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Picked up a stray

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“I don’t want to go”, he says, turning away after one last look at a room filled with the most fleeting hope he’s felt in Rassilon knows how long. One step in and he knows it’ll start slipping, little by little, fire and ice and rage coming back like waves swallowing a shore at night. Not like it wasn’t worth it.

The smirk defies the sure-to-come passing as he closes the door behind him, legs nevertheless becoming heavier with each step forward. The TARDIS purrs and his hands fly all over and around the console, set to just away from this gallery, somewhere other where he can forget with no worry.

That is, of course, if there weren’t another presence inside the very room.

The Doctor turns, eyes weary, scanning the corals, the stairs, the air. Concern grows out of his chest and he takes a step away from the console, hands quickly tucked into his pockets merely to prove a point of how calm he was being with the distinctly unexpected situation. Could a Zygon have sneaked in while they were enjoying the taste of victory? Could it be clever enough to pretend to be something inside the TARDIS? His walking takes him back to the stairs and he stops, breathing low, ears open wide. His senses would surely catch the intruder.

“I saw”, she says, sitting on the railings, somewhat of a curve drawn with her lips. “Fairly recent for you, it was. It’s all still there…” her eyes flicker, her words ever so slow. "I believe in her… and you’re pretending they’re already scars…“

This man is most interesting, the Moment reckons. A soul so ancient that his memories go further than a few lifetimes back, before the name of the Doctor. While her borrowed figure remains just as invisible, just as nonexistent, her eyes clearly do the effort to see through him more than she already can; his are drifting around the TARDIS door, ready to hunt down the intruder.

Her lips purse and eyebrows tighten when she realizes she’s imparting judgement upon herself, for a change. "Question is, why am I spending my last moments with you? Why’s there, in twelve hundred years…”, her head tilts. “So much of a feeling clinging to the memory of this one human? Why’s it drawing me to you…?”

Now she’s in front of him and her hand traces the contours of his jaw without touching him, eyes just as curious, digging, memorizing. “It’s almost addictive. Like a moth to a lantern.”

The barn is being washed away. Tears; a big, red button; two bluest blues; and… Her hand stops right next to his chin, as if she were holding it in place. “What is it with you, Doctor?”

The Moment knows no answer will come before she’s sucked from the remainings of their consciousness and then it’s right back into the box, in the await of another foolish madman who’d attempt to toy with fate and blood-tainted hands. So she lingers in his old eyes as they still probe the walls of his beloved ship, swimming before the tide becomes hungry. Like the wolf, she giggles.

Only the giggles give her away and the very eyes she’s watching stop prancing around and stare into hers right back. Shock hitches her breath as this madman manages the impossible. Caught in just one go, they’re locked and she cannot look away. “What are you?”, she says, barriers between the consciousness being just as shaken and in turn being consumed by another, maybe even more dangerous mixture of seas; hot and cold, salty and sweet, bitter and yet relieving.

Gallifrey Falls; No More; software; a countdown. No verbal response comes but the Doctor’s hand rises and blindly finds its way to her wrist, hovering around it just like her frozen hand. She feels it but she can’t turn to see, the prey fallen into the hunter’s reach.

“I know you’re there”, he finally proclaims, as if her astonishment couldn’t grow any more. He can’t quite see her, then – there’s no hesitation in his eyes, but his sentence only means he’s not certain. He managed to find her, though, somehow, and that took a powerful pang out of her.

“Bad Wolf girl, younger me said– I’ve picked up a stray. Never answered my question, him. Too busy saving 2.47 billion children plus some incompetent, poorly-dressed cretins at the time,” the Doctor shrugs very slightly and wrinkles his nose, but his eyes stay fixed into hers. "Then again, I never have the time to do these things…“ Two minutes, a supernova. Not like this, not with this daft old face. "And I’m running out now, again.”

Nobody moves, nobody even blinks. The fez; the sonics; a first; where did the horse come from?

“I’m not your Rose”, she mutters, knowing he couldn’t possibly hear her, yet wanting him to– but, why? Why did she want to be heard? Why did she want to lie? There’s a sparkle in his eyes, and she’s feeling one in her own as a reply that the other sea is controlling beyond her grasp.

“Oh, but you are”, his voice is barely above a whisper, but so low that her feet tremble. Is she scared? Is she craving? What was this carefully concealed passion and why was it bursting out now? Why couldn’t she see it before picking this projection? How was this human’s bank slipping through the paradox cracks into her? Or was it a design, an evolution of her consciousness? The Doctor leans towards her and the questions fade. “‘Cos you said forever.”

His nose grazes her cheek and she doesn’t know why she’s closing her eyes. He’s kissing her. Gratitude, so much of it. A bit of a stone, but also a cold beach, mannequins and the destruction of one sun upon something once green. The same whirling ocean begs her to breathe, only if to make the sentiment radiate from his lips for a bit longer.

Now, forget me, Rose Tyler. His hand lets go of hers and his warmth fades. She fades. Moment has passed.

The Doctor falls on one foot in the middle of the stairs. Same hand floating around nothing flies to the back of his neck as it to help scratch the confusion out of his brain. He looks around, turning, but everything is where it’s supposed to be.

“Was I… sleepwalking again?” Not like he could do much about it, because sleeping certainly wasn’t a choice. Hadn’t been for a while he’d lost count on, on purpose.

Doesn’t seem to help much, anyway, so back to the screen it is, to check where he’d ran off to this time. He wouldn’t just sit and wait for another knock.