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Treize: Gallifreyan comfort...and a discovery.
Rose reached out her hands to steady herself as a violent storm raged around her. She was caught out in the open, though, with nothing to hang on to and no shelter to be found. Driving rain and wind lashed at her as she attempted to peer through the gloom. She could barely see the clumps of tall grasses a short distance from her, the tips of their long blades nearly touching the ground from being buffeted about by the wind. Scattered rose petals blew by her feet, crushed and torn. Shock began to register as she realized that this was her meadow.
Please remain calm, Rose Tyler. The Time Lord's senses are still blocked. He is having difficulty initiating contact and holding corporeal form. I will assist him.
Rose flinched at Lyra's words inside her mind. This was all her fault. A fresh blast of wind-propelled rain stood her straight up and she welcomed the stinging spray, turning her head to the side and squinting to avoid the full impact on her face. The force of the gale suddenly began to die back and Rose opened her eyes to her storm-battered meadow, the wild roses completely stripped of their petals. As she surveyed the damage, a huddled form partially hidden amongst the tall grasses caught her attention. She ran to it, dreading what she might find.
The Doctor was once again attired in his pinstriped suit, splattered with mud from the damp ground beneath them. Rose rolled him over to lie on his back, noting that he seemed even paler than usual, a streak of mud standing out on his cheek. His eyes were closed and brow furrowed in concentration. As she knelt at his side, he reached out a hand in her direction. She took it, kissing the tips of his fingers and watching as he shuddered.
Replacing the Doctor's hand on his chest, Rose was wondering what she should do, stranded in a virtual meadow with an incapacitated, panicky Time Lord who needed what Lyra had called 'Gallifreyan comfort'. She wasn't Gallifreyan by a long shot, she mused, and she had no idea what he needed. Recollections of Christmas came flooding into her head as she looked at the Doctor's still form, feeling miserable.
As she continued to watch him, though, the Doctor began to stir, rolling over onto his hands and slowly maneuvering his body closer to her until he flopped back down, his head in Rose's lap. On impulse, she threaded her fingers through his ruffled hair, stroking gently. He groaned in response, twisting his body to lie on his back, his head remaining in her lap.
Rose continued to stroke through his hair and across his forehead, her fingers lingering at his temples, trying to emulate the caresses she had seen Melina and Riza give him. The Doctor seemed to relax at her touch, sighing in contentment. As Rose continued her light massage, she was amazed to see the low clouds above her part, revealing cerulean skies dotted with fluffy white clouds. A gentle breeze swept through her hair and she could have sworn she heard birdsong, but the noise was drowned out by soft snores...the Doctor had fallen asleep. Rose shifted slightly, trying to relieve the prickling pains running through her legs, which had gone slightly numb under the weight of the Doctor's head. She glanced up to see that the periphery of the meadow was blurred - and the blurring was advancing slowly toward where she sat. Alarmed, she lifted the Doctor's head off of her legs and to the side, prepared to drag him if necessary away from the advancing distortion. There was no time to run, though, and no escape - both she and the Doctor were engulfed by the anomaly....
Rose came to slowly, rubbing at her eyes to clear her vision. The Doctor's face gradually swam into view. He appeared to be sleeping peacefully, his face relaxed and lips slightly parted. He continued to snore softly, his cool fingers slipping from her temples to trail slowly down her cheek, eventually falling to the mattress below.
You did well, Rose Tyler. The Time Lord should sleep off the remainder of the soporific.
"Is he all right?" Rose asked, sitting up to see Lyra still behind the headboard. "I mean, everything sort of disappeared in the meadow. What happened?"
The Time Lord has calmed enough to fall asleep. He lost tactile contact with you when he did so and whatever vision you saw in your mind while he was linked to you would have vanished. He must rest now and so should you. Are you hungry?
Rose blinked, trying to remember her last meal. The banquet suddenly seemed like it had been ages ago and she was famished. "How long...how long have we been here?"
You have been here for approximately one of your Earth days - twenty-five hours. Would you like something to eat? Something to drink?
Rose gaped at Lyra. An entire day? No wonder she felt like she was starving. "You're not going to drug it again, are you?" she asked Lyra, her eyes slightly narrowed.
I assure you, it will not be, Rose Tyler. There is no need now. Lyra moved from behind the scrolled metal headboard and crossed the room, pausing by the door. I will return shortly.
Rose felt slightly bereft as Lyra exited, closing the heavy wooden door behind her with a dull thud. She turned her attention back to her companion, who had shifted from his side to his back and was obviously trying to take up as much of the bed as possible. "Figures you'd be a bed hog," Rose muttered under her breath. "C'mon, budge up."
