Summary: The aftermath of 18th Century France leads the Doctor and Rose to someplace they never thought of (Oh, don't believe them. Of course they've thought of it). A Sonnets story.
Author's Notes: A little break from Mysterious Ways, prompted by the past couple of episodes. While Silence in the Library, etc, isn't occurring in this world, there were some ideas in there that were rather fascinating about how they could relate to this world. Combine that with the desire for some good ol' fashioned Doctor/Rose shippiness, and this is the end result. Prior knowledge of the Sonnets series is a good idea, all of which can be found through the tags in my journal. paiger1218, as always, and you know why.
To anyone who's left feedback on the last part of Mysterious Ways, I'll be responding to it in the morning when I'm a little more coherent and not totally burnt out from a long day. It is always appreciated though, just wanted to let you reading out there know that. :)
Thanks very much for reading, and I hope you enjoy it!
‘It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken…’
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
The crystal room is one of the more impressive rooms on the TARDIS. It’s not just a metaphor either, the walls are literally covered in crystals of all shapes and sizes, from rough-hewn amethyst agates standing a meter high, delicately carved spiral spindles fashioned of an octarine coloured stone, smoky quartz coloured slabs polished to such a high shine they could easily pass as wall sized mirrors, mall kiosk carved pendants hanging from faux leather cords draped here and there, and an infinite amount of other glittering stones in every colour of the rainbow and beyond. Rose wonders if the Doctor’s magpie mind was attracted to all of these shiny things over the many years he’s been alive, and somehow they migrated from the depths of his bigger on the inside coat pockets into this room as time went on. Since she’s been on the TARDIS, Rose has sort of adopted it as her refuge, a place to go to decompress from the more harrowing adventures and to re-sort her thoughts.
Rose sighs to herself and twirls the metal stylus around her fingers like a mini baton. It’s an unconscious movement, something to keep her hands occupied as she and the Doctor attempt to talk through this awkward time. She looks up at the Doctor, standing in the junction of two large pieces of the smoky and shiny slabs, and watches as he shuffles his feet awkwardly. If she weren’t sitting in the oversized papasan chair, her pyjama covered legs crossed beneath her, she’d be doing the same thing. The conversation had been awkward and uneasy, but necessary. Magic doors leading to eighteenth century France and their aftermath inevitably have to be discussed. “So we’re good?” the Doctor says, scratching at the back of his neck with that same nervous tick he always gets in times like this.
“We’re fine,” Rose nods, looking at the stylus clutched between the middle and ring fingers of her right hand. “I get why you had to go back for her. And I’ll admit she’s a very alluring person. It’s hard not to want to be around her.” She also had some good insights, Rose knows, but she won’t mention that. Funnily enough, it doesn’t feel like the right time to tell the Doctor that no matter what, he really is worth the monsters.
The Doctor just nods back, for once not running off at the mouth with some long-winded explanation. He’d already apologized for stranding her and Mickey on the spaceship, but it’s noted by both of them that he didn’t apologize for going back to save Reinette. She never expected him to apologize for that anyway. “Okay. Good,” he sighs, walking to stand a couple of feet from her chair. “I’ll let you get some rest.”
“In a little bit,” she replies. “Think I’ll stay here for just a little while longer.” She leans back in the cushions and stares at a sapphire colored stalactite high above her, a dangling fringed curtain of blue growing out of the black ceiling.
He nods again and turns to leave her be, nearly making it to the door. “No, we’re not all right,” he says, turning on the spot and walking back over to her, getting so close that his knees are brushing the wooden frame of the chair. “There’s something else bothering you, isn’t there?”
Rose looks up at him, face carefully neutral. Sometimes the alien is too perceptive for his own damn good. She supposes that came with experience, as much as he acted like a twelve year old sometimes. She hesitates a moment, thinking that maybe the best route to take would be to brush him off again, claim a long day and nearly being killed by clockwork robots has worn her down…but there’s a part of her that doesn’t want to take that road. Part of her, a surprisingly large part, wants to confront him, to lay it all out for him to see, raw and red, and follow what happens from there.
“You knew her a matter of mere minutes,” Rose eventually says, shaking her, admittedly chemically enhanced, blonde hair back from her shoulders, “just a few short minutes out of your whole long life, and you let her look right into your head, seeing things no one else has ever.” The stylus twirls in her fingers again, a nice distraction from the shaking in her hands. “I’ve known you for how long now, long enough that I’ve nearly forgotten, and I’ve never been able to get that close.”
The Doctor crosses his arms over his chest and looks down at her solemnly. “Rose, you know me better than anyone out there,” he says back, voice surprisingly soft.
