The Doctor scratches his ear and takes a couple of steps around the console.
“So, where now?” he asks as the TARDIS stills.
At another time, in another place, Rose may have come back with a sarcastic comment. Now, however, all she can mange is a weak smile. Her heart still thumps in her chest; she still feels as though she’s trapped on Sanctuary Base 6.
“Rose?” the Doctor wonders quietly.
She wets her lips. “Uh... I dunno, I guess ...wherever you want to go.”
He lets out a sigh through his nose, then looks away.
“Well. The TARDIS needs some recalibrating after...” He trails off, unable to say the words. He can barely even look at her. “We don’t have to go anywhere for while, is what I mean.”
Rose nods. “Okay.”
With the conversation apparently finished, Rose turns and heads for the corridor. Then she spots something out of the corner of her eye: the Doctor’s spacesuit, now draped over one of the railings after he hurriedly got changed. Her attention fixes on it and her strength wavers as she remembers just how close she came to losing him today. They’d said he was dead. They had told her and she had claimed not to believe it, because she knows that the Doctor is better than death. He’s beyond it. But that didn’t stop her being terrified by the thought.
She raises a hand to her face, surprised that a small number of tears have fallen from her lashes. It has been such a long, such a very hard, day.
The Doctor looks up at the soft sound of crying and, when his eyes fall on Rose, his hearts break. Just that little bit. She looks so scared and alone, even if her back is to him. Then he sees what she’s looking at — why didn’t he have the sense to put it away? A reminder of what they’ve just been through is the last thing they need.
He walks across to her and without words takes her in his arms. She turns into him willingly, but he can tell she’s trying to hold back tears. He wraps his arms around her tighter, enfolding her into his warmth and comfort as his eyes fix emptily on the spacesuit. Unpleasant memories flicker back to him. This is going to be one adventure he isn’t going to forget in a hurry.
This hug is nothing like the last. The last was reunion, and hope, and sheer joy at seeing each other alive again. This is holding on to another’s life because one’s own seems so inadequate.
“I’m sorry,” Rose sniffs after a moment, pulling back from him. There are mascara smudges across her cheeks and she reaches to wipe them away fervently.
He looks at her with fond heartache. “Don’t be,” he pleads. “It’s all right to cry. And it’s all right to be afraid.”
Rose nods, squinting back more tears. She closes her eyes and bites down on her lips and the Doctor pulls her into him again, cradling her head in his chest. He strokes her hair gently, whispering comforting sounds to try and calm her. He hates seeing his Rose so beaten.
“I thought I’d lost you,” she whispers from his chest. He stills. “Ida said ...she said you fell. She said you fell into the Pit and that she couldn’t stop you.” She pulls back from him again, just enough to look questioningly up into his eyes. Hers are red and filled with tears, and there are more stains on her cheeks that she doesn’t wipe away. “Why?” she chokes out at last.
The Doctor, aware that his own emotions are becoming tangled with hers at this point, blinks softly down at her. “I had no choice,” he says quietly. “I had to take that risk; there was nothing else we could do.”
Rose shakes her head, biting down on her lip, and breaks loose of his hold on her. She walks away, just a little, a few feet, with her back to him. He goes to say her name, but she pre-empts him, turns around with helplessness written all over her face and fire sparking in her eyes.
“But you ...you could’ve...” She can’t even say it, and he doesn’t blame her.
“I know,” the Doctor agrees calmly with a small nod. “But I had to.”
Rose, trying to understand, wipes the back of her hand across her cheeks. He has to play the hero and he has to save the world. That’s what the Doctor does.
“Rose, I was the only one who could do anything,” he informs, eyes wide and face serious. “It was worth the risk to — ”
“How can you say that?” Rose demands, anger hiding behind her tears. “You just, you got lucky. That’s all. You didn’t know what was down there, you didn’t know you’d be all right. But you went anyway.”
Her words cut him, but he tries not to let it show. “What did you want me to do?” he challenges quietly.
Rose sniffs and looks away, blinking away another onslaught of tears. She sighs, helpless. She knows he had no choice but to go down into that Pit, and that had he not, they all would have died anyway. Or worse: the Beast would have had his freedom while the Doctor and Ida suffocated to death.
“You coulda...” she tries, but there are no words to finish her sentence. She can’t contemplate the loss of him. It hurts too much. “I don’t want to lose you,” Rose admits at last, voice cracking under the strain of trying not to cry.
