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As they walked along the street Rose shifted the plastic bag from hand to hand, moving it to the other the moment the handle twisted, cordlike, and began to cut into the soft skin of her palm. She didn't know why her mother insisted on them buying so much wine – she'd likely fall asleep before they were finished the second chardonnay – but they'd been sent out with a list as long as her forearm and the Doctor's innate fear of crossing Jackie Tyler had made him fill the trolley with several additional bottles of red “just in case”. Now they lugged their spoils back to the estate, keeping up a cracking pace even as Rose's arms began to tire, and her fingers started to go numb at the tips.

 

'These legs, Rose Tyler, are brilliant,' he was telling her, taking a larger step than necessary to prove just how brilliant they were. 'Look at the bounce! Flexibility, that's what that is. Strong thigh muscles, too. I wonder if I'll be a decent swimmer, this time. Wasn't really before. More of a long-distance running type of man. Do you think these are swimming legs?'

 

She puffed out a breath, making an annoying strand of hair flutter helplessly before landing back on her face. 'Maybe,' Rose said, slowly, giving them a once over. OK, a twice over, but it wasn't really her fault: in those new trousers of his everything was on display, and his legs happened to go all the way to his bum. 'Look a bit thin to be swimming legs.'

 

The Doctor turned around, spluttering in disbelief, and walked backwards so he could look at her. 'I'll have you know these legs would be lauded – lauded– on the water planet Aqualeron, and let me tell you, the Aqualeroni are most discerning when it comes to their appendages. Can't even get into the Water-Slide Hemisphere without a nice set of gams.'

 

'Gams?' She teased, raising an eyebrow. 'Didn't know you were a 1930's private eye.'

 

'Oh, Rose,' the Doctor breathed, a smirk just about appearing in the corner of his mouth, 'there's so much you don't know about me.'

 

The sudden rush of heat she felt at his words was embarrassing. He was very good at making her flustered, these days, and seemed to enjoy it thoroughly. Instead of meeting his eyes, she focused on the bag she was holding, preferring translucent green plastic over warm brown eyes; they were just as knowing as when they'd been blue, if not more. With a great deal of concentration, more than was required, she moved the shopping from one hand to the other, shaking her arm to revive it and wincing at the pins and needles that spread along her veins.

 

When it became apparent that Rose had nothing to say to his comment the Doctor turned around again (she imagined that flicker of disappointment, she must have) and resumed facing the way he was going – probably for the best, all things considered. He fell into step next to her, his hip occasionally bumping hers as he walked jauntily along the pavement.

 

'So,' he finally said, breaking their sort of companionable silence, 'what is the plan for this evening? I mean, you lot don't really excel at New Year celebrations until the 24th Century, but even now you still put the effort in, I'll give you that.'

 

She rolled her eyes and dashed forward, opening the door to the stairwell with her free hand. The Doctor slipped through and she followed him, keeping her gaze firmly off his backside. That was the kind of thing you were meant to do, right? Not looking at your best friend's bum as they walked up the stairs, even if they were wearing really, really tight (obnoxiously tight, she corrected) trousers?

 

'If that's how you feel, you're probably gonna be disappointed,' Rose warned. 'Mum's looking for a quiet night in, I think. She keeps grumblin' that she had “too much excitement” over Christmas.'

 

'The woman gets attacked by a Christmas tree and thinks she's an action hero,' he muttered. It wasn't nearly as cutting a remark as she expected it to be.

 

Rose was glad he didn't push her on why she didn't have any big plans. She'd had options: Shareen was going on a pub crawl and had invited her out – well, she'd invited everyone in her phone's address book – and Trisha Delaney was throwing a party a few suburbs over, but neither appealed to her. There was nothing about spending hours shouting small talk over thumping house music whilst she watched her drink for roofies that really struck Rose as “fun”. Explaining to a 900-year-old-alien that she found it hard to relate to her old friends after he took her through time and space would probably be a difficult and pointless conversation, even if she used diagrams and graphs. Her specific 900-year-old-alien had little interest in the tangled mess that made up human interactions and relationships. He was more interested in jam.

 

'Well,' the Doctor said, tearing her from her thoughts, 'you might as well enlighten me: what does a Jackie-Tyler-Quiet-Night-In look like?'

 

'Too many glasses of wine,' Rose said, making the bottles in her bag clink together carefully in evidence, 'and board games until fireworks. I've shredded her last three Twister mats, but she may've splurged when Christmas shopping, so watch out, yeah?'

 

She couldn't see his face, so she had to imagine the look of horror, the one that would have matched the little shudder she saw shake his shoulders. 'I am not playing Twister with your mother – drunk or otherwise.'

 

They reached the top of the stairs and she let him in to the flat. The place was a mess, still. More than the usual clutter that made Rose feel at home, the books and shoes and half-empty biscuit packets. She and her mum never seemed to get around to cleaning up after Christmas until the third or fourth day of the new year; it was like a little bubble of holiday happiness preserved for as long as the tree was up.

 

Right now there was wrapping paper littering the floor in festive, wrinkled bundles. Gifts were strewn about the place, left on the coffee table, or on the couch as the recipient grew bored and moved on to something else. The Doctor had draped a particularly garish jumper over the bookcase, a gift from Jackie, and her mother's new volume on theoretical physics (“Oh, this is children's stuff, but it'll get you started!”) was propping open the door to the laundry. Around the Christmas tree there was a ring of ornaments, moulted off as the plastic limbs sagged; the tinsel was threadbare and drooping a bit 'round the middle.

 

Rose thought the place had never looked better.

 

The kitchen was the neatest of the rooms, with only the plates from breakfast left in the sink. Jackie had enlisted Rose and Mickey to help clean up after their Christmas meal; the Doctor managed to skive off by making loud comments about how clumsy he felt in the new body. He'd been making tea all week in recompense, compelled by a Rose-Tyler-Glare-of-Doom.

