rynne: (ten/rose kiss)
[personal profile] rynne
Title: Evenstar
Author: Rynne
Rating: PG
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Those Who Wander
Summary: Our heroes are back in the TARDIS again, but now they have to figure out where to go from here. Rose, at least, has something of an idea of how to begin. Ten I/Rose, background Ten II/Rose.
Notes: Takes place after With a Little Help from My Friends, which really should be read first. There will be more in this series, which will progress to Ten I/Rose/Ten II, but we're not quite there yet. This fic was partly inspired by watching Return of the King. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] shinyopals for betaing, Britpicking, and listening to me ramble. :D


The night of the day that everything changed felt a bit like things hadn't changed at all.

It was awkward, in the beginning, as beginnings often were. The Doctor took Rose and his duplicate back to the TARDIS, where Donna was waiting for them--huh, he never had taken back her key, had he? Bit sloppy of him, but it seemed to have worked out all right.

He stuck his hands in his pockets and leaned against the console. Donna was smirking at him, and Rose and his duplicate...were standing very close together. Practically in each other's shadows, they were. Did they have no concept of personal space?

He tried to put that out of his mind, instead looking at...at... "This is probably the strangest set of demographics that's ever travelled with me," he observed. "And that's saying something."

His double chuckled. "Some novel configurations, yeah," he agreed. "Two humans, two Time Lords..."

"Three Time Lord minds," Donna added.

"Three semi-immortals," Rose said.

"Three human bodies," Donna continued.

"One clone," the Doctor said, staring at his duplicate, who just grinned back at him irrepressibly.

"All in just four people!" the other Doctor concluded, sounding gleeful. "Hah! How interesting is this?"

"That's one way of putting it." The Doctor eyed his double, trying not to huff. It was certainly far from the first time he'd had to deal with other versions of himself, but those alliances had never lasted beyond particular crises. Had never needed to last.

How was he going to handle another him sticking around for the foreseeable future?

"Right," Donna announced suddenly. She snagged his double by the arm and tugged him toward her, pushing Rose toward the Doctor in the same motion. "This one and I are going to fly this box. I'm in the mood for the best ice cream in three galaxies, and I know just where to go. Rose, why don't you and him go talk for a bit?"

To have Rose to himself for a while--oh, he wanted that. He wanted to talk to Donna too, but he needed to spend time with his Rose again. Just Rose.

Rose held out her hand for the Doctor, who took it and twined their fingers together almost without thinking. Over her head, his eyes met those of his duplicate, and his fingers in Rose's tightened, a fierce possessiveness rising in him. He felt he was almost daring the other Doctor to object.

But his duplicate just smiled, and when he spoke, his voice held no trace of resentment. "It's been entirely too long since I flew the TARDIS," he said. "And it's been even longer since you didn't have to."

"And this time I can fly it without you hovering over me like I was gonna trash the Vortex," Donna added. "I know what I'm doing now, so shoo."

"You hear that, Rose?" he said, turning to face her, feeling one corner of his mouth lift. "I'm being shooed away from flying my own ship."

"Probably a good experience for you," she replied, her eyes laughing. She took a few steps towards the interior of the TARDIS, and he followed automatically, his hand still clasped in hers. Just before they left the console room, she looked back over her shoulder, beyond him, and winked.

Behind him he heard Donna's laughter, and he could just imagine the smirk his duplicate would be wearing. He didn't turn to look, though; instead, he caught up to Rose so that they were walking side by side. His hearts were starting to pound, and he felt the beginnings of butterflies in his stomach.

Butterflies! At his age!

He thought about Rose's wink, about what it could mean. About what part of him desperately wanted it to mean.

Years of holding onto his fraying control, control born of fear and despair and the hard ache of persistent loneliness--years of holding back what he wanted and what he knew she wanted as well--years of frustration with himself over his inability to modulate his emotions and desires when he should never have let his equilibrium be rocked as thoroughly as she did--

The threads snapped, and he couldn't hold back any longer. He didn't want to.