She remembers holding him in her arms while he broke down on the Sanctuary Base. They haven’t mentioned it since, of course, but the memory of him being so distraught still affects her. It made her realise that perhaps her Doctor isn’t so strong as she once thought.
“It was never an option, Rose.”
She looks at him and frowns unbelievingly. “How can you know that?”
“Because some things are meant to be.” In the light of the TARDIS, his smile is almost real. He wonders if she’ll believe his faith in them... He wonders if he does. They’ve been through so much and seen so many different fears; he has no choice but to believe in them, really, to believe in her. It’s all he has.
When he was down in that Pit, terrified to death at the thought of having to give Rose up for the sake of what’s right, the revelation of his utter belief in her astounded even him. He is aware, yes, that he believes she means it when she says ‘forever’; he believes in her faith in him; he believes in her compassion towards others when he can’t seem to manage it.
But he didn’t know, until that moment, just how passionate and deep his belief runs. If he thought he was in trouble before, he had no idea. Because now, he knows that he will never be able to give her up. He knows, from having even a flicker of that feeling while with the Beast, that if he loses her, it will well and truly destroy him.
So he has to believe in them, because if he doesn’t, he might well fall apart.
He is reminded painfully of the effect of losing the TARDIS and of having no clue what to do; Rose shouldn't ever have to see him like that. No one should.
He looks at her, pulling himself back into reality like the black hole pulled at Krop Tor.
“What actually happened down in that pit?” Rose asks apprehensively. Perhaps she has noticed the expression his face, or the darkness in his eyes as he recounted the memories. “What did you do?”
“I...” Survived? Met the thing that called itself Satan?Saved the world but lost you? “...had faith.”
He walks towards her, face as hard now as it is when he’s angry. He isn’t angry, though — he’s not sure what he is, but he’s not angry.
Rose seems to sense his mood and looks sympathetic, maybe even scared. “Faith in what?”
Oh, she shouldn’t have asked that. He is close, now. Too close. He can’t seem to take his eyes off her. That voice, that body, that person; he almost lost her completely, no matter how much he believes in her. He still condemned her to death when he broke the prison. He still chose the universe over her. And even though it was necessary, even though they’re all right now and everything is as it should be, even though he believed that his wonderful Rose would find a way out of it ...he still did it. He still put her in that danger. Despite the fate he knows he has in her, he couldn’t trust it, right when it counted. The guilt is consuming.
And, right at the back of his mind, he hears that voice again. That impulse.
Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on...
With all that they’ve been through today, it’s no wonder he’s lost the will to fight. With a rough hand he cups her cheek and stares into her eyes. Rose is obviously startled but he doesn’t care any more. Her flesh is warm and pure. He can feel it tingling between his blood-stained hands, so pristine and innocent that he’s surprised it doesn’t burn him.
He answers her question with six, simple words.
“You, Rose. It’s always been you.”
Then he’s pulling her towards him and his lips descend on hers in a passionate kiss. There is no shying away now. She is startled at first and, for the fraction of a second, unresponsive. But then her hands wind around his neck and she’s kissing him back with equal vigour. He tilts his head, requesting silent permission, and she allows him access by opening her mouth. He slips inside, warm and wet, kissing so unrelentingly because now that he’s started, he just can’t stop.
Hands cling to her desperately, one at her cheek and the other at her waist, fingers crushing through her clothes and into her skin. He feels her fingers in his hair and he likes that sharp pain, loves it because it’s the most alive he has felt in centuries. He needs, more than anything, to convince himself that he’s still alive, that he can still feel — even if it’s just pain and despair and wrath.
And if Rose is the one to remind him how it feels to live again, well, so be it.
His hand slides to the back of her neck as he holds her, his kissing almost violent in its sheer need to be with her. The voice at the back of his mind laughs with sardonic glee, especially when he pushes into Rose’s body with so much power she’s forced backwards until she hits the wall of the TARDIS. He doesn’t mean to hurt her, that’s the last thing he wants, but right now he’s guilt and need and so much pain that he can feel it crushing him from all sides.
Her fingers dig into his back through his jacket and he needs more than this. He needs more than their tongues colliding and their hands grasping. He needs flesh and blood. He needs body, mind and soul. He needs her.
He pulls back from the kiss, watching her shaking and breathless form as she opens her eyes. He can easily see that she is still startled by his nature. Feeling suddenly guilty, he touches her jaw tenderly with his finger.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs with words he doesn’t mean, not believing how beautiful she looks in this light. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Rose tightens her hold on him, “If you think I’m letting you run off again, you’ve got another think coming.”
