Author's Notes:
Dark. Dark, dark, dark. Can't say it enough. Also note that the rating has been changed to NC-17 for this chapter. My everlasting thanks to Membio and Malaleen for so much hep with this story.

He hadn’t seen Rose in a week and it was driving him insane. Well, further toward the precipice, at least. He wasn’t sure he’d been sane since the moment he confronted the Dalek emperor. But now he couldn’t concentrate on much of anything and half the tinkering he did on the TARDIS was such an utter disaster that Jack had to stoically go back and fix it. Life had become quite a nightmare.

Footfalls broke his mental meanderings and he looked up from his tea to see Jack, grim and drawn, carrying an untouched plate of food back into the kitchen. “Don’t push it, Jack,” he sighed. “She’ll eat. It’s not like she’s trying to kill herself in there.”

Jack whirled on him. “You sure about that? Since you’ve spent so much time with her and all, guess you know exactly what you’re talking about.”

He instinctively pulled back, Jack’s attack taking him by surprise. “I know Rose. She wouldn’t–“ The plate shattering against the wall, stopping him in his tracks. Shards of pottery and globs of food dotted half the surfaces in the small kitchen.

“Don’t,” Jack snarled. “You can’t have it both ways. Don’t tell me you know Rose and then turn around and tell me she’s not Rose anymore. Pick one and stick with it. Either accept what she is now or drop her back at home. This nightmare is going to drive us all fucking insane if you keep it up.”

Then Jack left.

One of them always seemed to be stalking out of a room since Rose had been changed.

With a groan the Doctor let his head fall back and his eyes close. Jack was right. They couldn’t go on like this, which meant he was going to have to find a way to deal with Rose. On one level, he knew he was being wildly unreasonable, but he couldn’t seem to overcome it. He knew what regeneration meant; he’d been through it often enough. People changed more than just their faces. Personalities shifted and altered. The thought of Rose not being Rose terrified him beyond all reason. Right or wrong, she’d rebuilt him from the soul out in the time she’d been with him. The very idea that that Rose could be gone left him floundering in the dark. So he kept her at a distance, afraid to let her close for fear she would show herself changed and cripple him completely. Still the coward every time.

Still, sending her away wasn’t an option. As ridiculous as it sounded, given his attitude and his fears, he needed Rose close. Jack didn’t know it, but the Doctor had never been as far away from her as he’d seemed. He hadn’t been able to help himself. Their common connection with the TARDIS made it easy for him to keep tabs on her, especially with his ship so willing and him so desperate for a glimpse of her.

Beyond that, he’d kept vigil outside her door every night after Jack staggered away to sleep for a few hours. He’d spent hours on the floor leaning against the wall, listening to Rose cry, rage, curse and even fall into an exhausted sleep at times. When that happened he carefully crept in and sat next to her, stroking her hair and just watching her breathe.

Sanity was obviously not his bosom companion at the moment.

But the worst had been the night she called Jackie to let her know she was still alive. Rose had fallen apart when her mother apparently started pushing her to come home and she wouldn’t–couldn’t, really–explain why that wasn’t an option. He was sure that’s when certain truths became painfully clear. She was going to live while those around her grew old, infirm and died. Jackie, Mickey, Shireen… everyone. He’d listened to every cry of denial as she tore her room to shreds behind the door; each cry, each crash slicing his soul like a razor, but still he hadn’t been able to go to her. He was terrified of what she’d become. And what it meant for him.

So he kept his vigil each night until the TARDIS alerted him Jack was approaching, then he’d slip away into the shadows and silently die a little death for what he’d done to his bright, shining Rose. He’d become completely impotent in the worst sort of way.

The Doctor slammed his fists down on the table as something occurred to him. Pathetic! He was worse than the dumbest ape that wandered around that brilliant blue mudball that Rose called home. There had been a solution right under his nose, but it never occurred to him. As much as he railed against the change in her, he’d forgetting she was essentially Galllifreyan now. His jaw tightened as he thought of what she was and was not anymore, but he pushed the bitter thoughts back as he stood, forcing himself to focus on the task at hand.