“Maybe,” she shrugs. “Maybe you think so, but sometimes…lately, I feel like I hardly know you at all.” Those women, old friends and new, shining acquaintances, have wormed themselves into her brain, taking up residence there and filling thoughts with doubt. She had thought she was special, assigning herself to the role of the keeper of the memory of Gallifrey and the Time Lords, but now she sees that it can be brushed away in one beat of her singular heart.
“Which isn’t true.” She opens her mouth to refute the statement, but the Doctor cuts her off. It doesn’t take much, just a slow blink of his deep brown eyes and the world spins briefly, making her feet curl up and twitch convulsively. “Even after I regenerated you still manage to know things about me that I don’t want to tell anyone. Somehow you manage to drag them out of me kicking and screaming.”
“And that’s a good thing?” There’s a healthy amount of scepticsm in her voice.
“Well it certainly wasn’t planned but I’m not complaining about it.” He hesitates for a moment then holds his hand out to her. “Come here. I want to show you something.”
Rose purses her lips, not sure if she’s ready to follow him so blindly at the moment. She might be willing to have her heart broken for him but she doesn’t want to have to go through it any more than is necessary. The Doctor waggles his fingers at her though, a surprisingly open look on his face, and so she finally reaches out and wraps her hand around his.
He pulls her from the chair and leads her over to the slabs of polished smoke coloured stones. When he’s got her positioned just right, facing him with her back to one of the slabs, he reaches out and brushes the blonde hair off of the back of her neck. The skinny straps of her vest top are pulled down her shoulders to reveal the span of her upper back, but still leaving her modesty protected. And all the while Rose notices that the Doctor’s eyes are never looking at her proper, but rather they’re following his actions in the mirror-like stone. She glances over her shoulder, seeing their slightly blurry and slightly wavy reflections, as if they were being looked at through clouds of smoke or waves of heat, distorting the air all around them. Carefully and deliberately, he runs the pads of his fingers over her upper back and neck, with a pattern of black circles and swirls following after. Rose watches over her shoulder still, seeing the reflection of her back and the Doctor’s intent face.
“Reinette found her way into my head, yes. And it was nice to feel someone like that after being alone up there for so long,” he says softly, eyes still glued to the lattices of ink on her back. This isn’t the most comfortable of positions for her to stand in, upper body twisted about like that, but she daren’t move, waiting with a nervous clench in her stomach to see what he’s going to say next.
“She wasn’t invited though,” he continues, tracing one group of layered circles with the tip of his index finger. “She just sort of…found her own way in there, kind of like she was storming the Bastille.”
“Not exactly the best comparison,” Rose mumbles practically to herself.
“Well, no, but the image works. But these,” the Doctor says, nodding at the mirror, “I guess I rather like thinking of them as a gift in a way. Willingly given and willingly accepted.”
(It is a horribly simple comparison in his mind, because how can something so precious be summed up so shortly? There is something to be said about simple gifts though.)
“I can’t understand them though,” she nearly growls at him. She so wants to look at him now, confront him about this face to face, but she can’t seem to pull her eyes away from their wavy reflection. Instead she twists to see them better in the polished stone, relieving the strain in her neck. “You’ve put all of these words there and you say they mean things, but from here all they look like are pretty designs.”
“I can’t even remember what some of them are,” the Doctor says, a slightly bemused grin on his face. “Half forgotten words that I haven’t had the need to use in ages, and when I say ages it really applies, not just two years back. At this point some of them aren’t more than random gibberish.”
“Great,” Rose sighs, eyes blinking heavily. “So for all I know I could have something that says ‘The Doctor Was Here’ or some really rude word scribbled on my back. Mum’ll love that.” The Doctor’s wince at the mention of Jackie is blatantly obvious, and she has no doubt that her mum wouldn’t take too kindly to what they’ve been doing with this.
“Tell you what then,” the Doctor says, his hand finally coming to rest on her shoulder, “how about I teach you some of it? At least the things that I remember.”
(There’s some things he can’t, won’t tell her either. But it’s for her safety over anything else. Words can be dangerous weapons.)
“Yeah,” Rose says, after a few brief moments of hesitation. “I think I’d like that.” She wonders if he’s ever offered this to anyone else before. There’s a very strong suspicion that he didn’t do anything remotely like that for Reinette.
“Good,” he replies with a quick nod of his head. He’s not quite smiling now, but there’s something in his face that carries over to their odd reflection in the stone. They look as if they’re not solid anymore, but beings that are a loose and wavy collection of particles, bleeding and merging together around the edges. Then, rather suddenly, the look on the Doctor’s face changes. It becomes a bit sharper, as if the hamster’s miraculously come back to life (regenerated into a newer form with fur that sticks out every which way would be more appropriate for the Doctor) and the wheels are spinning in that brain of his again. “Rose?”