He smiles devilishly, knowing his eyes are hooded with desire. Then he kisses her again, gentler this time, and with languid passion while his tongue explores anywhere she’ll allow.
“Rose...” he whispers as his mouth moves to her jaw. She arches her head backwards and he feels his passion, his need to manipulate her, grow. “...I need you...” His hand slides down her body as his lips travel to her ear. “...Now...”
He feels her shudder beneath his hands and he craves it, wonders what she’ll feel like when it’s skin on skin and no barriers between them.
“Are you sure?” Rose asks quietly.
He stills, then pulls back a moment, looking questioningly into her eyes.
“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life,” he tells her honestly, suddenly granted a moment of clarity. “Well. Not this life.”
He’s doing it for the wrong reasons. He’s doing it because everything he knows and loves has been challenged beyond belief; he’s doing it because he’s cracking at the edges and he just doesn’t have the strength to keep himself together; he’s doing it because feeling cold and empty is not something he wants to experience alone any more. It’s selfish, yes. But he’s sure.
“Good,” Rose says defiantly, and he’s surprised to find her hands at his cheeks. “’Cause so am I.”
Then there is kissing again and he just can’t stop his hands from coasting her body, or his hips from arching into her, powerful and immovable. Her moan echoes in the back of his throat and he likes that sound, wants to hear more like it. He likes what he can do to her because it reminds him of the man she thinks he is.
“Bedroom?” she pants in his ear when his mouth finds her neck, tongue swirling over the pale skin as he draws patterns of Gallifrey in her flesh. He draws back and, breathing heavily, nods his affirmation.
“I think...” He kisses her again, teasing her bottom lip very lightly between his teeth. “...That...” Now he kisses her properly, tongue winding with hers as his body rubs against her. Ah, there’s that noise again. “...Would be a very...” And he reaches up, untangles her hands from his hair, holds them, kissing her and roving his tongue in and out of her mouth, until he stops and finishes, “...Good idea.”
He pulls back, enjoying the way her laboured breathing makes her pulse and shiver against him. If he concentrates, he can almost remember what it’s like to feel alive. Almost.
Then, without words or hesitations, he tugs on her hands and leads her out of the console room. His mind darkens sardonically with the thoughts of what he’s about to do to this na´ve human; it’s been a long time since he’s burned.
It’s his room they end up going to because he’s in more power here, and right now, all this is about is power. Or at least, that’s what the Doctor tells himself; somehow, he knows he has to be on his own territory for this to happen because what he’s about to do doesn’t justify excuse elsewhere. It doesn’t justify excuse anywhere, but if he doesn’t think about it, he can almost convince himself that this is right, that he isn’t taking advantage, that it isn't just some last desperate attempt to shift the weight off his shoulders to someone else — just for one night.
The lights are dimmed and he can’t remember if he left it like that or if it’s the TARDIS trying to tell him something.
Rose has been in his room before. Quite a few times, actually, but never under these circumstances. There was just once that she fell asleep with him, after a particularly nasty encounter with an alien that recreated one's worst nightmares and brought them into the living world. The Doctor had been lucky enough to escape it while they were running, but Rose, just behind him, had the full effect. He wonders if she still hurts from that experience.
He starts to lead her towards the bed, but Rose slows and the Doctor pauses, looking back to her.
“What?” he asks quietly, walking closely to her and brushing her cheek tenderly with his knuckles. He is so desperate to turn that touch into more, to rip at her clothes and devour her taste right here and now — but he can’t, because one shred of humanity still resides in him, and it wills him not to hurt her.
She leans into his touch and kisses his fingers delicately. Lust shimmers in his eyes. He wants her so very much.
“I never thought you’d...” Rose starts in a small voice, but trails off and just looks at him.
A thought dawns on him, shadowy with the fear it brings. “Are you scared, Rose?”
“I...” She nods, slowly, her eyes wide. “Yeah. I am.”
The Doctor cups her cheek, brushing his thumb across the trails of mascara residue. He tries to pretend that there isn’t some part of him that relishes that fear in her eyes, that relishes the power of fear he has over her, because it honestly scares him to death.
“Don’t be afraid,” he says in a low growl, his senses already tingling with their combined arousals.