 

Now, Rose dumped her grocery bag on the counter, glad to be free of its weight. Her hands were freezing – the twenty minute walk from the shops had been just long enough for her to regret not wearing gloves. She rubbed them together briskly.

 

She hadn't managed to raise their temperature much when the Doctor stepped forward. There was a slight hesitancy in the way he glanced at her, but before she could puzzle over it, he said: 'Let me?'

 

Nodding, she wriggled her fingers at him. His eyebrows drew together seriously, lending the occasion remarkable weight, as he carefully covered her hands with his much larger ones. Usually, his body was cooler than hers, just a few degrees off – it was something about Time Lord biology that never really made sense to her. Right now, though, he felt markedly warmer, like he'd been holding a mug of tea just moments before. It was gorgeous, and she made a happy noise as heat seeped back into her flesh.

 

With gentle motions he slid his palms across the back of her hands, his thumbs moving to stroke the skin of her wrist that had escaped her jacket's sleeve. Everywhere he touched, warmth followed, chasing away the chill of a cold winter's day. It was probably wrong that it felt that good – he was just helping her thaw, after all – but Rose still couldn't stop herself from shivering in pleasure. His fingers tightened and she flicked her gaze upwards, meeting his eyes.

 

Honestly, she shouldn't have been surprised that his expression was unfamiliar, not since he'd gone and regenerated. She'd found that there were usually analogues from his old face, though, ones she could remember seeing formed with different eyebrows, a larger mouth; different planes and curves. Now, his eyes were dark and focused on her so intently that she felt transparent in front of him. This was completely new, completely foreign - Rose would definitely have remembered if he'd looked at her this way before, because her lips were dry and she didn't feel cold anymore; she felt blazing hot.

 

Her reaction made her flounder, suddenly, her body stilling and her eyes going wide as she mentally flailed. It was too much. Far, far too much. It was one thing for her to be attracted to this new Doctor with his cute bum and great hair; she'd been attracted to her old Doctor, too - you don't wear a leather jacket and tell a girl to forget you without piquing her interest. But there'd always been distance between them, enforced, naturally, by the man himself. Whenever she pushed forward, he pulled back. It didn't matter if he'd been watching her all night, following the swirls of fabric of her dress as she danced with courtiers and diplomats, or if she'd surprised him by running her fingers through his bristly hair on her way to the control room: he would retreat into himself, hiding behind a manic grin and eyes too complex to read.

 

But now, today, he was the one crossing the distance between them. He was the one smoothing his thumbs over her knuckles even though, by itself, the motion wouldn't really warm up her hands. There was no tension in his slight frame – the slope of his shoulders was relaxed, and his cheek was dimple-less, and Rose refused to read into the fact she knew his body language already, not even a week in. He didn't look ready to bolt; there was no cruel remark waiting on his tongue. He hadn't mentioned the TARDIS's engines, or some fantastic place they should visit right now.

 

He was absolutely fine, standing in her mum's kitchen, stroking her hands and making her skin sing.

 

Rose blinked, realising she'd been staring at his tie for several minutes, and glanced up at him again. He was looking at her like she was the only person in the entire universe. Now, that was an expression she remembered from the old Doctor. Only, it had never been this overt, and never when they were so close that their shoes were touching.

 

As if he'd been waiting for her attention to return to him, the Doctor slowly raised their clasped hands to his mouth. She bit her lip, completely on edge; she had no idea what he was about to do, and at this point anything seemed plausible. Would he kiss them? Bite them? Oh, Christ, what if he sucked her fingers? Rose actually heard herself swallow, something she thought only happened in books (and not even good books. Trashy books).

 

To her relief – disappointment? - he, instead, created an opening in the cage of his hands. It was just large enough for him to blow in a stream of heated breath on to her fingers. The puff of air tickled, and suddenly the mood was broken; Rose giggled and squirmed away, stealing her hands back from him and shoving them into her pockets.

 

He moved backwards and smiled that new, silly smile of his – all soft and lovely, and like he had the biggest secret in the world. Rose screwed her hands into fists, trying to stop the tingling on her skin from where he'd touched her.

 

'Better?' he asked, all innocence.

 

Now she was sure he was doing it on purpose – no one could look so guileless without being up to something. The thought made her heart race and so she ducked her head and nodded. 'Yeah,' Rose said, then cleared her throat. 'Thanks for that.'

 

'Oh, it was my pleasure, Rose,' he informed her cheerfully. 'Wouldn't have wanted you to lose a finger or – perish the thought – a thumb. I'm a big fan of the opposable thumb. Utterly brilliant piece of evolutionary flair.'

 

The Doctor started unpacking the groceries, oblivious, it seemed, to the domestic nature of the act. After recovering from her shock, Rose helped put away the bottles of wine. They'd bought snacks, too, things to nibble on as they waited for midnight to strike. The Doctor had obtained a wide variety of biscuits – everything from chocolate digestives to Jaffa Cakes (despite their dubious status) were represented – but it had been Rose who'd added things like grapes and crackers and cheese to the basket, knowing her mother would be unimpressed with a house full of nothing but sweets.

 

'Dead useful for all sorts of things, thumbs,' he continued, opening the fridge and placing a block of rather good cheddar on a shelf. 'There's making and operating tools. Hitchhiking. Thumbs up. Thumbs down. Insulting a rival house, but you've got to be careful with the biting part of that, Rose – don't want to get over zealous.' He leaned back against the counter, tongue touching his top lip to aid in the thinking process. She was a big fan of that new quirk; she wondered if there was a way to encourage it without coming across as strange. 'What else is there?'

 

Rose put a few bottles of white on the bottom rack of the fridge and closed the door. 'Thumb rings,' she suggested, flashing her own beaded ring as evidence. 'Oh, an' mittens! Can't have mittens without thumbs. They'd just sort of... fall off, wouldn't they?'

