Rose quickly rolled a short distance from where the Doctor's convulsing form lay, an arm thrown up to shield her eyes from the glare. Intense golden light shot through with glittering sparkles blazed in the immediate area, concentrated mostly directly above where she and the Doctor were. Finer clouds of rapidly expanding golden dust were quickly spreading through the chamber and Rose watched as the Sisters were enveloped in the haze. The previous looks of suspicion and confusion directed toward her were rapidly changing to smiles and exchanges of tearful hugs.
Someone knelt down beside Rose and a hand tapped at her shoulder. Rose?
Rose sat up to look at Lyra in amazement. The numerous fine wrinkles marring her face had disappeared, her bright green eyes once again clear and luminous. She now appeared to be no older than Rose herself, even though the Sisters had claimed that they had been around for longer than the Time Lord race itself. "Lyra? What's happening?"
The Doctor's artron energy has rejuvenated us - our powers are restored.
Rose turned back to where she could barely make out the Doctor's form in a cloud of fairy floss-like gold. He was still shuddering from the force of his release and Rose was relieved to see his familiar features as the cloud began to dissipate. She started to crawl back over to where he lay, but Lyra restrained her, her hand grasping Rose's arm.
Do not approach him - we must wait until the artron clears.
"But - why? The Doctor said before that I don't absorb it."
We have never seen this much artron at once. The Doctor was indeed correct when he said that his levels were extremely high. Sister Ohica and Sister Valna said you are to be kept from exposure - they do not want you harmed.
Rose watched the Doctor impatiently as she waited - his chest was heaving as he lay gasping for air. "Lyra, is he all right?"
I believe so, but again, we have never seen this much artron discharged at one time. We will be better able to assess him after he is moved.
Rose felt her stomach drop like a stone at Lyra's words. What if he wasn't all right? What would she do? Somehow, she had the feeling that her mother's tea wouldn't be enough to put things right this time. She glanced over at the Doctor's restless form as her guilt and remorse continued to build. What had she done?
A commotion from behind her interrupted Rose's brooding. Ohica was giving orders again, and the Sisters were in the process of adjusting the placement of the earthen receptacles. Many sets of eyes were looking up into the roof of the chamber, and as Rose followed their gaze, she was surprised to see that the most intense focus of golden glittery energy had vanished. The stalactites that had been enveloped by the light were now glowing with gold, and moisture began to condense on their surfaces as Rose watched. Droplets of fluid coalesced and ran down the sides of the stalactites, leaving a glowing trail in their wake. As the liquid began to splash into the receptacles, Rose saw the smiles on many of the Sisters' now youthful faces grow. Lyra touched her on the arm.
The artron has cleared. They will be ready to move him now. Come with me.
Exhausted, Rose allowed Lyra to help her to her feet. Leaving Valna to supervise the collection of the liquid, Ohica moved over to where Lyra and Rose stood, issuing orders. Six of the Sisters moved forward to where the Doctor lay, Melina and Riza among them. Rose bristled as Melina drew the sheet back up to the Doctor's chest, smirking at Rose as she did so and making sure to touch as much of the Doctor's skin as possible. Rose couldn't suppress her grin of triumph as the Doctor visibly flinched and turned away from Melina's touch. Melina frowned.
Rose Tyler, please - come with me. You need to wash.
Rose looked down, noting with dismay that Lyra was correct - she was filthy. Several cobwebs clung to the ends of her hair and clothes, and the knees of her jeans were caked with dirt. Her palms and fingers were also grimy, with the exception of the ones that the Doctor had been sucking on. While her stomach churned at the thought of her dirty fingers in his mouth, she couldn't help but shiver at the memory of the gentle suction of the Doctor's mouth on her digits, or his lapping tongue....
She shook her head to clear her thoughts and watched as the six Sisters lifted the litter and hauled the still-shuddering form of the Doctor out of the cavern, Ohica leading the way. Lyra grabbed Rose's arm and together they tailed the strange procession through the wooden door.
Rose was taken through familiar corridors to a small chamber alongside the room the Doctor was taken to. It reminded her of a sauna, with minimal furnishings and a small pool of water within, all dimly lit by several flickering candles. Several wooden buckets sat on a low bench alongside the pool, intermingled with a few stoppered glass flasks filled with amber-hued oil. Two unused orange red robes hung from a wooden rack against one wall and several fluffy towels were piled on a nearby chair. A basket sat nearby with what appeared to be clean cotton undergarments.
You may change into one of the robes while your clothing is cleaned. I will return shortly to retrieve you.
