Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: 10.5/Rose, 10.5/TARDIS
Word Count: 5,441
Warnings: Not happy? Not slit your wrists variety angst, but still.
Notes: Spoilers up to Journey’s End. I was half-way through this fic when it got Jossed by the deleted scene in the DW magazine, so I swore for a bit, and then re-wrote the ending :)
Summary: The Earth can be small place when you’re used to the whole of time and space. A relationship can feel even smaller.
“Right then,” said Rose, not really looking at him.
“Yes,” said the Doctor, except he wasn’t, not quite. He lifted his hand to his chest, and let it rest there. One heart, going thump, thump. Only one.
The beach was empty and wild, but the Doctor couldn’t take a proper breath. It was stifling, knowing this was all there was. All there was going to be. The real him had vanished, without even a proper goodbye, leaving them with the consolation prize of themselves. His lips still tingled. Brand spanking new lips, all freshly kissed. It had been a long time since he’d indulged himself. He would have said it was a long time since he’d risked a romantic entanglement of any kind, but since he was looking right at Rose, he knew that was patently untrue... Ah, but he had always been exceptionally good at lying to himself, hadn’t he?
It had been so easy, just a moment ago, a second ago, even. When the Doctor had been here with his energy, and his plan, and he himself, the Doctor-who-wasn’t, had been of one mind with him, had agreed with him. But that had been when the TARDIS was here, when the links were in place, a warmth in the back of his mind, the golden certainty of knowing he wasn’t alone. That was then. This was now, when the links were gone, and he was rattling around in his own skull, with no-one else for company ever again, his only solace knowing it was only for fifty or so years before oblivion.
He was being maudlin. The Doctor – the real Doctor – would have given anything for this. Or at least, he would tell himself that. And Rose... He really did love her, so what was the problem? He would have to be a new... man. In this new universe. He would have to find his place.
The breeze from the sea was really starting to pick up now, blowing her hair across her mouth, even as she stared at him, large-eyed, as tongue-tied as he was. Automatically, the Doct... John Smith lifted his hand and brushed it away. She leaned into his touch, almost without volition, and that’s when he grinned, madly, and she smiled back. Of course, they could make this work. They were John Smith and Rose Tyler. They could do anything.
He ignored the hollow in his thoughts. He was sure he could fill it up with other things. Later.
“So this is my flat,” said Rose, and it was possible it could be more awkward, but she wasn’t entirely sure how. At least she had a spare room. Oh god. Oh fuck. She couldn’t believe she was even thinking about that...
“Lovely,” said John Smith, and sat on the sofa, bouncing on it, just a bit.
He’d said “Call me John – John Smith,” back in Bad Wolf Bay, and Rose was doing just that. Thinking of him as JohnSmith, like it was one word. An entity, or a concept. Not John, not Jonathon, not, my mate John, or, or, my boyfriend... My partner... My husb... Fuck. What were they supposed to be to one another? What had the Doctor been thinking? How could this possibly work?
The flight back from Norway had been busy, full of chatter, introducing John Smith to the concept of actually travelling on passenger zeppelins, with all their attendant check points, and passports – which would have been a problem if Rose hadn’t made a call to Torchwood. Then there were all the de-briefing sessions, and the reports – she was going to be filing paperwork until she died of old age at this rate. It had kept them busy though, filled in the time. John had been animated even, talking his way round his slightly exasperated handlers. He’d seemed to enjoy making Rose giggle.
But that just left them here. In her flat. Since John had been released into her custody, it wasn’t like they could have gone anywhere else.
Or. Well, there could have been a hotel in John’s name, but that seemed somehow churlish. Childish. As though she couldn’t face him. Or as though she didn’t care. And she did, that was the trouble. She cared too much.
John had finished bouncing on the sofa now, and was getting up again, looking at the things she had put out. Souvenirs, and silly stuff. She ducked her head. There was the photograph of Bad Wolf Bay in its silver frame. And her Mum and Dad with the baby. One of Mickey. And... Oh god. The grainy one, taken from security camera footage, of...
John ran his fingers lightly along the picture frames but didn’t pause. Rose thought she’d never been more grateful.
“I suppose...” he said, “I suppose it’s time to...”
“Go to sleep. Yeah,” said Rose, and swallowed, because her voice sounded far too high. “It’s been a long day, really. What with saving the multiverse.”
