Disclaimer: Many things contained within belong to people who, unfortunately, are not me.
Spoilers: Through Love and Monsters.
Beta: The phenomenal jlrpuck. She is made of magic.
Summary: After the events of Love and Monsters, Rose has a question. The Doctor may or may not have an answer.
A/N: A week or so ago, eponymous_rose and I hatched a dastardly plan to destroy the universe. This is my contribution to that effort. So when you suddenly find yourself able to walk through formerly solid glass doors (Eighth Doctor shout out!), you'll know who to blame. Her.
*lapses into recurring fantasy in which Eric Roberts gives me his Master!sunglasses and tells me to never let go of my dreams*
Right. Where was I?
And if my heart be scarred and burned,
The safer, I, for all I learned;
The calmer, I, to see it true
That ways of love are never new-
The love that sets you daft and dazed
Is every love that ever blazed;
The happier, I, to fathom this:
A kiss is every other kiss.
The reckless vow, the lovely name,
When Helen walked, were spoke the same;
The weighted breast, the grinding woe,
When Phaon fled, were ever so.
Oh, it is sure as it is sad
That any lad is every lad,
And what's a girl, to dare implore
Her dear be hers forevermore?
Though he be tried and he be bold,
And swearing death should he be cold,
He'll run the path the others went....
But you, my sweet, are different.
Dorothy Parker, Incurable
The bed shifted as a new weight settled beside her, rustling the sheets. Without opening her eyes, she reached out with one fumbling hand and found his stubble-rough chin. She patted it lightly.
“That’s my face,” the Doctor said.
She snuffled and pulled her arm back, tucking it beneath her body as she snuggled deeper into the mattress, tangled in her sheets. “‘m sleep,” she informed him politely.
“No, you’re not.”
“Am.” She pressed her face into the pillow. “Look.”
“I am looking.” A cool finger tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “You’re a faker.”
She rolled onto her side, opened one eye and squinted at him, trying to make out the shape of his features in the dark bedroom. “You woke me up.”
“You wanted me to. I could tell.” His voice was warm but she didn’t see him smile. She sighed and tugged at the sheets trapped beneath him. “Rose, what are you—”
He made a small, disapproving noise. “I don’t think—”
“If you’re staying, you might as well be comfortable.” He hesitated, and she was sure he would make an awkward excuse and leave her to her much-needed sleep. A moment later he surprised her, toeing off his shoes and slipping beneath the sheets. He curled onto his side, his face opposite hers on the pillow. They lay in silence for a few long minutes. She listened to the low, steady sound of his breath and her eyes fell closed.
“It’s dark in here,” he said suddenly.
She smiled but didn’t open her eyes. “Well, there’s a good explanation for that.”
“There usually is.” He sniffed loudly. “Your breath smells funny.”
She resisted the temptation to cover her mouth with her hand or bury it in the pillow; instead, she kicked him in the shin. “I was sleeping.”
“I didn’t say it was bad funny. Just funny.” He shifted and his face moved ever so slightly closer to her own. “It’s a bit like rotting plants.”
“All right,” she grumbled, shoving her sheets aside and clambering over him to leave the bed, “that’s it.” She didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty when her knee landed on his stomach, forcing the air from his lungs in a loud ‘oomph’. Her bare feet hit the floor and he grabbed for her wrist.
“Oh, don’t get like that,” he said plaintively. “I like the smell of rotting plants!”
She tugged up on the waist of her baggy pyjama bottoms and glared at him. “I am going to go brush my teeth now, thank you.” She stumbled toward the door, tripping over a pile of dirty laundry in the dark. “And when I get back, you’re going to tell me what was so important that you felt the need to wake me in the middle of the night.”
He coughed slightly. “You do know that it’s not actually—”
“Time is relative!” she snapped, and stomped out the door.
The light in the toilet was disorientingly bright. Dark spots hovered in her vision as she brushed her teeth, watching her own face in the mirror and grimacing at the rather tragic state of her hair. She spit and rinsed her mouth. After poking experimentally at one gravity defying clump of tangles, she shrugged – after all, it wasn’t as if the Doctor hadn’t seen her look far worse. She switched off the light and returned to her bedroom.