 

The Doctor giggled, amused. This whole regeneration business, it seemed to Rose, was a lot like painting over wallpaper; it looked different, covering the wall with a fresh coat and all, but the old pattern seemed to bleed through in places, giving hints of cabbage roses and paisleys. Or, in this case, a wide grin taking up half his face.

 

He let it melt into a mock-solemn expression as he said: 'You are absolutely correct, Rose Tyler. And who would want to live in a world without mittens?'

 

Her response was cut off by her mother bursting through the front door, Mickey in tow. They were mid-argument and their voices were loud, bleeding through the thin walls of the flat. Officially, it was a friendly debate, concerning the rules of Monopoly. Unofficially, it was a long running, blood-drawing battle of wills between the pair, and one Rose had been caught in the middle of too many times to count. Though she was sick of the topic, she found herself rather looking forward to the Doctor throwing his opinion into the ring: knowing him, it would be based on some version from the 52nd Century where they were all space-communists and you couldn't own property.

 

Wordlessly, Rose tipped her head towards the living room and the Doctor followed her out of the kitchen to investigate what all the fuss was about.

 

'Look, puttin' money under Free Parking makes the game go on forever,' Mickey was saying as he hung up their coats. Jackie bustled through the flat, pausing to peck Rose's cheek on her way to the couch. 'I read the instructions. It's not even in there!' He was getting exasperated, Rose could tell – his voice was heavy and gruff. 'If you give the money back to the bank, we finish up four hours early.'

 

'You know why they call 'em house rules, Mickey?' Jackie asked. 'It's 'cause when you play Monopoly in my house, you play the way I say you play it.' She crossed her arms and set her best gimlet stare on him. 'An' I say you put the money under Free Parking.'

 

No one was surprised when the young man folded. 'Fine, have it your way. But don't blame me when you're still playin' the bloody thing at 2 in the morning.' He paused, then added: 'And I'm being the race car.'

Chapter Text

Dinner was a not-entirely-awful roast beef, with Yorkshire puddings and peas and mashed potatoes. The Doctor ate it all dutifully, even going as far as to compliment Jackie on the gravy. Rose's mother demanded to know what he meant by that, and he spent a good five minutes convincing her that he hadn't been making fun of her cooking.

 

Afterwards, Mickey got the box of Monopoly out of the hallway closet and they began setting it up on the coffee table. Rose went to get another bottle of wine, and came back to a dangerous game of seat arrangement politics.

 

Mickey was sitting by himself in the arm chair, glowering at the board and the £500 resting under Free Parking. She could probably squeeze in next to him, if she didn't mind being in his lap half the evening; a year ago, and she'd not have thought twice about it. Her mum had perched herself right on the end of the lounge suite. There was enough room for at least two more people, if the people in question wanted to join her and didn't mind the fact she'd likely get up to use the bathroom ten minutes in and find a way to sit between them on the way back.

 

The Doctor was, of course, sprawled out on the floor, shoes off and glasses on, poking at the dice to ensure they weren't loaded. Rose had no idea how loaded dice would actually help in a game of Monopoly, but she assumed there must be a reason for it.

 

Before she could decide where to throw her lot, he patted a pile of cushions next to him, eyes still on the board, and said: 'Rose, do these dice look funny to you?'

 

She sank down on the floor, not sure whether to feel terribly relieved that he'd made up her mind for her, or guilty that there was no decision, not really, when it came down to it. Leaning forward, avoiding both her mum's hurt expression or the eye roll Mickey gave her as he poured them all drinks, Rose took a look at the dice in question. They did appear a little off, she decided. Certainly not the pair that came with the board game.

 

'Are those the ones Jack stole from Las Vegas?' She asked, settling in to the little mound of pillows the Doctor had created for her. Her movements made their elbows knock and their thighs brush together - only briefly, but it was enough for her to appreciate that he really was thin under that suit. Thin, and with brilliant thigh muscles, just like he'd said. Rose tried not to think about what else he was hiding beneath all those the layers. 'Don't know how he did it,' she continued. 'I was sure he didn't have pockets in that outfit he was wearin'.'

 

The Doctor scooped up the dice. 'No, couldn't be. Could they?' His nose was practically pressed against them. 'They are! look, they've even got the logo right there, on the side.'

 

Rose laughed delightedly and took a healthy sip from her wine glass. 'I can't believe you got us kicked out of that casino. You just had to count cards, didn't you? Even after I told you they were on to you.'

 

He waved a hand at her, dismissing her complaints. 'Pah. For one thing, it wasn't “card counting”, which, by the way, is primitive and just a step up from guessing. It was a careful analysis of the timelines. Combined with my naturally superior senses, allowing me to know precisely when people were bluffing. There's all sorts of information you lot give out – increased heart rate, the release of epinephrine, excess sweat production,' she made a face, which he ignored, 'and, I just used those details to act accordingly. Secondly,' the Doctor threw the dice on to the board, rolling a pair of sixes, and pinned her with a stern glare, 'if you, Rose Tyler, hadn't been flirting with the dealer, they'd never have suspected anything.'

 

She grinned at him, shrugging unapologetically. All she'd done was compliment the man on his bow-tie; Jack had been the one asking what time he finished his shift (and if he wanted company). Nonetheless, her weakness for pretty boys and nice suits had taken up the Doctor's breath as he ranted for the two-mile trek back to the TARDIS.

 

'Are you two just about done?' Jackie asked, her tone tart.

 

The Doctor cocked an eyebrow at Rose in question, deferring to her. Her answer was a firm nod of her head, and she suppressed the urge to beam at him. She loved it when they could communicate without words. She loved it even more that it seemed to have only improved since he regenerated. The interplay was not missed by her mother; she sniffed in disapproval, very quietly, and her lips grew thin as she pressed them together.