In the space of a blink, he'd bundled Rose against the wall, his body pressed flush against hers, his mouth coming down on hers like he needed her kiss to survive. Sometimes he was sure that he did.

She responded immediately, fiercely, with no evidence of surprise. The Doctor wondered if she'd been expecting this, or if his duplicate kissed her this way, if his duplicate couldn't walk down a hallway with her without needing her so much he couldn't go another step without kissing her. Had she got used to this sort of behaviour?

He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to that.

But that didn't matter right now. What mattered was the heat of her body against his, the strength of her lips on his mouth and her tongue around his, the smooth silk of her hair tangled in his fingers. His eyes wanted to close, but he kept them open, locked on her face, on the minute changes in her expression as she kissed him. Her own eyes were closed as if she was concentrating, focusing on nothing but kissing him. He still had one of her hands clasped in his, but her free hand dove into his hair, stroking it with a gentleness at odds with the ferocity of her kiss.

The dichotomy made him shiver and press closer. Rose moaned, and the sound reverberated through him. He did that to her! Him!

He needed to do it again.

But then she dragged her mouth away from his, tipping her head back against the wall and breathing heavily. He could feel the movements of her chest against his as she gulped in air, and he decided that her needing to breathe was all very well, but he had to taste more of her. He trailed his lips across her jaw and down her throat, lapping up the salty humanness of her skin and licking at her pulse point, exulting in the rapid beat against his tongue.

Her hand in his hair pulled him up and back, and when his brain started working properly again, he was torn between reluctance and relief. Mostly reluctance, but some relief. He wanted to keep going--so much it was ridiculous, really--but he was sort of glad she stopped him. This wasn't the right place for that, and he wasn't sure it was the right time, either. Not when they hadn't even had a chance to really talk, away from audiences and emergencies.

This was...this was the first time he'd been alone with her since that last visit to her mother, years ago. He wasn't going to screw it up by acting like an ape with no self-control.

"Sorry," he said, stepping back. "I'd wanted to talk to you before getting into that."

She shot him a mischievous look. Her eyes were still dark. Oh, that wasn't fair. "Wasn't complaining," she said, humour evident in her voice. "But yeah, I wanted to talk to you too. Well, still. Come on."

Her hand was still in his--they hadn't let go of each other's hands. He walked with her, his gaze alternating between watching their hands, watching her face, and watching where they were going. It had been so long since he'd seen her that part of him still ached from the time apart, even with her warm hand in his and her taste on his lips and the unique scent of her swirling around him. He couldn't help feeling as if something was going to run by and snatch her away from him. Even in the TARDIS.

Maybe there was going to be another invasion of Sontarans in his ship. Or Cybermen. Or something else he'd never even heard of whose only purpose was to keep Rose away from him. His hand tightened on hers, and her thumb started stroking the back of it.

Possibly he was going a bit overboard.

Her fingers flexed within his, and he loosened his grasp with a muttered apology. "You worry too much," she said, glancing at him and meeting his eyes when he looked at her. "Look at me--I'm right here. Nothing has ever been able to permanently separate me from you, and nothing ever will. Promise."

"Now you're going to jinx it," he complained. He remembered all the promises he'd made, and subsequently been forced to break. He'd go insane if this ended up being one of those.

"Hey." She stopped him, turning to face him and putting a hand on his cheek. He couldn't help leaning into it, and she smiled. "There are some promises I shouldn't make, I know. I shouldn't promise to always agree with you, f'r instance. Or to eat your version of shepherd's pie, because that's just not edible, I'm sorry. But this promise I can make to you, and I will. Doctor, I will always find my way back to you."

He wasn't going to kiss her again. If he did, he wouldn't be able to stop himself. But he had to touch her, had to raise his hand to brush across her cheek and into her hair, feeling the warm, smooth solidity of her. He wanted to be able to offer her as much as she gave him, but he couldn't. All he could give her was time, space, and himself.

"Thank you," he said. It felt inadequate even as he said it, but he couldn't think of anything else to say.

"Any time," she said, as his hand dropped back to his side.

He chuckled. "So were we going anywhere in particular?" he asked.

