The garment that the TARDIS had gifted to her for this outing was as far opposite of the spectrum of what she’d normally wear by … well … by an entire galaxy, she reckoned. It started as a long-sleeved, straight cream-coloured tunic that dropped down as far as her ankles. There were a pair of drawstrings at the waist, and when she pulled at them, both sides of the tunic gathered and lifted as high as her knees. The material wasn’t exactly thick and cumbersome, although it did look as though it should be, and so after the sides had been pulled up, the front and back of it draped down with a soft arch. Over her bosom, the tied the laces of a brilliant-crimson leather-style vest. It hugged and curved her bosom in the same way a corset might, but in a manner that actually allowed her to breathe comfortably. The soft fabric of the tunic gathered neatly above the stop of the vest to maintain her dignity. The TARDIS had opted to accessorise the outfit with a soft pair of dark-brown leather boots that rode up to Rose’s calves and laced daintily down the front with cream coloured laces that matched the colour of her tunic.
Throwing her hair up in a messy bun, Rose took a moment to take in her reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirror the TARDIS had put in her room. She wasn’t a complete fan of the look – it was far too 19th century for her liking – but it would do. She snatched a pair of sunglasses from the dresser and skipped through the corridors of the TARDIS eager to see where the Doctor intended on taking them for lunch.
When she skipped out of the ship and into the bright sunlight, Rose lifted her forearm to shield her eyes. She flicked open her glasses with the other hand and quickly shifted them onto her nose. As she fought her eyes to accept the brightness shadow fell across her face. She blinked for clarity and wound up faze to nuzzle with a rather large animal that snorted impatiently in her face.
She yelped and took a jump back. “Doctor!”
“Right here, Rose,” he cut in jovially. “I see you’ve met Sangorosangrass…”
“San-what?” she asked incredulously as she finally cleared her vision to look around the nose of the animal. She heard the Doctor repeat the name with a mild amount of annoyance in his voice, but basically ignored him to take in the creature before her. It was very much like a horse, with a long strong nose, muscular long and lean legs that tapered down to hooves. It’s mane was brilliant and translucent in the bright sunshine. In the middle of it’s forehead was a long and tapered horn that shimmered different colours as it shook it’s head and snorted with impatience.
“Oh my God,” she breathed out in awe. “It. It’s a Unicorn!”
“Well, actually, the species is Tillogrippul,” the Doctor corrected as he appeared at her side, two sets of reins in his hand. He petted at the nose of the beast and rolled a series of different sounds from his mouth. The beast nodded and slowly took a four-legged stride backward. “They’re native to the Kssterboreon nebulas, not to Gallifrey, per se. Although, since their introduction, they’ve become part of the landscape here on Lung, and along the Cadonflood River.: He petted the (A/N: I’m calling it a Unicorn from herein) Unicorn’s thick neck. “They’ve adapted quote well to our climate, and to the time energies of Gallifrey.” HE rubbed his chin. "Didn't do so well on Earth, though..."
“They’re beau’iful,” Rose breathed in awe as she lifted her hand to try and touch the horn.
The Doctor quickly snatched her wrist. “No!” he yelped. “Don’t touch that!. For the sake of us both, please don’t touch.”
Rose quickly snapped her hand back out of his hold and held it against her chest. Her voice was worried. “What? Why?”
His face creased with discomfort. “That horn. Well.” He rubbed at the back of his head. “It’s very much an … ehm … a phallic appendage.”
Rose’s eyes blew wide. “You mean that - that’s its .. you know?” She circled her finger downward in a gesture toward his groin.
The Doctor took a moment to try and understand what she was indicating. When he understood he actually shifted his hips backward and dropped a hand in front as though covering nakedness. “Well! Oh. Yes, I mean: No!.” He cleared his throat. “I mean. What I mean to say is that it does serve the function of acting as a hypersensitive pleasure centre, but it’s not his – ehm – reproductive organ.” He pointed toward the beast’s groin. “Which is located where you would expect it to be.”
Rose’s brows were still high, her eyes still wide. “You mean he has two of them?” She chuckled and shook her head. “Don’t tell the blokes back home that, they’d be horribly jealous.”
