Rose awoke to the strange sensation of being warm, yet cool at the same time. She carefully stretched her leadened and lethargic limbs, becoming aware of a dull heaviness behind her eyes. Sensations began to register as she slowly moved to full awareness - one, she seemed to be lying on an extremely cushy bed and her desire to let herself sink into the bedding and resume her slumber was increasing rapidly; two, she was still wearing her blood-stained robe and it was beginning to itch; three, she was cocooned in the warmth of a plush covering that she desperately wanted to feel against her naked skin; and four, a cool body was snuggled up to her front, its head pressed to her breast and even breaths penetrating her robe to tickle her skin. Her eyes snapped open, taking in a mop of disheveled brown hair directly in her line of sight. Remembering the sight of the Doctor's blood-soaked clothing, she tentatively brushed a hand down his back, feeling smooth skin beneath her fingers. Someone had taken the liberty of removing his ruined jacket and shirt, and Rose felt somewhat thankful.
She carefully eased him away from her, gently disentangling her limbs from his, and ignored his small, sleepy squeak of protest as she rolled him onto his back to examine his wound. All that remained was a thin stripe of shiny skin, the redness of it standing out against the paleness of his chest. Flakes of dried, crusted blood were still adhered to his skin, along with a small amount of residual green slime. Rose wrinkled her nose, wondering if he'd be able to wash up anytime soon. She laid her head on his right chest, placing a palm on his left, to hear and feel his reassuring twin heartbeats. They were steady and strong, and she wanted to weep with relief. With his right heartbeat in her ear, she allowed her gaze to continue downward, and saw that his pinstriped trousers had been drawn up and refastened and she frowned. She didn't want to think about anyone touching him there, and marveled at this new feeling of possessiveness.
Despite the weight of her head on his chest, the Doctor slept on, leaving Rose alone to deal with the maelstrom of thoughts whirling through her head. She wished he were awake to distract her from having to confront her feelings resulting from their ordeal, but she supposed that she'd have to deal with her emotions at some point, and now seemed as good a time as any. She surrendered to her musings, her mind turning to speculation as her heart ran to hide.
She allowed herself to ponder a possible future relationship with him, a very complicated-sounding proposition. From what little she understood about the Gallifreyan bonding process, it seemed that telepathy played a large role in it, something that she most likely would not be able to provide for him. She wondered if it was a skill that she could be taught, hoping that it wasn't just wishful thinking on her part. She hoped that if she did ever muster up the courage to ask him to teach her, she wouldn't make the request sound as pitiful as it just did in her head. Then again, she mused, as different as the two of them were, just how could things work out between them?
Rose reluctantly pushed herself away from him and sat up, rubbing at the sudden pricking at the corners of her eyes. The Doctor still hadn't stirred and she shivered, longing for something that was both warm and cool at once. She tried to fight the resurfacing doubt that plagued her, that once she and the Doctor left the influence of this planet, things between them would revert back to how they had been before. She sat back, drawing her knees up and hugging them to her chest. 'To have had something is better than having nothing' was a saying she remembered her mother telling her as a child. She hadn't understood at the time, but the words now returned to haunt her. She still didn't want to believe that they might be true, at least in her current situation, but as much as she didn't like it, she was learning a difficult lesson: that to love such an ethereal being and face possible heartbreak was a risk worth the taking. Emotion overwhelmed her, and she lowered her face to her knees, closing her eyes.
Whatever happens, I was blessed to have you even for the short time I did.
All I wanted was you.
Sarah Jane was right - some things are worth getting your heart broken for.
You were mine, and even if I was only able to hold you for a little while, it was worth it.
It was all worth it.
Hugging her knees tightly to her chest, she realized that she loved the Doctor with a depth and intensity she hadn't thought possible. She loved him so much, in fact, that if things reverted back to the way they had been between them when they finally left this planet, she would cope. Because that's what adults did. Whatever happened, he was hers for the moment, and she planned to savor it for as long as she could. The chaos of her racing thoughts stilled, and she moved to lie beside the Doctor's slumbering form, catching his hand up with hers and pressing a quick kiss to his knuckles before closing her eyes against the light of the fireplace. Order restored, Rose returned to the land of dreams.
Rose pushed at the hand on her shoulder, doing her best to dislodge it so that she could resume her slumber. The hand, however, had other ideas and continued its insistent gentle shaking.
"Not now, Mum," she mumbled as she tried to pull the bedcovers over her head. "'M tired - "
"Rose Tyler! I have no doubt that you need your rest, but you have slept for several hours now, and the Time Lord should be attended to - "
Rose sat bolt upright in the bed, coming face to face with Lyra. "Lyra! What... how long have I been asleep?"