 

'Right, no one buys on the first go 'round,' Jackie went on, making Mickey sigh in disgust, 'an' all fines go under Free Parking. Whoever lands on it, gets the kitty.'

 

Mickey handed out starting money, having reminded Jackie that the last time she was banker they'd spent half an evening fishing between the couch cushions, looking for the rest of the £20 notes. As usual, Rose put a little cash aside, tucking a small bundle of it in her bra for later. It was completely thoughtless, the action, so she was surprised that when she looked up it was to find the Doctor staring at her. Staring at her. Staring at her, with his mouth hanging open. With his cheeks staining a faint pink. Staring at her, like he was just any other man who had caught a glimpse of cleavage and suddenly didn't know what to do with himself.

 

Rose quickly dropped her hands. The Doctor jumped in surprise, nearly spilling his drink.

 

'Oi, be careful, will you? You'll get red wine all over my carpets going on like that,' Jackie complained, shooting him a sharp look.

 

'Don't know how you'd notice,' the Doctor mumbled under his breath, taking a glance at the horrendous rug Rose's mother had bought at an estate sale. 'Already looks like someone's trampled cake into it.'

 

Rose was very thankful for the sudden burst of five-hours-early fireworks from the street. Jackie forgot all about the Doctor's insults and rushed to the window to shout at the drunken teenagers who were whooping and cheering at their own cleverness. The distraction also served to help the Doctor recover; he smirked at her and took a very smug swig from the wine that had got him in trouble in the first place. Rose smacked his knee, a “behave-around-my-mother” smack, which made him smirk even further. If I didn't know any better, she thought, I'd swear he was flirting with me.

 

Some minutes later, disaster struck.

 

'Where's the race car?' Mickey cried, upending the little plastic bag of tokens on to the table so he could search through its contents. 'I'm always the race car.'

 

Jackie swatted his hands away and had a look herself. 'Oh, must've gone missing, love.' She plucked the horse rider out of the jumble for herself and placed it on “Go”. 'Rose, did I ever tell you that your Grandpa Prentice used to work in the stables? He was going to be a jockey an' everything, until he had his growth spurt.'

 

Rose slid the boot across the board – at some point she'd painted it bright pink with nail polish, making it match a pair of shoes she'd owned at the time. 'Yeah, mum. And they told him no one wanted a six foot jockey so he had to go drive taxis, but he never stopped caring for horses and he took you to see them when you were a girl,' she rattled off, having heard the story every time they played Monopoly. 'Be the little dog, Mickey.'

 

'No way. This is bullshit,' he complained, crossing his arms over his chest. 'I don't have to stand for this. I could be at Trisha's New Year's Eve party.'

 

'Yeah, you could,' the Doctor conceded, drawing out the words like taffy. He had a playing piece in his hand and was rolling it between his fingers; Rose could tell it wasn't the dog, but she hadn't seen him pick it up from the table. When he directed his gaze at Mickey, it could only be described as “piercing”, and his next question was very mild in comparison. Deceptively so, naturally. 'But you're not, are you?'

 

'He's too scared of Trisha's new boyfriend,' Rose informed him before Mickey could say something stupid. She nudged the Doctor's shoulder with her own. The plan was to lessen the intensity of the conversation; the brilliant smile he gave her, the one that made a warmth spread into her stomach, was just a bonus. 'Remember the bloke we saw at the shops? The tall one?'

 

'Oh! Blimey, I was scared of him,' the Doctor said earnestly. 'The man was big enough to be considered a gang unto himself.'

 

'Oh, leave poor Mickey alone,' Jackie admonished, giving his arm a fond pat. 'He's jus' sensitive.' The Doctor's nearly silent snickers made her turn on him again. 'Now what piece are you goin' to be, Doctor, or are we goin' to talk about Trisha Delaney's boyfriend all night?'

 

He sobered and, with great reverence, placed the token he'd been holding on to the board. Rose gasped and snatched it up from “Go”. 'How on earth did you get a TARDIS Monopoly piece?'

 

'Can't a man have his secrets?' He asked, somewhat peevishly. The Doctor only ever used that tone of voice when he was hiding something either very uncool - the box of trainspotter magazines he had under the TARDIS console - or very, very dangerous – the time he told her to “just shut up and cover your eyes for a moment, would you?” then proceeded to blow up an embassy.

 

With no further interruptions (apart from Mickey muttering occasionally about how unfair it was that the Doctor got a TARDIS when he had to be the scottie dog), they began. Jackie took Old Kent Road, and The Angel Islington. Mickey managed to win £10 in a beauty pageant; Rose thought the Doctor was going to spit wine all over the game board, the way he struggled to hold back his laughter. She pumped her fist in the air when she landed on her favourite – Pall Mall. A few turns later, when the Doctor bought Vine Street, she grinned (tongue between her teeth) and stuck out her hand for him to shake, saying: 'Welcome to the neighbourhood.'

 

Somewhere between Mickey buying the Electric Company and being sent to jail, Jackie decided what the game needed was a drinking element and insisted everyone take a drink when they landed on someone else's property. And when a player rolled doubles. Or landed on “Go”. There were a fair number of drinks involving the jail and the Chance cards, but by the time she brought those up she was slurring her words. It only took Jackie two goes 'round the board before she was too tipsy to realise the rest of the players were far less enthusiastic about the drinking game – to the point of not participating.

 

'Mayfair! Brilliant!' The Doctor sat up straighter so he could give Mickey the money. Mickey's mouth was set in a tense line. He'd waxed lyrical about the blue block and how he was going to buy it. Now he handed over the property card with very poor grace. 'Oh, I love Mayfair. All posh and blue,' he told Rose as he reclined again.

 

'Should have picked you as a Mayfair man,' she replied. 'You an' your suit.' A thought struck her. 'Oh, my God! Are you The Man now? You are! You're The Man!'