She shakes her head, forcing him to drop his hand, and tentatively reaches to whisper her hand across his cheek. He closes his eyes and concentrates on that touch; it feels like ripples over water, but he wants to take the plunge.
“Are you real?” Rose suddenly whispers, and the tears in her voice startle him, so much he opens his eyes again.
His hands drift to her waist, closing around the perfect curves of her body. The sight of here in his arms like this, within tasting distance... it’s almost too much to bear.
“I’m quite real, Rose,” he assures, tightening his hands.
She gasps and shuts her eyes when he pulls her into him, their bodies touching in such a way that she can have no question of his arousal. He leans forward, breath hot and heavy as it tickles her ear. “I need to feel you, Rose.”
Without giving her the chance to respond, he kisses her again, and again, turns them, walks them back towards the bed, the actions second nature as he explores her mouth fiercely with his tongue. Rose’s calf bumps against the frame and they tumble down into a mass of sheets and duvets, the Doctor never once breaking the kiss. His tongue weaves expertly with hers and his hand, by its own accord, finds the zip of Rose’s jacket. He brings it down teasingly slowly, enjoying the shiver that travels down his spine with the sound as he does. Then he pulls her up, simultaneously kicking off his shoes while relieving her of her jacket, which he then drops to the floor. Hands coast the bare skin of her arms, feeling every raised hair and texture.
She has grown confident in her kissing now and he feels sudden force behind her response. He pulls back slightly, hands moving down and up against her arms.
She meets his gaze, cheeks flushed, lips swollen and eyes dark. She’s the most powerful epitome of beauty he can ever remember seeing.
“Doctor,” she whispers, the word weighted with a question.
“Shh,” he commands softly. “I just want to look at you.”
He takes this opportunity to burn the image of her into his mind, because after tonight, she will always be tainted with his imperfections and he’ll have to live with that knowledge for his whole life.
Then he can’t stand to be away from her any longer and he’s kissing her again, this time mouth and tongue drifting across her jawline. He can feel her nimble fingers on the buttons of his suit and it cannot happen quick enough. He needs this fire, because without the fire he cannot burn, and without the burn he cannot feel. This goes far beyond giving in to desires, or meaningless declarations — this is comfort in its lowest form, cold and unforgiving. He’s not doing this out of love. But he’s seen too much in the universe to even let it faze him now.
Rose works the jacket down his arms as he kisses her pulse point, sucking and nibbling so hard that he draws blood to the surface. She whimpers under the siege of his relentless mouth, her head bent to allow him better access as she clutches blindly at the fabric. He needs to mark her as his, and mark her he shall. No other man will ever dare to touch her after this.
He finds her lips again once the coat is disposed of, hungrily devouring her taste while she pulls at his tie, almost ripping the fabric off him. He lets his hands ghost down her torso and come to rest just below the hem of her t-shirt, teasing her with promises of removal as she starts at the buttons on his shirt.
“Rose,” he manages when she gets to the third. His hands have slipped under the fabric now, slender fingers pressing into her frame and pulling her towards him.
“You’re cold,” she notices quietly.
“I’m different,” he reminds, not caring to comment that her skin feels as though it’s on fire. “Very different.”
Rose shuffles closer to him on the bed, toeing her own shoes off as she settles herself.
“I don’t care,” she informs him and kisses him. He is sure there is something he’s meant to say, to warn her about, but as her tongue does incredible things with his, he can do nothing but reach out for her. He supposes she’ll find out soon enough.
Her hands finish work on the shirt and, once he’s shrugged that off, he sits with his chest completely bared to her. He watches as her eyes roam him, taking in the smattering of hair, equally as haphazard as the freckles on his face. She drinks in the strong, toned muscles, pale skin, broad shoulders, and a line of hair on his abdomen that disappears below his belt line.
To be bared to her like that feels wonderful, but he wants more, so the Doctor kisses Rose just once before relieving her of her t-shirt. However, he doesn’t get a chance to survey her as she has done him, because her mouth is suddenly at his collar bone, coasting downwards, while she pushes him onto his back. The feel of her mouth, so hot and sweet, against his skin almost sends him into oblivion. He can’t help but tense, then arch, when her teeth start to tease his nipple. Her tongue flicks out like a serpent, tasting the point, and he gasps at feeling so lost within her already.
“Rassilon, Rose,” he utters without meaning to, feeling every bit as scared and turned on as she probably does.
She stops the assail on him and looks up, smirking. She is obviously quite proud of herself.
