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Dix-Huit: In which there is confusion and a misunderstanding.
Rose slumped against the heavy wooden door, exhausted, her voice hoarse from shouting for help. She allowed herself to slide to the floor, her legs folded beneath her. Her hands were beginning to hurt, and she held one up to the light of the fire to examine it; her palm was red from her fruitless pounding on the unforgiving door, and her knuckles were scraped and raw. She felt like crying, but realized it wouldn't do any good. Looking up to the bed, she spied her knickers perilously close to falling over the edge. She crawled over to the bed, snatched them up and awkwardly stood, tugging them on beneath the folds of her borrowed robe. She knew that it was silly, but she somehow felt better about her situation now that her knickers were on.
The Doctor still appeared to be peacefully sleeping despite her earlier noisy shouts, with only the rumpled sheet covering him. Rose drew it up to his shoulder along with the crimson blanket, smiling softly at the serene innocence of his facial features, relaxed in sleep. His hair was in complete disarray, with tufts standing up here and there, while his lips were reddened and slightly swollen. He looked well and thoroughly kissed, and Rose decided that he really should look that way more often, even as she wondered about Melina's spiteful words.
Rose sat on the edge of the bed, trying to calm her racing thoughts. Had Melina been telling the truth or had she merely been taunting her out of anger? Her heart fluttered as she remembered how the Doctor had sweetly told her that he was hers, that he was bonded to her and that he wanted her touch....
While he could still have it.
He'd told her that he could see different timelines - some in which either he or she wasn't there. Could Melina's plan for her early demise have been one of those timelines? It would explain why the Doctor had been so anxious. Or was what Melina had said actually true? That he was so worked up that he would have slept with anyone? Surely anything Melina had planted would have worn off with her blocks of his Time Lord senses, she thought, as her head began to swim with the endless explanations. Even if it meant that she might be killed, Rose decided, she still had to try to warn Lyra.
As she shifted to slide off the bed, the Doctor groaned softly, bringing a hand to his brow. Rose started, catching herself before she fell over the side. "Doctor?"
He slowly rolled toward her, dropping his hand to her robe-covered knee. "Rose," he responded, his voice low and husky. "You're here. Good - that's good. Very good."
"Doctor? Are you all right? Because we need to get out of here really, really soon," she said, somehow resisting the urge to run her hands through his already mussed hair.
He stretched languidly, reaching his hands over his head and drawing her attention to the subsequently revealed wiry musculature of his upper chest. She frowned as she saw him wince. Had she hurt him somehow? "Doctor?"
"Sorry," he huffed, his breath coming out in a rush. "Not used to sleeping so much," he said, looking at her dubiously. "I take it the" - he paused, apparently finding the word distasteful - "extraction went as planned, then?"
Rose hung her head, nodding. He didn't remember! "Doctor," she began in a shaky voice. "There's something I need to tell you."
"We've shagged, haven't we."
Rose's stomach dropped upon hearing his matter-of-fact assessment. She could feel her heart shrinking in her chest as it appeared her worst fears were coming true. "Yes," she whispered, her breath hitching as she tried to breathe around the lump beginning to form in her throat. "'M sorry, I didn't know that you weren't, weren't aware - " She didn't finish as she couldn't hold back any longer and began to cry in earnest, a loud sob escaping her. She felt the bed shift and she was suddenly drawn into a hug, her head resting on the Doctor's chest as his strong arms encircled her.
"Oh, Rose, please don't cry," he said as he began to stroke soothingly up and down her back. "Was I that bad at it?" he asked quietly.
"I mean, well, I'm a bit out of practice - it's been a really long time for me, and well, when I say 'a really long time', I mean a really, really long time and - "
Rose let out a deep breath that she hadn't realized she'd been holding as the Doctor continued to babble nervously.
"I'm so sorry if it wasn't any good for you," he said, hugging her tightly to his chest. "But we're bonded now and I'm afraid there isn't anything for it. You'll just have to teach me."
Rose sniffed in his arms, trying to comprehend what she was hearing. His heady scent was making her lightheaded again. "Teach you?"
"Yes. Teach me. What you like. So I won't be absolute rubbish at it next time."
"But... next time?"
"Please," he implored, burying his nose in her hair and inhaling deeply. "I'll learn. I'm a fast learner. Good thing, that, right?"
Rose pushed at his chest, leaning back in his arms to look at the Doctor's earnest face and pleading, warm brown eyes. "But... Sister Melina - " She was cut off as he leaned in to kiss her softly, sucking gently at her upper lip.
"Sister Melina what?" he murmured as he nipped at the angle of her jaw.
"She said, ah - " Rose gasped as the Doctor began to trace his tongue along the shell of her ear. "She said she'd stimulated you or implanted a suggestion - so that you'd... you'd sleep with her - "
The Doctor drew back slowly. "She did what?"
Rose looked up at him, desperate to tell him of Melina's intentions. "Doctor, we have to get out of here. Melina said she's going to kill Sister Ohica so that she can take over - she said she's been getting extra artron to boost her mental powers!"