The Zero Room. He’d finally rebuilt the full room in his eighth incarnation when the first whispers of war had come from home. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of it before now, but then again, he hadn’t allowed himself the solace of that space after the war, forcing himself to physically acclimate to a difficult regeneration through time and pain. After all, he didn’t deserve to be comforted on any level. At least that’s what he’d felt at the time.

Rose was different, though. Cursing himself for his idiocy in half a dozen different languages, he stalked down the hall toward her room. His own particular brand of insanity led him to make some colossal mistakes, but this was one he could fix. He hoped.

The Zero Room was like nothing Rose had ever experienced in her travels with the Doctor. When he’d first come bursting into her room, she’d barely noticed. The confusion and fear and depression over the last few days had been more than she could cope with The only stay against a complete breakdown was retreating into her own head and trying to shut out the worst of her fears.

Still, they came. She wasn’t human anymore. The statement was simple, but comprehension was difficult. She’d known she might die traveling with the Doctor, but somehow being changed, not being human any longer? That had never figured into the equation and was infinitely more terrifying. How was she supposed to cope? What was she supposed to do? Stay with the Doctor forever? That might have been an option before, but she was afraid he didn’t want her anymore. And then what? Go back home and…? Eventually someone was going to notice that she wasn’t aging. Would she have to go into hiding to keep from being noticed by the wrong people and end up a specimen in a lab? Oh god and what about her Mum and Mickey and Shireen? She pictured herself standing at each of their gravesites, their bodies old and withered in their coffins while she still looked like a teenager and she wanted to be sick. That’s now how it was supposed to be.

More than once she thought of meeting Cassandra and her own pride in being fully human, unlike the much tucked trampoline. Granted, she looked human, but evidently like the Doctor, it was simply an illusion.

The Doctor. Even in the darkness of her own mind, she flinched away from thoughts of him. He’d looked at her with such bitterness, such utterly betrayal in those piercing blue eyes and she didn’t understand why. Not really. What hurt most of all was how he avoided her.

And then there was Jack. He was frantic to help her, to get her back to being Rose again, but as guilty as she felt, there was nothing she could do. It was all just too much. She was so very tired. Tired of the fear, tired of the guilt, tired of her body and mind not even feeling like her own. Just drifting away into nothingness seemed like the easiest most comforting option.

That’s where she was when the Doctor stormed into her room, startling Jack. Rose just closed her eyes. She couldn’t face whatever emotion was on the Doctor’s face. It just took too much energy. Sound was more difficult to shut out, though. As if from far away, she heard Jack and the Doctor talking, Jack’s tone harsh and accusing, the Doctor’s flat and matter-of-fact. Still, she didn’t even try to comprehend their words. It was all too much.

She was drifting off to a place that wasn’t quite sleeping, but not quite awake when strong arms scooped her up off the bed. The Doctor. There was no mistaking the cool leather of his jacket under her cheek and the double thrum of his hearts a bit below. For a moment she tensed, but what was the point of fighting him?

The moment they stepped into the room, she knew it; felt it in her bones. There was peace in the room. The kind that sunk into and through you and given enough time, would melt away all the monsters that lurked in the shadows. Forgetting about the Doctor and Jack, Rose latched onto that feeling and clung to it with all her might, her natural fighting spirit asserting itself with a glimmer of hope to fuel it.

Maybe, just maybe everything would be alright.

When Rose emerged from the Zero room nearly a week later–two full weeks after the incident on the Game station–she looked so incredibly normal that the Doctor was taken aback. He’d expected… well, he hadn’t known what to expect. Standing uncertainly in the doorway to the console room, dressed in her trademark jeans and t-shirt, she’d smiled at him. Without thinking, he turned away. Seeing Rose smile like everything was alright, knowing it wasn’t and that it was his fault that she’d changed… it was nearly too painful to bear.

He didn’t see her bite her lip and suddenly look up at the ceiling, fighting tears at his rejection. He didn’t see her unusual hesitance, then her shoulders slump as she looked at his back and shivered as if she were cold. No, all that he saw when he finally turned was Rose in Jack’s arms then Jack leading her over the console, trying his best to put a good face on everything.

What really galled him–ridiculous as it was–was that Jack never let go of Rose’s hand. He stood there listening to Jack natter on and could barely drag his eyes away from their entwined fingers. It wasn’t that Jack hadn’t held her hand before, but now it felt… It felt like a betrayal. Rose was supposed to be holding his hand and looking to him for comfort. Not Jack.

