up, fingers twirling a strand of her hair.
"No. No, no, no. You're not telling her anything of the sort."
He chuckles at her, crinkles forming around his eyes. "I will. If," he says, leaning forward over the table and looking into her eyes, "you promise me you'll come to me the next time you have a nightmare."
"How did you…?" she asks, but instead of answering with words he looks at her the same way he's always looked at her, and she relaxes into a smile. "Yeah. I promise."
A FEW MONTHS LATER
A nagging feeling in the back of the Doctor's mind tells him Rose lied when she claimed to be all right, so he heads to her room to check up on her. Although she handles their eventful life without much difficulty, the last few days entailed more emotional drama than ever before, and he can't relax until he knows for sure that she's fine. First they met Sarah Jane, then France happened, and now Mickey chose to stay behind in a parallel world—and all this only a few months after the Doctor went and changed on her. How much more can she take until she demands to be taken home?
He knocks on her door and waits fourteen seconds. Nothing happens. He knocks again and waits another fourteen seconds, but when she still doesn't answer, he opens the door and steps inside the dark room. The sliver of light shining in from the hallway helps his night vision along and his hearts clench in his chest when he sees her curled up under his old leather jacket.
She slept with it for a week after he gave it to her. After New Year's, they left the Estate, went to New New York and settled into their old routine. His jacket found a new home in her closet, and the few times she suffered from nightmares, or just needed comfort, she came to his room and spent the rest of the night in his bed—with him sitting on top of the covers.
Now, though… He sighs and turns around to leave; she doesn't want thishim.
"Doctor?" she asks, voice hoarse from sleep.
He stops. "Yes?"
"I'm… I was just worried. Wanted to see how you were doing."
"Oh. I'm all right. S'okay."
"Yeah. See you tomorrow," he says, walking toward her door. He grips the doorknob, but drops it and turns around, marching back to her bed. "I thought we were okay. I thought…"
Rubbing her eyes, she sits up and the jacket falls down into her lap. "What?"
"My jacket. You…" His voice fails him, chest constricting. "Why?"
She fumbles for the lamp switch and blinks a few times at the sudden change of light in the room. "I wanted…" Her brows knit together and she stares down at her body and it seems to dawn on her, the same time as it does on him, that she's naked. A blush spreads from her cheeks down her chest, and she pulls the jacket back to cover herself. "This isn't what it looks like."
It takes him a few seconds to reply. "What-what does it look like?"
"Like I… I'm wearing knickers."
"It looks like you're wearing knickers?"
"What?" She stares at him for a moment, then her puzzled expression changes into a goofy grin. "No, you daft alien. I thought maybe you thought that I'd wanked with your jacket or something."
"Why would I think that?"
"'Cause… Oh, never mind. And I'm not naked. I'm wearing knickers."
"Yes, you said." His eyes drift over the jacket. "Did you…?"
"No! God. No! I just wanted…" She pulls up her legs and hugs them, hiding her face by resting her forehead against her knees. "I just needed… Mickey's gone," she says, voice muffled. "He was my— I could talk to him about things. I could depend on him." The Doctor swallows and reaches out to touch her, but snatches his hand back at her next words. "But who do I have now?"
"But…me. There's me. You have me."
"No, I don't."
"What?" The tight feeling returns to his chest and he loosens his tie. "Are you still upset about… I thought— We talked. What…? You said you understood. I had to protect—"
"I do understand."
"Then what? Please— I…" His hearts hammer in his chest and he drops down on his knees. "Please look at me."
She turns her head with a sigh, eyes teary, but cheeks dry. "What?"
"You don't believe I'm me. Him. After all this time—"
"'Course I do. But you've changed so much and… I just need to accept that you're not the same, and move on."
It feels as though the world turns on its axis and he grips the frame of her bed with one hand, clutching it so hard his knuckles turn white. He sees her lips moving, but the roar of his blood rushing through his veins drowns out all sound. His other hand moves to his shirt, trembling fingers working the buttons, slipping them through the holes one by one until a large gap bares most of his chest. He takes her hand and presses it to his skin, his twin hearts pounding against her palm.
"I'm the same man, Rose. Still two hearts. And they're still—" He draws in a shuddering breath, pleading to her with his eyes. "Please, don't."
A slow smile blooms on her face. "'Course I'm staying. What are you on about?"
"But you said… You said you had to move on."
"No, I meant…" She pulls her hand back and she rolls her eyes, cheeks tinted pink. "I need to move on emotionally."
She frowns at him, then averts her eyes. "Stop pretending like you don't know I'm in love with you. It's heartless," she says, missing how his breath hitches before whooshing out of him. He should stop her, assure her, but he's too stunned to do anything but beam.
