Written for the SistersofGuh Valentine's ficathon over on LJ. The prompt (one of my favorite ideas anyway: Dimension hopping Rose runs into Eight.) Any excuse to write a little romance for one of my favorite pairings.


Rose took a deep breath.

And jumped.

The temporal energy moved in waves and eddies around her and, once it had stopped moving, she kept her eyes closed for a few moments longer. Let it be right, she thought fervently. Please, please, please, let it finally be right.

She opened her eyes to the sight of weathered, distressed blue wood and she whooped out loud. Ha! Right, right, right! After countless dimensions and hopeless parallels...RIGHT!

Letting her tears of joy fall freely, she rested her head against battered blue door and silently whispered words of endearment and praise to the Time Machine, who responded to them in kind. So many dimensions, so much heartbreak and yet...The TARDIS!

She'd hoped, she'd prayed, she'd cried, she'd raged (she'd been an incredible pain in the arse sometimes, Mickey said) and here she was, after all this time! HOME! After a few moments of celebration with Rose (her Wolf had returned!), the TARDIS nudged the girl gently, instructing her that it was probably best for her to turn around now.

Rose blushed slightly. She had been so entranced with actually finding the beautiful old girl (the TARDIS hummed in pleasure at that), she hadn't paid any attention to where she'd landed. She could be (and, knowing the Doctor, probably was) right in the middle of some sort of galactic disaster. Her Torchwood instincts immediately kicked in and she tensed, ready to defend herself as she heard the footsteps and felt the telepathic energy of another being coming quickly toward her.

She spun around and quickly found herself face to face with...

Him.

Well, sort of.

Uh-oh.

-

Bad, bad, bad. All those years, all that research and practice and here she was. Wrong. She'd been so distracted by the right universe and the TARDIS (oh, the TARDIS) that she hadn't even checked WHEN she was.

Please, please, please don't let this screw anything up, she thought fervently, taking a deep breath and raising her eyes to meet his once again.

"Hello," the beautiful, frock-coated man in front of her said cautiously as Rose backed away, wild-eyed from him until her back was pressed directly against the comforting solidity of the TARDIS. As she looked him over, despite her worry that this might affect their future , she couldn't help but grin a little. Definitely the Doctor. Only the Doctor would dress like that. "You seem to be leaning against my TARDIS," he told her conversationally.

"Umm, yes, well..." Rose stammered. Oh yeah, she thought, sarcastically. Make a good first impression there, Rose. Stammer at him a bit more. This had to be an earlier him. Would he remember this? What if it changed things? Panic rose up in her and she scrambled for a solution. She needed to get away from him. He hadn't seen her for very long...maybe if she ran now, he'd simply forget her. Straightening up and gauging how far away he was, she thought she could probably get past him to the right. She was awfully fast nowadays. Between Torchwood training and the need for something, anything, to keep her from thinking about him (too much) she'd taken up marathon running..

In retrospect, competitive running was perhaps not the best choice she'd made to forget about him. And, she was babbling in her head and still gaping at him like an idiot. Right. Needed to solve that.

"You're right. I was. Sorry about that. Won't happen again," she said and darted past him.

Well, tried to dart past him. He seemed to telegraph that move and calmly shifted directly into her path so she had to suddenly stop or risk crashing into him and knocking him onto his britches covered bum.

"Leaving so soon?" the Doctor asked playfully, raising an eyebrow as the girl he'd found skidded a bit ungracefully to the side to avoid barreling him over. Perhaps a bit more excitement for the day, then! It wasn't every day he found world-weary, haunted-looking blonde...somethings who radiated familiarity communing telepathically with his TARDIS while he was out. This was all very curious. As was the irritated, frantic look she was giving him. She was obviously distressed at seeing him and yet there was a yearning, a longing there almost, that he thoroughly didn't understand.

Anyway, he was lonely. It had been ages since he'd had a companion, since Grace had turned him down, and this girl seemed interesting, in the least. He rather missed silly humans, if he was being honest with himself today.

"Yes. I should be. We shouldn't be talking," Rose said, stiffly. Idiot Time Lord. Why couldn't he ever let something go? She sighed. If this form was anywhere near as tenacious as her first Doctor, she'd never get away.