He sniffed indignantly at the thought. “They can barely control the one of them,” he groused. “They’d cease to function if they had another. And no, Rose. They only have the one true sexual appendage – which is located underneath the animal. The horn is more of a telepathic receptor … which serves more of a … pleasurable function than anything else.”
“Okay, so one’s for a quick bit of slap and tickle, the other for..”
“Can we please cease the discussion on this topic,” he finally bellowed out, discomfort contorting his features. “Whether or not a Tillogrippul engages in slap and tickle or reproductive mating is highly irrelevant and really uncomfortable to talk about.” He handed Rose a rein. “Now if you will, please mount your steed so we can be off.”
Rose’s face contorted somewhat as she held in her laughter at was a really, truly, juvenile interpretation of his words. Oh, but she had some lines of retort and rebuttal that were just sheer majesty. As her mind waded through each and every one of them, she found herself spitting out a laugh to violently that the Doctor had to wipe his cheek of spittle.
“If you think I don’t know what you’re thinking…,” he droned sardonically.
“Oh. Oh,” she managed in between laughs. She clutched at her belly to try and settle herself a little. “You really don’t wanna know what I’m thinking.”
“I was your age once, you know,” he sniffed back as he kicked his leg and deftly mounted the back of the animal. “I’m fully aware of the myriad of meanings of the word mount, and just where the mind of an adolescent heads on hearing that word.” He gestured toward her animal with a jut of his chin. “Now please. If you will.”
Rose shrugged and rather awkwardly hooked her foot into a small leather loop that hung down from a matching leather mat that had been corseted around the beast’s belly. There was no saddle, and therefore no saddle horn for her to hold to leverage herself up, So Rose found herself having to apologise for grabbing a handful of iridescent mane. The animal stomped impatiently, but didn’t seem to protest at her pulling at its hair to get up. It certainly took a minute, but Rose finally found the strength to throw her leg around the back and settle in place.
“One,” she said finally, when she shifted to find comfort and was able to look at him. “I’ve moved beyond adolescence. Happened a long time ago. It’s called bein’ a human, you know. No matter what, the mind heads there. If you weren’t so repressed about it, yours might do the same.”
“I never said it didn’t,” he shot back with a shrug. “I just don’t tend to cheer about it when it does.” He looked at her moving uncomfortably on the back of her ride. “Are you okay?”
“Gimme a mo’,” she asked with the wave of her hand. “Bare thighs on leather might end up with real good consequences on this end.”
He slumped. “Do you need to go change – again?”
“Nahhh,” she drawled out with a laugh. “I got this.” She straightened her legs to lift her self up, and then roughly tucked several folds of her lose tunic fabric underneath her. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for her to have completely eliminated any chance of skin against leather, but it did leave her with far more exposed leg than either of them had hoped for. She looked up at him with a big grin. “There! All better now.”
“You might want to consider sunscreen,” he circled his finger in the air toward her thighs.
Rose merely shrugged. “Could do with getting’ a bit of sun, these old things. And b’sides. If’n I get burned beying all recognition out here, theTARDIS has some of the best after sun gel in the universe. So I’m good.”
He nodded with a roll in his eyes. “If you’re very sure, then.” He kicked his heels to get his steed walking and flicked his hand over her shoulder in an order for her to follow. “Now come along. Just a small kick and your Tillogrippul will start to move.”
Rose nodded eagerly and kicked lightly. Her Tillogrippul stomped a couple of times in place, and when whinnied and quickly jumped to walk to the Doctor’s side. Having never ridden on horseback before, Rose whimpered and yelped as she struggled in her attempts to control the creature – not that it apparently needed control.
“Just relax,” the Doctor advised with a sigh. “These two are a mated pair, where one goes so will the other. He’s not going to take off on you.” He looked back. “I’m in control of this one’s telepathic sensors,” he slapped it a couple of times against its neck and looked back to the front. “Even if she was so inclined to bolt, she can’t.”
Rose frowned, but relaxed. “So what’dya mean you’re telepathically in control?”
He pointed to the horn. “That is a telepathic receptor. I’m telepathic. Far moreso than a Tillogrippul is at any rate…”
“Hold on,” Rose spluttered with a rise of her hand. “You mean to tell me that you’ve got this beautiful creature in a brain-lock? Takin’ away all its will? Isn’t that a bit cruel?”