When the Doctor didn't stir, Rose sighed, lying down and snuggling in close to him, his arm under the arch of her neck. She fully intended to wait for Lyra to return, but her exhaustion caught up with her and she drifted off into an uneasy slumber.
It was cold in the room when Rose awoke. She was momentarily disoriented, wondering which room in the TARDIS she'd managed to fall asleep in. A quick glance around the room, and specifically across the bed from her, brought the memories and guilt flooding back. The Doctor was still deeply asleep, not appearing to have stirred. The fire had burned down to embers and emitted a dim orange glow. Sitting up, Rose rubbed her orange-red robed arms in an effort to warm them. She noticed that the basin, sponge and oil had been removed from the bedside table and replaced with a tray of unfamiliar food and a large carafe of water. A thick crimson blanket with a chunky, rustic weave lay draped at the foot of the bed, contrasting with the whiteness of the sheeting. The Doctor didn't appear to be cold under the sheet, but she pulled it up over his shoulders and draped the heavy blanket over him, just in case.
Rose shivered from the chill of the stone floor beneath her bare feet as she crossed over to the fireplace, shoving one of the two handy gnarled wooden logs into the embers. After a few moments, the fire blazed to life, imparting comforting warmth and light to the chilly room. She briefly stood in front of the rekindled fire, rubbing her hands together to warm them. Feeling a bit better, she moved over to the bedside table to investigate the contents of the tray. She recognized some of the foods that she had eaten at the banquet, but most were unfamiliar. She decided to avoid the exotic-appearing fruits, even though Lyra had assured her that the food would not be drugged. The dish that resembled bread pudding appeared to be safe, and Rose ate hungrily, washing it down with a glass of water poured from the carafe. Glancing at the tray again, she decided to leave the rest for the Doctor for when he awoke, but a dark, rock-shaped object caught her attention. Picking it up and inspecting it closely, Rose thought it resembled chocolate and knocked off a tiny piece, tentatively placing it in her mouth. It was gorgeous - a rich milky chocolate that melted instantly on her tongue. She sighed happily, wondering if the Doctor liked chocolate, and if not, if she could have the rest.
She was licking the sticky residue off her fingers when a soft keening noise from the bed caught her attention. The Doctor was shifting in the bed, the blanket and sheet falling away from his pale shoulders. Rose immediately climbed up on the mattress, scooching over to where the Doctor lay and smoothing his fringe away from his eyes. "'S'ok - you're safe," she soothed.
His eyes remained tightly closed, but he grasped her hand, pulling it to his lips and inhaling deeply. Rose felt a strange fluttering sensation in her abdomen as the Doctor tentatively licked her index finger, then gasped as he took her finger in his warm mouth, sucking ravenously at the chocolate residue. Flushing at the intimate gesture, she reluctantly extracted her hand from the Doctor's grasp, clumsily wading through the bedding on her way back over to the bedside table. Picking up the chocolate, she struck it against the edge of the table to break it into smaller pieces, gathering them up into the empty dish that had previously held the bread pudding. She climbed back up onto the bed, moving carefully to avoid spilling the contents of the shallow container.
She scooted up to him, pressing a small piece of the chocolate to his lips, watching with fascination as his pink tongue appeared. He licked at the chocolate briefly before engulfing both chocolate and Rose's fingers in his warm mouth. Her stomach was doing flip-flops as she extracted her fingers with a soft popping noise and grabbed another piece from the dish. She continued to feed him, and all too soon the chocolate was finished. Rose wondered what else he might like from the tray and was shifting to go back over to look when the Doctor grabbed her hand, yanking her down alongside him. He kissed her soundly, his tongue making a thorough sweep of her mouth as her eyes widened. Could he still be under the influence of the soporific? Had the chocolate been drugged? A sudden flash of hope flared within her - could it be that he was reacting to whatever bond was between them? Rose reluctantly broke the kiss, breathing hard. The Doctor was panting, eyes still closed, a smear of chocolate at the corner of his mouth. Steadying herself, she sat back, a hand at her chest trying to slow the rapid beating of her heart. After she had calmed somewhat, she began to look around for something to wipe the chocolate away with, deciding against the white sheets or the sleeve of her robe.
Rose glanced over to the tray on the bedside table, not seeing anything that would be useful. As she didn't feel comfortable leaving the room to go to the bathing chamber for a towel, she had reluctantly decided on using a small corner of the sheet when her eyes lit on a small scrap of material tangled in the folds of the sheet. She grabbed it up, curious as to how it conveniently came to be in the middle of the bed. As she unfurled the cloth, she noticed that it looked familiar. It was the missing piece of the Doctor's torn shirt - and was stained with blood.
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