"Oh?" he asked, and the eyebrow went higher. "Is that so? Whyever not?"

"Because..." Rose trailed off. "Because there are rules against this sort of thing." She was sure there were rules, anyway. Paradox, Space-Time Continuum, temporal loops, blah blah blah, all those funny Time words she found herself muttering all the time now without a full understanding of how they actually worked. Well, she was doing the best she could. Not her fault there weren't any other Time Lords to teach her and that hers had been too thick to find his own way across the Void. Mickey could only do so much and her link to the TARDIS (once she'd figured out that's what it was) was distant, at best, in the other universe.

The frock-coated man grinned madly at her and Rose blinked at the similarity that expression had to cherished smiles she'd seen on two other faces. "Rules? Is that all? Well, lucky for us, I love breaking rules!" he said, clapping his hands together.

"I bet you do," Rose laughed despite herself. He was charming in this form, she'd give him that.

"Now...what to talk about...hmmm," he said, feigning deep thought and Rose watched as the crease in his wide, elegant forehead deepened a moment. "Oh! I know. Let's start with...what are you?" he asked and suddenly all the curiosity and playfulness dropped from his demeanor and gained an intensity as she recognized, the look he reserved for sizing up situations and assessing dangers.

Oh. He thought she was a danger. Well, THAT was new. And unexpected. And besides that, it was, "Still rude, I see," Rose snorted, unable to resist.

"Oh! Do we know each other?" he asked, looking surprised and very interested now. Her telepathic signature was so odd he felt sure he would have remembered this whatever she was if he had met her before. But he couldn't be expected to remember all the pretty girls he'd come across in his lifetimes, could he? And she was rather pretty.

Wait...did he really just think that?

"No, we don't," she said, flatly. Oops, that had been a slip. Not yet, anyway she added in her head and his eyes widened a moment. "Now, I should really be going." Rose closed her eyes, adjusted the watch-like connector she had to the Dimension Cannon in Pete's World and prepared to move through the Vortex again when she suddenly had a brilliant idea. Now that she was in the correct universe, there was little chance of her accidentally hopping to another but finding the correct spot in Time would be tricky. However, the very man she was trying to find was standing right next to her and his Timeline was so close and tempting, right there on the edge of her inexperienced temporal eye. She could just...

She reached out with metaphorical fingers and gently traced along it, searching for the right time, searching for her lonely pinstriped Doctor. Her ears heard a sharp gasp from him and then the Timeline was suddenly jerked away from her and she was pulled back from the beginning of her jump with a firm hand on her wrist.

"I beg your pardon! Now who's rude?" he asked, very, very shocked, more than a little irritated and perhaps just a touch afraid. "You can't just go running your grabby paws over my Timeline. Not to mention the fact that you shouldn't be able to do that. Incredibly rude of you, young woman."

The girl was gaping at him, open-mouthed and stunned and he could tell she hadn't meant any trouble by her actions or, it seemed, really know what she had been doing. "I...I'm sorry, I guess," she stammered, wide-eyed.

He sighed heavily, reaching a hand up to his forehead and grumbled, "At the very least, if you're going to be that personal, you could buy me a drink first.".

Rose didn't know what to say in response to THAT so she stayed silent, eyes darting around and looking everywhere but him. She didn't seem to be able to jump timelines with his hold on her wrist so she merely stood still and looked at her shoes. Not many beings were able to hold her in place, to keep her from entering the Vortex when she wanted (and there were a good number who had tried over the years).

To distract herself from him, she tried to sort through all the things that needed considered in his statement: first, apparently touching someone else's Timeline was rude (noted) and possibly intimate in some way (embarrassingly noted but filed away for post-reunion Doctor experience). Second, it wasn't something he thought she should be able to do (noted but not unusual. Most beings she came across with any sort of Time sense didn't think she should be able to do anything). Third, she was reminded how incredibly powerful he was since he was able to keep her in one place like this with just a hand on her wrist (noted - though she probably always knew that on some level). And fourth, that wasn't the first time she'd heard some of those words come from his slightly-different mouth (painfully noted but fondly remembered).