Feeling an irrational darkness rising, the Doctor roughly worked the console, sending them hurtling off to their first destination since... their last fateful adventure. His mind shied away from once again contemplating what had happened on the Game Station and he suddenly knew that he had to set down somewhere and breathe, away from his companions. He got a grim bit of satisfaction out of seeing them both scrabble for a hold while he stood firm, like a seasoned captain riding unpredictable waves with no effort.

Then they had arrived and with barely a word, he was out the door, trying to inhale past a suffocated feeling and refusing to feel guilty for the shocked expressions on Jack and Rose’s faces. He put miles between himself and the TARDIS, rather feeling like he was going mad, but in the end had little time to dissect his feelings before a dull rumble like approaching thunder drew his attention.

“Fantastic,” he muttered flatly, glancing up to see several hundred soldiers cresting the hill and flowing down toward him like overgrown ants. It seemed that in his haste to get out of the TARDIS, he’d inadvertently put them down in the middle of a battle And of course he’d wandered far enough that was there was no dashing inside for safety.

It seemed that even if one Time Lord and two fragile humans were still reeling from their recent experiences, Time was intent on moving them forward, regardless. Within hours Jack and Rose had come for him and once again the three were working together, saving the world, saving a civilization and falling into their old roles like nothing had changed.

The Doctor, though, noticed something had indeed changed. When they made their way back to the TARDIS two days later, Rose was holding Jack’s hand again, leaning against his shoulder. Trying to ignore the strange, tight feeling in his chest, the Doctor reminded himself that he had his hands full, fiddling with the sonic screwdriver that seemed to have developed a short after the last blast. If he was that much more curt and brusque with Jack and Rose, he refused notice it. He refused to look at them, so he didn’t notice the frustrated look on Jack’s face or the hurt on Rose’s.

A week later, they were in the thick of things once more, trudging through the jungles of Kjorax Six to find a ceremonial crystal needed to save the heir to the throne. It was Jack that kept Rose from tumbling into a pit of flesh-eating Zeelibegs, because he’d been holding her hand when she stumbled. The Doctor couldn’t help but think that if Rose had been holding his hand, she never would have stumbled in the first place. He ignored the odd, tight feeling in his chest once more.

And so it went, time after time. He watched Rose gravitate closer to Jack, never once admitting to himself that it was his own cold silences that pushed her away as surely as if he’d put his hands on her shoulders and shoved. He never saw the hundred looks of grief from Rose’s brown eyes as she struggled to understand why he’d so completely pulled away from her. He never saw Jack’s frustration and anger at being unable to bridge the gap. No, the Doctor refused to see anything through the haze of guilt and pain that he’d worn like armor since the events on the game station.

Rose eventually asked to be taken home to see her mother. The Doctor obliged without question, having known the request would come eventually. Truth be told, he was relieved. Not about Rose talking to Jackie. Honestly, he was perfect happy not contemplating that conversation or being on the same planet when it happened. What was a relief was the idea of Rose being out of the TARDIS for a bit. The tight feeling in his chest had become a constant companion and having room to breathe would be a welcome feeling.

At least that’s what he thought until he watched her go to the door and hesitate. He could see the look on her face and the trepidation she was feeling communicated itself easily. She wasn’t human anymore and Earth–familiar, comfortable Earth–was no longer her safe haven. And that hurt her so very much.

Come with me. The Doctor flinched as the words softly stole into his mind and wondered if Rose realized the TARDIS had linked them psychically. Probably not. In fact, the words were probably drawn from her subconscious altogether.

Come with me, he heard again, the words laced with worry and fear, pain and confusion. She was so lost in what she’d become, floundering to understand and accept that he felt the walls he’d built around himself begin to crack. Without evening thinking, the Doctor slowly lowered the mallet in his hand to the console and moved to step around it, to go to Rose.

Then Jack came in, all smiles and bounce and swinging Rose’s laundry bag over his shoulder. “I figured you might want this, Gorgeous,” he quipped. “You’ll hurt Jackie’s feelings if you don’t bring her laundry…”

The Doctor watched stoically as Jack trailed off then glanced back at the console and then Rose. “Am I interrupting something?”