He shrugged. “You’ve simplified it enough to make it sound cruel, but it isn’t. Far less that mouth bits, spurs, and whips like your lot use to control your horses back on Earth.” His eyes traced the far horizon. “Telepathic control is much less painful and leaves no aftereffects at all.”
Rose snorted. “Don’t be so sure of that, Doctor. Took me a long while to get over having my head taken over back on New Earth.”
He rocked as he nodded his head. “You did mention that adventure. Was this with the new me, or your first me?”
“Second,” she clarified. “It was actually our first trip after his regeneration.” She exhaled sadly. “And the first time he forgot about me.”
“Can you tell me about it,” he queried with interest. “Regale me with the tale of your adventure.” His lip curled up into a smile. “And by the time you’re finished, we should be at Crystal Cascades.”
“Sounds lovely. I can’t wait to see it.”
“We’ll be there shortly, he promised. “And so please, tell me about New Earth, and how I let you down.”
Rose was finalising her tale of New Earth, and how Cassandra had finally repented when she and The Doctor finally broke through the forest and onto the banks of the Cadonflood river. The two Tillogrippuls wasted no time in rushing to the crystal clear waters to take a drink. Her own steed moved so quickly that Rose was unable to maintain her balance. With a yelp, she fell backward over the rump of the animal. She fell into a pair of waiting arms, rather than the rocky ground below, and heard a chuckling in her ear.
“Not very graceful, now, are you, Rose?”
Still in his arms, Rose folded her arms across her chest and narrowed her eyes at him. “I thought you said they couldn’t take off on ya?”
“I released the telepathic hold on mine when we broke through the trees,” he admitted. “No sense in continuing to hold her to my will when she’s no longer needed.”
“And you didn’t think to tell me to hold on tight, Rose, this one might bolt.”
He winced “I might’ve thought to warn you about that, Rose. I’m sorry.”
She wriggled out of his hold and hopped awkwardly on the rocks before finding sure footing. “Not half as sorry as you will be if you pull that one on me again.” She considered expanding upon that threat, but her eyes captured the shimmering rainbow reflection of the sunlight bouncing off clear crystal rocks and any such notions fled her suddenly overwhelmed mind. She pushed her hand against his chest to move by him and gasped as she stood at the water’s edge.
“Oh my God,” she managed in a shaky voice as her hand flew to cover her mouth. “Doctor. This is…”
“Crystal Cascades,” he finished for her. “The composition of the mountain side of Mount Lung is comprised mainly of Lupolmahian Crystals. Weather and the waters that run along this gully have soften and smoothed the edge of the crystals over the centuries, but legend has it that before the Age of the Time Lords, when the crystals had the sharp edges from their creation, they would blind any traveller that ventured this way.” He thumbed at his nose, the allure of the place waning after having visited so many times throughout his youth. “Not so brilliant to look at now, I suppose.”
Rose disagreed. She looked upon the glassy edge of the mountain in a state of absolute and utter awe, unable to articulate any sound other than an almost garbled exhale.
“What was that, Rose?” The Doctor asked as he turned to face her and was brought to an abrupt halt. The mirrored and rainbow reflection of the twin suns peeking into the gully leapt off the rocks to form a halo around his companion. Hues of different colours danced along her eyes, and off the thin line of tears that were nestled there.
“Rassilon,” he breathed out in awe at the solemn beauty within her.
Rose was unable to take her eyes of the masterpiece before her, but she was able to turn her head just slightly toward him. “Doctor,” she managed weakly. “This. This is the most beau’iful thing I’ve ever seen. I … I can’t imagine how it must have been before now.” She sniffed deeply, unsure of just how emotion had crept into her as it had. She wanted to drop to her knees and beg any and all deities watching from above to make her worthy of beholding such magnificence. “God. It’s so amazin’. I. I do’t ever wanna leave. I wanna stay here forever and just … just look.”
“Yes,” he agreed, but not necessarily toward the waters. He took in her awe, and her reverence of his home, and felt the slightest shimmer of pride well up inside him. He turned back toward the water and looked at it with the fresh eyes that gazed upon it through this precious human. His eyes trailed the smoothed formations at the waters edge, and to the sharper edges that grew from within the mountain’s bottom edge. He took in the rainbows, and the reflections shared between the crystal and the waters.