Anyway, she'd interacted with him too long now for her to not have to fix this paradox somehow so she'd have to postpone her jump anyway. She was going to have to convince him to forget this or hide the memory because he would certainly recognize her now and she'd worked too hard to get back to him to have him mucking anything up in the past, present or future.

He eyed her carefully again and then raised his head to look over her shoulder, distracted suddenly, like a dog on point. "Into the TARDIS, then," he said, pulling out his key and keeping a firm hand on her.

"What? Why?" Rose asked, equal parts surprise, fear and desperate longing. Oh, how badly she wanted to go into the TARDIS with him, but she wasn't certain she could keep everything a secret from him that she needed to so her future would work out the way she knew it. And if she went in, she'd never want to leave.

"I need to figure you out," the Doctor said, frowning and tossing his head slightly as his long curls fell over his eyes, obscuring his vision a moment. "But, at the moment, there is an entire village of angry Uhliarngs on their way here at this moment, so we best do all of our figurings inside." And, once inside his TARDIS, she wouldn't be able to jump through the Vortex (and how, in Rassilon's name, was she doing that, anyway?).

It was Rose's turn to raise an eyebrow at him as he turned back to glance at her once the door was pushed open. He gestured to her politely and let her walk in first. "What did you do this time?" she asked looking back over her shoulder at him, sighing heavily but with a glimmer of amusement in her eyes.

All right, more than a glimmer. Oh, it was so good to be back, even in trouble and even if it was the wrong him!

"I may have stolen their ancient sacred relic of fertility," he said as he thought This time? Yes, this girl definitely knew him. And, if the way her eyes started to shine when he'd mentioned trouble, they were going to get along smashingly.

Rose laughed at that and he couldn't help but notice how her laughter lightened her eyes and seemed to take years off her non-apparent age. " 'May have' stolen it?" Rose asked, her smile widening.

"Allegedly," he said, waving the piece of equipment at her.

Rose's breath caught in her chest as she saw what he had in his hand. It was the bicycle pump thingy from the console (which the Doctor had painstakingly and oftenly told her was a trans-dimensional stabilizer with thrusters). She rather liked 'bicycle pump thingy', although may have mainly referred to it as that to get a rise out of him. On occasion.

Most of the time.

"You didn't think they should be worshipping a trans-dimensional stabilizer with thrusters?" she said, thoroughly enjoying the shocked look on his face.

"No," he said, scrambling to cover up his surprise and gain the upper hand in the conversation again. Well, one sure-fire way to do that with human females. And she seemed human enough. "Although, I suppose they got the thrusting bit correct," he added, his eyes sparkling at her.

Rose's jaw dropped at him in surprise, looking more stunned than charmed and he frowned slightly. That wasn't quite the response he had been going for.

Rose, for her part, was shocked. Was he...flirting with her? That was the status quo for the pinstriped him and even the Leather one and she had quite the talent for flirtatious banter but this one was so posh and proper and...wow, a thrusting joke. Too late she realized she'd asked that question out loud. He looked at her speculatively, shutting the door firmly before finally let go of her wrist.

"It's something new I've been trying out in this body. Seems fairly effective most of the time," he finished and shrugged, watching her carefully again. "Why, do you mind?" he asked, nonchalantly, he hoped.

"No, not really. It just surprised me," she replied, going for nonchalance as well. He seemed so posh and proper. Trying it out, Rose snorted to herself. Just wait until your later form. You'll flirt with anything that moves, especially if it's blonde, Rose thought, sarcastically. His eyes narrowed at her slightly but Rose had closed her eyes didn't catch it.

The Doctor, for his part, was having difficulty sorting through the seemingly random bits of thought that kept drifting to him from the girl, amplified by the TARDIS, he thought. Sometimes the extra telepathy and foresight that had come packaged as part of this body was more trouble than it was worth. The TARDIS also seemed to think that last comment about his future flirting habits was very funny, if the fluctuation of her melody in his head was any indication.

Rose wondered how far along the two Doctors she knew would be for him. Oh, WHY had she never asked him to show her his past regenerations? Especially if they looked like this? She may have taken a moment to admire his breeches-covered bum when he'd bent over to unlock the TARDIS door. Of course, maybe that's why her Doctors had never offered to show her his past selves. He was a jealous old sod.