“Sleep...” said John, with a certain level of confusion. “Yes, I suppose so. And I’ll be expected to sleep every night, won’t I? Possibly five, six, or even seven hours a night. Novel.”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Well, yeah. You’re human now.”
The words fell flatter than she’d have liked. John was looking strained.
“It’s just... With so little time – it seems a terrible waste.”
And as easy as that, Rose felt like going pfft, you didn’t care when it wasn’t happening to you. When humans were all fascinating, and lovely, and so brilliant. Like candles in the dark. Well, now the shoe was on the other foot. She found she was actually impatient, and marvelled.
“There’s other ways we could waste time,” she said, instead, on auto-pilot.
And stopped, with her mouth open. Shocked. She hadn’t meant to say that, had she? Still, now John was looking less devastated and more embarrassed. It was probably better. She felt better anyway.
He was looking round, wildly, like the walls were closing in, or something, and Rose discovered she didn’t really like that. She wanted his attention. This man – John Smith – was all she had left. And although she hadn’t been going to, in fact, would have squirmed and been terrified at the very thought a few minutes ago, now, right now, she was stepping forward into his personal space.
He smelled like the Doctor, all electricity and spice.
“Hi,” she said, as she tugged him closer, “I’m Rose. Pleased to meet you.”
The real trouble was that John didn’t feel any different. Not unless he checked his pulse. Or felt for the TARDIS down that link that wasn’t even open any more. But even then, that wasn’t the whole problem. He’d been alone before, many times. He’d even been alone in a crowd – not that he wanted to think of it that way, but there had been many, many reasons why he’d run from Gallifrey and kept running, not least of which was that sometimes shouting to be heard is the least attractive option.
Sometimes here on this new Earth he felt like that.
Of course, it was nice to be wanted. His ego shouldn’t be flattered by that, it was just common sense on their part, even if most of his vast store of knowledge came from another universe. In actual fact, even knowing that it was flattery, it was hard to resist it, even when he ended up being fought over like some spoil of war. John wondered though if he should be more irritable about the petty squabbles, or more embarrassed, or just plain rise above it. He wasn’t sure. Thinking, what would the Doctor do however, seemed a sure-fire way to get him to bang Rose’s favourite mug down hard onto the countertop, until she looked over at him concerned, and he had to smile, and pull a silly face, before she got all worried about him. So perhaps he really wasn’t as ok with it as he seemed.
The trouble was that he had no choices. Or, at least, what choices he had seemed so terribly limited as to be no choice at all. It was worse in a way than when the High Council had trapped him on Earth, trying to force him to be what they wanted, punishing him for transgressing their laws, for interfering. Even then, exile had been bitter, but it was always going to be a heartbeat or two at most, in his long life. It hadn’t really mattered. Now every heartbeat was one less in a finite number, counting always down. He should perhaps find it ironic, he who had always been willing to sacrifice it all for the greater good. To sacrifice everything in a literal heartbeat. Why did it matter so much more now that he had so few?
Anyway, that’s how he’d ended up working for Torchwood. UNIT had battled for him too, and several governments, and John had let them. Knowing that he would only need to say the word and he could have as many Redcaps following him about as he pleased. His own palatial castle, if he’d wanted it. But gilded cages were still cages. If John was going to hate every second of this isolation, he may as well do it from within confines he could legitimately dislike. On the one hand, he told himself he didn’t want to taint the memories, on the other, even if the Brigadier came out of retirement to tap-dance to any tune John wished, he still wouldn’t be his Brigadier. A version of dear old Alastair who looked straight through him? John found it hurt to contemplate, like chewing razor blades. Disproportionate reaction, he told himself, and smiled and smiled at Rose, and lived in her two bedroom flat, with its five whole rooms, twenty minutes drive from Canary Wharf, and worked for Torchwood.
No-one minded if he was rude about Torchwood. It even made Rose smile.
“John, are you ready?” Rose called as she pattered down the steps into his basement. “I want you to put down the experiment, step away from the desk, and come and have lunch – you need to stoke your body with food regularly, remember? Anyway, I’ve got muffins. John?”
There was the usual ozone kind of scent in the air, like lightning in a bottle, but nothing was crackling, nothing was arcing or spitting. It looked like a good time to interrupt, as far as she could tell. Still, it also meant that John didn’t come popping up easily from behind a bench, all manic grin and full of energy. She liked those days.