"I just, you know, kept hoping." She shrugs. "But I know it won't ever happen now, don't I? 'Cause if you could fall in love with her in just— But you still don't— And now that Mickey's gone I feel so alone, and I just wanted to remember a time when you loved me back. 'Cause I, uhm, I think you did. Yeah. I'm sure you did. But then you changed, and you— So I got the jacket and, uhm, I thought about the last time you, that you, hugged me, and it-it still smells like you, and…" She closes her eyes, the pink on her cheeks turning red. "But I didn't wank! I just smelled it." She hides her face again, shaking her head. "Oh, my god, this is such a weird conversation."
"Rose?" He touches her arm, fingers grazing her skin at first before he rests his palm around her shoulder. "I didn't… Why did you think…? I barely knew the woman!"
"But you spent all that time with her!"
"No. No, Rose. Not— I needed to know why they were after her, but once I did, I only had more questions! I just tried to find the reason why they wanted her brain. That's all. I was gone, what, fifteen minutes your time? Not even that? And still you managed to get yourself in trouble." He smiles and gives her a squeeze. "That's just like you. My jeopardy-friendly human. Should've known. Maybe I should start keeping you on a leash, making sure—"
"What?" She turns her head and glares at him. "You're not keeping me on a leash, you nutter!"
He grins. "No? Ball and chain, then?"
"But you-you wanted her to come with us! You mourned her."
"What?" He moves his hand to her back, stroking her up and down. "No. I felt bad. That's all. I was…distracted. Had other things on my mind. Didn't solve things as efficiently as I usually do—and she suffered for it. If I'd only figured things out earlier, she wouldn't have had to put up with those droids for most of her life. Reckoned she could do with some compensation."
"Why…why were you distracted?" she asks, picking at her nails, eyes shifting between him and her hands.
"I thought you knew, but…" He walks his fingers up her spine until he can cradle the back of her head. "Rose?" He leans in closer and smiles as her eyes, round and questioning, flit over his face. "After my regeneration… We talked and I explained, and I thought… I thought you understood."
He chuckles. "That you're my— How did you put it? My favourite flavour of human. And I don't care how it sounds, because…"
Placing one hand on her mattress, he closes the remaining distance between them, presses his lips against hers in a quick kiss, and pulls back to gauge her reaction but, before he's opened his eyes, her hands cup his cheeks, bringing his face back to hers. She captures his bottom lip, sucking a little, and angles her head as she gives him a gentle push with her tongue. He swallows, fingers inching closer to her and under the jacket covering the top of her bare thighs. She keeps her lips still, waiting, their breaths mingling. She struggles to keep hers steady, unlike his ragged ones, as though she knows how the instinct to run courses through his trembling legs.
Her heart races; his keep a firm rhythm, but as he ghosts his hand up her thigh, to her hip, and feels her naked skin, his speed up to match hers. He drums his fingers against her before digging them into her flesh.
"I lied," she whispers. He swallows again, this time she must hear it, the gulp loud and clear. "Not wearing any knickers. And I did touch myself. Pretended it was you. Is that… Is that all right?"
He makes a noise too undignified to define, and crawls into her bed, lowering himself on top of her as she leans back. The jacket must've glided down, because he feels her hard nipples brush against his chest, and he shivers.
"You all right?"
He answers by slipping his tongue into her mouth and he feels her smile, hears her hum in pleasure. She wraps her arms around his back and her legs around his hips, pulling him flush against her, moaning as he presses his growing erection into her. His mind reels as he tries to understand how they ended up in bed together. He only wanted to check up on her, make sure her loss didn't keep her from sleeping, but her tongue moves against his as her much nimbler fingers help his shaky ones undress him, and he can no longer hold that train of thought in his impressive brain.
They fumble, tug, and pull, tossing one garment after the other onto her bedroom floor. He nearly falls out of bed three times, but their lips never part and they giggle into each other's mouths. After what feels like hours, she cradles his naked hips between her naked thighs, her feet resting on his bum. Heat radiates from her center, her curls brushing over his skin, and it breaks through the arousal fogging up his head.
He tears his mouth off her, panting as he looks into her dark, hooded eyes, but his question dies on his lips as he sees hers, wet and swollen, parted and inviting. He cups her cheek and moves to capture her mouth in a searing kiss, but she places her hands on his chest, stopping him.
"Hey. What's the matter?"
"Yes. I know you." She caresses his face, following his cheekbone to his ear, giving the lobe a soft tug. "Please tell me."
He sighs. "Can't believe I'm saying this, but… Are you sure? I don't want us to do this for the wrong reasons."
She laughs. "You mean like after almost being killed? Seeing something traumatic? Losing someone? Being reunited after thinking we'd never see each other again? 'Cause if those are the wrong reasons, you and me's never gonna happen."
"Oh, that, that, is a very, very good point, Rose. I like the way your mind works." He kisses her forehead. "I just don't want you to do this because you need comfort."
She rolls her eyes. "I love you, you daft man. And you're sexy. So, there. Good enough reasons for ya?"
"Well…" He beams. "Think I can work with that."