“Having fun?” she quips playfully.
“Right,” the Doctor pants, his mind clearing again. “Come here, you little minx.”
She squeals as he sits up and, through quick manoeuvring, traps her below him. He looks into her eyes as his hand worms its way underneath her for the clip of her bra.
“Never tease a Time Lord,” he murmurs, lips close enough to hers that he brushes them with his movement. He holds back from kissing her, instead releasing the catch between his fingers. She looks impressed. With her help he is able to rid her of the flimsy fabric and deposit it over the side of the bed.
Then, with whispering promises of how beautiful she is, he lets his tongue and mouth lazily drawl down her chest. She whimpers with want when he reaches a spot just above her nipple and he aches for that sound again. As an experiment, he lets his tongue dart out to taste her just there, and when she helplessly gasps his name, he knows he’s got it right. The river of need swells and he descends onto the tight bud with force, sucking and licking and nibbling and teasing until the feel of Rose’s desire in his head overwhelms him. She’s moaning and arching beneath his touch, setting him on fire as he reminds himself of her innocence.
Without diminishing attention with his mouth, he slowly slides his hand up her body, using his fingers to arouse the pinnacle of her second breast. He twists it, teases it, and begins to set up a subtle rhythm between his hand and mouth as he pins her to the bed.
A string of expletives follow from her when his mouth moves to her second breast, his other hand taking over on the wet peak of the first. She’s begging him, pleading with him, but he continues to let his tongue lick lavishly over her risen bud as she writhes. There are fingers in his hair again, pulling desperately, and nails clawing into his lean back between his shoulder blades. This is the feel of skin on skin, the raw connection and indescribable sounds along with it.
Before he realises it, the Doctor is being pulled up, his lips forced to crash onto Rose’s again as she hungrily takes him in. He kisses unforgivingly, feeling her wet nipples stiff against his chest and feeling a flash of possessive need for more. He brushes his hand down her body, lower, lower, until he finds the button of her jeans. With excruciating ease, he coaxes it through the hole, then slowly pulls the zip down as, following the downwards movements of his hand, his mouth slides to her collarbone. He trails wetness against her neck, never once breaking his contact with her as he makes their touch more intimate.
He feels his erection start to strain against the tight cage of his trousers when Rose gasps his name, stretching out the syllables, when his hand dips inside her trousers and rubs just the right spot through her knickers. He can feel her dampness, and the knowledge that he’s the reason behind it makes him almost lose himself.
Fingers stroke up and down against the cotton and Rose presses into him, her sounds delectable to his ears and encouraging him all the more. His mouth moves to her shoulder and bites down, almost penetrating her skin, as his fingers slip around the defence of her knickers and he pushes up inside her. She gasps at the sudden change and strains her head back against the pillow. With his thumb moving in slow circles gently over her clit and his fingers pulsing inside her, the Doctor smiles into Rose’s skin. He craves so much more than this simple control. He moves faster, kisses harder, feels the heat flare in Rose’s skin as he brings her closer and closer to breaking point. Her moans and noises are incredible, and he drowns in them. When she begins to form the syllables of his name in a helpless, breathy whimper, he decides in that moment to withdraw his hand, and leave her cold to that touch.
Her body relaxes, disappointment oozing off her, but arms wind around his neck as he moves up and kisses her gently on the lips, breathing in the whimpered sound of his own name. He smiles.
“Patience,” he chuckles against her lips, then kisses her again.
A few moments are spared to the attention of the removal of trousers, in which Rose gasps helplessly while the Doctor peels the fabric down her skin, and he in turn lets out a number of strained sighs as Rose eases his trousers off. Then, kissing and moving as one, the undergarments are discarded and each is completely naked.
The Doctor doesn’t give either of them a chance to survey one another, as his mind is screaming with the sheer intensity of needing to be touched, of needing to know he can touch her in a place no other man can or ever will. He does, however, cast his eyes once up and down her body while he settles on top of her. She truly is beautiful, and so very willing to be his it hurts. She lets out a groan and tips her head backwards, frustration coming off her in waves as she feels him so close yet so far. He can’t help but take the opportunity to kiss her neck again, mouth wide as he grazes her skin with his teeth, and he teases her opening with the head of his cock.
“Doctor!” Rose cries desperately, shocking him. In a quieter voice, she adds. “Please. I need you.”
He stops, hesitates.
