by TemporalPhoenix [Reviews - 1]Chapter or Story
Something kept tickling Rose’s chin and nuzzling into her neck. She shifted, trying to brush away whatever it was so she could go back to sleep in peace. She felt more relaxed than she had in years, and she wanted to luxuriate in that feeling for as long as possible. Then a warm puff of air hit her clavicle, followed by the same tickling sensation that had woken her.
Arms tightened around her. Her eyes popped open. Memories from the day before came flooding back into her mind.
Jyotaris. Dimension cannon failure. Snowstorm. The cat. The TARDIS. The Doctor. Butterflies and glowing roses and—
Rose tensed, coming to the abrupt realization that she was still lying on the blue picnic blanket in the butterfly room, in the arms of a sleeping Time Lord who was very much not a cat anymore. He was on his side with his face buried in the crook of her neck, his untamable hair lightly brushing her chin. She was on her back, head turned towards him and arms clutching him just as tightly as he held onto her. Thank god the day before hadn’t just been a crazy, wonderful dream.
Rose scooted back in order to see the Doctor’s face better, grimacing at how sticky her skin felt from spending all night in the humid jungle air.
The Doctor wore the same brown pinstripe suit he had always favored in his current body (despite owning a number of suits in other colors.) A small smile tugged at Rose’s lips when she noticed that a small blue butterfly had landed in his hair. It fluttered away when she slid her hand into his locks, brushing them this way and that, enjoying how soft the strands felt beneath her fingers. None of this helped him look less like an electrocuted hedgehog, but that didn’t really matter. He was Rose’s adorable, electrocuted-hedgehog-haired, no longer feline Time Lord. If he wanted to be, that was. If he still wanted her to stay for as long as their forever could be.
He looked so much younger like this, asleep and not caught in the throes of a nightmare of dark days past. He also seemed to be purring.
Wait, purring?Rose’s hands stilled as she held her breath, listening intently for the small sound she thought she'd heard. It was quiet for a few seconds, and then...there it was. She felt it first and then heard it, because pressed up against the Doctor like she was, it was impossible to miss the slight vibration of his chest and the accompanying rumble that came from low in his throat. She almost laughed, but the thought of waking him up and ending this moment of peace and quiet quickly sobered her. It wasn't long before his breath hitched. Rose tensed as she watched his slow return to wakefulness. Surely her brief reprieve would end the moment the Doctor realized where he was, who she was, and what had happened to him the day before.
Her fears remained blissfully unrealized. Instead of pulling away or demanding to know exactly how she had returned to her original universe, the Doctor simply burrowed further into her embrace. Rose forced herself to breathe evenly as she resumed carding her fingers through his hair. She knew he was awake, could feel it in the more conscious way he held her. He wasn’t letting go though. And he was still purring.She started to withdraw her hands, needing to sit up and talk face-to-face about everything she had done to get back, but she promptly returned to her task when he mumbled, “Please don’t stop.”
“You’re purring like a cat,” she whispered.
“No ‘m not,” he said, a lazy smile spreading across his face.
“I’m pretty sure you are though,” Rose insisted, unable to hold back her laughter when she heard his ‘purring’ abruptly cut off. “Always you and your hair this time around, isn’t it?”“Yep. Me, my hair, and my Rose Tyler. Oh, and our TARDIS, can’t forget about her.” She was utterly unprepared for him to say it so blatantly, like her presence was still a fact in his life and not a nearly impossible chance. She was even less prepared for him to press a kiss to her neck, cool lips lingering just long enough for his tongue to flick once against her skin before he pulled away. She pushed herself up, hovering over him and studying his features for any sign that being turned into a cat had somehow addled his brains. Did the Doctor mean what he’d said? Did he really understand how his words would be perceived by her? Rose had come too far, given up too much, to muddle her way through a mess of misunderstandings now. As if sensing her humor fading, the Doctor rolled onto his back, watching her with dark eyes brimming with warmth and something else she didn’t dare put a name to yet.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
The space between them fizzled with a thousand potential timelines, hummed with hundreds of possible responses. He reached up, cradling her cheek in his right hand while his left tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “Yes, if you want,” he said.
If? Rose thought she had made it relatively clear what she’d wanted with him years ago. She was about to point this out, because the Doctor must have known how she felt even before the worst day of her life on Bad Wolf Bay, but the painful uncertainty in his eyes made her pause. She changed course. “I do,” she said, “I do want that. Everything. Always.”
He clenched his jaw, swallowing thickly. “Do you, though? Really?”
And now their conversation was starting to sound a little familiar.
“Well, back to the Tardis. Same old life.”
“On your own?”