When she finally opened her eyes, she decided it was safer to look anywhere but the Doctor (who was gaping at her dumbfounded - he and the chiming Timeship had caught that comment about his bum), so she instead looked around the TARDIS. It was all elegant; dark wood and vaulted ceilings, gothic and entrancingly beautiful. She'd never seen anything quite like it and she absolutely loved it.

It was so different. "Oh, beautiful," Rose gushed, turning on the spot before running over to the side of the room to run a hand along the panelled wall. "Well done."

"Thank you," the Doctor said, puffing up slightly. He was very proud of this layout.

"Wasn't talking to you," Rose said absently from over by the wall. And, he realized, she hadn't been. She'd been talking to his TARDIS. As she was now. He could feel her communicating with the TARDIS and the TARDIS was lovingly responding, which was curious within itself. The TARDIS never generally bothered communicating with 'animates', as she called them. At least, not with animates besides him. The golden energy that seem to fluctuate around Rose grew stronger as she 'spoke' with the TARDIS and he watched, surprised and curious. Time did odd things around her and it was making him nervous.

"So...you're a future companion, then?" the Doctor asked, back into business mode, wanting the girl's attention back on him. He set his recently acquired prize down on the floor next to the console and made a mental note to store it somewhere he'd remember. The TARDIS' thrusters were in fine shape right now, but it never hurt to have back up parts and, in a pinch, if he ever had trouble getting back to Gallifrey at some point in the future, it would do nicely as a fill-in until he could get the correct part.

"Are you sure we can talk about this?" Rose asked him, turning from her compliments to the TARDIS back to him and fidgeting with the hem of her jumper.

"It's fine," he said, waving his hand dismissively. He would probably have to repress this memory, so he might as well get some answers now. Especially if he was going to have to do something to fix this girl. She was very...odd.

Rose bit her lip slightly and considered him.

"Trust me," he said softly.

Always, she responded automatically and his eyes widened and then softened.

The TARDIS hummed gently at her confirming that it was indeed fine and so she took a deep breath. He was the Time Lord, after all. "All right, then. Yes. I travel with you in your future."

He beamed at her a moment. A future companion! Smashing! That still didn't explain what precisely she was, but he could ask her that momentarily. In the meantime... "Would you like some tea?" he asked, politely. It had been a long morning of running from the natives and it has been so long since he'd had a nice cuppa with a pretty girl.

Hmm...curious again. Why did he seem rather fixated on the fact that she was pretty?

"I'd love one," she replied smiling at him.

And why did that smile make his hearts speed up?

"Excellent!" he cried, clapping his hands together once more and Rose smiled again at his enthusiasm. "If you'd like to make your way to the library, I'll be along in a moment with the tea." Bit of a test then, see if she could find the library on her own. Although, with the way the TARDIS seemed inordinately fond of her, he suspected she would have no trouble. She only shifted the corridors away from companions She didn't like (or if She was bored and keen on irritating the Doctor).

Rose wandered up the grand staircase of the console room and turned down two corridors to the left, easily finding the library. She suspected the TARDIS had pulled it to its normal future position for her and she caressed the wall in thanks again. The Doctor appeared a few moments later with a tea tray and a plate of biscuits. Watching him silently prepare his tea (a little milk and two sugars), she thought about what to ask him now.

The Doctor had been doing the same, pondering what exactly he was going to do with his mysterious future companion now that he had her in the library and settled on the 'what' are you question again. Because she was human(ish) but he really didn't understand the flow of time around her.

It was, however, probably rude to start with that...maybe if he offered her a sweet first? He was sure that bag of jelly babies was in his coat somewhere. He began to root around in the very large pockets of his green velvet coat.

Before he could get the question formed or the sweets found, however, Rose blurted out "So, which one are you, then?"

"Rude again," he chided, shaking a finger at her. "Asking a Time Lord about his regenerations is like asking a beautiful woman for her age," he said, sulking slightly and, perhaps, flirting a little again. It seemed very easy to do with this girl. "So, since we're in the habit of being rude to one another, how old are you?" he countered.