“Rose, once I...” He doesn’t know how to phrase the words, doesn’t even know if he has the words. There’s just him and Rose and being surrounded by each other, and the terrifying comfort he finds in that. The words of the Beast ripple back to him and he closes his eyes, burying his head in her neck as he tries to drown them out.
This one knows me... Killer of his own kind... Valiant child, who will die in battle so very soon...
He doesn’t want to lose her, can’t lose her, won’t allow for the numbness that is sure to follow if he does. He can’t lose his last grasp, on sharing what he feels every day. Those words, those predictions, haunt him like a nightmare, and will continue to do so until the day they come true.
“This connects us, Rose,” the Doctor explains, moving in such a way that makes Rose moan and press her hips into his. His need is growing by the second, but he has to warn her because if he’s going to be selfish, she at least needs to know. “In every way. No secrets. Nowhere to hide.”
“Please,” she begs, but she’s nodding with understanding. “I get it. Just... please.”
He knows she doesn’t understand, she’s too far gone with desire, but he cannot deny either of them any longer, so he reconnects his lips with Rose’s skin and pushes into her, the angle having been lined up perfectly. He’s hard and aching and she’s tight and wet, and he glides in with such a perfect, absolute fit that they both cry out in pleasure. Except it’s more than that. He’s sliding deeper than any man has been able to reach, touching a point so far inside her that the connection goes beyond physical, just as he knew it would.
She’s around him, in every way, and he can feel her clench and take him in and it’s good, so good, so complete, so right as he moves in and out gently. He has craved this passion, this touch, and he’s on fire, his mind burning with her and everything she is. He’s kissing frantically, her name falling from his lips as he gasps at how this feels. This, this, is what it means to be alive, to be free, to be human. This is Rose in every way, and he can drink her in because he’s inside her, in her flesh and mind, and he can bathe in that glorious feeling of utter purity as his passion and pleasures grow tighter in the pit of his soul and stomach.
She moves with him, meeting strike for strike, and he can’t stop her name careering from his mouth if he tried. This feels like completion in its highest form. He can feel what she does, think what she does, remember, sense and experience what she does. Nursery, childhood, school, a string of people and a string of names that mean equally everything and nothing to him. He’s her, at the edges of his consciousness, and as he withdraws then presses into her tight warmth once again, the connection grows. He seeps his mind through, bears his soul, out of control of his own body.
Rose gasps, her voice strangled, and then she’s choking on his name and the breath is wrenching from her in harsh cries; he knew this would happen, he was expecting it, it’s what he wanted, to push his burdens onto her... but that doesn’t stop him stilling inside her, and opening his eyes to survey the form of his distressed salvation. Arms around him, hands pulling on his back, hair matted to her forehead and beads of sweat shining on her skin. She’s crying. There are tears streaming down her temples, leaking through from behind closed lids. Her face, contorted in pain, and hurt, and guilt, and too many emotions he has hidden away for too long, reminds him of the man he truly is.
“Don’t stop,” she pleads in a hoarse voice. The Doctor, unable to prevent them, feels his own tears well up at the sight of her — his own, sweet Rose — so distraught, yet so willing to throw away his fears and feelings, the ones she’s feeling right now, through him, and give him what he wants. She must know by now. She’s seeing everything — everything — that goes on in his mind. Including that he knew this would happen; including that he’s doing this only to be touched by someone so pure, it is worth the half-life racked with guilt he’ll suffer as punishment; including everything he’s never wanted her to see, because she’ll hate him for it afterwards.
Tears mounting at how much this is hurting her, he starts to move against her again; but even as she moans in pleasure at the feel of him inside her, it doesn’t stop the cascade of tears running down her cheeks. In fact, it makes them worse.
“Doctor,” she cries, and he pushes deep inside her again, telling himself that her fragile human mind isn’t ready for his grief and his burdens: trying to tell himself that part of him isn’t enjoying every last minute of this because it gives him a chance to be free. While he is plagued with feelings of love and fear and unfulfilment, she is experiencing everything he ever kept locked away in his own mind. He knows because he feels it every day.
He’s both a killer and a coward. Screams and pleas for his compassion deafen and blind him in his mind as he desperately tries to shut out the memories of the Time War. It hurts more than anything else he’s done in his life and he knows that Rose feels it too. She’s there, seeing it, seeing who he was and what he did and feeling how every day it tears him apart. And she forgives him.