He felt his breath hitch, and his eyes mist with appreciative tears. His hand instinctively reached for hers. “Rassilon, Rose,” he whimpered out on an extended breath and he wriggled his fingers within hers and held her hand tightly. “I forgot just how…” his words shifted to Gallifreyan. Words, Rose assumed, were words of reverence in his language. She took a step closer to his side and leaned her head against his shoulder.
“Thank you,” he breathed finally.
She looked up at him with a pinch of confusion in her eye. “For what?”
His smile warm warm. “Just. Thank you.”
“This place. Is it sacred?”
“In what way do you mean,” he queried curiously.
“I mean, are we allowed to swim here?”
His cheek crinkled into a smile. “Even if we weren’t, Rose. I’d still suggest we do just that.” He winked at her. “Like I said to you back at the TARDIS, There is a pool inside the cascades that has natural airflow. Much better than the hot tubs you have on Earth.”
Rose chuckled deep down inside her throat. She immediately pulled at the bow on her vest and let it fall gracelessly onto the ground at her feet.
The Doctor looked aghast. He took a look around them as though looking for someone hiding in the bushes. “What are you doing?”
Rose was already in a half crouch, with one foot lifted to undo her boots. She maintained that position, and her task at hand. “Getting my kit off, what do you think?” She blinked at the scandalised expression on his face. “You really didn’t think I’d get in there fully dressed did you?”
“We aren’t in the confines of the TARDIS,” he reminded her. “You can’t be parading around without … with … with nothing on!”
With one shoe removed, Rose straightened up and then slouched a petulant position with a roll in her eyes. “I’m keeping my knickers and bra on, Doctor, blimey. Both of which have more coverage than any bikini I might throw on at a beach – such are the undergarments the TARDIS provided me with at any rate. She’s a bit of a prude, our girl. Either that or she’s kitting me out in Gallifreyan undies and your entire society are prudes.”
“Yes,” he managed with a clearing sound in the back of his throat. “Ahh, yes. Quite right on that, Rose. Can’t quite be denied, that charge.” He rubbed at the back of his head. “I suppose it didn’t quite occur to me to remind you to bring swim trunks.”
Rose bent again to remove her other boot. She looked toward the Time Lord, who was still looking somewhat astounded at her. “Well?” she sang out. “Are you gonna get down to your pants and join me?”
She kicked off her other boot, and grabbed the lower hem of her tunic. She spoke a muffled voice through fabric as she lifted it up over her head. “Coward.”
He gaped at her, and then twisted his head to one side and slammed his eyes shut when he noticed she was wearing only a bra and panties. “What did you just call me?”
“A coward,” she answered quite simply. Without waiting for any further instruction, argument, or advice at all from him on whether or not the water here was not going to melt her like acid, Rose quickly ran into the waters. She didn’t even bother to test it with her toe, she rushed straight in and dove under the waters. She shot up, and flicked her head backward, spraying an arc of sun-tinted crystal water … much like an Instagram model emerging from beach waters.
In a word: Stunning. To any man lucky enough to be standing on shore watching. Which he was. And now he couldn’t breathe.
Rose heard his choked cough from the edge and ran her hands over her hair as she turned to the shore, panicked by what horrible bit of perhaps you should have listened to me before runni9ng in there comment he was about to give. She held her hair at her cheeks with worry to see him frozen solid in place, still fully dressed on the shore.
“Doctor?” she called worriedly. “Are you okay?”
Her worried voice broke him from his reverie. He let out a long snarling growl, and hurriedly undressed. There was nothing graceful about any movement he made to undress, but it was very rushed and purposeful, like he had only that one mission in life – to get undressed and into those waters.
She watched him curiously as he got down to just a pair of dark grey boxer briefs. His eyes had been locked on her and had darkened throughout his undressing manoeuvres. It was unnerving, and thrilling, and then terrifying as he strode with purpose into the water, and then dove deep to skim along the bottom. He resurfaced quickly, his entire body moving against hers until he looked over top of her, a curl in his lip and a growl in his tone.
“You,” he declared throatily as he snapped his arms around her waist and hauled her up tightly against him. “You are magnificent.”