When Lyra had exited, Rose looked into a polished piece of brass that hung on one wall, serving as a mirror. She looked a fright. Her hair was limp and scraggly after having been out in the rain, and her mascara had run and was smeared across both of her cheeks. Her lips were slightly swollen from the Doctor's kisses, and her bottom lip was still sore to the touch. She ran a finger over it, remembering the feel of the Doctor's warm tongue gliding across....
Shaking her head, Rose quickly shrugged out of her soiled clothing and tested the temperature of the pool with a toe. It was warm, and she quickly climbed in and immersed herself, the water immediately soothing her frazzled nerves. She unstoppered one of the glass bottles and after sniffing cautiously at it, poured a bit of the fragrant oil onto a small sponge that she had found. She hurriedly cleansed her skin and hair and rinsed, wrapping herself in one of the towels on the chair. After drying herself, she had rummaged through the basket, finding a camisole and a pair of knickers that fit decently. She put them on along with one of the borrowed robes and was trying to comb the worst of the knots out of her wet hair when Lyra returned.
Good. You are almost ready. Your presence is needed.
"By who?" Rose muttered, yanking the comb through her hair aggressively. Lyra approached her, taking the comb from her hand and gesturing for her to sit on another wooden chair.
The Time Lord must rest to recover his strength. He is fighting our efforts to assist him.
"I'm not helping you hurt him - I've already done enough," Rose responded in a small voice. She willed herself not to cry as Lyra removed the remaining tangles from her hair and carefully braided it into a single, wet plait.
Lyra stood, reaching a hand down to Rose and smiling gently. This is for him, not for us. You share a bond and he needs you. Please come.
Rose allowed Lyra to help her to her feet and followed her to the adjacent chamber, swallowing hard. The room was the same comfortable place that she had awoken in before, especially now with a familiar occupant in the large central bed. The fireplace once again blazed high, but the Doctor appeared to be shivering under the thin sheet, his body tightly curled, eyes screwed shut and teeth clenched. "Lyra? Is he cold? What's the matter with him?" Rose inquired.
He is not doing well - Sister Ohica believes it is the result of losing so much artron at one time. Lyra paused as the Doctor muttered in the musical language that Rose couldn't understand. He is asking for you.
"Because of the bond thing?"
Yes. His mate is long since gone and he is newly bonded. He seeks Gallifreyan comfort.
"But - but I'm not Gallifreyan. Will I still be able to help him?" The Doctor shuddered and Rose could feel her guilt multiplying by the second.
I do not know how long Sister Melina's block on his senses will last, but it appears to be quite durable. I will assist you if necessary. Lyra nudged Rose toward the bed. Go to him - please.
Rose slowly approached the bed where the Doctor was still huddled, intermittent spasms racking his body. Climbing onto the bed, she immediately sank into the bedding, hindering her progress. The borrowed reddish-orange robe that she wore wasn't helping either and Rose cursed under her breath. Finally reaching the Doctor, she flopped down beside him, pressing her face into his shoulder. Inhaling deeply, she thought that she could smell the same fragrant oil that she had used in the neighboring bathing area. She glanced over to the bedside table to see that a shallow water-filled basin along with a stoppered bottle and sponge now sat alongside the glass carafe. Intense jealousy shot through her as she realized that he had been bathed - by Melina, no doubt. Her murderous thoughts were interrupted by a sharp intake of breath and a small grunt as the Doctor shifted closer to her.
Rose held perfectly still as the Doctor reached a hand across to her face, stroking one temple gently. Rose didn't notice anything untoward associated with the gesture, but gasped in surprise as he suddenly pulled her flush against him. She blushed hotly, realizing he was still naked under the sheet. His lips met hers, and he began to kiss her, lapping and sucking gently at her lower lip. As his tongue began to explore the interior of her mouth, Rose realized that his fingers were still at her temples, shifting and pressing intermittently. The Doctor broke the kiss and pressed his forehead to hers, moaning in frustration. "Lyra?" Rose whispered. "What's he doing?"
He is attempting to enter your mind. His senses still appear to be blocked. If you are comfortable accepting him, I will assist. Lyra stopped short of the bed, hands folded, awaiting Rose's response.
"Yeah, it's ok," Rose murmured, running her fingers down the Doctor's cheek as he continued to finger her temples. "Whatever he needs, just do it."
Very well. Rose watched as Lyra moved into the tight space behind the ornately scrolled metal headboard of the bed to reach her hand through, pressing two fingers to the Doctor's temple. He shuddered, arching up against Rose. Lyra then reached out her other hand to Rose's temple, stopping just short of contact.
Rose nodded. "Do it." Lyra's fingertips touched her temple and she was suddenly overwhelmed....
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