"Thought we might watch a film," she surprised him by saying. "Been a long time since we had TARDIS movie night, huh? I thought it'd be nice."

Well, yes, it had been. And movie night had been a comfortable tradition, in more ways than one--cuddling up together and just enjoying each other's company. He'd missed it, the way she'd snuggled under blankets with him and rested her feet on his shins, the way she'd kept commenting on the film and spurring him into conversation, how enthused she'd been with his library of films from her future.

He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but this sounded just right. He could spend a few hours with her cuddled against him, chat with her, remind himself that no matter how things had changed since he'd lost her, they were still them.

"Sounds perfect," he said, smiling at her. "Did you have anything in mind? Oh! I could show you this film from the twenty-fifth century, about these two siblings who go on a road trip, so to speak, through your solar system, and they--"

Her finger pressed against his lip, silencing him. He swallowed the rest of his words and raised an eyebrow at her, resisting the urge to pull the finger into his mouth.

"I did have a film in mind, actually," she said. Something glinted in her eyes, but he blinked and it was gone before he could identify it. "Come on."

So he followed her to the media room, with its big squishy sofa and fluffy pillows and piles of blankets, the television and the DP player from the twenty-third century. He settled on the sofa while she perused his collection, then selected one and inserted its drive into the player's port without letting him see the title. Well, this was intriguing.

By the time the film's title menu popped up on the screen, Rose was curled under the blanket on the sofa with him. On his lap. This was new, but he wasn't about to complain.

A stray thought streaked through his mind, wondering if she'd watched films like this with the other Doctor. But he pushed the thought away, deciding that it didn't matter. She was here with him now.

When the menu appeared, he blinked in surprise. "Return of the King?" he asked the top of Rose's head.

She tilted her head back to look up at him, utterly adorable. "Epic battle against evil. Happy ending, just a bit bittersweet. What's not to love?"

"Do you realise how many films there are that fit that description, even in your time?" He shook his head at her. "Why this one?"

"Because." She nuzzled her forehead against his neck. "D'you mind?"

"Well, no. I do love this film, though not quite as much as the books. Tolkien--there was a genius, Rose. Brilliant storyteller and world-builder, just as good with poetry as he was with prose, able to create entire new languages--which, mind you, is harder than you might think. Sheer genius."

Rose giggled. "Never read the books," she admitted. "I started to, after the films came out, but they were too dense. Kept getting bogged down and losing interest. I do like the films, though." And with that, she hit 'play'.

"You should read the books," the Doctor continued, watching the opening scenes and wrapping an arm around Rose. "The language is a bit dense, yes, but it's very elegant when you get used to it."

"Hmm. Maybe," Rose replied.

His fingers tapped her arm. "Hey, I know that tone. You say 'maybe', but you mean 'I'm going to placate you with the possibility but I'm not really that interested'."

"You caught me," she said. He could hear her amusement. "I've tried, like I said. Some things I guess you just never get into."

"You just haven't met the right approach," he said. Then he had an idea. One he rather liked, if she agreed. "Why don't I read them to you?"

She tilted her head back again and blinked at him. After a moment, she smiled, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "I like that idea, Doctor," she said, and turned her head to brush a kiss against his neck. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it," he said, even as his hearts thumped at the casual kiss.

"Hmmm. Also Viggo Mortensen," Rose said, when Aragorn first appeared on the screen. "That right there, another reason to love this film."

"Viggo Mortensen?" His voice practically screeched, and he winced. He made sure his voice wasn't doing anything funny when he repeated, "Viggo Mortensen?"

She giggled. "He's scruffy and rugged and sexy."

"And grungy and greasy and dirty, and really needs a bath."

"I think he's doing pretty good for a bloke trying to fight a war."

"I think he could still find the time to take a bath."

She giggled again, and he huffed. Viggo Mortensen, indeed...