 

The Doctor gasped in mock outrage. 'I am not! You take that back right this instant, Rose Tyler!' He stroked his tie, almost comfortingly, and affected a stern expression as he looked down at her. 'I am completely anti the establishment. You show me any and all establishments and I will be anti them, thank you very much.' Turning cajoling, he said: 'Please? I don't want to be The Man.'

 

She just shook her head, her eyes laughing. 'Nope,' her plosive popped, the same way his did, now. 'Sorry, Doctor.'

 

He sighed and collapsed melodramatically on the floor. They were in matching positions like this, lying back with their arms stretched out behind them, supporting their weight. 'This isn't finished, Rose,' he told her. 'But, the more pressing issue is: should I get Park Lane as well?'

 

He was looking at her carefully, waiting for her response. She had a flippant answer, an agreement, one that would piss off Mickey no end, but just as she opened her mouth she felt the slightest touch against her little finger. It was so soft, nothing more than a whisper of skin on skin. In fact, Rose wasn't entirely sure she hadn't imagined it. She didn't dare look down, though: if she did, she might change the outcome, like it was that morbid cat thing the Doctor had mentioned once. It might have only been a twitch of his hand, having fallen too close to hers as he arranged himself on the floor.

 

A second later, and the action was repeated, surer and bolder, moving from the base of her finger to the tip. This time she was positive it wasn't her brain firing phantom messages; it was the Doctor. The Doctor, touching her hand out of context – not holding her hand as they raced back to the TARDIS, or him warming up her frozen fingers. This was a caress, the sort you did when you were on a first date and nervous as hell; when the need to reach out and make contact is so strong, you'll just explode, right there, if you don't.

 

Her eyes widened in surprise; her ribcage expanded rapidly, suddenly filling with hope and anticipation at the idea that maybe, finally, something was going to happen between them. It made her chest feel tight and heavy, and her lungs feel starved for air.

 

The Doctor went completely still, stopping the gentle motion of his finger. He must have misinterpreted her reaction, because his features flickered, a flash of distress showing briefly, then closed. Rose could see panic setting in, and God, the last thing she wanted was to discourage him, so she smiled and said, 'Oh, it's always better with two,' and inched her hand closer until her pinky brushed over his.

 

He let out a small, relieved sigh, one she'd have missed if she hadn't been waiting for it, and nodded in agreement. 'Yeah.'

 

It was Jackie's go next, but Rose could barely focus. Every last scrap of her attention was being spent on mapping the Doctor's little finger with her own. The pad of her fingertip was over sensitised, seeming to thrum with electricity; she could feel the individual hairs that dusted his knuckle, the beginnings of a callous on the side of his finger. Skating over the smooth nail, she traced the edge, approving the neatness of his manicure. She darted into the valley between his fingers and she was amused by his shiver at the too-light sensation. He almost jerked his hand away, but settled for curling his fingers into the pile of the carpet.

 

As Jackie tossed the rent for Northumberland Avenue at Rose, the Doctor turned the tables: he stole more ground, shifting his hand forward until he could entwine their ring and little fingers loosely. Rose wondered how she was meant to strike back – he literally had the upper hand - but soon discovered that she was still able to stroke the side of his finger with the tip of hers, and the Doctor could squeeze her hand gently in return. She would draw a swirling line along his little finger, and he would respond by bringing up two fingertips to run across the back of her hand.

 

It was ridiculous, the game they were playing. After everything they'd been through – the hugging, the adventures, the crashing and colliding and “I need something made from a blend of cotton and nylon – Rose! Your shirt! It's perfect!” - somehow this, the innocent-but-not-quite tussle of hands and fingers was the furthest they'd ever pressed their relationship. It was enough to make her feel prickly all over.

 

Somewhere, miles away, Mickey rolled the dice and finally managed to get out of jail. He landed on Free Parking.

 

'Not a word,' he warned Jackie, sliding the thick wad of notes out from under the corner of the board.

 

'I wassant goin' to say anythin',' she said, spreading her hands in an exaggerated shrug that nearly tipped her drink all over the Doctor's lap.

 

'Mum, it's just a sip when you land on something, yeah?' Rose reminded her mother, pleased that her voice was calm and not breathy, like she'd feared. The second bottle of red was half empty, and as far as she could tell only Jackie had refilled her drink. And refilled it. And refilled it.

 

'I know that,' Jackie protested. 'Don't have to get snippy.'

 

Pitched low enough for only Rose to hear, the Doctor murmured, 'Your mother - a belligerent drunk? I'd never have picked it.'

 

She huffed out a small, amused laugh. It was that, or moan from the shot of arousal she'd felt at having his breath against her ear, and somehow that didn't seem quite appropriate. It was her turn, so she sat up, moving closer to the coffee table; immediately she felt a pang of regret and anxiety from removing her hand from under the Doctor's. Please, please, please don't change your mind, she thought as she tossed the dice. If he tries to pretend this never happened I will scream. I will actually scream - so loud that they'll hear me in Dover.

 

Rose walked her shoe across the board, counting the spaces to herself. It stopped on Park Lane.

 

Mickey clapped his hands together, obviously pleased with the potential for conflict. 'Ooh, now this should be fun.'

Chapter Text

'Now, now, Mickey,' the Doctor cautioned. 'There are plenty of variables to consider. Don't want to leap to any conclusions.'

 

He followed Rose in sitting up, leaning in close so he could examine the playing field carefully over the rims of his glasses. And that was completely unfair — him continuing to wear them — because it wasn't as if she'd known she'd find them sexy, not until he whipped them out on Christmas, still wearing his paper crown and with a smear of gravy on his cuff.

 

She pushed that thought aside and inspected the board as well.

 

The Doctor had been aggressive in his approach, buying up property left and right. He'd managed to build on the orange colour block already; if he got Park Lane, he'd have two corners of the board over developed, ready to gouge the unlucky player who landed there.

