A Feline's Fancy

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We've been on Paurin three weeks now."

"Really?" Rose inquired from the bedroom's washroom.

"Yep. Today was our eighteenth day."

"Blimey. It does feel it, for sure. I guess I just never worked out how many days." Rose emerged, crossed to the bed, and slipped between the sheets. "That woman needs to find a more interesting hobby."

The Doctor couldn't help but appreciate Rose's display of skin while the light was still on. He could feel her all he wanted as she slept. Modestly, of course.

As he reached for the light switch, he peered down at Rose. Tonight was going to be another tough night.

He flicked the switch, walked to the washroom to change into shorts, then curled up behind Rose. She sighed contentedly.

"Night, Doctor."

"Good night, Rose." The Doctor waited for her to drift off to sleep.

He hadn't been able to stay until morning the last couple of nights. He would stay at least until she fell asleep then get up early and retreat to the library or his cupboard, returning only to check on her to put his mind at ease. Rose needed him there to feel secure, and he admitted he felt better knowing she was safe within his arms, but as the days passed, he found it more and more difficult to keep his thoughts pure in her presence.

The Doctor wasn't aroused easily. He prided himself on his resistance to womanly charms, or in some cases manly, and he attributed this part of his nature to be partly due to what he found important in life. Not only that, but he was Gallifreyan--cycles of his body weren't as automatic as those of the average human. He had a great deal of control over his biological rhythms and functions.

He was always taking companions to travel with him. The universe was infinitely complex in any given instant, and as one solitary being, it was often very lonely, especially now that he was the only one of his kind left in all of existence. The Doctor was curious and fun-loving, but he preferred to keep his relationships simple. When they began to get complex, he would find a way to move on. It was a part of outliving people.

Something about Rose, however, had captured his hearts in a way that lifted him out of the mire of loneliness like no other. His thoughts scattered when he tried to work out why, but one memory that always easily sprung to mind was that of the first impressions of his current regeneration.

Rose had looked into the heart of the TARDIS, absorbed the Time Vortex into herself, and created herself as the Bad Wolf in order to save his life. He couldn't bear to see it rip her apart, so he took it into himself in order to return it to the TARDIS and save Rose's life. As he had begun to die from the exposure, his thoughts had been centered fully on Rose. She had risked her life to save him, the destroyer of Gallifrey and possibly Skaro. The Bad Wolf, with its knowledge of events across all time and space had seen what he had done, and she had chosen to save him anyway.

The Doctor hugged Rose to him. Of course, she didn't remember any of it now.

He had regenerated for her. She had been there, with him. He had learned his new self in her presence.

She had shaped him into what he was, and in a way, he belonged to her.

"Doctor?"

He almost started. Distracted with his own thoughts, he hadn't noticed Rose was still awake.

"Hm?"

A pause. "Can we talk?"

The Doctor swallowed. He had an idea what about. "Of course."

Rose shifted and the room's light came on, but only just. It matched the dim lighting of the foyer and corridors he had seen throughout the house at night, barely bright enough to see by when one's eyes were adjusted to the darkness.

He frowned at Rose. "I didn't know you had that setting in here, too."

"Yep. Discovered it this morning. There's a sensor just below the panel."

Huh. "Nice."

Rose lay down facing him and searched his face. He gazed back at her from under his brows, giving Rose his full attention. Did she want him to guess?

"What's on your mind?"

Rose continued to stare at him. "You."

The Doctor's brows went up, but at the magnitude of her admission coupled with his understanding of its context, they stopped short. He made an effort to keep his voice steady. "Oh?"

"What happened in the garden. I've been thinking a lot about it."

The Doctor dropped his gaze, attempting to appear casual, but his eyes quickly returned to hers. He hung on her every move, determined not to miss a cue. His first reaction was to conceal that he too had been thinking a lot about it, but it left a bad aftertaste. He had been here before, and he didn't really feel like hiding behind harmless flirtation anymore. There was something strong between them, and he discovered that despite his usual reserve, in this he wanted more.

"Me, too."

Rose was surprised, and frankly, so was he. It was her turn to hang on every motion of his, her eyes begging him to go on.

The look she gave him now caused a sudden panic to rise up, threatening to overwhelm him, and the Doctor chickened out. Throwing back the duvet, he swung his legs over and stood. What he wanted wasn't always what was best.

"Doctor!"

