Character/Pairing: Eleven/Rose, Amy/Rory.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is not my playground, but it is a wonderful sandbox to play in.
Summary: Oh, he is a thief, the Doctor is. A thief of the worst kind, but she is the one that he has always wanted to keep.
Author's Notes: I wanted to try angsty smut, but I am sorry to say that I failed. Read on at your own discretion my dears. Prompt picture stolen from past challenge 60 over at then_theres_us .
He never expects to see her again. And by never, well, he actually means it.
Isn't that odd, how he doesn't quite believe in "forever."
That is not to say he has forgotten her; no, she lives inside of him, in the corners of his vast, dusty mind, in the twists and turns of neurons so advanced that he can even navigate the halls of guilt and fear without ever encountering her.
But she is there. She is always there, inside of him, and she sows her seeds everywhere, drops them like rain onto crackling land where they vanish with barely a sound into starving earth.
"I'm going for a swim, Doctor," Amy flirts, and Rory widens his eyes in habitual panic, but very little concern when she flips her red hair over a shoulder and smiles at him. Absentmindedly, he nods, Adam's apple bobbing. Their happiness is his triumph, his victory over the heartbreak that nips at his ankles and washes over his footsteps. He never lets that eclipse how he has ruined them before though. How he has ruined countless others, even as he saves them in the end.
They disappear up the stairs, his two Ponds, laughing and bright, filling his TARDIS with their human warmth. Maybe he will read a book, solve a few century old puzzles - possibly millenia old, depending on when exactly the TARDIS is hovering over - get lost in a library stocked with things much like himself. Old words and new covers, papyrus skins and creaking spines, oracle bones still fresh from long dead flames.
He never makes it to the library because the first door he opens is to a luscious in-ground bath. Pink veined marble boundless where it should be cramped, scented water lapping in whispers against the edges.
He remembers this bath. A particular lurid fantasy crashes back into him - the brunt of a pendulum swinging back and forth between two times.
It knocks the air out of him and the impossible from his lips.
Good thing Time Lords can breathe through their pores when their lungs are paralyzed. This is an unexpected gift, a moment he could have never dreamt of stealing (which is a lie well practiced in the telling).
"Hello Doctor," she says, rising from the depths of his hearts and the chamber he keeps her locked in. A place reserved for memories too sharp and too much for his cowardice, where never is still the lock to which he has no key.
Her skin sparkles where light refracts from water, blonde hair dark at the roots and matted with knots he longs to untangle. Surely there are lifetimes of secrets woven into her, imperceptible strands of destiny dangling from her fingertips.
Love, he could have called her, when her skin flushed pink and eager. Miracle, he could have named her, when she opened her arms and wrote forgiveness onto the burning surface of his torso. Creator, he discovers, when her small hands and small fingers define the shape of his muscles and the weight of his new form.
He spans the swell of her hips with a single palm (his reach is greater than ever, with languid phalanges that dig greedily into her flesh), which makes it so much easier to hold onto her before they both cease to be all there. One way or the other.
One of them always slips away.
And he is deeply aware that no matter how hard he tries or how slow he goes, they will never occupy precisely the same space and time. That this moment cannot last forever. It is a familiar pain. He welcomes it.
They find each other in the dark unthinkingly, aching hands drawn to each other like fireflies shining desperately at the rim of twilight. A million things that he could say and a million languages he could say them in, to describe this instant.
Rose, though, is the cry that is torn from his throat, is the prayer that he chants even as he sobs silently, brokenly, into the curve of her neck and the curtain of her hair.
"I'm so sorry."
"I know, Doctor. I know."
Her fingers twist gently in his hair, always knowing, knowing in the way that only she had ever been capable of. No genius IQ or university teaching, but Rose Tyler had never needed it. She simply knows, with a grace that he is only beginning to relearn.
"This isn't real, is it?"
Kindly, tenderly, she cups his face and draws him back in.
"Don't I feel real, Doctor?" She feels like a lot of things. Impish. Childish. Perfect.
A grin tips the corner of his mouth, lopsided and wry.
Sadness wrinkles her face and mars her brilliant smile; he wipes them away with a beseeching thumb.
"But I have a few questions for you, Rose Tyler."
Trying to look serious with floppy wet hair flopping into his eyes is harder than he thinks, but he manages it fine.
"How did you get here? There are rules, you know. Intergalactic rules. Trans-dimensional rules. Rules that even Time Lords have to follow, especially since we probably wrote them, and unless the world is ending and it isn't, because I would know, they are absolute. Or I would know unless - "
She sounds just enough like one Jacqueline Andrea Suzette Tyler that his jaw snaps shut with a click. A regeneration later and that woman still scares him silly.
The fond exasperation on her face softens.
"Doctor," Rose half murmurs, half chants, lacing every two syllables with a kiss somewhere on some limb he has dismissed from his mind until she presses her sweet mouth and hot tongue there.
And there. And there. So many wounds and so many mistakes, she can't fix them all. He won't let her because he needs them to remind him to be careful. To tread lightly on thin ice when it is other people that go tumbling in if he stomps too hard.
Don't take it away from me, he wants to say.
She doesn't try to and that is how she always saves him.
"If something can be remembered..."
The words burst ominously like supernovas on his skin.
"If you could choose one day..."
Even respiratory bypass systems aren't going to help him now.
"Always a message Doctor, to lead myself back to you."
Time stops just for them.
The tiles are white again and the only hands in his hair are his own.
Never is a such a strong word when two TARDISes across the walls of space and time collude to do their darling Doctors proud.