Her gasp inhaled his words and for the briefest of moments she was captured by his possessive glare. Underneath the dusty blue, she could see the more clearer blue of her own Doctor waiting in line and trying to break free. Her body shifted into a carnal convulse of need and want so desperate, that she was willing to throw aside her entire set of rules and let him take her where they were. Then she saw the confused and timid brown of her current Doctor shimmer into line and she found freedom from the lock he had her in, and was able to pull away.
“Less than a day, and you’re already breakin’ the rules,” she accused him hotly as she slammed both hands into his chest and shoved him away. “I said no touchy feely, Doctor. No grabbin’ nothin’ or going in for a snog.” She slid out of his hold and kicked her legs to swim several strokes away from him.
He shook himself free of his own stupor, and looked up with apology. “I’m very sorry, Rose. I don’t quite know what came across me just then.”
She pointed a finger dripping with water at him. “Yeah, well no lettin’ it happen again,” she warned. “One chance, that’s all I’m giving ya.”
He swam in the water to pull up beside her. “I appreciate you giving me that extra chance. I do wholly apologise for that, I’m really not sure what happened.”
She shrugged in the water. “Jus’ don’t let it happen again, okay?”
“Okay,” he vowed. He grappled under the water and took her hand. “Come on,” he said with a smile. “The pool’s this way.”
Rose let him tug her toward a small alcove at the base of the mountain. He let her toward a pool that looked like it had been dug into the crystals to for a deep bowl. Thee was a sharp jagged crystal high over head, that tore a waterfall in two to fall either side of the pool, two shimmering rainbow curtains crashing into the waters below.
“Wow,” she breathed out in awe as the Doctor pulled himself out of the water and held his hand down to help her up. Wet, and soggy, lithe and lean, his wet curls trying their absolute all to remain spiralled at his cheeks and not held down by water, and that damn roguish smile of his … this man was magnificent.
Why had she put rules in place?
She let him haul her up out of the water and then grinned a very cheeky grin. “I you get,” he hollered as he picked her up by the hips and then threw her into the pool. He hollered a whoop, and followed in behind her. He laughed when she emerged from the water spluttering and threatening his existence if he were ever to do something like that again. He blew her a kiss, and then swam to the edge of the pool. His arms spread either side of him to stretch out across the edge, and he leaned backward with a moan as the teeming bubbles from a hissing vent underneath him massaged his legs and lower back.
Rose swam over to the other side of the pool and analysed him somewhat as she adopted the same lounging pose as him. She shifted with the press of bubbles against her skin and exhaled a softer, more feminine moan of appreciation. She was willing to lose herself completely to it when she heard his voice gently command her attention. She opened her eyes to look across the small pool toward him.
His eyes were gentle upon her, but they were full of question. “Your story about New Earth,” he began. “Which sounded like quite the adventure.”
“It was,” she confirmed with a smile. “But it was also the start of … I dunno.”
“That was immediately following my regeneration?”
She looked up in thought. “You mean the first trip in TARDIS? Yes. But it was after we’d had another adventure. Up against the Sycorax.” She pursed her lips. “Which was more us than you, really. You slept through pretty much the whole thing…”
“Regeneration sickness,” he contributed. “Takes on many forms that, and a lot of it is either sleeping it off for a day or two, or forgetting everything – which is what happened to me this time around.” He blew out a breath. “Oh, I didn’t know who I was for at least two days. Fortunately, though, I managed to work it out before the world was destroyed by the Master.”
“The Master?” Rose queried eagerly. “Who’s that?”
The Doctor smiled weakly. “My oldest friend, and my biggest enemy,” he answered her sadly.
“The frenemy,” Rose said with understanding. “Been there, had them. Nothin’ worse than having your best mate turn into your worst enemy.” She exhaled and looked over his shoulder toward the Tillogrippul waiting for them on the banks. “They know all your weak spots and how to hurt you more’n anyone else can.”
“You sound like you were hit pretty hard by that very specific turn of events, Rose,” he said softly.
Her eyes flicked toward him and her eyes held terror and remembrance. “Yeah,” she breathed out. “Yeah, I did.”
“Would you like to talk about it?”
She shook her head. She gulped. “About as much as you want to talk about yours, Doctor.”
“Which is absolutely not at all,” he confirmed. “But I would like to talk about me and you.” He caught her questioning brow as it dipped over one eye. “Specifically: future me and you.”
“Can I ask you a question first?”