“John?” said Rose, as she ventured a little further into the lab.
There were feet in trainers sticking out from under a console and Rose walked over to them, careful to avoid any lines of sight with unknown equipment, until she’d uncovered skinny linen-suited legs, and the slightly lifted edge of a cotton t-shirt. She contemplated the small strip of belly so revealed and tried to ignore the rush it gave her, heady and strong, like rapids pulling her down. She could kneel on the linoleum floor and run her hands under that t-shirt, trace the fine dusting of dark hair there, feel the hollow of his stomach as it curved towards ribs that rose and fell in quickened breathing... She was allowed to do all that. She could lean down and lick...
Her face flamed. Well, perhaps not before lunch. In Torchwood. Where levels of security had security. But still, she was allowed. Fuck, but that was a freeing thought.
“John?” she said again, more gently, and crouched down, noticing he was staring up at the underside of his desk, with his glasses on, for no obviously good reason.
She wanted to go back to the fantasy. She had a funny feeling it was going to be a lot less complicated than the real thing.
“Brilliant lovely Rose. Always looking after me. I don’t thank you enough for that, do I?” said John, his voice sort of small and far away.
“Come on, you can tell me over lunch, you great lump,” said Rose, her voice full of unnameable fondness, whether she wanted it there or not. “Tell me some more stories, tell me about Metebelis 3 and the giant spiders. Or... or... you must know one about rodents of unusual size. We can freak out all the secretaries. Get them to scream and stand on chairs.”
“Will that scare people then? Those kinds of monsters? Little monsters?” John was blinking now, but Rose didn’t think he was looking at her. “What about the big monsters? What about the things that live in the dark and the chaos, things with teeth and smiles, creatures with no emotions, beings that will dance on the pyres while you all burn!”
He sat up, abruptly, and Rose was afraid he would hit his head. He didn’t by some miracle.
“They’re out there, you know. They’re all out there, in the dark. And I’m stuck here.”
She stared into his eyes, before looking away. She wasn’t sure, even with all that she’d seen, that she could face that look. She wasn’t even sure she was capable of saying anything to help, not with her limited human mind, and tiny lifespan. But one thing she did know was that John wasn’t like the Doctor. They were similar but still... John was human, or as good as. He shared his creation, his DNA even, with Donna Noble, and that made a difference. Rose had fucking loved her, she’d been tough and determined, even in a world falling apart. Then she remembered. Donna’s Mum though…
It didn’t matter. All she had to go on were her purely human instincts, and she knew that the Doctor would approve of that, more than anyone. So she gathered John up, pulling him against herself, not caring now what the cameras saw.
“The Doctor wanted you to heal me. Make me better. Cure me of all the blood and anger and revenge,” whispered John. “Can you do that, Rose?”
She held him more tightly, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, turning his head into the crook of her neck. Hoping that merely human instincts would do.
The trouble was, John decided, was that he’d never been any good at sitting still. Even at school – or, well, he shouldn’t really call it that, Time Lord society had some unique takes on things, and John had always liked the whole idea of chalk on blackboard, and playgrounds, and morning milk, precisely because it was so alien to his own... Well. He was getting away from the important things.
He wasn’t good at rest, as it were. At resting. Luckily Rose was a heavy sleeper, so if he felt the occasional need to pace about a bit in the middle of the night then it rarely disturbed her. He didn’t want to disturb her. The living room in the flat was five paces wide, six if he skewed his path slightly to avoid the coffee table. When they visited Pete and Jackie at the mansion he would pace up and down their marble hallway instead. It was a satisfying twenty three paces long.
He didn’t want to disturb people, he didn’t want to upset anyone, but sometimes he felt as though there were ants under his skin, and that if he didn’t move, then they would come boiling out of his flesh in a fiery torrent, consuming him, and – not that he hadn’t already nearly had that happen to him back on... Garstang’s World? Epsilon Meridion? He couldn’t remember. That was another thing. John was worried that he was beginning to forget... stuff.
Still. There were good things too. He’d helped foil a plot by the Pleth, who’d been intent on turning Earth into their species’ equivalent of a get-away beach house, with mini-bar and barbeque pit. That had felt... That had felt... wonderful.
