2 little whos
Originally written/posted for Challenge 98: Poetry at Then There’s Us.
2 little whos, by e.e. cummings
2 little whos
(he and she)
under are this
(all realms of where
and when beyond)
now and here
(far from a grown
ful world of known)
who and who
(2 little ams
and over them this
aflame with dreams
On the Tyler Estate (and it’s been four years but she’s still wrapping her head around that, living at the Tyler Estate and not the Powell Estate, places worlds apart in idea, and name, and feel), about a twenty-minute walk from the large, glass French doors that open onto the massive brick patio, there is a small lake. There’s not much in it or around it – some lily pads and one very small dock going nowhere and, off to the side tucked into the only irregularity in the otherwise smooth, man-made oval of water, a cluster of weeping willows. Rose had spent countless hours here in the long years before the Dimension Cannon woke up and she was hurling herself through nightmare universes, steeling herself against the overwhelming wrongness and forgoing sleep in her quest to find the one man in the entire multiverse who could save them, could save her. Staring at the ripples in the water she had pretended she could reach out, dip her hand in, find his and be pulled through. The illusion was thin and often broken by the buzz of zeppelins overhead, reminders that she was in the wrong place and the wrong time, sleeping in the wrong bed, eating at the wrong kitchen, drinking the wrong tea, but it was an illusion she clung to all the same.
It’s been two weeks since she returned to the wrong universe, the wrong England, the wrong home and the wrong bed with a man who is wrong and right all at the same time. He walks swiftly down the lawn now, looking for her while knowing where she is. She told him, on a long tour of the grounds punctuated by tears and fury and the softest of kisses, about how she felt safe staring at the little lake through the curtain of weeping willow branches and he hugged her close for as long as she would let him, not knowing what to say in return. What do you do, he wondered then, when the woman you love more than all the stars in the sky tells you about the worst nights of her life? How do you cope?
The first three days back at the Tyler’s mansion were the worst, he knows. She had trouble looking him in the eye and trouble being more than a few feet away from him at any point, all at the same time. She lashed out with bitterness and fury he’d never seen before, and then begged him for comfort. He never knew what to say, how to act, whether he could hold her or whether he should stay away. He crawled into her bed each night to comfort her from nightmares, only to have her hit and kick him as she tried to get away from his warm embrace. That third night, the first peaceful night they spent together, when anger turned to frustration turned to lust turned to love and bodies pressed against bodies, sticky skin and sweaty hair and sated exhaustion, ended, in the morning, with covers kicked off her body and complaints about his body heat. Something had snapped within him and he’d gone off, finally let loose all the anger and frustration and confusion he’d been harboring since he woke up naked in his beloved, burning TARDIS and realized he had only one heart (I grew… out of you, that phrase flits through his head sometimes and he didn’t understand, really, the human obsession with “heartbreak” until that happened the first time and he felt like someone had reached into his chest and squeezed so hard they’d turned his single, precious heart into apple pulp). He’d screamed and accused and thrown things and she’d stared at him with a kind of wonder that only made him angrier and, finally, when he was out of breath and dizzy with emotion she’d wrapped him up in her arms, rocking and cradling him and whispering apologies like mantras, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I love you, I love you.
Things had been better after that.
But this morning he woke up and she wasn’t there, not in bed next to him and not in the bath, not in the kitchen making tea with Jackie or out in the yard playing with Tony and Pete and that’s when he figured she’d gone to the willow trees. He tried to ignore the pounding in his chest, the fear reaching its long fingers up from his gut to his throat, threatening to strange him, to squeeze the air out of his lungs. He knew his Rose, he loved his Rose, and she wasn’t unhappy, she wasn’t sad anymore. She’d told him so. He had to trust her.
He picks up the pace, jogging now, as the lake comes into view.
He almost forgets to slow himself down, almost forgets to cover his fear and uncertainty, but catches himself just in time and stops, takes a breath, calms his shaking, and pushes back the curtain of falling branches and delicate leaves on the largest tree. As he suspected she’s sitting with her back to the willow’s trunk and her knees drawn up to her chest, a skirt tucked around her thighs and her chin on one knee with her eyes on the water. But instead of ignoring him, at the sound of his rustling entrance she looks up and flashes a huge smile, tongue touching the corner of her mouth.
The feeling of human relief still surprises him. (But he supposes it hasn’t been that long.)
She pats the ground next to her and he’s by her side before he ever registers moving, mimicking her position. She straightens her legs and rests her cheek on his shoulder, their fingers threading together without a thought. He drops a kiss on the crown of her head.
"I woke up and you weren’t there."
"You, my darling, were dead to the world. I thought perhaps I’d let you sleep."
"I was not," he sniffs, "dead to the world. I am never dead to the world.”
"You were snoring."
"I was not."
"I was not!”
"You were." She lifts her head and places a light kiss to his lips. "I didn’t mean to scare you."
"I wasn’t scared, either. I am a Time Lord. That’s how I knew to come down here.”
"Time Lord-human hybrid."
He grimaces. “That’s’ such a mouthful. Better than human-time lord biological metacrisis, I’ll give you that, but still, it’s so much to say. You humans, I wouldn’t trust the lot of you to get it right, even if you’re an exception.”
"I’ll just call you Doctor, then."
He leans in close, runs the tip of his nose up the slope of hers. “Say that again.”