Raising her eyebrow again and sticking her tongue in her teeth (an expression that had a sudden, strange effect on his respiratory system), she met his counter with, "Are you saying I'm beautiful, Doctor?"

"Well, yes, I suppose I am," he responded with a slow, sensual smile that she felt should certainly be illegal on both attractive Victorian Doctors and pinstriped geeky Doctors. And broody Byronic Doctors as well, she supposed.

"Flirting again, eh?" she asked, determined not to let on to him how much of an effect that smile had on her.

Judging by his slightly smug smile, it hadn't worked. "I suppose so," he answered and then leaned forward conspiratorially. "Is it working?"

"Depends on whatcha mean by 'working'," she replied, sticking her tongue in her teeth again and grinning at him. "How 'bout you answer my question and then I'll answer yours?"

"Oh, very well," he replied, settling down with languid elegance into the conveniently placed armchair next to the fire. "This is my Eighth body."

Rose sucked in a quick breath and schooled her face quickly. The Time War. Her first Doctor had been the Ninth, he'd told her later...oh, no. This was the Doctor who would be forced to end the Time War. But he seemed so young and innocent. Carefree. Light. Not how she had imagined him at all. How would this young-looking flirty Doctor turn into the Oncoming Storm? How would he ever face that pain? "Ah," she said, softly. He watched her face closely again, observing as concern and pain crossed it and, much as he wanted to know, he blocked out her whirling thoughts. Never too good to know too much about one's future. Especially if it was as bleak as she seemed to think it would be. "I know your Ninth and Tenth forms," she replied, quietly.

"You stayed with me through a regeneration?" he asked, surprised. Usually companions, especially the human-types, had distinct problems with the 'same man, new face' concept.

"'course I did," Rose retorted. "Same man, after all. You don't know it yet, but I promised you forever. My forever, anyway. I promised you I'd never leave you and I won't. S'why I'm here now. We got separated and I've been working my way back to you. You said it was impossible but here I am. I'll find you. I'm coming back for you. I will always come back for you," she replied, fiercely, the biscuit in her hand crumbling as she suddenly clenched a fist.

"Ah," he replied, at a loss as to exactly how to reply to that. The Doctor in front of her seemed to consider that surprising and vehement confession. Very, very interesting. Forever? And it sounded as though they were...well, together? That, despite his new penchant for flirting, was very surprising. He'd never...with a companion. Astounding. And a bit exciting. Well, and terrifying. He filed it away with his observations about raised heartsrates and respiratory glitches. "Your turn," he said, eventually, choosing to simply file away her statement instead of reacting to it at the moment.

She sighed heavily. She hadn't meant to confess any of that to him (well, this him anyway) and this was only going to get more complicated if she told him her age. She could lie, she supposed, but he would probably know. He always knew. "I'm 52," she said, eventually.

"Ah," the Doctor replied again, eyeing her closely. He hadn't been able to identify her time period based on clothing (bits and pieces from all different time periods and, he thought, dimensions) or time traces (again, a hodgepodge of multiple eras and parallels)...everything was blurred around her. "51st century, then?" It would explain her apparent vs physical age, not to mention the absurdly high-level tech she had strapped to her wrist.

Oh, Rassilon. Had he gone and gotten himself involved with a 51st century randy Time Agent?

Rose started with surprise and then tried to cover it up. Well, if he wanted to go with that as a logical explanation, then fine. She remembered how surprised she'd been when Jack had told her that he was 63. The Doctor, her gangly, raw boned, big eared Doctor, had explained to her that humans made a great many steps toward extending their lifespans by the 51st century. And then he'd made a disparaging remark about the other 'improvements' they'd made.

And if this Doctor thought she was from the 51st century, he wouldn't be looking for her in the 21st century in the basement of Henrik's.

"That's surprising," he muttered, more to himself than to her. "Why, on Gallifrey, would I pick up a companion from then? I usually try to avoid that Time period as much as possible. Especially around humans."

"Why's that?" Rose asked, curious despite herself.

It was his turn to look derisive this time. He was far too refined to snort like her first Doctor, Rose thought, but not enough not to roll his eyes like her second. "All that time spent messing about with your own biology makes you humans an extremely prurient species for a few centuries," he said unapologetically and waving his hand dismissively. Maybe that's why he was feeling so inclined to flirt with her...some sort of 51st century pheromone he wasn't used to filtering out.