He stopped, and at Rose's insistent tone, he forced himself to half-turn and peer down at her.

"You said we could talk." She was now sitting up and she looked him up and down, and the Doctor realised this must have been the first time she had gotten a proper look at him in just his shorts. The revelation only served to complicate the situation, and he stopped just short of growling under his breath. In a few swift strides, he was in the washroom reclaiming his clothing.

"Don't walk away from me!" Rose demanded. "The garden yesterday. You just said you've been thinking about it, too." Her voice then lost some of its power but was still strained. "Bad things? Like it was a mistake?"

The Doctor emerged in his trousers and was threading his arms into his shirt. He wasn't angry at Rose, but it was essential she understand him. "No. I mean, yes, a mistake, perhaps, but not bad things."

He caught the look on her face after he pulled the shirt over his head. Even in the dim light, he could see the glimmer of moisture in her eyes.

The Doctor shook his head, devastated to have done this to her, and his voice almost broke as he began pulling his shirt down over his torso. "I'm sorry, Rose, I can't do this. I just... I can't."

"You can't, or you won't?" Rose challenged in a small voice. The Doctor sighed and opened his mouth, about to lecture her, but she apparently didn't want to hear it. "Is it a physical thing? 'Cause I'm thinking it's emotional. You won't, 'cause I'm human and someday my fragile life will fade away, leaving only you. It's like you said before, Doctor, you'll live on. Isn't it better, though, to have loved?"

The Doctor, now fully dressed, stood peering down at her from next to the bed, his patience barely restrained. Rose plowed on.

"What happened to you, Doctor? You must've loved before. So long ago, you were a father. You said so. What happened that hit you so hard, you stopped? You've lived so long, piled so much guilt on top of yourself, that you've suffered through the years long enough to make yourself forget?"

Now, the Doctor stared at her in dead shock. He managed to breathe the word, "What?" conveying the summation of his surprise and suspicion. How had she put so much together? How long had she kept it bottled up?

"Something happened, I get that," Rose said, her tone much softer now. "Whatever it is, though, it's not worth doing this to yourself."

The Doctor shook his head at her, and he could feel his own tears pricking his eyes. "You don't know, Rose. You can't possibly know what it was like."

"Then tell me," Rose stressed, leaning towards him.

He stood a moment, just looking at her. She was sincere, of course, but could she possibly handle his pain? Would she flee in terror at his past deeds?

The Bad Wolf hadn't. Its knowledge had been from the Vortex, but its strength had been hers.

The Doctor turned away and lowered himself slowly to the edge of the bed, no longer sure what he knew.

Rose touched his arm lightly and then his cheek, turning his face towards her. She looked weightily at him. "I've seen the way you've looked at me. You can't say you don't feel the same way, can you?"

The Doctor covered the hand on his face with his own. "What I want isn't always what's best."

Rose frowned, contemplating a moment, then squinted at him shrewdly. "Is this about what's best for the universe, or what's best for you?"

The Doctor frowned back. "What?"

"Yesterday, you were about ready to kiss me. I could tell. Then you looked at Icha and pulled away. Did you stop because you didn't want to, or she didn't want you to?"

Rose was being silly, now. "Because she would have hurt us. I couldn't bear to see her shock you. I think you know that."

"And here we are, now. No Icha." Rose scanned the room briefly, making her point. "What's holding you back now?" She leaned in to him for emphasis. "The. Same. Thing. You could have escaped ages ago and rescued me, but you didn't, because it would have involved hurting Icha."

The Doctor raised his eyebrows and lowered his head at her in surprise.

Rose smiled at his reaction. "I know you, Doctor. You're so clever, yet you limit yourself by what you think is right. Not that it's a bad thing. It would be wrong to hurt her, even if it means sacrificing me. She's ignorant, but not a bad person." Rose shrugged. "So she would've shocked us. How many times have you been shocked? Did it hurt for more than a minute? Wouldn't it have been worth it? You know Icha better than I do. She won't separate us. She's way too attached to her Marwari to see him pine away his life without his Lily."

He swallowed self-consciously and watched Rose intently. When she smiled at him, he didn't feel nine hundred anymore. If anything, she seemed to be the one nine centuries old. Rose had clearly given this some serious thought. Something was changing within the Doctor, and it was wonderful and terrible all at once. Rose was right.

What she said did sound like him. Where had he gone wrong?

"How did you get to be so wise?"