He nodded. “Shoot.”
She shifted in her seat and leaned forward to pull her arms into the water. She watched her hands moving gently underneath. “You an me look to be having some deep and meanin’ful chats over the next little bit.” She lifted her eyes to his. “How is it – in your future – you don’t know who I am?”
He pushed off the wall and swan the short distance between them to sit beside her in the pool. He took one of her hands in his and swirled both underneath the waters. “Very likely because I made myself forget,” he said plainly.
She angled her head to look sideways at him. “You can do that?”
“Sometimes.” He paused and then smirked and amended that. “Quite a lot of times, actually, I do encounter people from my future timestreams. They try, they really do, not to reveal things that are to come, but it’s not a natural instinct for humans as it is for Time Lords.” He took her hand in both hands, keeping his eyes on her fingertips as he lightly massaged her palm. “I’m not allowed to know what happens in my future, Rose. And so I forget. I make myself forget so I don’t change what’s coming.”
“And if what’s coming might be bad?”
He lifted his eyes and smiled at her. “Doesn’t matter, does it. That person who’s come to me, who is in my life, is only there because of the path that I choose. If I skip past the bad just to save my own feelings, then that person who’s life has touched mine, may never end up in my path.” He smiled. “Like you.”
She frowned. “What makes you think that…”
He chuckled and looked back down. “I described you as my salvation, Rose. You saved me from something big. Something that I didn’t think I’d ever survive.” He held her hands tight within his. “I was destroyed when you came into my life, and you made me better. Whatever did that to me, Rose, I have to go through it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have met you – and that’s a worse sentence than suffering a little hardship.”
“But how’d you get that out of… I mean…” She was confused. “You said that he said I saved him, but you didn’t say he said all that.”
“I also said that it didn’t translate well at all,” he reminded her. “There was a lot more said by him than I’ve shared with you. And I really need to analyse it all much more before I can comprehend just how much he loves you.”
“Loved,” she corrected.
“Loves,” he argued firmly. “I don’t believe you for a second that he’s lost any of that.”
“Don’t argue,” he admonished her firmly. “I know me. I do. I also know I can be a bit of an insecure git despite what confidence I project to everyone.” He looked up and slouched again in the water beside her. “Perhaps something about me in the future makes me think that I’m not worthy anymore.”
“Or he thinks I’m not…”
He shook his head. “That I doubt very much. I’d love to corner myself and ask just what my problem is – if you’d let me do it, of course.” His brows lifted with eager question.
She shook her head and swam away from him. “No, Doctor. Geez, it’d be like sending dad into the inconsiderate boyfriend to punch him in the face.”
He frowned tightly. “Well. I don’t know that I’d do that.”
She smirked. “He would,” she said with amusement. “My first Doctor, I mean.”
His lips stretched into a smile. “Oh. Well that does sound interesting….”
“No,” Rose moaned, reading his intent. “You can’t send him in either.”
He slouched against the rocks. “Well, you really are not fun at all, are you?”
“Oh,” she purred in a tease. “Oh I can be, Doctor. I can be very fun…” She stood up in front of him, all see through white bra and panties, with wet skin quivering in the cool breeze of the gully. “You wanna see just how fun I can be?”
The sultry way in which she said that to him made his hearts beat that little bit quicker inside his chest. He cleared his throat and squeaked out a very undignified sound. “Uh. Rose?”
She laughed and spun away from him, launching herself through the air and over the edge of their little pool. She splashed deeply into the water below, emerging seconds later with a whoop in her chest as she smoothed her hair back. “Come on, Doctor. Let’s have some fun!”
He grinned cheekily. There were some oddities about this place, and some ghost stories he could tell that would make her shiver enough to stay cold even in the most glaring heat. Yeah, it was time for some fun.
He stood up to leap over the edge, ready to let out a jovial yell and crash into the water beside her. His breath drew in hard, however, and his stomach contracted violently as a familiar and uncomfortable wave of energy crashed through him. He stumbled backward, overwhelmed by its power this time around.
A fixed point was on fast approach, and this wasn’t one to be tampered with. It crashed into him with the force of a freight train with a request that things be allowed to progress as time demanded it did.
Whatever it was, the fate of the entire universe was at stake … and somehow, the woman playing in the water below was the key to it all.