 

In having moved closer to the coffee table, the Doctor's left arm was now pressing against her right shoulder. He felt solid, unmovable; it struck her as strange, that he should, given how energetic and animated he was. Fluid, really. There was a faint rustle of his jacket sleeve as he shifted his arm. His palm came to rest at the base of her spine, warmth soaking through the material of her jumper — did he change his temperature again?.

 

She leant into the contact slightly giving tacit approval; she was used to the gesture, had felt it time and again as the Doctor guided her through alien markets, or the halls of foreign governments. Had wondered (with good reason) if it was a territorial thing, a reflex in the face of handsome time agents and pretty-boy scientists. He smoothed his hand up and down her back, a firm even pressure that was soothing, reminding her of leather and wool and her face burrowed into his chest as he hugged her. Rose nearly beamed, pleased beyond measure that the Doctor could still make her feel that way, even after regenerating.

 

Almost as soon as she thought that, the game changed.

 

On the upward stroke of his hand he found a gap between her jumper and her jeans, sliding his fingers underneath her shirt until his palm lay there, hot on the skin of her lower back. 

 

Rose nearly leapt up in surprise, and it took a stupendous amount of control not to whip around and ask him what he was doing. She couldn't, not with other people in the room. Not when the mood was as delicate as this, all tiny threads of feeling and assumption easily broken. Instead, Rose stared unseeing at the game board on the table, stunned by the sheer audacity of the move. It was so much more than tangled fingers on her mum's living room floor. This left no room for wondering — it was clearly possessive, insistent; she couldn't trick herself into thinking it was an accident afterwards, and she wouldn't let him convince her, either. That fact sent a thrill right down to her fingertips.

 

His hand was moulded to the curve of her spine, his palm pressed into the small of her back. Under the hem of her jumper, the Doctor's fingers spread out, spanning almost all the way across to her ribs. His thumb brushed the edge of her waistband and, somewhere in the haze of her thoughts, she added “making your best friend want to snog you” to the list of wonderful things thumbs were good for. As it dipped a fraction lower, Rose couldn't stand it any longer: she took in a shuddering breath — his hand seemed to tremble in response — and twisted where she sat, glancing at the Doctor over her shoulder.

 

She wasn't sure if it was his mouth — wet, lower lip ridiculously full — or his eyes, dark and hooded and showing every bit of want and hope and apprehension he was feeling, that did it, but looking at his face made the wave of desire she'd been holding back crash over her. Fierce and blistering, it flooded her, igniting the arousal that had smouldered since he warmed her hands in the kitchen. She was left short of breath and light headed; her grip on the little shoe tightened until she feared there'd be an imprint.

 

'What variables?' Mickey asked, scoffing. Her mind reeled at the fact only a few seconds had passed; she wondered, idly, if the Doctor had tampered with time just so he drive her mad with the way he was touching her. 'Rose'll buy Park Lane,' he continued, 'an' you won't have another colour block. Can't see many variables from here.'

 

Rose turned her head back to the game, self conscious of her sweaty palms, her cheeks radiating heat, and the throb between her legs. All she wanted to do was grab the Doctor by his lapels and kiss him until he couldn't remember where he parked the TARDIS. Instead she was stuck playing fucking Monopoly with her mother and her ex-boyfriend. And somehow she was meant to pay attention? When the Doctor's thumb at her back was dipping under her belt and waistband and he'd found the lace trim of her knickers? Oh God, I haven't shaved my legs, Rose remembered, inwardly cringing. I wonder if I could duck into the bathroom without him noticing?

 

'Oh, I don't know,' the Doctor was saying, though it took more effort than Rose was comfortable with to make out the words; his new voice seemed perfectly formulated for her ears alone. He could read her an intergalactic phonebook and she'd probably come from the way the numbers rolled off his tongue. Don't think about his tongue, she warned herself, or his new-found love affair with licking things. Definitely don't think about that.

 

'I can be very persuasive, if given the opportunity,' he continued, supplementing his argument by making his nails scrape lightly down the middle of her back. Feeling her nipples go painfully hard (and she was so glad that her jumper was thick enough to hide her reaction), Rose bit her lip to prevent a gasp from escaping; the Doctor's eyes immediately fell to her mouth, and it took him a beat or two to tear himself away.

 

He swallowed. 'For instance, if Rose is willing to purchase Park Lane and then sell it on to me, I would be more than happy to part with King's Cross station — an integral part of London's rail network, and the terminus of the Hogwarts Express.'

 

She couldn't help it: the Harry Potter reference, combined with his Very Serious Expression made her burst out laughing. The Doctor made an indignant sound in the back of his throat. He shook his head in disbelief and casually took another sip of wine. As he did so, he retaliated by sneaking his hand further up her back until he fitted a finger under the clasp of her bra. It wasn't enough to release it, but somehow it was the most shocking thing he'd done all night. It was as if, by touching her bra, he was conceding that she had breasts, breasts that he, the Doctor, was aware of. Breasts he had paid attention to and knew how to uncover if the mood struck him.

 

Trying to regain some equilibrium, Rose raised an eyebrow. 'An' what about the other £150 you'd owe me?'

 

The Doctor slowly removed his hand from her back, making sure her shirt and jumper lay flat again. She wondered if she'd said something wrong, if she hadn't played the game correctly. Her fears were put to rest when started tugging on his ear, an unconscious gesture she was beginning to suspect was a stalling technique for when he needed to think on his feet.

 

'Well, I appear to be a little short in actual cash right now,' he replied, surveying the slim pile of notes he had left. 'But you would, of course, be allowed to stay on Park Lane free of charge, if you ever chose to visit my corner of the board. And,' he grinned, throwing a triumphant look at Mickey, 'I seem to recall a certain someone wanting to see a certain royal wedding that I might just have an invitation for.'