“So now I need a reason to want to talk to you?” he asked the moment she walked in. In the now dimly-lit room she could see where he sat in her bed, his back resting against her headboard, his legs still tucked neatly beneath the sheets. Her duvet was a crumpled heap at the foot of the bed, where she’d kicked it in her sleep.
She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a hard, searching look. “That’s all this is? You just want to talk?”
He laughed faintly. “What, I climb uninvited into your bed in the middle of night and you suspect I have some sort of ulterior motive?”
She rubbed her eyes and sat down on the edge of the bed. “It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve tried to drag me into some harebrained scheme when I should be sleeping or eating or, you know, bathing.” One particularly embarrassing incident involving a loofah sprang to mind, and she scowled at him. He didn’t seem to notice.
“I shouldn’t worry. You’re usually very clean.” He paused. “For a human.”
Rose decided to let that comment pass. “Budge up a bit, then.” He did, and she curled into the spot he’d vacated, pulling the sheets up to her chest. “What did you want to talk about?”
He frowned and glanced past her to the door. “I should probably let you sleep.”
She let her head fall back against her pillow and sighed. “I should probably kick you out. But I haven’t.” She tugged on his lapel and he obligingly slid down the headboard until he lay beside her again. “Yet.”
They settled into a comfortable silence that stretched on so long Rose wondered if the impossible had happened and he’d finally fallen asleep. After a time, he lifted her hand from its place on the bed between them and began to study intently the pads of her fingertips, holding her hand up to the meagre light and bending her fingers this way and that.
Rather than ask what, exactly, he was looking for, she said, “Glasses would probably help.”
He hummed an agreement and pulled them from the pocket of his suit coat. After slipping them onto his face, he continued his quiet analysis.
“I’m glad you didn’t tell Elton about the shadow,” she said, breaking the silence. “About why it was there.”
Whatever he saw in the whorls of her fingerprints seemed to satisfy him and he gently returned her hand to the bed and the glasses to their proper place, buying a moment to weigh his words before responding. “Would you have wanted to know?”
Rose closed her eyes and saw her father’s face. “It’s hard to…” she began, and then stopped. She took a deep breath. “My dad died to protect me, but he…I mean, he saved the whole world, in the end. Elton’s mum died because the shadow thought he’d be an easy meal. She just got in its way.” She opened her eyes and met his gaze. “If he’d known, he would have thought it was his fault. After losing Ursula and the others...” She shook her head. “No, I think you did the right thing.”
The Doctor rolled onto his back and rubbed his fingers into his eyes. “I hate being too late,” he said, his voice tired and hard.
“You saved him.”
She reached over and pulled his hands from his face. “He’s not.”
His fingers closed around hers and he held their joined hands against his chest. “We’re still talking about Elton, of course,” he said, his tone carefully casual.
She smiled. “Of course.” He squeezed her hand and smiled back. “Doctor, I was wondering…” She laughed and was surprised by the hint of nervousness in it. “It’s sort of a stupid question.”
He rolled again to face her fully and grinned. “Rose Tyler, you may not always have the answers, but you have the remarkable habit of unerringly asking the right questions.” He released her hand and lightly rapped his knuckles against her forehead. “Good, solid human brains. I’m quite fond of them.”
“I’ll pass the compliment on to the rest of the species in the morning,” she said drolly.
He looked a little wounded. “I did mean yours in particular. I don’t like just anyone’s brains – I’m very discerning.” He pulled back to meet her gaze properly. “What’s your question, then? ‘Cause I’m the man with the answers. That’s what they call me on the street – Answer Man. Or that’s what they would call me, if they called me anything.”
“On the street.”
“Yes,” he said patiently. “On the street.”
She worried her bottom lip between her teeth and regretted trying to voice the question at all. “I don’t really know how to say it. It’s just…” Rose sighed. “She was learning how to play bass guitar.”
He arched a puzzled eyebrow. “Sorry?”
“Ursula. Elton told me that, before all this happened, she’d been learning to play bass guitar. They had a sort of band, just for fun like, and no one played the bass so she’d volunteered to learn. She was better with the tambourine, he said.” She plucked idly at a loose thread in her pillow, not meeting his eyes. “He loved her. I could tell, the way he said it – he thought he’d lost her forever, that he had nothing left, but he really wanted me to know that she was good with a tambourine.”