She tugs him back to her mouth by his ears; he skates his hand down her side to grip her hip and move against her. She whimpers when he releases her lips and presses open-mouthed kisses along her neck, over her clavicle, and down her sternum. Her chest heaves, her heart beating so hard her left breast jiggles, and he descends is mouth on it. She moans and arches into him, hips rocking, and the smell of her arousal encompasses him and leaves him lightheaded. He spends little time on her breast, even less so on its twin, and moves downward to the source of the heady scent. Her stomach quivers under his lips, fists clenching the linen, gasps escaping her mouth.
He takes a moment watching her, the way she squirms as he runs his hands up her thighs and nuzzles the juncture where they meet her torso, the blush colouring her chest and cheeks, how her teeth sink into her bottom lip only to release it whenever she whimpers. He forgets why he made his way down there, satisfied in doing nothing but teasing her with featherlight touches not quite where she needs him. He can't help the smile spreading on his face, and she props herself up on her elbows and blows a strand of her from her eyes.
"Well. Whilst you're down there maybe you can find out if I'm your favourite flavour of human after all, yeah?" she says, grinning with her tongue poking out between her teeth.
He bursts out laughing, collapsing on top of her and resting his head on her thigh, warmth whirling inside his chest. She joins in, her giggles making her body move under him, her smell wafting to his nose, and he licks his lips and ducks his head down between her thighs without ceremony. Her laughter gets caught in her throat, and she lets out a long moan when he tastes her. He pulls back and smacks his tongue with loud noises and exaggerated movements.
"Yep. Definitely my favourite."
"Oh, well, that's… Blimey, I can't think of anything witty to say."
He grins and buries his mouth back in between her thighs. Her arms give way under her and she drops down on her back, resting one hand on top of his head, fingers drawing lazy lines across his scalp. He pushes her thighs apart to give himself more room as he puts his fingers into action as well.
"Oh, fuck." Her hand tightens in his hair, tugging at his strands. "I'm gonna. If you keep. I will."
"Isn't that the point?"
"Yeah, but… I mean…"
He suppresses the flush threatening to reach his cheeks as he meets her eye, fingers slowing down into a languid place. "It's been a while… For me. I don't know how long I would— And I want— Let me just…"
"Oh. Yeah." She smiles and adds gentle pressure to the back of his neck. "Please."
He resumes pleasuring her; she urges him to go faster by rocking her hips, and not long after he follows her signals, she goes quiet, body tensing up before convulsing, knees pulled up, thighs tight around his head. Pride washes through him at the sight of her face contorting in pleasure, brows drawn together, lips parted, forehead and cheeks covered in a sheen of sweat.
She looks at him with glazed-over eyes as he positions himself over her; her hands rest on his shoulder blades, her legs lie crossed at the ankle over the small of his back, and she smiles, a sweet, sated smile that warms him all the way down to his toes.
He pushes closer. "Can I…?"
"You better," she says, looking at him through her lashes.
He sinks into her, eyes drifting shut once he feels her surrounding his every inch, and he stills. She plays with the hairs in the back of his neck, kisses his jawline, nuzzles the sensitive spot beneath his ear as he gets his breathing under control. He can't utilise his timesense, brain useless in the state he's in, but not much time can have past since he knocked on her door. He thought she would leave him, but now he's sheathed to the hilt inside her—and he can't help but laugh at that.
"Oi." She pokes him on the nose. "What's so funny, then?"
"Nothing. I… I thought I was losing you."
"You're so thick, Doctor."
He pulls back and thrusts into her. "You think?"
She laughs, head thrown back, and he kisses her exposed throat, feeling rumbles against his tongue.
"There you go." Her eyes twinkle at him. "Just keep doing that for, oh, thirty seconds or something, and you'll see what all the fuss is about."
He huffs, rocking their hips together. "Watch it, or I'll keep at it all night."
"I'm not going anywhere."
He regards her for a moment. "No?"
His stomach swoops at her words, heightening the tension building low within him. He burrows his face in the crook of her neck and she clings to him, meeting his thrusts, as he begins to move. It doesn't take long before he's on the brink; she angles her hips, helping him hit her deeper, nails of one hand scratching his back, fingers of the other snaking down to where they're joined.
"Can you last?"
"I don't… I—"
She presses her heels down into his bum and he pounds into her, heat coiling until it snaps, and pleasure crashes through his body as he falls over the edge with a strangled shout. He keeps thrusting as his climax subsides and moves his mouth down to her breast; her breaths come out in staccato, hand setting a frantic pace, and seconds later, he feels her come and he flinches away at the sensation. He rolls over on his side and pillows his head on one arm, wrapping the other around her, fingers running over her ribs.
She tilts her head, eyes moving around the room, her index finger resting across her lips.
"What?" he whispers, looking around the room himself.
"Shhh. I'm waiting for the universe to implode."
He gives her a playful push and she laughs and flips over on her side to face him.
"So." He strokes her arm, from her wrist to her shoulder, fingers disappearing into her messy hair, toying with a curl. "Did I have the moves, then?"
She scrunches up her face, humming as if to ponder his question, then holds out her hand in invitation. "Dunno. Show me again? And…maybe put on the leather jacket his time?"