Never mind the fact that he never acted this way around any of the other 51st century humans he'd met.

Rude, again, Rose thought with a laugh. Oh, but that explained a lot about Jack. 'Improvements', indeed. "I'm not from the 51st century," she finally replied. "And I am certainly not 'prurient', you big lout."

He blinked at her insult and then laughed lightly. "And you're not human, are you?" he asked, his eyes going bright and keen once again.

"Not exactly, no," Rose responded.

" 'Not exactly'? What is that supposed to mean?" he asked, frowning at her. " 'Not exactly'. As if you don't know," he continued to mutter, peering at her. If he was either of her Doctors, he'd have his screwdriver out, Rose thought as she watched him in silence. She wondered if this Doctor had one and she cocked her head to the side and started to ask him when he sat forward suddenly, his face millimeters from her own and his hand returned to her wrist unexpectedly. Rose retreated against the back of her armchair in surprise, trying to get further from him but his keen blue eyes locked onto hers and Rose had the strangest feeling that he was reading her soul.

"There's something about you, Rose Tyler of the Powell Estate," he said, his voice reverberating strangely as though with an extra echo, a dimension of time she didn't understand. "You have come so far, crossed so many plains, traversed so many deserts. The Valiant Child into the Defender. Your timeline twists and turns, a strange fairytale of gods and demons, of monsters and knights. Of Wolves. And Storms," the Doctor continued, his eyes glazed slightly, gazing at a point over her left shoulder and Rose shivered.

"Time loves you," he finished in that odd voice, tilting his head to the side and leaning back to consider her again, looking her in the eye, as his thumb traced a nonsensical (yet very distracting) pattern on the tender inside of her wrist.

And I love you, Rose added silently, hearing the TARDIS chime musically around her.

"What was that?" the Doctor sputtered suddenly, nearly falling from his chair in surprise, his eyes instantly regaining their intense clarity and letting go of her wrist. His voice had reached an alarming high there for a moment and he hadn't liked it much. He shook his head, unsure what had just happened. But she couldn't possibly have just said...

"I didn't say anything," Rose answered, slightly flustered. Could he hear what she was thinking?

"You did!" he said, rising from his chair and backing away from her suddenly as though she were a frightening stranger. Rose's eyes widened and watched him carefully. "You...you said..." his mouth stayed open and, to Rose's surprise, he echoed the lilting melody the TARDIS had just sung to her. "How can you...I don't..." he sputtered some more. "Who are you?"

Rose stood up slowly, not wanting to startle him but wishing he would make those lovely dulcet sounds again. "That was beautiful," she murmured, noting that he wasn't backing away from her anymore, just watching her with wide eyes. "What was it?"

His eyebrows drew down slightly. "Gallifreyan," he answered, tilting his head once more, shifting his curls to the side. "But you should know that, considering you just spoke it."

"I didn't," Rose answered, walking still closer to him, drawn to his form standing right in front of the fire. "I didn't say anything out loud, actually. The TARDIS must have translated my thoughts to you in Gallifreyan."

"She doesn't do that," he retorted, noting that she had come much closer to him and that he was doing nothing to back away. "Translate thoughts. Or translate anything to or from Gallifreyan, actually."

"I know," Rose replied. "You've told me that before. But I don't know any Gallifreyan so that's what must have happened. What exactly did I say?"

To her great surprise, the Doctor blushed mightily and looked down at his shoes. She was so close to him now, she could feel the slightly-lower-than-hers body heat emanating from him, feel his puff of breath on her cheek. He took in a deep breath and made the wonderful sound again, looking her in the eye this time, feeling her pull on him and suddenly understanding her mysterious effect on him, understanding the connection he felt to her, understanding their future.

Rose's hand unconsciously lifted to caress his soft lips as the musical notes fell from them, entranced by the sound and his new expression. He let her, opening them slightly so his warm breath moved across her face again, almost a pant. "What does it mean?" she asked, quietly.