“Why, don't you want to come?”
“Do you, though?”
“I just thought, because I changed…”
“Yeah, I thought, because you changed you might not want me anymore.”
“Oh, I'd love you to come!”
The Doctor’s oddly sedate reaction to her now made Rose wonder if he didn’t really believe she was there with him. (If he had suddenly shown up in her bed at the Tyler mansion in Pete’s World, she probably would have thought she was dreaming too.) “You once asked me how long I was going to stay, and I told you forever. At least my forever, if not yours. Did you think I didn’t mean it? Because I did then, and I do now,” she told him, wanting to provide as much reassurance as possible.
The stunned look the Doctor gave her took her by surprise. It was almost the same expression he had given her as a cat, staring up at her with golden eyes in the snow outside the TARDIS. “I...I wanted to believe it,” he admitted. “Oh, how I wanted to believe it, to believe in you.”
She tenderly brushed the fringe back from his eyes, understanding that talking openly like this probably went against every instinct in him screaming for him to run, to not face something directly. “Do you still believe in me?” She asked.
He hesitated to answer, but the single word that slipped out next sounded more confident than before. “Yes.”
Rose smiled. “Then believe that I’m really here.”
The Doctor’s expression darkened. “Tell me something only Rose would know. How do I know you’re—that you’re not just a figment...or some kind of TARDIS interface—”
“Stop!” Rose put her hand over his mouth. He froze, mouth still half open to speak. “How about this: I don’t know what you were going to say at the end of those two minutes at Bad Wolf Bay. If I was some figment of your imagination—Oi, don’t lick my hand!—then I would probably know the end of that last sentence, right?”
The Time Lord beneath her blinked, then looked pointedly down at her hand. She rolled her eyes and removed it, wiping her palm off on the front of his oxford.
“Your hand and neck both taste exactly like Rose Tyler,” he promptly informed her, as if that was the biggest news of the year, or possibly the decade.
Her eyebrows shot up. “Oh my god. You’ve been licking me just to find out if I’m really me?"
“Sorry?” He didn’t sound apologetic in the slightest. “If it helps, I believe you now. I mean, I did before, and after you, well, I had hoped…Oh, but none of that matters now. Come here,” he said, sitting up and gathering her in his arms. Everything that had been bothering him about her reappearance seemed to dissipate the instant she returned his embrace.
“If I’m yours, then does that make you mine?” She asked, reveling in the familiar feel of him and breathing in his scent that she still associated with wonderful old libraries and books, pine forests, and the electrifying feeling in the air right before lightning struck.
The Doctor let out a shuddering breath, drawing back to look her in the eye. He took her hands in his, thumbs rubbing soothing circles into her warm skin as he spoke. “Oh my brave, brilliant Rose, my precious girl, I am so, so sorry for ever making you doubt that. I tried to show you before, but... I always was a bit of a coward with these things. I was so afraid of losing you that when I did, I was...I didn’t even try to tell you in time. A mistake I’ve regretted every day since.” He raised their joined hands between them and kissed the backs of hers. “In truth, I’ve been yours for, oh, such a long time now. Whole lifetimes, bodies, years. Because I…”
Rose squeezed his hands in reassurance. “Even if you can’t say the words, I think I know. You did try to show me before, in other ways. I just didn’t see it at the time. Sometimes I would think I knew how you felt, but then you’d do something and I would doubt you felt the same way all over again.”
“I think, no, I know I want to say this. I need to tell you the truth.”
She could see it in his eyes, in the way he held himself then. He was determined to not run from this one thing, wanting to do it no matter the universe thought. She had never been given such a gift, two hearts willingly placed in her hands.
“I love you, Rose Tyler.”
Rose felt her breath leave her lungs, replaced by pure wonder. She slowly leaned forward, giving him a chance to pull away. He didn’t.
She had intended to give him a brief, chaste kiss, just to test the waters. The urgency with which he kissed her back, and the quiet, relieved moan that escaped him when their lips finally met quickly changed her mind. And when she molded her body to his, desperate to erase every millimeter of distance that had ever been between them, the way his tongue boldly explored her mouth, the helpless noises he made as he licked and sucked his way down her neck, and the rather impressive bulge in his trousers were more than enough to convince her that the Doctor was, in all likelihood, quite capable of dancing.
Eventually, their frantic kisses slowed until they finally broke apart, her straddling him with their foreheads pressed together, sharing the same air. Rose smiled giddily after a moment. “I can’t believe this is actually happening,” she whispered, fingers that had been buried in his hair now brushing against his temples. A bright flare of overwhelming love and affection burst into her mind, and without thinking, she sent her own spark of the same emotions back in the direction the flare had come from.