“Oh, Doctor,” she manages again, her voice racked with his pain, his guilt, and reality slams back into him harder than the Time Vortex itself. “Oh Doctor, my Doctor!”
“It’s okay, Rose,” he breathes quietly, quickening the rhythm between them in the hope that it will end this hell quicker. He can feel her pleasure heighten and tightens his arms closer to her as he moves.
“So alone,” she sobs, voice torn and ripped at the seams. “So very, very alone. All those people. All that history. Everyone you ever met who died because of something you did. Everything you lost. The people who aren’t alive, because of you. So very alone.” More tears force themselves out and she whimpers. “Oh, God. So much hurt. Everywhere. Hurting like it’s ripping you apart, every day, from the inside out, and nobody’s there, nobody understands — ”
“Rose,” he cuts across, practically screwing his eyes shut in a vain attempt to keep his tears back. He kisses her, finds that perfect spot for her again. She arches, breaks away from his mouth, moans. “Please. Stop,” he begs.
“I can’t,” she gasps, “it’s everywhere. There’s nowhere safe because you’re always alone. There’s so much light. It hurts. It hurts!”
Tears fall from his eyes and onto her skin. He rocks their bodies gently while Rose cries because of who he is and what he does. How could he have done this to her? The sick part is that he feels better, he feels less alone because this innocent woman has taken on board the feelings he suffers and now, finally, understands what it means to be ‘the Doctor’. The man behind the name. He has plagued her with impurities because it’s the one way he’ll ever be able to feel again, to be touched in a world that’s dark and cold — the only way he can cast the weight off his shoulders to someone else, someone too pure and innocent in this universe to understand. He hates himself for what he’s done to her.
“Doctor, please,” Rose gasps again, hands grabbing at his shoulder blades as she coaxes him into moving once more. He can already feel that pressure build, with each long stroke in and out. He touches an inner core of her being that makes her writhe and brings a new sheen of sweat glistening to her body. She still cries, but he shuts it out, holding her close to him and whispering encouragement in her ear. He feels increasingly sick with what he’s doing, but she’s too wrapped up in the pain and guilt for him to help her any other way.
He can feel her orgasm building along with his as the tight ache in his stomach intensifies to unbearable levels. He gasps in time with her, unable to ignore the fact that pleasured gasps and frustrated moans make him want her more than he ever has before.
“Rose,” he growls in her ear, coherence losing itself as he feels the first spikes of pleasure on the end of his mind. “Come for me.”
She utters sounds that make his hearts race in fear: no one should know those sounds, those syllables. The sounds of his name, his real name, no title to hide behind and nowhere to run. He has truly turned her into something inhuman, and grief wrenches through him. He’s a monster for having done this to her, for letting her feel this way about him. He can still feel her in his mind, her compassion, her forgiveness: she’s seen it all and she’s still right here with him, feeling things that make him sick because of what he’s done to her.
He drags in and out one last time before Rose, in his ear, whispers, “I love you.” All he can think is that he hates himself so very much, and then they’re both tumbling over the edges of climax together. She’s sobbing, crying her heart out for him, and as he rides the waves of pleasure by moving inside her, the Doctor realises that he is sobbing as well. He can’t stop.
In a last effort he calls her name, long and strangled, and then there’s everything and nothing as meanings explode into one another.
When the light eventually dies enough that he can slide out of her and hold her exhausted body in his arms, only then does he let everything he passed on to her come flooding back to him.
Sweat lines his forehead and coats his body, and Rose’s too. He rocks her gently as she shakes in his arms, all the while letting his own tears fall silently down onto the pillow. She never has to know; the link is broken now. How can he even touch her after what he’s done?
“Doctor...” Rose whimpers from his chest and he holds her closer to him, as close as he possibly can without suffocating her.
“I’m here, Rose,” he replies quietly, eyes stinging with exhausted grief. “It’s all right. You’re all right. Shh.”
When she does eventually calm enough to sleep, the Doctor just lies, his heartbeats erratic in his chest. The lights in his room have gone out completely, so all he is left with is the sleeping figure in his arms and the dark thoughts that follow. He want to place a kiss to her forehead, an unworthy apology, a signature of his remorse, but he can’t. He can’t touch her. So he just lies, patiently, waiting.
It’s an hour or so later and he’s still lying with his arms clasped around the worn out figure of Rose, still staring forward blankly into the darkness. Her breaths are long, relaxed, as she sleeps off the exhaustion of what they’ve just been through.