He watched her soberly. “What happened to them isn’t fair.”
“No, it’s not, but that isn’t…” She dragged a hand through her hair and winced as her fingers found the knots. “People die. They get lost, or they lose, and we see it all the time. I don’t like to think I’ve gotten used to it, but maybe I have, a little. I understand the unfair things.” She tried to smile at him and he stared back, his eyes dark. “But, Elton and Ursula, they were in love, I think, and I…” She stopped, struggling to put the rest into words. “When I was small, Mum used to tell me stories about my dad. And I know now a lot of it wasn’t exactly true, but back then I didn’t. She called him her ‘true love’ and that’s what I thought it was like. That’s how I thought it worked.” She paused. “Like a fairy story. In all the universe, there was one person who was just for you and you were just for them, and if you lost them, that was it. That was the end.”
He chuckled, but it was a stilted, awkward sound. “Rose, are you asking me about the nature of love?”
Embarrassed, she covered her eyes with her hand and laughed uneasily. “Suppose I am.”
“Least I know you aren’t in need of a talk about the birds and the bees,” he said in an undertone.
“Oi!” She smacked his shoulder. “You implying something?”
“Well,” he drawled, “I think it’s safe to assume you’re no blushing virgin.”
Belying his words, a furious blush heated her cheeks. She was about to snap back at him when a sudden, vivid memory of Jack rose to the forefront of her mind, rolling his eyes and saying, “Jesus, Rose. Your sexual ideology is so typically 21st century.”
Rose gave the Doctor a fierce grin. He seemed slightly taken aback – this was not the reaction he’d expected. “So now you want to talk about all the blokes I’ve shagged, do you?”
He popped up onto one elbow, his eyes wide and panicked. “Did I say that? I don’t think I said that.”
“‘Cause there’s only been three – which isn’t bad, considering my age and the fact that I’ve been living in this box for the last two or three years. Or is it closer to four?” She frowned. “How long have I known you, anyway?”
He collapsed back onto the pillow, his gaze fixed on the ceiling. “Forever,” he said balefully. “Or feels like it when I have to wait for you to get ready in the mornings.”
“Blimey,” she said, staring at his profile. “You really don’t want to talk about this, do you?”
His expression remained impassive, but she saw the tense shift of his shoulders. “What gives you that idea?”
“For starters, that’s the second time you’ve tried to pick a fight with me and change the subject since I brought it up.”
The corner of his mouth twitched, forming half of a rueful smile. “Ah. You noticed that, did you?” He turned his head a little, meeting her eyes. His hands rested on his stomach, one finger tapping idly. “Right, then. Love.”
He made a face, scrunching his flexible features together in an expression that was two parts concentration and one part irritation. “Love, Rose,” he said, his tone distant and academic, “looks not with the eyes but with the mind. Love is patient, love is kind. Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Love has no uttermost, as the stars have no number and the sea no rest. Love makes you do the wacky. In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. The only victory over love is flight.” He pursed his lips, fighting back a smile. “Love is a battlefield.”
“Right,” she said, rolling away from him, onto her back. “Never mind.”
“It’s not exactly an easy question,” he pointed out defensively.
She glanced at him, arching an eyebrow. “And here I thought you had the answers to everything,
“That may have been a slight exaggeration.” She smirked and he pointed a warning finger in her direction. “Very slight, mind you.” He shifted, closing the space between them on the bed. His shoulder bumped gently against hers. “But I can do better. Now, which type strikes your fancy? Romantic? Erotic? Familial or friendly? Courtly, Platonic, or unrequited?” He gave her a wide, affectionate grin that she couldn’t help but return. “There are all sorts of ways to love someone, Rose.”
She reached over and smoothed the rough silk of his tie where it had become twisted and coiled around itself. “I don’t want a lecture,” she said mildly. “I want to know what you think.”
“Oh,” he said, baffled. “About what?”
She took a deep, calming breath. “Lift your head for a moment, will you?” He did, and she gripped the pillow in both hands and slammed it into his face.