Rose smiled bemusedly. So she hadn’t realized she was projecting. Just as well. He didn’t realize how tight his grip was on the console as she smiled at Jack.

“I’ll make it up t’her by bringin’ you along,” she said to him. Then she held out her hand and wiggled her fingers. “Come with me?” Without hesitation, Jack took her hand.

The Doctor felt the tightness in his chest break, allowing something much darker and more dangerous to bubble up. He didn’t see Jack and Rose look at him with concern before finally leaving. He didn’t know he nodded curtly. All he could see was Jack’s hand entwined with Rose’s, that simple gesture seeming to represent everything he’d lost. Again.

Every bit the Oncoming Storm, he turned and walked out of the room.

When Rose returned to the TARDIS a few hours later, she was half surprised to see it sitting in the same spot where she and Jack had left it. The look on the Doctor’s face… she couldn’t even put words to it, but it had left her heart pounding. She wouldn’t have been shocked if he’d left them. Ever since she’d changed, he had too. He’d distanced himself more and more, spoken less and when he did, the words were always sharp and curt, designed to draw blood.

But then sometimes she’d find him watching her, such naked longing on his face that it almost moved her to try and bridge the gap. Almost. Because on the rare occasion he’d realized she’d seen him, he became even colder and more distant. Time after time, she’d almost gone to him anyway, demanded he talk to her, tell her what was so horribly wrong. But then each time she hesitated and hated herself for it. She never would have hesitated before. It was just that everything still felt so new and raw and the barrier between them so high, that she played the coward. She missed her Doctor so badly it hurt; all the more because this ‘new’ Doctor left her feeling battered and bruised and weary.

Sometimes after Jack said goodnight, she’d roll over and sob into her pillow just for the release. Everything was so alien. She had become alien. Each morning Rose woke up to a strange heartbeat; a different sound as she took a deep breath, air filling her lungs; a mind that sensed so much she could barely comprehend it; a body that felt everything differently. Nothing even tasted quite the same. So every day she forced herself out of bed. Forced herself to shower, dress, put on a smile and cope. And every day that she met the Doctor’s wall of impersonal ice, it became a little harder to do.

If it weren’t for Jack, she would probably be curled into a little ball in the corner, rocking and humming nursery songs. He’d talked her through the darkest moments of the past weeks, held her when she cried and was simply a comforting presence when she had to hang on to something familiar. She’d known before everything fell apart that Jack was an amazing man, whether he wanted to admit it or not. What she hadn’t realized was the incredible depth for caring and compassion he had. No surprise since he took pains to hide it from the world, knowing it was his biggest vulnerability. But for her, he’d totally opened himself, let her see everything. Whatever she needed to move ahead, he was willing to give.

Rose smiled a bit tiredly as she fumbled with her TARDIS key in the dark. She hadn’t told her mother about what had happened to her, but that had been alright. There was time. Besides, it just felt good to see her mum and Mickey so ecstatic to see her again that she couldn’t bear to ruin the mood. It felt normal, and normal was a welcome feeling. Mickey’d even dragged them all down to the pub to celebrate, on him. And celebrate they had. After several hours and more than a few pints, the party had broken up, Mickey leading a very pissed Jackie back to her flat, snickering all the while, Shireen and the girls blowing clumsy kisses and Jack having a very cozy discussion with a dead gorgeous bloke at the bar. Even then he’d kept an eye on her and started to excuse himself when she stood. She told him to stay. After all, he needed a… vacation after everything they’d been through. They’d argued good-naturedly for a few minutes before he eventually gave in and she left with a promise to go straight home.

In all honesty, that’s what she had intended to do. Check on Jackie, make sure Mickey either went home or crashed on the sofa, then fall into bed herself. But the sight of the TARDIS standing so dark and silent on the tarmac led her feet in a different direction.

She stepped inside and frowned. The lights in the console room were very dim, shrouding everything in long shadows. That didn’t bother her nearly as much as the heavy feeling from the TARDIS, almost like the ship was holding her breath, uneasily anticipating something. That couldn’t be good.

“Doctor?” she called out hesitantly, suddenly wishing she hadn’t been so blithe about insisting Jack stay behind and enjoy his evening. Her heart–hearts–were suddenly thudding with the strange feeling in the TARDIS.