 

'Oh my God,' Rose said, jaw dropping.

 

She'd brought it up, ages ago, an off-hand remark about her childhood and how Charles and Diana's wedding had, to her young imagination, seemed the most impossibly romantic thing in the entire world — at least until she found out how the story ended. And the Doctor, her old Doctor, had rattled off a half-dozen other weddings he'd thought far more romantic than the rubbish fairy tale dress and the sappy balcony kiss. Rose had taken the hint.

 

'Don't even joke about this, Doctor. M'warning you.'

 

'Joke about Chuck and Lady Di? I'd never!' The Doctor's grin widened as he heard Mickey groan in despair. 'Rose Tyler, would you do me the honour of being my plus one?'

 

She let out an excited squeal and threw her arms around his neck, almost knocking them both over in her enthusiasm. His hands reflexively went around her waist, keeping her upright, and safe, like always. Even sitting on the floor, their knees bumping awkwardly, felt amazing; this close, she could smell him, all woodsmoke and honey and something sharp, too. It reminded her of the first frost of the season, or walking to school on a cold morning, her nose going numb and the crisp air filling her lungs.

 

'Is that a yes?' His voice was muffled by her hair. She nodded, smiling against his neck. He tightened his hold on her briefly for a quick hug, then released her.

 

Rose pulled back as well, reluctant. She really wanted to become better acquainted with his arms. Very well acquainted. Close friends, even.

 

'Sorry, Mick,' she said, retrieving the emergency cash from her bra and tossing it on the table. 'You're on your own.' Rose turned back to the Doctor. 'Do I get to wear a really big hat?' She paused. 'I think I'm going to need a really big hat.'

 

'No way,' Mickey said, clutching the remaining property cards to his chest. 'You can't do that. S'not fair, making deals with stuff outside the game.'

 

Rose rolled her eyes. 'That's been a house rule since I was eight and mum offered me Bond Street if I did the dishes for a week. You could ask her, but...'

 

Her sentence trailed off as she looked meaningfully at the slumped over form of her mother, stretched out and snoring on the couch. The wine glass had slipped in her fingers and tilted precariously on the edge of falling over. Carefully, so as not to disturb her, the Doctor took the drink and placed it on the table. 

 

'I think that's enough for you for one evening, Jackie,' he announced softly.

 

'Well, I quit then,' said Mickey, raising his chin in defiance. He grabbed his Monopoly money and started putting it back in the bank. ''Could still make it to Trisha's.'

 

Rose's heart rate seemed to double, then, at the prospect of Mickey leaving. Which was terrible, absolutely horrible really: she shouldn't want to kick out one of her best friends just so she could possibly snog the Doctor. But Mickey's been such an arse, all night, she reasoned with herself, fixing her eyes firmly on the game board and not letting them stray to that open part of the Doctor's shirt, the bit where she could see the tendon of his neck and the faint shadow of stubble. And God, the unresolved sexual tension between me and him is getting ridiculous. We're gonna implode if something doesn't happen tonight, I swear. She wracked her brain, trying to find a polite way of saying, “yes, please leave immediately so I can finally find out what the Doctor's moves are like”.

 

The Doctor himself was lounging against the coffee table; he had one elbow resting on its surface; his knee was bent so he could sling his other arm over it, nonchalance made incarnate.

 

'Oh, don't be like that,' he said to Mickey. 'No reason for you not to stay. We don't even have to play Monopoly — I mean, I was always going to win, wasn't I?' Not waiting for a response, he continued, 'In fact, Rose and I were going to watch a documentary. Weren't we?'

 

Rose blinked, unsure of what to make of his words. He was usually the first person to suggest her ex-boyfriend hit the road; he couldn't possibly want Mickey to hang around, could he? The Doctor was trying to convey some sort of message, made rather obvious by the tilt of his head, and how his eyebrows kept going up and up until they nearly met his hair.

 

'Um, which documentary was that?' She asked, trying to act smooth.

 

He screwed his face up as if appalled at her poor memory. 'Oh, you know the one I'm talking about. The Egyptian one, about the pyramids. We were going to watch it and point out all the things they got wrong.'

 

Her eyes widened as it dawned on her what they were doing. Mickey hated this, them getting absorbed into their own world, excluding him with their in-jokes and stories about people they'd run into. It wasn't the nicest way to get him to leave, and she'd probably feel really guilty about it the next morning, but it was more subtle than grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and tossing him out the flat.

 

'Right, yeah,' Rose said, slipping the Doctor a wink. 'Remember when we went back and had a beer with, who was it?' She snapped her fingers as the name came to her. 'Ramses II!' 

 

'Aw, good old Rammy Jr,' the Doctor said fondly, taking his glasses off and polishing them with the end of his tie. 'I still owe him 500 debens of grain, actually. Who knew he'd be so good at Tetris?'

 

Mickey snorted; it was far from amused. 'Yeah, thanks, but no thanks. I can see when I'm not wanted.' He put the tray of money down on the table. 'If it's all the same to you, I think I'll go and avoid being the fifth wheel, yeah?'

 

Silence met his words, so he just sighed and headed out the door, grabbing his coat from the rack on the way out.

 

Rose's guilt didn't feel like waiting until tomorrow — it slammed into her forcefully, right there, as the door shut quietly behind Mickey; he might be angry, but he wasn't going to risk the wrath of Jackie Tyler by waking her up. She threw the Doctor a look - one that said: “I know my friend is being difficult, but I have to make sure he's ok, don't I?”. He shrugged, spreading his hands, letting her know the ball was in her court.

 

With an annoyed huff, she got to her feet and followed Mickey. It was cold, much colder than the afternoon, and she felt the wind keenly without her shoes or coat. He hadn't even made it to the stairwell when she called his name, and he stopped, turned, and waited for her catch up.