“What do you think about another ‘unknown’ word?” he asks, darting away from her and the mirrors before she has a chance to answer. “Where’s the ink?” he mutters, running about the papasan chair, eventually tossing all of the pillows and massive cushion on the floor in his haste, leaving the bare wooden frame upended in the centre of the room.
“Same place as it always is, on the shelf in my room,” Rose points out. Barely acknowledging her response, he runs out of the room, leaving the door swinging behind him. Rose exhales lightly, not knowing what the hell is going on now. She slides the straps of her vest back up, and leans against the glass. For some reason, her mind darts to Mickey – she knows he’s somewhere in the TARDIS, but they’d all gone their separate ways in the aftermath of things. She feels a bit bad for him, being dragged into the middle of their issues.
The Doctor comes skidding back into the room, only stopping to scoop up the stylus from where it had fallen in his previous haste. She straightens up from her slouched position as he comes over to her. His face is calm, fairly expressionless, but rather intent on…something. She’s got no idea what though.
“Right hand, please,” he says, and Rose holds hers out, palm upwards. With an ungraceful thunk of glass meeting skin, he puts the bottle of ink in her palm. “Thank you.” He picks up her other hand and runs a thumb over the back of it, watching as the swirls that represent her name come to the surface. Rose can see his tongue press against the back of his teeth, and she knows he’s thinking very hard about something.
“So you said another unknown word,” Rose says, attempting to shatter the silence that’s becoming a bit oppressive in this crystal room.
“Sort of,” the Doctor says, turning her hand over and uncurling her fingers to reveal her palm. “It’s more of a concept from Gallifrey, doesn’t translate all that well into most humanoid languages.” He swallows roughly, and his eyes flick quickly up towards hers then back down again. “I guess you could say it’s sort of precious though.” He dips the stylus in the ink and starts writing, working from the centre of her palm outwards.
In the long while that they’ve been doing this Rose has never seen a design as complicated as this latest one. It’s small enough to fit comfortably right in the palm of her hand, a mass of spirals and stars circling around each other, drawing the eye deep inside of it, with three small tendrils gliding up her ring finger. She alternates between watching the developing design and the Doctor’s face as he writes, wondering just what’s going through his head right at this moment.
(He’s lied to her.
The Doctor doesn’t quite know why he’s giving her something so dangerous…oh, yes he does; he’s just too cowardly to admit it even to himself. He knows that he shouldn’t be doing this, there are so many reasons why he shouldn’t, and no good reason as to why he should.
The perils of emotions, he supposes. There’s nothing else like them in the universe that can be such a balm on the spirit or cause such rampant destruction. But Rose herself is something unique in the universe, and he wants to give this, this gift to her. He knows exactly what this word is, and it is most certainly not unknown. It’s dangerous, and for her own safety he won’t tell her how to say it, what it really means and implies. Someone could use it against her, and he obviously doesn’t want that. So the word will remain unspoken, and readable only with his eyes, so he can protect himself, and he can protect her.
It’s amazing the power something as simple as a name holds, isn’t it?)
“There,” he says when he’s done writing. He stares at the design cupped in the palm of her hand, rubs his thumb over it briefly. Then, he meets her inquiring gaze head on, curls her fingers to cover the word and lets his own hand wrap around hers. “A gift, freely given.”
“Freely accepted,” Rose nods back, a sudden flush of heat spreading across her upper back. If she leaned back against the slab now, though, it’d destroy the moment.
The Doctor grins slightly at her and squeezes her hand once. “Keep it safe,” he whispers.
(If anyone can keep him safe though, it is most certainly her.)
As he begins to walk out of the room, Rose puts the ink down on the floor and uncurls her fingers to look fully at the word. As she gently traces the details of it, she can almost feel the power emanating off of it. It’s a small sort of shiver that goes up her fingers and down her arms. Whatever this design is, unknown untranslatable concept or not, it’s something important. And something that’s been given only to her.
“Doctor?” she calls out, bringing him to a halt right by the door. As he turns around to face her she recalls that barely minutes ago she thought about it not being the right time. But she takes a deep breath, runs her thumb over her palm once more, and figures that as all powerful as time is, maybe it doesn’t know everything. Without any sort of warning, she walks right over to him and pulls his face to hers, lips meeting with a wet crash.
To her ultimate surprise there’s no hesitation on his part – she’d expected him to hem and haw and give a whole list of reasons as to why they should not be doing this. Instead she’s met with the coolness of his mouth against hers, and pair of arms wrapping around her waist and pulling her flush against his body.
Time seems to slip out the door by that point, because she's lost track of how long they’ve stood there just kissing. Rose pulls back to look at him, taking in the mussed up hair, the slightly dilated eyes, and the lips that have practically gone bee-stung. She wants to say something, and can say in his face that he does as well – the urge to babble is strong with this one. But there’s a certain feeling in the air that’s telling her that words, while important, aren’t everything, and he’s holding himself back as well. Sometimes a touch can be just as important.