She grew silent as the film went on, and he stayed quiet as well, part of his attention on the action and part of it on his own thoughts. Rose had always been affectionate with him. He'd appreciated that so much, his last body, having this lovely girl so willing to touch him, to prove he wasn't alone, that he was still worthy of being touched with friendship's hand. Even when she learned more of him, saw his darkness with a Dalek and his anger about her father, his jealousy when faced with Mickey and Adam and Jack--even then, she was still so willing to touch him.

And now here she was, curled on his lap, having kissed him both casually and passionately. Was this just a natural progression of what she had offered him before they'd lost each other? Would their relationship have so easily shifted into this if Canary Wharf had never happened? It had been too long since he'd been in a romantic relationship--he couldn't quite tell what was natural and what was not.

Did he owe this state of affairs to his duplicate?

He was not an idiot. Rose and the other Doctor--they were in a sexual relationship. They had to be. Donna had said earlier that it had been several months in the other universe, and if he'd been in his double's place, he couldn't imagine waiting months to consummate their relationship. Especially not with any measure of the human hormones that would surely come with a part-human's body.

Was Rose acting like this with him because she could act like this with his duplicate? How did she think of them, her two Doctors? Did she conflate them in her mind, or were they distinctive? It suddenly mattered to him very much, that she think of them as two people. Both her Doctor, but still two separate Doctors. He didn't want her to give him anything only because she gave it to his double. Anything she wanted to give, he wanted it to be because of him, alone.

"Stop it," she murmured, startling him out of his thoughts. She nuzzled closer to him, and he shifted his arm a bit to settle into a more comfortable position against her. "I can practically hear you thinking and worrying. You don't need to."

"You don't even know what I'm thinking about," he said, startled.

"Doesn't matter," she replied. "We'll work it out, whatever it is."

"Will we?" he said, barely above a whisper.

He'd meant it rhetorically, had not even truly meant her to hear it, but she said, "Yes. You know how stubborn I am, and I know how stubborn you are. Whatever you worry about, now or in the future, we'll work it out, all right?"

"Yeah," he said. He pressed a kiss into her hair and tightened his arm around her. "Yeah, we will."

He was probably making a mountain out of a molehill anyway. Rose was right; any issues that came up, they'd work out, just as they always did. And besides, it was just as likely that this was a natural progression. He was probably only getting confused because they'd been apart for so long. If Rose felt so comfortable kissing him, it was probably because of the kisses he'd already given her, at the reception hall and in the corridor. He'd made it pretty obvious he'd welcome her kisses in return, after all.

And if she was somewhat more comfortable with him now because of her relationship with his duplicate, well...did it matter? He could just enjoy it.

He returned more of his attention to the film, determined not to worry any longer. He'd been given a gift, with Rose and Donna back and another Time Lord in his head, even if that other Time Lord was himself. Donna and the other Doctor spending this time together gave him time alone with Rose, and later he could spend time with Donna as well, let the other Doctor have Rose to himself again for a while. They could make this work. They could.

Hopefully.

When they got to the mustering of the Rohirrim, Rose said, "I love Éowyn. She has as much reason to fight as anyone else, and she won't be left behind. And if she had been left behind, the leader of the Nazgûl would still be alive and then things might have turned out so differently."

"Very true," he agreed. "Éowyn's a very strong character."

They went back to watching the film, and this time he divided his attention between the action on screen and the woman in his lap. She was so warm, her back against his chest and her comforting weight on his legs. Her hair glinted different colours in the light coming from the screen, the way it had done before he'd lost her, but just a bit differently, since her hair was a slightly different shade. She was still wearing the dress from Martha's wedding, a lovely flowing red thing that she apparently didn't mind getting wrinkled (though of course the TARDIS would get rid of those for her later, so it didn't really matter).

He inhaled deeply. Her fragrance was almost the same as it had been before. There was the slightest tang of something other, which might have been the legacy of her time in the other universe, but for the most part, she still smelled the same as she had before he'd lost her. His Rose, with the same name but new experiences, still smelled as sweet.

"Oh, I haven't seen this scene before," Rose commented when they reached a scene from the extended version, with Merry talking to Éowyn. "But that's so perfect. All Merry wants is to be with his friends. I love that."