Rose poked her upper lip with the tip of her tongue just off to the side, the way she did that often drove him crazy, and he almost gave in right then and there.

"Oh, actually," she gestured towards the wall behind him in all dismissive seriousness, "there's a teleprompter, just there. Brilliant inventions, really."

The Doctor grinned lightheartedly. He had thought their adventures were what kept them together, but perhaps they were merely a distraction from what he did want all along. Sometimes what was best for him could be what was best for the universe, too. His grin faded slowly.

"Rose."

"Mm?"

The Doctor took Rose's hand in both of his and squeezed it affectionately. "You've awoken something within me, something I haven't felt in lifetimes. Part of something you've created in this regeneration, I think."

Rose frowned at him. "Come again?"

The Doctor licked his lips and turned fully towards her, sitting cross-legged on the bed. "When I regenerated, I wasn't thinking about myself, what I wanted. I was thinking about you, and how hard it would be on you. You were the most important thing on my mind, and when I changed..." he straightened, looking her over. "The mind's more powerful than the body. I'm betting the way I am now was an attempt of my subconscious to mirror what I thought you would like, what I imagined best for you."

Rose swallowed, studying him furiously. "Seriously?"

He nodded, but after a moment tossed his head to the side. "It's a theory, anyway."

"You never said."

"Well." The Doctor's mouth twitched and he glanced sideways, a subtle form of shrug.

Rose was watching him intently. She pushed her full mouth closed with her lower lip, 'causing it to pucker slightly and draw his eye. Rose did it quite often, and the Doctor was convinced she was oblivious to the effect it had on him.

"Tell you what, though."

She looked him in the eye. "Hm?"

"I'm quite sure I'm tired of talking," he informed her, as if broaching a most interesting topic.

Rose's eyebrows rose skeptically, and she grinned in amusement. "You? Tired of talking?"

"Oh, yes," he insisted earnestly as he reached to touch the side of Rose's face. His fingertips threaded their way into the hair behind her ear, and in one smooth motion, the Doctor closed the gap between them and pressed his lips to hers.

He was afraid to breathe, lest he disturb the delicate contact between their mouths. Rose whimpered, and she seemed to share in his momentary contentment to be still as it sank in just what they were doing.

He wasn't sure who moved first. The Doctor moaned softly, Rose's full lips more than a match for his own. He wanted to bite at them, but he felt the need to hold back, to revel in this new intimacy with Rose that was turning his insides to jelly. It was a slow, sliding dance the Doctor felt he could keep up for the rest of eternity.

While Rose showed no sign of having enough, either, he couldn't imagine she could be falling apart as much as he was. He suspected his predicament was amusing to her when he felt her lips pull back in a grin, the shaking breaths against his cheek giving her away.

Rose Tyler was laughing at him.

Reservations forced aside, the Doctor grasped her head in both hands, summoned from his extensive supply of courage and growled, nipping at Rose's lower lip. He was rewarded when her lungs expanded and she moaned into his mouth. Encouraged, the Doctor tried to make her do it again.

Rose shifted so she could get closer, her lower half still tangled in the sheets. In her attempt, she rose up somewhat on her knees and was now slightly higher than him. Rose clung to him and began her own assault to his lips, and it was all he could do to pull in panting breaths as his hearts strengthened into a staccato throbbing in his chest. In a matter of seconds, Rose had him coming completely undone.

He hadn't expected things to heat up so quickly, and when Rose suddenly broke the kiss, he guessed she hadn't either.

"Doctor..." Rose began.

Rose's big, alluring eyes gazed down into his. He wanted to capture the look on her face forever. He swallowed at the depth of emotion that radiated from her, feeling the pleasant tenderness of his mouth as he did so. In the dimness of the night lighting, he could see her own lips, plumped fuller than usual from their play with pressure, and he gave into the urge to give them more attention.

Rose ran her hands across his scalp and through his hair. The way she encompassed the Doctor's whole world, easily matching him move for move revealed to him a sensual appetite he had forgotten he possessed. He pressed into her mouth, seeking to learn the slick contours of her teeth. Feeling the need for more control, the Doctor braced his legs under himself somewhat to rival her height.

His thumbs before each ear, the Doctor plunged into her mouth, careful not to press too deeply, working his tongue in a slow, instinctual rhythm, meant to stimulate her looser and looser. A growl slipped from his throat as he explored and stroked, feeding from her. Rose responded with a sound that shot clean through him.