But he might have shouted at Yvonne Hartman. And someone in a lot of gold braid. And possibly at the President. And it might be that he’d hacked into his own record, and found John Smith described as a loose cannon, with orders to consult him only as a last resort. But it wasn’t as though he could leave it all behind, disappear into the whirlwinds of time and space, and come back in the future, with his record all fresh and clean. It wasn’t as though he could go anywhere. That was, in fact, the problem.
He’d never had to live through his own aftermath before. He found it unpleasantly sticky.
Rose sat in the kitchen with a cup of tea. Just like old times, really. Except the kitchen was the size of a small ballroom – or at least what she’d imagine a small ballroom would be like – since the mansion didn’t actually have one of those. It only had a large ballroom.
Her Mum was bustling about in it, just like she used to though, and the pink dressing gown was the same. Rose took another sip of tea and watched the organised chaos, before realising she was absently fingering a lumpy object in her jeans pocket. She let it go, and instead lifted her legs up onto the chair and hugged her knees.
John bustling around with Mum though, that was something different.
“How about if I do mushrooms – what do you reckon, Jackie? Bit of butter, bit of basil? Go lovely with the eggs and bacon.”
Jackie rolled her eyes, and nudged John in the ribs. “Ooh, listen to you. You’d think you cooked Sunday breakfast every day of the week!”
Rose winced. She opened her mouth, and then closed it again. What could she say? Mum was Mum. John hadn’t seemed to have paid attention to Mum’s gaffe though, that was... odd. Not worrying necessarily, unless you counted in every other difference in John. He really did seem to be more like... John, now. Not. The Doctor. He smelled of fabric softener these days, she’d noticed. Not spices.
“Hey! I’ll have you know, I used to bring Gramps his breakfast in bed all the time when I wasn’t temping...” John trailed off, his face turning white and pale.
There was a silence, before Jackie broke it. “Never mind that, just get those mushrooms cooked. I have to see to the baby.”
She left the room. Mum was surprisingly tactful sometimes, Rose decided. Or an enormous coward, depending on how you looked at it.
They stared at one another, and Rose wanted to go to him. To wrap him up in her arms and never let him go again. She didn’t move.
John turned away and picked up a knife. He chose a mushroom from the punnet, rinsed it in the sink, and then began to slice it, working carefully, methodically.
He wasn’t exactly talking to her, more to the mushroom on his chopping board, muttering to it. Rose wondered if it would help if she demanded he face her, if they had a blazing stand up row like Mum and Dad, like she used to have with Mickey.
She reached her hand down into her pocket, slightly awkwardly, given her knees were folded and the jeans tight, and withdrew a tubular spiky object which she placed on the table. It made a dull clunking noise and rolled slightly before coming to rest against the salt cellar.
John looked up and stared at it. So did Rose. The sonic screwdriver lay there, dark and inert, needing only to be wielded to light up the room with its hum, and its colour.
“Well...” Rose began.
“I made it,” said John, quickly, “Just. To be without one seemed... Where did you find it?”
“Around,” said Rose, just as quickly.
“I know it’s not fair,” said John, and there was a hopeless note in his voice that Rose didn’t like, “And I know we agreed. There are technologies that no agency on this planet at this point in the timeline should have access to, and we can’t trust any of them... But.”
“I know,” said Rose. And the worst of it was, she did.
It would take three thousand one hundred and forty two Earth years to grow a new TARDIS. John had worked it out. Even if he did shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabiliser, like Donna had blithely suggested, that still meant about fifty three years, give or take a few months. John wasn’t sure, because he hadn’t quite worked out how fast he was aging, but he was pretty confident that he was unlikely to survive to his ninetieth birthday.
He looked up into the night sky sometimes, when it was clear. Not that you could see much in London – the light of the city meant that all but the brightest stars were blocked out by the glare of humanity. Which was something he found he appreciated a lot more when he wasn’t surrounded by it permanently.
Even if he waited the required fifty three years, the resulting TARDIS would have been force-grown. John wasn’t sure what that might do to the developing personality, but he was sure that at best it wouldn’t be good. Not to mention that she wouldn’t have the normal stimuli a developing TARDIS could expect, and even if the thought of a sense-deprived TARDIS didn’t make his skin crawl then… Even then the TARDIS would need to be carved.