The Doctor jerked back, panting slightly (and wondering when, exactly, his respiratory bypass had ceased to function properly.) “You just reacted to me telepathically,” he said, eyes glimmering with curiosity and more than a little hope.
“I think Bad Wolf did a little more than just save you, get rid of most of the Daleks, and make Jack immortal." Rose admitted, worrying her bottom lip. This was the part she hadn’t been looking forward to, as much as it needed to happen.
Realizing that she now knew about everything that had happened on Satellite 5, the Doctor bowed his head with a resigned sigh. “I’m sorry I never told you the full story. You have to understand, it wasn’t because I wanted to lie to you, but I was sort of dying at the time, and then there was that whole incident with the Sycorax, and so many new things were happening all the time, and I was afraid that if I brought it up, you would start burning again, or hate me for what I’d done so much that you’d leave."
“I’ve had a long time to think about it,” Rose replied softly, “and while I wish you hadn’t kept it from me, and you better not do that ever again, I think, in a way, it had to happen that way. Bad Wolf was simply dormant inside me after Satellite 5, waiting for the right moment to show herself. I think when I saw all of space and time back then, Bad Wolf chose to guide me toward this timeline. As horribly unbearable as it was, I learned a lot in that parallel universe, especially after Bad Wolf Bay. That was when I began to be able to do all sorts of new things because of Bad Wolf, including basic telepathy.”
The longer she talked, the more worried the Doctor’s expression became. “What?” He finally choked out. “What other new things? How? I took the Vortex out of you!”
“I think Bad Wolf let you take most of the Vortex out of me. Some part of her remained hidden away until I needed her in the parallel universe. I worked with Torchwood there to make this thing, we called it a dimension cannon, so I could…”
“So you could what?” The Doctor’s eyes bored into hers.
A sly smile graced her lips. “So I could come back, of course. Among other things.”
The Doctor grinned, hands tightening their grip where they rested at her waist. “You’re amazing, Rose Tyler. Absolutely brilliant. But, hold on, what were the other reasons you came back?” He frowned slightly, catching onto the second half of her explanation.
“I’ll get to that later, because it’s a very long, very important story that I want to tell once uninterrupted.”
“No, first, you owe me an explanation about why you were a cat for 25 hours yesterday.” She spoke adamantly over his protest.
He required very little persuasion in the end, giving into her insistent hands carding through his hair far more easily than he would ever outwardly admit.
“Fine. But just for the record, it’s quite embarrassing, and I would really rather not go into it," he said, grimacing as he remembered the events of the previous day that had led to his feline state.
Rose simply smiled her tongue-touched smile, patiently waiting for him to stop stalling in the face of the inevitable.
The Doctor sighed dramatically, tugging on his ear with mild discomfort. Then he looked up at the simulated sky above them that was slowly transitioning from pre-dawn light to a brilliant sunrise. “I may have done something I shouldn’t have,” he said, quickly and quietly.
Somehow, this didn’t surprise Rose in the slightest. “How shocking. What was it?"
“How was I supposed to know that licking an ancient Jyotarian mosaic to determine its composition while exploring the buried ruins of their ancestral capitol would activate a curse that would turn me into a cat for a day? And on the day you found me again too!” He scowled, bottom lip jutting out ever so slightly.
Rose was sorely tempted to burst out laughing at how ridiculous and so very him that entire explanation sounded, but she held back, not wanting to make him close off. “I thought you were quite cute,” she offered. “Your eyes were gold instead of brown, though. I thought it suited the cat you, made you look all mysterious and otherworldly. Why gold though? Your fur was the same color as your suit. Why would your eyes change?”
“Because I am mysterious and otherworldly?” The Doctor said uncertainly, half statement, half-question.
“I seem to remember you getting your head stuck in a box under my bed yesterday, and throwing a literal hissy fit until I took it off,” she pointed out.
“You are merciless, you are! Can’t a Time Lord let embarrassing moments from his past lie in peace?”
“Okay, okay,” Rose relented, “just two more questions. Why’d you knock over everything in my room just to get the tie you left on my dresser after Canary Wharf? And where did you run off to after that? It sounded like an entire storage room of spare TARDIS parts got knocked over.”
The Doctor’s cheeks flushed pink. “Can we not talk about all the stupid things I did yesterday?” He asked weakly.
“Come on, they aren’t even hard questions to answer.”
The Time Lord scoffed, but did as Rose wanted. “I think some part of me was embarrassed I left that in your room. The last time I was in there, shortly before Bad Wolf Bay, it was not a good day. I just wanted to get it out of your room because I didn’t know what you thought of it being there. And I didn’t like thinking about that day.”