The Doctor untangles an arm from her waist and tugs at her left arm. Her hand slips from where it’s taken up residence at the back of his neck, and he catches it as it falls away. He drags a fingertip across the words written on the back of it, over her name, then raises his head to meet her eyes again. All Rose does is stare hard at him, then twists her hand about to grasp the back of his neck again, practically pushing their foreheads together.
Now it’s the Doctor’s turn to spur things into action, walking them backwards until they collapse against the fallen cushions from the chair. It’s a bit lumpy and bumpy, and shifts every time they do, but it’s the last thing Rose is thinking about. The slender body pressing hers back into the pillows is a far more intriguing concern. Soon enough clothes are shed and they’re skin to skin, with hands and mouths daring to go everywhere, and legs tightly intertwined.
His fingers hit a certain spot somewhere by Rose’s hip, and she breathes heavily against his ear, making him groan against the sweat-slicked sweat of her breastbone. With a mighty effort he pulls back to stare at her. As he continues to stroke a soft patch of skin at her hip, his eyes roam over her upper body.
“What?” she manages to gasp out, her back coming away from the pillows as she arches upward, pushing herself further against him.
“Look,” he breathes, using his unoccupied hand to awkwardly bring Rose’s left arm up across her chest. Unable to ignore the tone in his voice, she keeps her bleary eyes on her arm. As she feels the Doctor trace a line going over her hips and right across her lower abdomen, the black ink marks that go up her arm suddenly flicker into existence and flash about like a strobe light, going in and out with the touch of his fingertips below.
“Oh,” she breathes shallowly. It’s taken her a long while to build up her control of the ink, to make sure that it appears and fades at her whim; it’s been ages since her emotions affected the appearance of the writing. The Doctor can always bring it out with his touch as well, but he’s always had to have his fingers directly over the ink. This…this was something new. But they could experiment next time. Right now… A quick flex of Rose’s hips throws him off balance and sends him crashing on top of her. He doesn’t appear to be complaining though, the smirk on his face is saying something entirely different.
Beyond this point things descend into pure sensation, of the Doctor’s only slightly cooler skin slip-sliding along her damp and heated skin, of fingers that wander all over, mapping out heretofore unknown territory, and of wet mouths and tongues that manage to dance with each other. When he finally slides inside her she gasps sharply in his ear, and her blunt nails reflexively jerk against his back. Through hazy eyes she blinks up at the ceiling above them, seeing flashes of skin and movement glimmering in the multitude of crystals up there. It’s one of the last coherent thoughts she has, because after that everything seems to be aflame and her blood’s practically singing. Now all she can do is take hold of the gasping and writhing body of the Doctor above her and fall with him right over the edge.
In the aftermath they’re both splayed out across the large cushion still trying to catch their breath. Rose can still feel sparks racing across her skin but she’s so at ease right now that it is a truly amazing feeling. She suspects the Doctor is feeling the same given the sated, peaceful look across his face as he lies barely a foot away from her. Her eyes move down to his skinny, heaving chest, when something there catches her eye.
Rose leans in close, seeing a lurid purple bruise spreading across his shoulder. She’s got no clue when she did that, but she hadn’t heard noises of complaint coming from him at any times. The noises she did hear were far different and much better, at least in her opinion. She traces the edge of the circular bruise, knowing that it is the exact shape of the imprint of her lips. This time it was her turn to mark him, apparently. It’s not with ink and not as permanent, but it’s just as intimate. A fit of possession, maybe. When she hits a bit of the bruise that’s a little sorer than the rest the Doctor hisses briefly and his eyes flicker open, turning his head to look at her.
‘Oops,’ she mouths even though the wicked grin on her face isn’t exactly a sign of contriteness.
The Doctor just rolls his eyes and grins back, picking up her nearest hand and bringing it quickly to his lips. With his other hand he reaches off the cushion, attempting to find just where his trousers landed. Eventually he finds them and with a satisfied grunt he produces the sonic screwdriver. He aims it at the ceiling and the lights go out, leaving only a soft glow from some of the more luminescent crystals. “So we’re good?” she murmurs as she nestles her head against his upper arm, repeating his words from earlier.
The arm wraps itself around her shoulders, and she can feel his body twist against hers. They’re tangled up together again, and it just seems right. He presses a kiss against her forehead, and she feels his lips smile against her skin. “We’re good,” he grins. She nods into his shoulder and tries to smile back, but it gets lost in a sudden yawn. “Get some sleep, Rose,” the Doctor says, making her nod into him again. Sleep is coming on strong and fast, and his next words get lost in the hazy world between awareness and dreams. “I’ll be here when you wake up…”
Sure enough, he is.