“Why, you little—” he sputtered, laughing. In a matter of seconds he had snatched the pillow away and begun to retaliate. She slipped away from him and he overbalanced, spilling off the bed and onto the floor. “Ouch,” he said eloquently.
She peeked over the side of the bed. “You all right?”
“I’m an old man, Rose. Old men don’t have pillow fights.”
“They do, actually,” she said, smiling down at him. “They just lose.”
He crawled back onto the bed. “I could have been very badly injured, you know,” he scolded playfully. “It was pure luck that a pile of your underpants broke my fall.”
“Slob,” he replied, before taking her hand and pressing her palm to his lips. The touch was soft and dry and quick, and when it was over he looked a little shocked, staring at her hand in his as if he didn’t quite know how it had gotten there.
Rose stared at him, astounded. “Doctor?”
There was a short pause, and then he said, “Sorry. Slight impulse control problem, it seems.” He released her hand. “Happens to the best of us.” He seemed quite intent on staring at a spot on the wall just past her face.
“Right.” She searched for something to break the awkward silence. “Can I use that excuse next time I wander off into mortal danger?”
He chuckled. “Oh, absolutely. Seems only fair.” He returned the pillow to its place, taking a moment to plump it carefully. “Three, then?” he asked, focused on his task.
“Three what?” Then she realised, and didn’t know whether to smack him or laugh. “Are you honestly trying to sort out who the third bloke I’ve—”
“Of course not.” He settled onto his back and pulled the tangled sheets over them both. “But it wasn’t Adam.”
She grinned, delighted. “You can’t seriously be asking me about this. Not you.”
He sniffed, his gaze locked on the ceiling. “Just making conversation. You brought it up.”
“Actually, you’re the one who started us talking about sex, not me.” She couldn’t help but giggle. “And Adam? Give me a little credit.”
“Well, I’m fairly sure Jack got the message.”
“And what message would that be? ‘Hands off the blonde?’” He gave her a surprised look. “Please, I was right there. I’m not blind.” She brushed a stray strand of hair from her face. “That was so long ago. I’d almost forgotten how possessive you used to be.”
He opened his mouth to argue and then closed it again, looking flummoxed.
She yawned and snuggled deeper into the bed. “I sort of miss it, honestly. It was easier to understand than this.”
He blinked at her. “This?” he asked, bewildered.
She continued, ignoring his confusion. “Jimmy was the jealous type. Probably the only thing you two have ever had even remotely in common. Not even that, really, because you never did anything but make snarky comments and glower at people.” She met his gaze, watching his face through sleepy, heavy-lidded eyes. “I fell in love with him so quickly I was dizzy for months. It was mad and wonderful and I hurt Mickey and my mum and made terrible decisions, but I thought he was it. My one.”
“True love,” the Doctor said softly.
“Yeah.” She closed her eyes. “When I realised I had to leave him, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Which is stupid, because he’d said and done things that should have been worse, but learning that you could really love someone and have them love you back and everything could still be awful…” She laughed a little, but it wasn’t a happy sound. “I suppose I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when my dad couldn’t even remember my mum’s full name.”
She felt his fingers brush her cheek and her eyes flew open. He was watching her intently, his expression unreadable. “I’ve never thought of you as a cynic, Rose.”
She shook her head and his hand fell away. “Not cynical. Just a little wiser.”
Something in his face changed, a new resolve creeping into his expression. He raised himself up on one elbow, his thin, familiar face rising above her own. “In my very long life, I’ve learned this.” His hand rested on the bed next to hers, their fingers just barely touching. She didn’t breathe. “Love isn’t kind. It isn’t fated or sacred or pure. The sort of love you mean – the helpless, desperate sort, the falling, when you have sex not so much for the sex but because you feel like one person broke apart and maybe, just maybe, if you try hard enough you can be whole again – it’s as terrible as it is wonderful. It’s hormones and instinct and insanity, a frantic, electric pulse in your brain.”
“But it’s real,” she breathed, the words escaping in a shuddering exhale.