There was no answer from her call, so Rose moved through the room and down the hallway, wondering if the Doctor had possibly gone out on his own. It was rare that anything good came of him wandering off by himself. She realized she was holding her breath and exhaled slowly as she made her way down the hall, those lights dim as well. In fact, the TARDIS had an entirely creepy feel to her that made Rose want to run back out into the safety of the night.

The clink of glass against glass made her jump and whirl around to peer into a dark room. “Doctor?” she asked cautiously, peering into the gloom.

“Rose Tyler,” his voice rolled out of the darkness, an edge to it that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. “Rose Tyler, why’d you come back here? Not done torturing me?”

She blinked and straightened, stepping over the threshold into the library. “Excuse me?”

Frustrated by the darkness, she silently wished for at least enough light to see the Doctor and was immediately rewarded by a dim glow. The TARDIS had to be listening in. Lovely. That was the least of her worries, though. The Doctor was slumped low in an armchair, a nearly empty bottle of what she assumed had been some kind of liquor on the table next to him.

“Oh my god, are you drunk?” she asked in shock, taking in his eyes and rumpled clothing–the leather jacket was gone entirely–and putting two and two together.

He shot her a dark smile, one that promised shared pain on the horizon. “Yup.” He lifted a glass to his lips and drained the contents. “Any other questions, my lovely Rose?”

Rose swallowed hard and felt the first stab of anger shoot through her. It was refreshing in a way after spending so many weeks feeling a downtrodden child. “I thought you couldn’t. Get drunk, y’know. Biochemistry and all that,” she said coolly.

Again, the Doctor smiled superciliously at her and she narrowed her eyes in return. “Ah, but being an advanced species, I can make adjustments here an’ there. Only get drunk if I want to.” His expression changed radically, the smile disappearing and only leaving an ominous, dangerous look. “An’ I wanted to.”

She stood her ground, watching him, pushing away the tiny frission of fear that skittered down her spine at his expression, about the radical change in his personality. For a moment, she was frozen with indecision, but then the Doctor won out over any other consideration, like he always had. Taking a deep breath and forcing a calm, serenity into her voice that she didn’t feel, Rose walked over and knelt next to his chair. “Please talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong.”

He looked at her impassively for a very long time before lifting a hand and running it over her hair. When he spoke, his voice lanced through her painfully. “Do you love me, Rose?”

Anger–no rage–was back in a flash. How could he ask such a thing? He knew how she felt about him. And by some tacit agreement, they’d never spoken of it, both afraid it would somehow damage what they had between them. She knew that. He knew that. And now?

Rose stiffened. “I’m not doin’ this. Not now, Doctor. Not when you’re drunk and angry.” She felt cold even with her anger burning inside her. Anger that he wouldn’t even try to work out whatever the problem was.

He seemed to ignore her accusations, running the pads of his fingers over her cheekbone. The warning bells were screaming in her head, but all she could do in that second was shiver under his touch, her jaw clenched so hard her head hurt from it.

“Best mates, I think you’ve said,” the Doctor murmured so softly as Rose knelt there, frozen. “Are you sure there isn’t more, Rose?” Her eyes widened as his fingers drifted over her lower lip. “Are you sure you aren’t in love with me?”

She felt a bit sick with how his touch made her burn for more, even with him drunk and her furious. “Stop it,” she bit out furiously, jerking away and standing. “Stop it now, Doctor. I don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t know why you’re doin’ this, but it stops now. I’ll… make some coffee or something,” she added stiffly. “Sober you up. Then maybe we can talk. I can’t do this anymore.”

His hand shot out and grabbed her wrist as she turned, strong fingers like cool manacles against her skin. “Wha–“ she started, only to find herself jerked backward into his lap. “Doctor!”

He arched a brow at her, apparently unmoved by her anger. “And here I was thinkin’ you’d get more articulate with all those new, higher brain functions,” he drawled in a tone that gave nothing away as to what he was thinking. And then he was touching her again, running a hand through her hair, the other cupping her cheek and drawing her close. She went rigid in his arms, fighting to hang on to her anger and deny desire to melt into his touch.

“Don’t do this,” Rose breathed, hating the breathlessness she heard in her voice as he leaned in, his lips poised just above hers. “Not like this.”