He sounded so dejected as he remembered whatever had made him enter her room after Canary Wharf. Rose’s heart went out to him, and she briefly pulled him into another hug.
He sighed into her hair, some of the tension leaving his body as he added, "Also, I left to, um, find the holiday decorations room, I think. And to find this room."
"Why did you want to find your holiday decorations?” She asked, nonplussed.
The Doctor shrugged. “Because this winter solstice festival on Jyotaris is a bit like your Christmas, and my cat self wanted to make you…happy. I think I also decorated your room with the TARDIS’ help while you were eating. Oh, that sounded much worse out loud than it did in my head.”
Rose simply smiled, adoring her wayward Time Lord no matter his embarrassing, dangerous, or hilarious antics. It was all part of being with him, traveling with him, and she wouldn’t change any of it. “I think it’s kind of sweet, actually. You showing me this room with the glowing plants and butterflies was too. I want to know more about this place later, by the way. Oh, and you were so cute and fluffy last night it was almost ridiculous." She said.
The Doctor opened his mouth to protest that he was The Oncoming Storm and Last of the Time Lords, and therefore he could not possibly be “cute” or “fluffy”. He promptly forgot everything he was about to say when Rose ran her hands through his hair again, scratching and massaging his scalp. His eyes slid shut and a deep purr rose in his throat before he could stop it.
“Aha! You are so purring!” Rose exclaimed triumphantly. “Wow, it’s kind of like having a superpower or something, doing this.”
The Doctor immediately straightened, his dazed expression clearing in the face of indignation. “Time Lords do not purr!”
“Suuuuure, Doctor." Rose nodded, though she was not at all convinced.
“Maybe it’s a lingering side effect of the cat curse?” She suggested, truly serious this time.
“It bloody well better NOT be a side effect!” The Doctor said, shoving one hand into his dimensionally-transcendental suit jacket pocket and feeling around inside it.
“What are you looking for?” Rose asked, sliding off his lap to give him more space to conduct his search.
“My sonic screwdriver! I need to make sure there aren’t anymore side effects of the feline curse. It would also be prudent to check that Bad Wolf hasn’t negatively affected you somehow, actually...” He trailed off, moving on to search his trouser pockets.
“Don’t think she has,” Rose muttered. Then she thought of the collar she had taken off the Doctor the night before. “Oh, wait!” She grabbed the Doctor’s hand, hauling him to his feet as she stood up. “I think the sonic’s in my room, with my clothes from Pete’s World. It was on your collar. I put it in my pocket.”
The Doctor froze. “I’m sorry, did you just say my collar? As in, cat collar?”
Rose tugged on his arm, pulling him back through the jungle in the general direction of the door. “Yeah. Tie, collar, same difference according to the curse, apparently. Your sonic was attached to it.” She intentionally left out the fact that it had been shrunk to miniature proportions, hoping that the sonic might have also returned to its normal size when the cat curse had worn off.
The Time Lord matched her stride, barely looking where he was going because he was so focused on her. “So, moving on from the collar bit… Assuming I get my sonic back safe and sound, after I do some scans, could you explain exactly how you got here without collapsing multiple universes? I tried, Rose, I really did. I looked for a way to safely bring you back for a long time, but it seemed impossible.”
A flurry of heartache and love for him went through Rose. She took a deep, steadying breath and turned to face him. “The dimension cannon didn’t work at first. It only started to work after the stars started going out. We figured that something or someone, probably in another universe, must have done something truly apocalyptic to cause that. We had to find you to get answers, and I needed to find you because you’re home for me. Not any other universe, now matter how much I’ll miss my mum, Tony, Pete and Mickey. But they’re happy, and I’m happy here. That’s the most important bit.”
The Doctor stared stonily at something over her shoulder, no doubt blaming himself for the fact that she had ever felt she had to choose between him and her family. Rose pressed a kiss to his cheek, looping her arms around his neck. “Hey, look at me. Don’t go there,” she implored.
It took a few moments, but eventually his gaze slid over to meet hers.
She gently framed his face with her hands, holding him still. “I’m here now, Doctor. I’m here because I love you and I want to be here. Forever, better with two, remember?”
He smiled faintly. “Yeah.”“Good. Now, we have a lot of things to do and talk about, so let’s get your scans out of the way, yeah? The multiverse could be ending, and it would be unfortunate if that happened without me getting to snog you again.”
He laughed as his hands found her waist, pulling her closer. “Very unfortunate,” he agreed. “Maybe we should do it again now, just in case.”
“Just in case,” Rose murmured, and proceeded to make good on her word.