"The various friendships in this trilogy are some of my favorite things about it," the Doctor said, brushing his chin against her hair. "The hobbits in particular. They're just so honest about everything, and it seems to be so easy for them."

Rose nodded against him. "Frodo and Sam always get to me," she said, "especially in the end, on the mountain, when Frodo appreciates having Sam there, even if it's the end for them. And how Sam never even considered leaving Frodo behind, even once he figured they wouldn't be coming back."

The Doctor eyed her. Was this a random observation, or not? Especially given her earlier comment about Éowyn... "Even when Frodo would rather Sam were safe?" he asked. "Like when he split off from the rest of the fellowship, and tried to leave Sam behind as well?"

"It's all well and good for Frodo to want his friends to be safe, but his friends want him to be safe as well," she pointed out. "If it's more important to Sam to be with Frodo than to be safe, then why shouldn't what he wants get taken into account? Why can't he make his own decisions about what he does?"

He sighed, very tired of this argument, after the day he'd had. "I get the point, Rose," he said. "You don't need to keep telling me. Is there anything else you want to say about the film?"

"Yeah," she replied. "I like Arwen."

Well, that was a bit of a tangent. "Arwen? Why? She doesn't really do much in the end, besides get married to Aragorn."

"Just do," she said.

She turned her attention back to the screen and didn't explain further. They watched the rest of the film with Rose only making a few more comments on things she liked and didn't like, none of which seemed to be more of the real-life parallels she talked about earlier. At the end, when Frodo sailed away, she sniffled, and he held her closer. That ending did rather get him, too.

He turned the film and the television off without getting up, not yet ready to move away. He felt like they were in a bubble, in this room, under these blankets, and leaving would break it. He didn't want to face his duplicate yet, and the other's claim on Rose. He wanted to keep her right here, with him. She didn't seem inclined to move very far either, for which he was glad. She shifted on his lap until she could tuck her head into the space between his neck and shoulder, and he turned slightly to kiss her forehead before tucking her closer.

"You want to tell me about Arwen now?" he asked, and felt her forehead move against him as she nodded.

"Planned this out," she said. "I had a lot of time to think about it, you know? I know you haven't said anything yet, but I thought I could just get it over with as soon as possible."

"You want to make sense now?" he said, feeling like he was getting an idea of what she meant. But she said she'd planned this, so he would hear her out. Maybe her plan for this discussion was even the reason behind her wink at Donna and the other Doctor earlier.

She took a deep breath, then said, "I am Arwen. Well, you know, so to speak. I went the opposite direction, but it was the same choice, really."

Ah. He'd thought this might be it. "I never wanted you to change," he said. "I didn't want to watch you grow old and die, but I would never have changed you to make it so you didn't. You're human, Rose. So very human. Part of being human is being mortal, being so aware of your own mortality. It's who you are, and I don't want you to turn into something different."

"I know," she said earnestly. "I do know, so much. I feel the same, for you. If I hadn't been like this, and if the other Doctor couldn't regenerate, I would have made a life with him in the other universe, and I would have been happy. But I would have been dealing with the hand I was given, cos Doctor, I never wanted you changed either. You are who you are because you're a Time Lord, long lifespan an' all. That's all I wanted you to be. As much as you didn't want me changed, I didn't want you changed either."

"But I will change," he reminded her. "You'll still be around next time I regenerate. That's change."

"Exactly!" she said, and squirmed against him to tap her finger against his chest. "See, that's my point. What matters isn't the change itself, but the kind of change. Like you said, Doctor, I'm human. Maybe now I'm gonna live a lot longer than I would have otherwise, but who I am because I'm human, that's not gonna change. I won't let it. An' the other changes, the kind that people naturally make as they live their lives, those are the changes I want. Regeneration, that's natural for you, an' part of who you are."

"What does this have to do with Arwen?" he asked, the first thing that popped into his mind. There were better questions he probably could have asked, he thought, but he hadn't been prepared to have this conversation so soon. His mind was alternatively working too fast and going blank.