John found his fingers itching for a mono-knife, and a good old fashioned chisel. The songs he would croon to her, the stories he could tell. He could already hear them in his mind. And once he was finished, and she blossomed into life, her final form, at least for her first era of existence, then they could go travelling together, just like old times, except even better, because this would be his own TARDIS, not the Doctor’s. Not some TARDIS stolen randomly from the recycling yard and fixed in hodgepodge fashion, with a personality that rubbed along with your own because you both had to, growing to love one another only through necessity. And if he was out there… If he was out there among the stars, among the teeming worlds and beautiful fantastic possibilities, then who knew? Who could say what the future would bring?
A new body? A whole new lease of life?
It was dream he shouldn’t indulge, and John knew that. But he barely thought about it really. The Doctor had said that he should stay with Rose, and he should be content with that. After all, he was made by accident in a combination of unique circumstances. He had no right to the little life he did have – a Time Lord/Human metacrisis? What were the odds of that? Astronomical! And he loved Rose, he did. He should count his blessings, as the old saying went, and be grateful.
But the Doctor’s imagination was limitless and vast. Hardly unsurprisingly, John found his own was only a shade smaller. And gratitude was a shirt that chafed much sooner than you might think.
As she cranked open the garage door, the stupid thing rattled and banged as it ratcheted upwards. The chains were in desperate need of some oil, which was such a basic level of maintenance to be missing, that Rose thought it was typical, really. She flinched a little at the noise she was making, but it wasn’t as though she was doing anything wrong. Or at least… nothing worse than thousands of other women had done over the centuries, suspicious of their menfolk. Looking for lipstick on the collar, an earring under the bed. Rose smiled without much humour. It wasn’t a good analogy, but it was close enough.
Or maybe… This was almost a lock-up, really. Out on a piece of waste-ground, a little bit of the old docklands that hadn’t yet been developed, with a solitary rickety structure in the middle. Rose almost expected to look round and see a bunch of East End gangsters about to do a deal, drugs or money-laundering, their minders coming over to have a word.
That would have been preferable really.
There was a hum that grew louder as the door was raised. She could see quantities of lights too that blinked in a comforting sort of pattern. Blues, and greens, and ambers, nothing in red, nothing concerning, except for the whole fucking set up in the first place. She ducked under the door before she’d got it fully open, and stood, hands on her hips, staring.
It was hard to know where to start. There was some kind of… power source, she could work that much out. Some kind of giant cell battery or power plant? And that was attached to a cage of wires and tubes and valves, and lots of other… stuff, she didn’t have names for. And that was wired to a tube, or a pod, the size of a man, but it wasn’t complete, she didn’t think it was. There were still holes in the side. But there were a lot of raw materials stacked around the walls.
There was a noise outside suddenly, a kind of scraping sound, and Rose jumped. She clutched the torch she’d stupidly brought with her, instead of her gun. John didn’t like her to carry a gun, so mostly she’d stopped, but right about now…
She breathed out in a little sigh of relief when John ducked under the door, and then flushed, as awareness of her – yes, there was no denying it – her spying rushed over her. Then she turned equally pale, as the anger came snapping back. How dare he? How could he?
“It’s not what you think,” said John, perpetuating the cheating partner cliché so completely she felt like hitting him. “Or. At least. I don’t think so. What do you think it is?”
“I think…” She paused. What precisely did she think? “I think you’re building a TARDIS.”
“Growing,” John corrected. Rose wondered if there was any kind of justifiable homicide where Time Lords came from.
“I think you’re growing a TARDIS, when we’d already decided it was too bloody dangerous, and would take far too much time.” She thought she kept her voice remarkably calm in the circumstances.
John stood next to her, rocking on the balls of his feet, his hands in his pockets. Rose decided she didn’t want to look at him. The anger was a white sheet in her mind, but there were tears underneath, she could feel them. She didn’t want to give in. But the really terrible part of the whole situation was that John was glowing, was almost shining, with suppressed glee. Oh, not literally, although she wouldn’t put anything past him, if it came down to it, but not in this case. No, what made it worse was that John was almost vibrating with excitement, with happiness. If the anger wasn’t keeping her going, she’d probably be giving in to cold clammy fear right about now. Because the worst thing – the very worst thing? She’d never seen John like this – the Doctor, yes, she’d seen him bouncing around, like an over-eager puppy. But not John, never John. Which meant she’d never seen him truly happy. She felt rather as though he’d punched her in the stomach.