“Oh yes,” he said, his voice rough. “And you know because it hurts.” He pressed his hand to her chest, just below her breasts, the heel of his palm resting hard against the curve of her ribs. “Here. A constant, throbbing ache just beneath the bones. It twists and sings and you learn to crave the fall, to taste wanting like salt on your tongue. And when the inevitable happens, when you lose what you love, it burns.” The sweet pressure against her chest deepened and his fingers grazed the slope of her breast through the thin fabric of her t-shirt. She arched into his hand, mindless and overwhelmed, her hips shifting, falling open without thought or intent, her eyes fluttering closed. “But wounds scar with time,” he continued, low. “The rawness of it fades and you feel a little less exposed, a little less broken. Maybe it’ll never heal completely, but it becomes something you can live with. With time.”
Fighting the weight of her eyelids, Rose opened her eyes to find him staring down at her, his face pale and shadow in the dim light. Slowly, deliberately, she reached up and slipped each button of his suit coat from its hole, exposing his rumpled shirt. She placed her hand between his hearts, mirroring his touch. “Here?” she asked, and pressed her palm hard against his chest.
Perhaps she imagined it, the darkness playing tricks on her eyes, but as she felt the violent double beat against her fingers she watched the black of his pupils swell and dilate, nearly swallowing the thin rings of his irises.
“Yes,” he said, and the tremor in his voice sent a furious heat spiraling low in her belly. “There.”
Pinned by the pressure of his hand, Rose felt a fizzy sort of elation bloom from the delicious ache in her chest outward to her shoulders and hands, to her abdomen and the hammering pulse at the junction of her thighs. His eyes were so wide, so dark, and though there was little in them that she could understand, something reckless and naked waited in his gaze, as if some barrier she’d never known existed had been ripped away. She wanted more of it, to sink further into that darkness. She wanted to fall.
But she hadn’t forgotten the cruel twist of her mother’s voice as she berated Peter Tyler, the most wonderful man in the world, or her sobs as she said the goodbye she would never be able to remember. She looked into the Doctor’s eyes and remembered the pale blue-grey of Jimmy’s, the way the corners crinkled when he laughed one of his rare, astonishing laughs. She remembered the rush of letting go, and she remembered the day she landed.
She broke eye contact, turning her face away and snatching her hand back from his chest. She hadn’t realised how heavily he’d been leaning into her touch – at the loss of contact he slumped, just catching himself before collapsing into her. His eyes closed and he rolled away, onto his back.
“Right,” he said, his voice fiercely normal. “That’s that, then.” The bed shifted as he moved to go, but she grabbed hard at his wrist and pulled him back. She could not let him leave.
He lay beside her again, his shoulders tense, but she did not ease her grip. If he were anyone else, she was sure she would have bruised him.
She did not know how long the silence between them lasted, but every moment was painful and unending.
“What did you mean before?” he asked finally, and beneath the idle curiosity of his tone there was an urgency he could not hide. “You said my supposed possessiveness was ‘easier to understand than this.’ What ‘this’?”
She gestured vaguely to the space between them with her free hand. “This.”
“Well, thank you,” he said, voice sharply sarcastic. “That clears things up nicely.”
Rose sighed and released his wrist. “This thing we do now, ever since you regenerated. It’s like…I never know where the lines are, anymore.”
“And you need lines,” he said flatly.
“I’m not the one who drew them in the first place,” she snapped back. “Before you changed, you only ever came into my bedroom to tell me to stop preening and hurry up. Now sometimes it’s almost like we’re…” She fumbled for words, but each description she thought of was more horrible than the last. “You know. And it’s easy and wonderful and far too normal, and I get used to it.”
He continued to stare blankly at the ceiling. “I think I understand.”
“You obviously don’t.” She sat upright and hugged her knees to her chest, shifting away from him a little. “Lines aren’t just about keeping people out. Sometimes you have to keep something for yourself, just in case.”
There was a silence, and then he slowly said, “In case of what?”
Rose stared at the shape of her bare feet beneath the sheets. “Monsters from the planet Clom, hit and run drivers, and broken vases.” She paused. “Robot dogs and eighteenth century
He had nothing to say to that.
She cleared her throat roughly and continued. “And maybe some people can do that – hold back, not let themselves get pulled in. Maybe I could have, if I’d tried harder. I don’t know. I just know that sometimes I look at you, and it does.” She closed her eyes. “It hurts.”