The Doctor pressed a hand to her back, pulling her closer. He released her mouth and ventured to taste her neck. The pliant flesh yielded easily to his teeth and tongue. As Rose shivered and began to relax into his grip, he laid her back, carefully guiding her head towards her pillow.

From their new position, Rose looked up at him. Seeing the desire for him in her eyes shook him to his core.

The Doctor settled himself over and slightly off to the side of her, holding himself up with an elbow. His mind fuzzy, he lowered his head to nuzzle her jaw. He murmured her name, intoxicated by her scent and the sounds of her labored breathing, and he hardly recognised his own voice. Rose's heated hands slid under his shirt and up the cool skin of his back. He smoothed his free hand down the gentle curves of her side and over her hip, pushing at the sheets as he continued down her bare thigh.

The Doctor felt his body tightening, priming for action. Rose was setting him on fire. Every nerve came alive with a burning need to drive her wild, to see her lose control, and the little voice telling him he should stop was being flooded over by the torrent of lustful energy surging through his veins.

"My Rose," the Doctor growled. He kissed and nibbled at her throat, tenderising the sensitive flesh. Rose dug her fingers into the muscle at either side of his spine. Provoked, the Doctor latched onto the thin skin and pulled. Hard. Rose cried out and bucked wildly against him.

Excited by what he could do to her, the Doctor was disoriented when Rose abruptly began pushing roughly against him. Horrified he had misread her and done something terribly wrong, he raised his head and peered earnestly into her face, strangely lit in a soft blue in the near darkness. Her frightened expression was directed behind him.

"Doctor!"

He followed her direction of sight and caught a faint bluish glow over his shoulder. Something was on him. He snapped out of his Rose-induced haze in a violent twist of his body, the creature being flung off his back and onto the floor. He stared as the outline of a deep sea fish with legs writhed on its back in a fit, its luminescence casting along the texture of the carpet weirdly, until it slowly just... disappeared.

All was dark. It was gone.

No, it was NOT gone.

"Who are you?" the Doctor demanded into the dim room. "What do you want?"

A chill ran up the Doctor's spine. He knew it was still there, but he couldn't see it. "Light!"

The Doctor slapped his palm to the wall panel next to the bed, and the room's lamps flooded into blessed but painful brilliance. He scanned the room as his eyes fought to adjust.

"What was it?" Rose asked timidly. "It's what I saw before, isn't it?"

"Why haven't they ever touched me before?" the Doctor mumbled to himself, still breathing hard. He hadn't even felt the thing's weight on him. "Why would they feed off me? They're getting desperate..."

"Feed off you? Is it dangerous?"

"No. Well, maybe. Come on." The Doctor bounded off the bed.

Rose untangled herself from the sheets and hurried to follow. "Where we going?"

"We've got to pin one down," the Doctor said as he rushed into the hallway. "Speak to it." He thought hard, his mind running through the necessary components he would need. Rose's grip on his arm made him stop and turn.

When she said nothing, the Doctor stopped short of asking "What?" when he saw the heat in her eyes. He slipped the fingers of one hand through the wisps of hair behind her ear and pressed a patient kiss to her lips. He came out of it slower than he had intended and offered her a hazy gaze. "Later, okay?"

Rose sighed happily. "How can you do that? Just rush off afterwards, all alien business?"

The Doctor beamed widely. "Not just another bloke, am I?" He winked. "Come on!"

Rose gestured behind them as she hurried after him. "Didn't we just have one shut in there, though?"

The Doctor waved his hand dismissively. "Sure, but they're everywhere anyway. We need to isolate one," he spun as he walked, pinching his fingers between him and Rose excitedly, "Connect with it."

"Hold on, everywhere? You mean they're all over the place, could be runnin' past us right now, and you never said?"

"There are lots of things that exist outside our natural perception, yet we coexist. Granted, most are microscopic, but some aren't. Just because we can't see it doesn't mean it's not there. Just because it's there doesn't make it out to hurt us."

"Yeah," Rose intoned uncertainly, catching up to his backwards stride. "These aren't bacteria, Doctor."

"No, but... bacteria's just one form of life. Certain bacteria can kill you, as you know. Just because these are bigger doesn't mean they're that much more harmful."

Rose shook her head. "Right, whatever. How we gonna connect with one, then?"