"What?" The Doctor pushed back from her, grasping her upper arms and looking intently into her eyes. "Rose, you need to tell me exactly what she said."
As Rose filled the Doctor in on what Melina had told her, an incredulous look crossed his features. His eyes unfocused for a moment as he stared at a fixed point on the wall. "Oooooooh, that's not playing fair!" he exclaimed.
"What?" Rose asked. "What is it?"
"I can feel it - it's there. Just the faintest trace. Oh, that's clever!" He looked back at Rose, sliding a hand around hers. "It's fading, I almost missed it. She's put a bond on me - a false bond. That must've been how she could do it - extract the extra artron from the other Time Lords. If a Time Lord has his mental defenses shut down via soporific, and has that bond in place, well - "
"Wait," Rose interrupted. "Mental defenses?"
"Walls. Barriers. Mental shields, if you will. I'm just starting to be able to reassert mine. With them down, the, ah, more primitive mating urge of my people can become quite strong."
"So you're saying that the only reason that we, um, slept together is because you couldn't resist...."
The Doctor leaned forward, took Rose's chin gently in his grasp and looked into her eyes. "A bond, well - a true bond is much stronger. I wouldn't want to resist," he said softly.
Rose watched, transfixed, as he moved in to kiss her. She lurched back in realization at the last moment, startling him. "Doctor - we don't have time for this right now - we have to stop Melina! We need to get out of here!"
He blinked at her for a moment before closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Sorry - you're right, of course, sorry, I'm sorry." He opened his eyes, blinking rapidly again before looking at her. "I have some rudimentary barriers up for now, that should do it. Now, let's see about getting out of here." He scooted to the side of the bed before realizing his state of undress. "Ah," he said, looking around the room. "Any idea where my clothes might be?"
"Not here," Rose replied. "Mine aren't around either."
"Oh-kay," the Doctor said, glancing down and tugging at his ear. "Plan B then."
Rose watched as the Doctor stripped the sheet free from the bed to fashion a simple, toga-like garment to protect his modesty as he surveyed the room for a possible means of escape. He wrestled briefly with the door as Rose had previously done, getting a similar result.
"Even if we had it, the sonic screwdriver couldn't get us out of here. It's a primitive lock, but very effective," he said offhandedly. "And unfortunately, it's on the other side of the door, along with the hinges. We'll have to try something else."
"Good thing we've got you, then," Rose muttered sarcastically under her breath, moving to follow him.
The Doctor, not appearing to have heard her, moved over to the fireplace, examining it closely. Kneeling down, he angled his head to examine the chimney through the flames. "I'd presume that this goes up to the surface. It looks a bit too small for either one of us to climb up, though, and besides," he added, holding out his hands in front of the fire, "it's far too hot right now."
Rose held her hands out in front of the fire as well to warm them and heard the Doctor's sharp intake of breath.
"Rose, you're injured! Why didn't you say something?"
She looked down at her hands, her knuckles scraped and raw from her earlier attempts at escape. Now that she thought about it, they were beginning to hurt.
"Hold on." The Doctor had moved over to the bedside table and was looking over the contents of the tray. He dipped a finger into the bowl of slimy green material and brought it to his mouth to taste. Rose cringed as she watched him suck at his finger.
"Ooooooh, this is lovely - you should try this, Rose. It's a danube paste. It's really good and might help your hands a bit as well - here." Rose flinched as he grabbed one of her hands and spread some of the slime over her raw knuckles with a finger, but was surprised by the almost instantaneous cooling sensation. The Doctor dug his fingers back into the bowl, glopping a generous amount on her other injured hand. "There," he said, surveying his handiwork. "Should be right as rain in a few minutes, then we'll wash it off."
She let him guide her over to the bed and sat heavily, trying not to touch anything with her slimed hands. Clasping them together, she watched as the Doctor continued his survey of the room, pressing and rapping against several points of the rocky walls. After his examination, he picked up the carafe of water and an empty dish from the table, bringing them to the bed.
"There's nothing, I'm afraid," he said, gently placing Rose's hands in the confines of the dish and pouring some of the water over them. "It looks like we're stuck here for the time being."
Rose was amazed to see that the angry scratches and raw patches over her knuckles had been partially healed. "That's incredible!" she exclaimed. "What happens if you eat it?"
"Nothing really," the Doctor replied. "The paste does heal damaged surfaces, but it leaves everything else pretty much as is. It is very good for you, loaded with antioxidants and all that."
Rose flexed her fingers experimentally, feeling the newly healed skin stretch. She resisted the urge to scratch as the Doctor carefully dried her hands with the hem of his makeshift toga. He picked up one of her hands to examine it closely, and Rose felt her mouth go dry as he pressed a kiss to her knuckles. "All better," he murmured, a thoughtful expression on his face.
A knock sounded at the door and Rose jumped back, startled. The door swung open to reveal Lyra, carrying a large pile of familiar-looking clothing.
"Lyra!" Rose exclaimed, jumping up from the bed. "Am I glad to see you. We need to see Sister Ohica right now - before it's too late!"
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