"Several hours," the Sister repeated. "Sister Ohica thought it best to let the two of you rest, at least initially, but he should be bathed, and I've brought food for the both of you."
"Um, wait," Rose stammered. "Bathed?"
"Yes," Lyra responded. "Sister Morgana will be bringing supplies shortly. His sleep will be more restful if he is clean."
"Yeah, I 'spose," Rose responded, scratching at her itchy, soiled robe.
"Sister Ohica thought it would be best for you to bathe him. He might not react well if one of us were to do it."
Rose looked back over her shoulder at the Doctor's sleeping form, his face relaxed and lips slightly parted. Her stomach turned over as she remembered how she had felt upon discovering that Melina had washed him before, and she nodded as she turned back to Lyra. "I'll clean him up," she said softly. "The bed's still gonna be dirty though - "
"I've brought clean sheets for the bed. I'll change them now, and it would be much easier if you would assist. We'll put some towels beneath him, and they can be easily removed when he is clean."
"Oh, ok," Rose said as she looked down at her hands, trying to ignore her burning cheeks. She glanced over to the bedside table, seeing that a new tray had been brought in while she had been asleep. Lyra followed her gaze.
"I wasn't sure what you might like, so I brought a little more of what you consumed before. There is also some elbeflower wine, if you wish to have something other than water." Lyra stood, her eyes reflecting mild amusement at Rose's sluggish efforts to slide out of the bed. "I've brought fresh clothing for you as well. Come, if you could roll him toward you, I can replace the bottom sheet on this side."
Rose squatted slightly as she tried to drag both Doctor and covering over to where she stood at the side of the bed. For someone so slight in appearance, he was solid, and she found herself struggling to move him. Lyra ended up coming around to her side to help her.
"Here, you'll end up hurting yourself if you attempt to move him that way. Let me show you."
Rose watched as Lyra hauled the upper portion of the Doctor's body toward her first, then shifted to move his legs and feet. Returning to the opposite side of the bed, she managed to change the sheet beneath as efficiently as any nurse in a proper hospital. Lyra then laid down several overlapping thick towels in the center of the bed, moved the Doctor's body back to the towels in two stages, and stripped off the last of the dirty sheet, tucking the newly placed clean one in beside her. Rose guiltily realized that she hadn't helped at all.
"Is there another one of these?" Rose asked, holding up the plush covering as the Doctor shivered slightly in the bed.
"Yes, there is," Lyra replied as she gathered up the soiled sheet from the floor. "It's in the basket, along with more linens and towels, should you require them. You should use the old one until he has been bathed." Crossing the room to the fireplace, Lyra deposited the sheet in a heap on the floor. She then dragged a wooden bench from across the room into position beside the bed. Rose didn't recall having seen it when she had been in the room previously, and wondered if it had been brought in while she had been asleep. A knock sounded at the door, and Lyra went to answer it as Rose again marveled at her efficiency.
"Sister Morgana - let me help you." A Sister with long, straight brunette locks entered, a strange yoke about her shoulders from which were suspended two sloshing containers. She also carried two large hammered metal bowls and several sponges. Lyra assisted her in divesting herself of the yoke after setting the bowls and sponges on the bench. Slipping back to the fireplace, she snatched up a stoppered bottle filled with a familiar-looking amber-hued oil from the basket and brought it back to the bench. Morgana poured steaming water from the containers into both bowls, and Lyra added a bit of the oil from the flask to one of them, mixing water and oil in the bowl to create a sudsy froth. Rose closed her eyes as the unmistakable heady fragrance of lotus again filled her senses.
"Rose? Are you all right?" Rose snapped back to reality in time to see Morgana exit with the yoke.
"'M sorry," Rose apologized to cover her reverie. "Must be more tired than I thought."
Lyra smiled gently at her. "You should bathe first, then." She crossed back over to the basket near the fireplace, withdrawing Rose's previously abandoned clothing, along with another robe, undergarments and delicately embroidered slippers. "I wasn't sure what you might want to wear, though you might not find your previous attire to be the most comfortable. I'll leave out both." Setting the clothing on the bench, she returned to the basket and withdrew a thick towel, depositing it on the bench next to the clothing. Another knock sounded at the door and Lyra hurriedly crossed to open it, revealing Sister Morgana again, this time with a bundle of wood in her arms. Lyra directed her to leave it beside the fireplace, and the Sister departed with a curt nod. Rose fidgeted, not quite sure what to do.
Lyra stood in the doorway, also nodding to Rose. "I would bathe quickly, if I were you. The water will be warmer and more comfortable. It should be fairly easy to pull the towels out from under him when you are finished. If you require anything, the door will not be locked. One of us should be nearby." And with that, Lyra exited, shutting the door behind her with a firm click. Rose stared at the door for a moment before her gaze settled on the shivering Time Lord in the bed.
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