The Doctor wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Make a trap." He turned to walk properly forwards again. "Question is, where am I going to get a phasomorphic converter?" He slowed to stop. Grimacing, he reached up to tug on his earlobe. "I don't have a phasomorphic converter."

To her credit, Rose piped up, "Can you make one?"

He sniffed, taking on the offense. "'Course I can. Just not without pre-amped mercury and a whole lot of time."

"Pre-amped..." Rose trailed off, and he turned to Rose's frowning face.

"Exactly!" he complained. "I'd have to put an amplification device together just to amplify it, not to mention keep it stable until I could use it!"

The shake of Rose's head drew his attention. She was giving him "that look."

The Doctor made to put his hands in his pockets, but since he had none, he hooked his thumbs on his waistband. "Right. Sorry."

"So, we'll find another way." Rose looked at him as he pondered, and he could tell she was frustrated she couldn't help more. "Can't you bait 'em with a power source or something?"

"Yes, yes, that's what I want to do, but I can't tune any sort of trap for a phasmic creature that feeds off raw electricity without a phasomorphic converter!" The Doctor stuck his jaw out, staring at the wall in concentration.

"Phasmic?"

"Phasmic," the Doctor repeated. "Ghost-like. You got a good look at it, too. It looked like an apparition, didn't it?"

"Sort of like the Gelth." Rose was nodding, for a time falling silent again. "Wait, so... they glow when they feed, yeah? Can't see 'em otherwise. They turn invisible."

"Exokinetic reaction, yes." He was trying to think down another path and answer Rose at the same time. "Their skin, their shell is electrified." He gripped the air loosely with his fingers. "The layer's so thin it's transparent. So thin, but a fire so intense. That's why it looks blue. It absorbs energy as it feeds across its entire exoskeleton."

"Whatever, yeah, but it needs electricity. It fed from us, from you. Aren't there much more powerful sources it could find? Why us?"

The Doctor leveled his gaze on her, his voice soft. "Don't underestimate yourself, Rose. The power we can create. The power we did create. The power in me. You remember, my regeneration."

"But the factory, Doctor, on telly. The power plant, where all those slaves work. The creatures could feed from it, but there weren't any. We would see them. Why can't we see them?"

The Doctor frowned. "Good question. Actually, that's a very good question."

Where had they manifested before tonight? Rose had seen a flash of something chasing him up into the tree. There was that creepy flicker across the television screen, and now that he knew what the entire creature looked like, he figured the blue glow could have been the fish thing's face gaping out at him. And before that on a news programme there was a report about a slave that had seen one... a laborer at the power station.

"Ohhh..." the Doctor's mind was suddenly awhirl with a cascade of realisation. He thought back further, having seen something out of the corner of his eye out on the sunlit street when he had first arrived at the mansion, but when he had looked, there had been nothing. Electrical, thermal... exokinetic reaction!

"Yes!" the Doctor exclaimed. Rose jumped. "That's why I didn't feel it. It was drawing from vestige energy, not my reserves. They don't just suck on raw energy, they're kinetivoric! Rose, you're a genius!"

"Ta," Rose grinned cheekily. It faded almost immediately. "They're what?"

"It makes sense now. The Zel power plant creates all this energy that appears to be going to waste, but it's not. I bet they're smarter than they appear. They don't just swarm about and let themselves be seen. They're finding places to hide where they can still reach it."

Rose shifted her hips and crossed her arms. "So, these things are responsible for the power station growing out of control? Wouldn't it be better to feed off a healthy factory?"

The Doctor grinned. "You're starting to catch on. But no, they can't absorb energy directly from the plant. It's like how you can't naturally digest cellulose very well. It's not in your biology, and it's not in their biology to feed off the potential. When energy's created to be used, kinetic energy of motion, they siphon off of it, like a battery does an engine."

Eyes wide in understanding, Rose beamed at him. "Right! They can only eat it while it's being burned, not the stored stuff."

He beamed expectantly. "And the power station being built the way it is?"

Rose stared at the wall, thinking, then looked inquiringly at him. "The people know about them?"

The Doctor tapped her on the nose. "Now you've got it."

"Oh my God. So what now?"

He turned back towards the lounging room and offered Rose his hand, and she took it immediately. "We don't need mercury anymore, but we're still making a trap." His eyes widened in excitement, the Doctor finding himself back in his element. "This one specifically for phasmic kinetivores."

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