His slightly cool, soft hands reached forward, entwining with both of hers as she brought her fingers down from his face. Beautiful blue-grey eyes searched her own and, seemingly satisfied with what they found there, softened even further. After letting out a short chiming syllable, he explained, "is a feeling of warm personal attachment to another being. Used in this context," he lilted a few more notes to her, "it refers to a profoundly tender, passionate affection, inwardly and outwardly expressed and intimately shared by both parties. Finally, the tense you used," a few more enchanting sounds caressed the air around her as his lips bent close to hers, "makes reference to any and all permutations of Time, past, present and future regardless of proximal distance, passage of time or emotional or physical hardship."

"Oh," Rose said quietly, scarcely daring to move at all. Well, that was all true. She loved him, had loved him, would love him in the future; despite the pain, despite the years, despite the distance. She had promised him forever and she would give it to him. And now..his lips were so close to hers...

"Yes, Rose Tyler," he breathed back, the air from his exhalation ghosting across her mouth. "Oh."

And then he leaned in and kissed her softly, tenderly, and she responded with all the love she felt for him and had, apparently, just told him about. It was everything and nothing like she'd imagined kissing the Doctor for the second (third? her mind questioned) time would be like. These unfamiliar lips were softer than she thought her second Doctor's had been and without the pouty bottom lip she'd so often fantasized about. The kiss stayed relatively chaste, tongues belonging to their proper owners and not venturing out much past a small, curious caress here and there and eventually Rose had to pull back gasp for air. They stood, foreheads touching in the fading light of the library fire, simply breathing one another in.

The Doctor closed his eyes a moment to savor this moment brief, fleeting moment with this mysterious girl who would one day, he now knew, be his everything. WIthout speaking, he reached down and took her hand (and oh, that felt right) and the two of them walked silently to the control room. She had a long road ahead of her, he could see that, but she would find him once again. And, oh the brilliant future they would have.

Together.

Rose let him walk her silently through the halls of the TARDIS, contemplating his abrupt change in demeanor. Evidently he'd seen what they had been (Would be? Might be?) and not only accepted it, but embraced it. She hoped he would still feel that way when she got back to him years and years from now for him. When they reached the doors out of the TARDIS, Rose tugged at his hand and the two of them stopped just shy of exiting. She peered up at him, suddenly unsure of what to say.

The Doctor's kind blue-gray eyes looked down at her, the corners crinkling slightly in a way that reminded her of her pinstriped Doctor's. "It was lovely to meet you, Rose Tyler," he said, lifting her hand to his lips briefly in an oddly chivalrous manner that seemed to fit him quite well.

"And you," she said, grinning at him. "For the third time. Even if you were a bit rude," she finished, her smile widening with his own.

"Indeed. I shall have to endeavor to improve my manners by the next time I see you," he laughed, opening the door for her. Rose almost snorted in laughter at that idea. Oh, his manners certainly weren't going to improve at all. "Go on, Rose Tyler. You have a ways to go yet," he said sadly, his hand reaching up to brush her cheek once again and his eyes taking on a strange, distant quality once more.

"But I'll find you?" she asked softly.

"You said you would, didn't you?" he said, transferring his gaze back her suddenly. "And I seem to find myself believing in anything to which you set your mind." The Doctor's eyes softened once more and he let himself revel in the brief images of their future he had seen flashing past him earlier. She was something incredible, this not-quite-human who would love him. Who did love him.

"I'll see you soon then, Doctor," Rose replied, leaning up to kiss his cheek lovingly. Rose squeezed his slightly cool, dry palm one last time and then let go, adjusting the dial on her Vortex Manipulator.

She was just about to jump when she felt a hand on her wrist. "Oh, and Rose?" his voice came from her side and she turned slightly to face him.

"Yes?"

"Next time you see me..." he said, trailing off as if he lost his nerve for a second before shooting her that slow, sensual smile she'd questioned the legality of earlier.

"Yes?" she repeated, a little breathlessly. He released her wrist and leaned in so his long hair brushed her shoulder and his lips tickled her ear.

"Feel free to be prurient," he whispered, letting of her wrist with one last stroke of his thumb.

The sound of her delighted laughter echoed through the Vortex and his mind, carrying with it all the love in her heart for him.

Every single one of him.