It sounds like she’s ready to say more but he still gets a thrill that runs straight to the base of his spine when he hears her say that, that tacit acknowledgment that he is him and him is he and she knows and she loves him just the same, so he kisses her, deep and long and rather wet with tongues and his free hand caressing her cheek. After a moment she makes a little low noise of contentment and appreciation and that tingle at the base of his spine roars. He can feel the front of his trousers suddenly tighten and he shifts, pressing closer, trying to lean her down.
"Down boy," she murmurs against his lips, though she’s not exactly pulling away.
"What you don’t fancy a shag under your favorite willow tree?" he rejoins. She giggles and it’s like Mozart and The Beatles and Etta James and every beautiful note ever written and sung, ever, but she eases back from him a little bit. He sighs, frowning internally at his traitorous body that’s screaming for more, and lets her. She settles back against his side, his arm around her shoulders now, her hand entwined with that, his original hand, her other hand on his thigh. Somewhere during that kiss he mirrored her straight-legged position. They stare at the rippling water through the willow branches in silence.
"You knew to find me here," she says after a while. He shrugs.
"You told me it was your thinkin’ spot. I checked the rest of the house first." When she doesn’t reply he ventures, "So what are you thinking about?"
"Do you want children?"
That’s not exactly what he was expecting. “What?”
"You told me, once, that you were a dad once. Just said it and moved on and when I landed here I can’t tell you how often I thought about that. I didn’t know – didn’t believe — that anyone could take me from you but it was the first time I thought about us having a future. Having a family.”
"Rose, you, we—when I was a Time Lord, we couldn’t—"
"I figured," she doesn’t sound upset and when he glances down at her face it looks as relaxed and content as it did moments before. He takes it as a good sign. "But things have changed, yeah?"
"Rose Tyler, defender of the multiverse and understater extraordinaire."
"Did you know you were gonna be such sarcastic git when you were doing that fancy non-regeneration?” she shoots back, dryly.
"Noted." They lapse back into silence.
"You haven’t answered my question."
"Do you want children, Rose?”
"I don’t know. I don’t even know if I want to work for Torchwood anymore. It’s been nice, this little vacation. If it were just you and me forever… I’d be happy. But I asked you first, you know.”
"I want what you want," he answers after a moment. It feels true in his bones. "I want to make you happy. In any way, in every way. I want Rose Tyler to be as happy as she can be in every second she is alive."
She practically tackles him this time, pushing him down and throwing a leg over his hips before grabbing his face with such force it almost hurts and kissing him until he see stars and explosions behind his closed eyelids. His hands fist in the waist of her shirt, hers slip up into his hair, and their hips start to rock against each other unconsciously.
"Keep saying things like that," she says between hard kisses, "And you might get that shag after all."
"Brilliant," he murmurs, shifting his hands from her shirt to just under it, tracing his fingers over her flat stomach and suddenly her question hits him full force. He imagines that stomach curved gently at first, then swelling, then swollen, skin taught and stretched and moving when a tiny hand or foot or elbow pokes into it. He imagines it soft and tender, a tiny little baby curled up against it, feeding from her swollen breasts. He imagines it under his hands and his mouth, changing with age and life and love, and suddenly he realizes he wants it, all of it, desperately.
"Yes," he gasps and sits up, trading the softness of her skin for the sensation of his arms wrapped tightly around her and her body crushed to his, hard and soft and so, so warm. "Yes, I want children. I want children and I want a house and maybe even a garden, and a couple of cars and a dog, how do you feel about a dog? I want to pick up the pants you always leave on the floor to drive me spare and have a bowl in the front hallway for our keys and tomato plants that just won’t grow in the English summers. I want to make you dinner at the end of long days and I want to have mindblowing make-up sex when we row. I want everything, Rose, I want—I want—"
Somewhere in the middle of this breathless confession he’s started kissing her again and pushing up her t-shirt and her fingers are fumbling with the buttons of his shirt. Her face is flushed and she’s grinned and he kisses her over and over, hands on her breasts, squeezing. She gives up on his shirt halfway through, moving down to his trousers instead, palming the firm bulge for just a moment before unclasping and unzipping and he is so so so so so so so glad that it is warm because she’s wearing a skirt and all he has to do is shift a bit and push her cotton panties aside and ohhhhh yes that’s just right.
They pause, rocking slowly, foreheads pressed together, panting and smiling.
"Yes," she breathes and he’s not sure if she means what he said or if she means how he feels inside her because he knows that when he echoes her in a panted whisper he means both. "Yes, yes, Doctor, yes. All of it. All of it and more.”
They are moving, shallow but fast, and he realizes she means the same thing and he tightens his arms around her and starts thrusting in earnest. She squeaks, then giggles, then moans and kisses him again, trying to keep them both quiet. In the cocoon of the weeping willow they rock and groan and bounce and breathe until the waters of love and pleasure inside them rise and rise and crest and crash, one after another, leaving them breathless and lost in a perfect, stormy sea. These are the moments he treasures, not just because he loves her and her body, but because they feel just like the rush of adrenaline and fear he felt every time he sent his beautiful TARDIS careening through time. Where once he had the universe at his fingertips, it now lives in the woman he loves. He tells her so.
"I love you too," she replies, still breathless and giggling. He can feel them, combined, dripping slowly out of her and these trousers will need to go to the dry cleaners immediately (lest Jackie see and infer) and he’s not even sure how they’ll get back to the house without someone noticing, but he really couldn’t care less right now. He is happy and he is loved and anything is possible. He nuzzles her nose with his again and closes his eyes.