“Shhhh,” he replied, leaning his forehead against hers. “Just one word, Rose. One word to answer one question.” She shivered, feeling his warm breath drift over her face, the scent of the liquor he’d been drinking sweet and sharp at the same time. “Do you love me?”

She hated him a little for what he was doing to her, rage and arousal warring for dominance and pushing her closer and closer to the edge. “Yes,” she hissed furiously. “Yes, I do. Are you happy? Is this how you wanted to hear it? With everything so messed up neither of us has a clue which way is up? Is this how you pictured it?” she ranted, struggling against his hold. “Stupid little human ape fallin–”

The Doctor’s mouth crashed down on hers, stealing her breath and her will and possibly even a piece of her soul. Dominating, he pressed onwards, making her shake as he took possession of her mouth with a dark desperation that somehow froze her struggles. He was angry and was using this–himself–to hurt her. Somewhere deep inside she wanted to cry for the both of them, but she couldn’t. Her own anger and hurt were too close to the surface. She wasn’t about to back down and give him the satisfaction of scaring her away and proving some twisted point.

Caught up in the maelstrom of her thoughts and the kiss, she didn’t even realize he’d unfastened her top until the Doctor’s cool hands slid across her skin. Rose wrenched away from the kiss and watched from heavy-lidded eyes as his fingers caressed the skin just above the lace border at the top of her bra.

“Doctor…” She silently cursed herself for speaking at all. Some dark, self-destructive part of her wanted to just let it happen, knowing that someday he’d hate himself for what was happening. But she loved him too much. She’d admitted as much. So the words burst out of their own accord, harsh and demanding. “Why? Why now?”

He didn’t answer at first, watching her like some predator might as it tries to decide whether or not to toy with its prey before striking a killing blow. His fingers inched downward, teasing and tantalizing and making it nearly impossible to focus. Rose bit the inside of her cheek to hang on to some semblance of coherence.

“Why?” he finally murmured. “Why not? I don’t seem to have it in me to deny you anything Rose Tyler and I know you want this.” Her whole body flinched as his hand closed fully around her breast, the pad of his thumb tracing her nipple through the thin material of her bra.

He continued as if they were having a normal conversation, “I would have died for you, but you wouldn’t let me. You wanted me to live, so I did, dancin’ to your tune like I have since the beginning,” he murmured in a rough, dark, hypnotic tone that left her throat tight and her mouth dry. “How many times have I danced for you, Rose? Adam, your father, Jack… the list goes on an’ on an’ each time, I gave you a little bit more of my soul. But then you changed an’ now I don’t know what you are. An’ because of that, the last of the walls are torn down. You’re not human anymore, Rose Tyler, an’ that changes everything. Nothin’ will ever be the same.”

Rose stared at him, unseeing as she struggled to deal with the impact of his words as he teased her body. He made her sound so… manipulative and conniving, like she’d lured him in and taken over his life or something. There was so much bitterness in his voice, more than she could make herself understand. It broke something inside her and darkness bubbled up, making her want to lash out and hurt him as much as he was hurting her.

In the second or two she was caught in her own thoughts, the Doctor had managed the clasp to her bra and was already sliding the straps down her shoulders. Without thinking, she lifted her hands to his, stopping the downward movement. Still giving him an out because she couldn’t stop loving him, not matter what. If possible, it made her angrier still. “You’re sure this is what you want to do?” she asked in a cold voice, part of her refusing to wallow in the darkness, trying to see past the flat look in his eyes for some glimmer of the love and affection he used to look at her with.

He didn’t answer immediately, brushing her hands away and leaning in to explore her neck with lips and teeth and tongue in ways that would leave marks when all was said and done. “Tell me to stop,” he said huskily, working his way down her collarbone as he swept the fabric off her arms to be forgotten on the floor. “Tell me you don’t want this.”

Rose shivered and closed her eyes as the Doctor’s tongue rasped against sensitive flesh. “Can’t,” she whispered, brutally clamping down on the little voice in the back of her head that cried out for the mistake she was making and all the pain it would bring.

“Can’t or won’t?” he questioned, nipping at her skin as he stood, lifting her like she weighed nothing.