She laughed. "She was mostly a way to introduce my point," Rose admitted. "An' watching this film was a good excuse to cuddle with you for a few hours. But we are pretty similar, I think. We both gave up our families and the inheritance of our species for love. And it's like she told her father, Doctor--she said there's death, but there's also life. It's change, and it makes things different, but it's change into the person she wants to be."

"Giving up the inheritance of your species, as you put it?" he asked. "That's what you want?"

"Not that specifically," she corrected. "But the person I am when I'm with you--that's what I want. Knowing you changed me, Doctor, an' because I know you, I'm who I want to be. As long as we're together, I'm fine with any changes I go through, because I'll be with you, and I don't think I could become a person I don't like when I'm with you."

"You..." He swallowed. "Really?"

This was more than just 'I love you', which he'd already known, had known even before she'd told him on that horrible beach. But never before had he been so important to anyone that he was part of who they were and who they wanted to be.

She pulled her head away from his neck and looked at him, reaching up and placing a hand on his cheek. "Yes," she said simply.

He closed his eyes and held onto her, just breathing. And he'd let her go! Three times he'd let her go, and three times she'd come back to him. Each time it had been wrenching, almost like an amputation, but now he knew he could never let her go again. He wanted her with him, this astounding person who put him first. He wanted her for himself, and because, for her, he became a better man. He'd known that before, and had been willing to let her do that for his duplicate if it would keep her safe and happy, but now...he just could not let her go again. He could even learn to share, he thought. If keeping her meant putting up with her and his double, then he would do that. He'd been dubious before, but now he was determined.

"I'm going to try," he told her. Promised her. Whether it was learning to share or dealing with any other issues that decided to come up to plague his life, he was going to work as hard as he needed to to keep this new amazing life going. This was not a promise he was going to let a cruel universe make him break.

"Good," she said, moving her hand over his face, into his hair. She tugged him forward to kiss her, and he went willingly, trying to give her all the tenderness and love and amazement he was feeling. When she pulled back with her most gorgeous smile on her face, he thought she got the idea.

"So, Arwen, huh?" he whispered, feeling happy and mischievous. "Should I call you my Evenstar, then?"

She wrinkled her nose. "Dunno," she said. "It's very pretty, but doesn't seem very me."

"Oh, I don't know," he said, the mischief passing and a deep tenderness overtaking him once again. "A light in the darkness, sounds pretty apt to me."

She stared at him for a long moment, then blinked, and started chuckling. "Doctor, I didn't know you had it in you," she teased. She broke the moment, but in her eyes he could see her appreciation. "Have you been reading Donna's romance novels?"

It was his turn to stare at her, this time in horror. "Donna reads romance novels?"

She grinned at him, wide and bright. She leaned forward and gave him a glancing kiss, but pulled away and stood up before he could really enjoy it. "Ask her and see!"

"Oh no," he retorted, standing as well and stretching after being seated for so long. "I am not going to touch that subject. I know better than that."

"Look at that, he can learn," she said, almost cooing. He stalked forward and lunged at her, his hands outstretched for tickling, but she evaded him, still grinning. "Come on, you," she said. "Let's go get some ice cream."

Date: 2009-02-25 10:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nagini16.livejournal.com
awww how sweet :)

Date: 2009-03-02 05:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynne.livejournal.com
Thanks!

Date: 2009-02-25 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunfall-e.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed this. I loved the films, and the books. I think it is wonderful that Rose is using the film to make her point, and maybe now the Doctor will stop trying to push her away. Good story.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynne.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it, and that you appreciated my use of LotR. :)

awwww

Date: 2009-02-25 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanb03.livejournal.com
absolutely adorable!

Re: awwww

Date: 2009-03-02 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynne.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2009-03-02 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynne.livejournal.com
Thanks!

Date: 2009-02-27 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyaaaaaauuuuuuu.livejournal.com
Ooh, I really love this. The concept and how deftly you're handling. Can't wait to read more. ;)

Date: 2009-03-02 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynne.livejournal.com
Thank you! Hopefully I'll be able to get more in this series soon. :)

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