Dark thoughts drift in and out of the Doctor’s mind, but he’s used to them now. One idea in particular, darker than the others, ambles towards the front and successfully gains his attention. It’s one he’s thought about before this evening. Where once he might have cast it off as unfair to Rose, silent thinking time of what he’s done to her makes it seem like the next logical step.
Slowly, he unwinds his arms from around her and extricates his body from hers. Rose stirs only slightly and gives a small mumble in her sleep; once upon a time the Doctor may have smiled with adoration at the noise, but now his face remains blank as he climbs out of the bed. His moves are robotic and his silence acute as he crosses the room in search for his discarded clothes.
It doesn’t take long before he finds the crumpled garments on the floor. Within minutes he’s buttoning up the jacket and adjusting his tie, fingers nimble as though he’s dressed like this a thousand times before. In the dark he stares into the full-length mirror in the wardrobe and his own face looks impassively back at him. He looks, and feels, such a changed man now. With a small nod to himself, he confirms the decision he’s come to.
Hesitantly, the Doctor walks back to the bed. Rose lies on her side, facing him, the covers rising slightly with each of her breaths. He crouches, focusing on the beauty of her features and the slight flicker of her eyes as she dreams. Then he remembers he can’t think about her like that any more, he doesn’t have that right. When he blinks, his eyes are wet with tears.
A hand outstretches to her cheek, fingers resting on her temple. He tries to ignore the shaking in his body as he pushes everything he’s ever felt for her away.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers, his voice hoarse. “I’m so sorry.”
And he is. He’s sorry for everything he’s done and not done, everything he’s said and not said, but most of all, for what he’s about to do to her now. Closing his eyes and emptying his mind, the Doctor focuses and pushes his mind into hers.
Rose twitches beneath his fingertips, but he stays with the connection, searching frantically through memory after memory. It’s like flicking through a book at high speed, but reading every word on every page as he goes by. He’s slightly overwhelmed at the spectrum of feelings Rose has felt over the past, but he doesn’t let it stall him; he merely pushes on in his search.
Finally, after a lifetime, he comes to memories more recent. Henrik’s, the TARDIS, the end of the world, the Dalek, Captain Jack, golden light, New Earth, Mickey, Cybermen, the Beast... it all comes streaming back to him, a film reel spinning at five times the original speed. It almost burns, this intensity, but he hones in on the most recent memories, of the past few hours; he works through the pain and tears and — oh, God, the burning — and, like a rubber to a pencil drawing, he erases it. He erases it all, and wipes her mind clean of the impurities he’s inflicted on her. He steadily purges every emotional attachment she’s formed to him over the past few hours, even while he’s reliving the entire, horrific experience himself.
He takes care not to change any feeling she’s had up until this point, for fear of damaging her irreversibly, but everything else he takes as if it belongs to him. In some ways, it does.
Exhausted, the Doctor pulls out of Rose’s mind, slipping his hand from her temple and dropping it to his side. Her expression is troubled, her features tightened into an uncomfortable frown, and from the back of her throat she utters a groan of suffering. The Doctor straightens and looks down at the shell of his love, his mind pounding with subdued memories. If there’s one thing he can give back to Rose, it’s her innocence. He will take back his burdens and refocus his guilt, because he is the most base, vile and venomous being alive to do what he’s just done to such a being.
The voice — that same voice — in the back of the Doctor’s mind laughs at him, its tone vindictive, as he slides his hands under Rose and lifts her into his arms. He leaves his room, reminding himself to clear away her discarded clothes, and walks like a soldier without command. The TARDIS lights seem dimmer than before, the walls less colourful, as he carries what could just as easily be a corpse through the corridors, his face empty and his eyes two dark vortexes.
He takes her to her own room, puts her in her own bed, patches across a few made-up memories into her head so that she doesn’t wake up with a blank space in her mind, and pretends that everything is all right. For a final time he casts his eyes across her body, feeling tears well up just at the sight of her, bared to him like this for the first and last time. He presses his fingers into his eyes, blocking out the thoughts of his own monstrosity, and quietly he leaves the room.
The next few hours are spent hollowly turning on the lights, clearing up the clothes, changing the bedsheets and erasing every single trace of his unforgivable actions from the physical world. By the time Rose wakes, slightly dazed, from her slumber some time later, the Doctor is waiting patiently in the control room with an artificial smile on his face and the question of where to go next dancing on the tip of his tongue.
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