“Oh. Well. You do know what it is,” said John, “Except it’s not quite as… simple as that.”
Rose wanted to say, really? Was it ever?
“Look, I know that if Torchwood gets hold of all this…” His hand came out of his pocket and swept across the confusion of the room. “Civilization as we know it will come to an end. Blah blah. ‘If it’s alien it’s ours’ etc. I know all that. I’ve put safeguards in place, I promise. I’m the last person to want to play fast and loose with the timeline – in fact, I’m going to have to rely on it to an extraordinary degree. It’s rather exhilarating. Seat of the pants stuff, trust me.”
Rose thought, I do trust you… Doctor. It’s John Smith I have the doubts about.
He was striding forward now, like a child eager to show off. “I needed the sonic screwdriver to help me build all this. And, of course, I had to buy all the bits and pieces from different sellers. Online, of course, but there’s also this rather lovely little junk yard down Totter’s Lane, remarkable it’s still here in this universe, actually, and then there’s… Well, I don’t suppose that matters, but I’ve been careful, do you see? Because we don’t want to arouse suspicion, do we? Which is why it’s not finished yet, but don’t worry – soon. It really will be soon.”
Rose wondered if he realised how much he sounded like the Doctor. She wondered when she’d stopped noticing that usually he didn’t.
John ran his hand lovingly down the battery-like object. “I had to build this first. It’s a miniature cold fusion generator, very efficient, very clean. Half-life of five thousand years, which will suit me, because I only need three thousand or so, give or take. And it needs to power the shield and the isomorphic growth stimulator, not to mention the suspension pods, so efficiency is important. Love these. Reliable through dozens of wars, which is just as well, really.”
He stopped, looking across at her. His hair was more tousled than usual, and there was a spot of dirt on his cheek. His eyes were snapping with life. She wanted to smile at him, but she couldn’t, because it hurt so fucking much.
“What will be soon?” she asked, making her mouth form the words, letting her breath push the sounds out past her teeth and lips, despite knowing in her bones – knowing for certain – that she didn’t want the answer.
He turned to look at her but she wouldn’t let herself catch his eye. “It’s the TARDIS, you see,” he said, unbearably gently. “She can’t be alone. I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Tell me what will happen soon – John.” She was fierce, like a lioness protecting cubs that were already dying. “Tell me exactly what you are going to do. You owe me that…” She broke off, because what precisely did he owe her? A miserable existence? A flat in Canary Wharf? What could he thank her for?
“I am going to put myself into suspended animation inside an impervious energy shield for three thousand years,” said John, gravely. “I am going to dream many, many slow dreams, and the developing TARDIS will dream them with me. She will not go mad from being force-grown.”
Unlike me, seemed to be the unspoken part of that sentence.
It seemed they were both speaking in clichés today. Rose didn’t want to, but how could she not?
“What about me?” asked Rose Tyler, and her voice was small, but calm and cool, although the tears were finally falling. She could feel them running in hot trickles down her icy cheeks.
“Do you remember?” said John, “What he said, just before the universes closed. ‘The Doctor. In the TARDIS. With Rose Tyler. Just as it should be.’ That’s what I’m choosing. If you want it, Rose. There’ll be two pods, I’m building two pods.”
She looked at him then, and she flinched. She couldn’t say he didn’t love her, because it was all there in his eyes. But there was so much more, complex and alien and eternal. There would always be so much more.
It must always be this way with the Doctor, in all his incarnations, she thought, hopelessly. Presented with the impossible choice, he found the third way.
She’d been going to travel with the Doctor forever, once upon a time. But there was her family, her work. Her memory of the knowledge that she was hesitating. Living with John had changed her somehow, had changed them.
John Smith turned away, and she sagged, as though the string between them had been cut. As though a powerful light that had been keeping her at attention, had suddenly gone out. She felt ashamed.
“Your key will work,” said the Doctor, after a moment. “I’ll modulate the energy shield to allow you entry. Only you, your isomorphic pattern, in all those thousands of years.”
He patted the growth stimulator lovingly, his lips twisted into something like a smile, his eyes shadowed, looking down, eyelashes fanning delicately.
“We’ll be waiting, if you ever change your mind.”