“Doesn’t matter,” Rose replied, shivering in the cool air of the TARDIS as he carried her down the hall, refusing to think about what she was doing. If this was the way he wanted it, so be it. And if there was a part of her so desperate for a connection with him that she’d let this happen, so hopelessly naïve to think maybe giving him the one last part of herself that he hadn’t had would bridge the gap, then she earned the pain that would come.

“It matters,” the Doctor said harshly, stopping next to his bed and pinning her with a fierce look. “Say the words, Rose.”

It was like some sort of sick dare that she couldn’t back down from. Her chin rose a notch and she looked him squarely in the eye. “Don’t stop.” It was like someone had slammed a door closed and rammed the bolt home. Maybe she was the only one who felt it, but there was an ending in those words.

Then he was kissing her again, rough and possessive, refusing to give her a moment to think or breathe. The Doctor’s kiss, his touch, they were so addictive that when he broke away and put her down on the bed she couldn’t seem to do anything but watch him for a second, everything she’d been feeling overcome with the insidious roar of arousal.

Faster than she realized was possible, he was there with her, tugging her jeans and knickers down and pushing her back on the bed while her hands scrabbled as quickly at his clothes. She wanted to touch him everywhere, his skin cool where hers was warm, but with a feral growl, his mouth came down on hers once more, fierce and demanding and muffling her sharp intake of breath as he nudged her knees apart and settled so intimately against her. It was clear he had no intention of slowing down and she was willingly drowning in him as he pushed her further and further toward the brink of oblivion.

Everything was happening so fast–too fast–but before Rose could put together any coherent thought, the Doctor was touching her, turning everything inside her to liquid fire and the vestige of though of how wrong things were between them were incinerated in the flames of overwhelming need. She’d never felt the like before and in some tiny corner where sanity still lurked, wondered if he was manipulating her mind as well as her body.

Fatalistically knowing that she’d already given him heart, body and soul, she opened up her mind as well and felt his presence surge forward. Pain and anger and frustration and guilt and his people gone and his home and loneliness and darkness… they swamped everything that was Rose, leaving her reeling and groping for something of herself even as he physically lifted her hips and thrust forcefully into her body.

A startled cry escaped her, born of both pleasure and pain until the pleasure overwhelmed everything else. He built it in her mind as well as her body, a combination that was impossible to resist. It was hard and fast and Rose felt so very alone–even with the Doctor in her mind and in her body–that she would have wept if she wasn’t tangled so tightly in the web of white hot pleasure he had woven around her. Helplessly she surrendered to it, coming apart under the onslaught of the most incredible orgasm she’d ever experienced and barely noticing when the Doctor hoarsely shouted out and found his own release.

The quiet after the storm was deafening.

The Doctor rolled away without looking at her, his consciousness pulling out of her mind as well and Rose shivered. She felt cold and naked far beyond anything to do with clothes or temperature, knowing that she’d just made the biggest mistake of her life. In anger, pain, hurt, confusion, all the dark emotions she’d struggled with since the Vortex, in those things she’d let herself get tangled up and done something so stupid.

Hating herself for it, she fought against tears. She’d been so utterly naïve to think that it was worth the price to hurt him like he’d hurt her. Even worse, that part of her really wanted to believe that sex with the Doctor could bridge the gap between them. Naïve and stupid and so clueless it wasn’t even funny. He was drunk–despite his careful steadiness–and hurt and he wanted to lash out. Instead of stepping away, she’d put herself right in front of the whip. Stupid ape, indeed. She wondered if he would be pleased to know he’d met his mark.

Swallowing past the lump her throat, refusing to cry over something she’d done to herself, Rose slowly sat up, facing the door. She had to get back to her room and cleaned up before Jack came back. No, she had to get back to her room so she could fall apart in private. She couldn’t afford to let the Doctor see her cry right now. His derision would break her past any hope of repair.

A step away from the door, his voice reached her, slurred and husky as he finally succumbed to the alcohol and the physical exertion he’d just put out. “Finally danced with you, Rose Tyler. Hope you’re happy.”

The air froze in her lungs. Without thinking, she glanced back over her shoulder at the Doctor. His eyes were closed. Feeling a bubble of hysterical laughter trying to rise up, she wondered if he’d even remember any of what happened. In the end, it didn’t really matter. She would.

And that changed everything.