She heard the gentle rustle of the bedclothes as he moved hesitantly closer, felt the mattress dip when he sat behind her. His hand brushed her forearm, and when she leaned slightly into the touch, he slid his arms around her, his chin coming to rest on her shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he murmured into her ear.
She chuckled weakly. “Sort of a stupid thing to apologise for.”
His hands covered hers, long, cool fingers settling awkwardly just below her kneecaps. “I can, at times, be sort of stupid.”
“Oh my god,” she gasped, almost laughing. “I must be dreaming. Say that again.”
“I beg your pardon?” His tone was wounded, but she could feel his chest shake with restrained laughter. “Rose, you seem to be under the illusion that I am in some way a victim of inflated self-importance, and that simply isn’t—”
Rose turned her head and pressed her mouth to his, hard. The angle was awkward and their noses mashed together unpleasantly, but his teeth grazed her bottom lip, his hand buried into the hair at the nape of her neck, and it was so much, so close to what she’d wanted for so long. She twisted around to face him and eased him back onto the bed, letting her lips linger at the corner of his mouth as she aligned her body over his.
“Say it again.” Her mouth curved into a smile against his jaw.
“What?” he asked, the word escaping in the hiss of an exhale. “Oh yes. Of course. Stupid. I’m a very, very stupid man.” She pulled away slightly and he strained upward, his lips chasing hers. “Obviously.”
She grinned down at him. “Obviously.”
He reached up and cupped her cheek in his hand, his thumb sweeping over her skin. He looked for a moment as if he might say something, but he instead he pulled her face down to his and kissed her – a slow, calculated kiss, as if in time to some rhythm she could not feel. She responded with impatience, trying to provoke him into something fiercer, but she’d somehow forfeited her control over the situation. One thin arm looped around her waist and then he was rolling her onto her back, holding himself above her. The sudden distance between their bodies was infuriating. Her hands went to his shoulders, hoping to pull him closer, but he simply grinned at her, unmoving.
“Oh, you think you’re clever, do you?”
He dipped down and kissed her chin. “No, I’m quite the fool. Haven’t you heard?”
Rose slid her fingers into his hair and then, in a move of considerable cunning, twisted her hips to free one leg from its spot wedged between his knees. Hooking her leg over his waist, she pulled him to her, bringing his hips flush against her own.
“Oh,” he said faintly, and she had to agree.
It was too much, she thought, far too much for one person to feel all at once. The perfect pressure of him hard against her and she was undone, spinning aimless in air, their mouths meeting, teeth clicking against teeth. Cool hands shoved at her t-shirt, exposing her stomach, and the buttons of his shirtfront dug into her skin as his fingers drew lazy patterns against her side. She arched up into and against him and he pulled back, breathless, to meet her gaze.
“I want…” He paused, dishevelled and panting. “I want more. More all right with you?”
She nodded emphatically and he grinned.
“Brilliant,” he said hoarsely, kissing his way down her neck. “Well done. Capital. Splendid.”
“Marvelous,” she added as he reached her collarbone.
He nipped gently at the skin just above her collar. “Tip top.”
“Brilliant.” He slid down, resuming his ministrations at her stomach, his nose brushing the hem of her t-shirt.
She frowned, annoyed that he’d skipped a part of her anatomy rather obviously in need of his attention. “Already said brilliant.”
He glanced up at her, and the mischievous glint in his eyes troubled her. “Anything worth saying once is worth saying twice, don’t you think?”
She tugged at his hair. “You’re too coherent.”
He titled his head slightly to one side. “Now, that’s not something I’ve often been accused of.” His hand slipped down over her stomach to toy with the drawstring of her pajama bottoms. “I shall do my model best,” he said evenly, “to become as incoherent as possible.”
And with that fairly amazing statement he began to pull the waistband of her pajamas down her hips, inch by inch, at a maddeningly slow pace. His lips explored the newly uncovered skin and her hand fisted in his hair. It took all the admittedly small concentration she had left to keep from squirming impatiently. He was obviously determined to make this as excruciatingly slow as possible, and while some distant part of her mind found this idea rather appealing, the rest simply insisted that down there, now would be nice, thanks.
Then a strange, rumbling ache began to build in her ears and the space just behind her jaw. She clamped her mouth shut, grinding her teeth together, and squeezed her eyes closed. Then the pressure built to an irresistible thunder, and she couldn’t stop herself. She yawned – a massive, blinding yawn with just the tiniest, high-pitched squeak at the end.
The Doctor stilled, his lips against the skin of her hip. “Either that was an odd and somewhat premature orgasm, or I’m deeply insulted.”
She blinked down at him blearily, a little mortified and a little amused at the same time. “Well, I’m sorry, but you did wake me in the middle of the—”
“You humans and your sleep,” he muttered, making his way back up the length of her body. “You snore and you drool and you dream, and where does it get you?”
“I’m not that tired,” she said hurriedly, pushing half-heartedly at his shoulders.
He dropped a light kiss onto her nose. “Yes, you are.”
“Rose,” he said with a great forbearance that made her rather want to smack him, “you just yawned so hard that I felt the aftershocks in your knees. You’re tired.” He sighed woefully. “Too tired.”
Her tart reply was lost in another yawn. He rolled his eyes.
“See, there you go again. Yawning like the Yawn Olympics were just around the corner, and your hard-bitten but loveable coach had just told you to give him twenty yawns before you could hit the showers.”
“Well, what do you expect, the way you keep talking about—” She covered her mouth with her hand as another eye-watering yawn hit her. She glared at him. “Stop playing with my brain,” she ordered once she recovered.
He tried to feign insult but his wide grin gave him away. “Hardly my fault that human minds are so susceptible to suggestion. Bit sad, really, the way you lot assimilate the slightest hint without even…” He paused suddenly, looking troubled, and then let loose an immense, jaw-popping yawn.
“You were saying?” she prompted, eyes wide with mock innocence.
He scowled. “I did that on purpose. Oxygen deficiency.”
“Oh, I’m sure.” She grinned and wriggled slightly beneath him, shifting her hips against his. “‘Cause you’re not the least bit susceptible.”
He pulled away, shaking his head. “Now then, missy, no funny business. Time for all good little girls to be in dreamland.” The lascivious turn of her thoughts must have been echoed in her expression, because he placed a firm finger against her lips. “Save it for the morning, tiger.”
“Time is relative,” she replied sourly as he crawled to the bottom of the bed and collected the discarded duvet, pulling it over them both.
“Believe me, Rose,” he said, lying on his back and tugging her against his side. “When we do have sex, you’ll want to be well-rested.”
She snorted. “Is that supposed to sound impressive?”
The Doctor squeezed her shoulder, pulling her closer. “Sort of.”
Rose sighed and, tucking her head under his chin, rubbed her cheek against the familiar, coarse fabric of his suit coat. The rough stubble of his jaw brushed her forehead and she smiled. “I’m going to have the worst case of stubble burn.”
He huffed and his chest moved beneath her head. “I didn’t exactly foresee a need to shave before visiting you for an innocent late-night chat.”
“Oh, don’t get like that,” she teased. “I like it. It’s a bit like snogging a very talented sheet of sandpaper.”
“Hush,” he said. “Sleep now. Sass later.”
She cleared her throat pointedly.
“Yes, yes. Sass and sex later. I haven’t exactly forgotten, you know.” He tried to run his hand through her hair, but his fingers got caught on the tangles. He settled for simply pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Now shut it.”
Hours later, she was startled awake by a sudden, guttural snore. For a hazy, sleep-drunk moment she thought she was being attacked by some terrible alien beast with a deviated septum. Then a wiry arm tightened around her waist and she realised.
The Doctor was sleeping.
And snoring and, if the sticky dampness in her hair was any indication, drooling as well. She pressed a faint kiss to the underside of his jaw. “Love you, too,” she murmured.
He made contented snuffling sound in response and she smiled.
“Now stop drooling on me.”
A/N: In his little love diatribe, the Doctor quotes the following plays/novels/television shows/songs/scriptures/dictators:
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1 Corinthians 13:4
Erich Segal, Love Story
Eleanor Farjeon, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard
Lennon/McCartney, The End