 

'OK, I'm in my socks, so make it quick, all right?' Rose said, glaring at him.

 

'Hey, you were the one who came after me,' he replied, shrugging, as stubborn as ever. He sniffed in what he must have thought was a casual manner. 'Figured you and him would be in each other's pants by now.'

 

Rose felt the blood drain from her face, the speed of it making her see stars at the edge of her vision. It was more than just discovering that she and the Doctor hadn't been half as discreet as she thought they'd been. It was the way Mickey said it. Getting into the Doctor's pants was what she wanted, what she thought they'd been leading up to all night, but having it put like that by Mickey made it sound awful. It was so glib, so flippant; as if it was just a meaningless shag, something you'd do when you were bored on a Friday night. Or worse: that she was a slut for wanting to have sex with the Doctor, and she'd never responded well to that particular implication.

 

Her jaw clenched and she pushed at his shoulder, a big, blaring alarm for anyone used to dealing with a Tyler woman. 'An' what do you mean by that?'

 

Mickey took a step backwards, clever enough to pick up a sign or two after twenty-six years on the Powell Estate. But, instead of easing off, he pressed. 'Nothin'. Only that you're always tellin' me he's not your boyfriend. He's better than that, you said. An', well, from where I was sittin' tonight it looked a lot like he had his hand up the back of your shirt.' He let his words sink in. 'So tell me, how's that better than me?'

 

Rose punched him in the arm. The smack was softened by his well-padded jacket which was disappointing. Mickey still yelped, though, and covered the new bruise protectively, scowling at her. 'Are you finished?'

 

'No,' he shot back. She raised her hand and he scrambled a few steps away, ending up with his back against the concrete wall. 'OK, yeah, I am.'

 

'Good.' She crossed her arms over her chest, trying to stay warm. 'We broke up, Mickey. An' I'm sorry it took me so long to let you know,' Rose said earnestly, 'but I swear, there was nothin' goin' on between me an' the Doctor. Not before tonight. So, if this is a jealousy thing, you're bein' an arse, OK?'

 

'It's not jealousy,' he said quickly, then paused, glancing down at his shoes. Rose waited. 'All right, maybe a little.' They both laughed at his concession, begrudgingly given, and the tension was broken. Mickey let out a heavy breath and looked back at her, meeting her eyes. 'I jus'... I don't want you to get hurt, Rose. An' I think the Doctor could hurt you. More than Jimmy did, even.'

 

The wave of affection she felt as he told her he cared was quickly washed away by irritation. She pressed her lips together. 'No,' she denied, voice quiet and fierce, 'the Doctor'd never hurt me, Mickey. I know he wouldn't.'

 

'Yeah, right.' He rolled his eyes. 'I saw you, Rose. After he sent you back. An' you were a mess. So don't tell me he wouldn't hurt you, 'cause he already has.' Before she could argue, he continued: 'Has he even told you what happened? When you were on that space station thing? Properly, I mean.'

 

Rose deflated. Of course he hadn't told her. He just said some nonsense about singing a song and making the Daleks disappear, and then exploded. Even after the regeneration sickness passed, the new Doctor hadn't talked about it. Every time she tried, he'd distract her with “do you remember when...?” and “have I ever told you about..?”. And she'd let him, allowing him to change the subject, eager to be his audience. Never thought I'd be an enabler again, she thought miserably, but here I am.

 

All her self-righteous anger evaporated, leaving her feeling cold and tired and with a sick lump of dread in the pit of her belly.

 

At least Mickey wasn't gloating about having hit a little close to home; he just seemed resigned and sad. 'Yeah,' he said simply. 'That's what I thought.' His phone buzzed in his pocket. 'I'm gonna go. I really do want to make it to Trisha's party before it hits midnight.'

 

She nodded and let him give her a hug. It was so familiar, it made her heart ache; the same, too-tight bear hug he'd been giving her since they were kids. He kissed her cheek and drew back, offering her a small wave which she returned, her fingers waggling, and then he headed down the stairs. Rose waited for a few moments, listening to his footsteps fade away. She took a deep breath and walked back to her mum's flat.

Chapter Text

Rose nearly ran into the Doctor as she stepped inside. He was closing the door to the bedroom and she stepped back, surprised doubly that he had helped her mother get to bed and that he had taken off his suit jacket to do so. He looked practically naked, undone – more so than when she had hurriedly changed him from his old clothes to Howard's pyjamas. The suit had become, from the first time she saw it, his finished form; any deviation, such as now, with the way he'd rolled up his sleeves to the elbow, revealing his forearm and the flex of muscles as he turned the doorknob, was shocking. Scandalous, even.

 

When her eyes travelled back up to his face she blushed; caught. The Doctor was leaning against the door, watching her, eyebrow raised and arms crossed over his chest. Rose buried her embarrassment, shoving it deep down to fret over later; she was glad that he'd turned off most of the lights, making the hallway dimly lit enough to hide her red cheeks. She casually copied his body language – folded arms, back pressed to the front door, an affected air of coolness. Inside, her belly felt warm, liquid; it reminded her of the night Jack took her to the bar to learn about scotch. Her head was just as dizzy, too, from the tension, the excitement, rather than from too much alcohol.

 

Rose couldn't think of anything to say – what did you say to invite a Time Lord to kiss you? - so she tilted her head at the door, behind which her mother was sleeping, and asked: 'Was she any trouble?'

 

The Doctor smiled, uncrossing his arms and stuffing them in his pockets as he took a step forward. 'Well,' he began, slowly, deliberating. 'I can say with confidence that she was no Slitheen...'

 

Rose let her own arms hang loosely by her sides, grinning. 'Talk about damning with faint praise,' she teased, letting her tongue catch between her teeth.

 

His gaze shot to her mouth for a split second, then returned to meet her eyes. Taking another step forward, he reached out and grasped her hand in his, his fingers curling down around her wrist lightly. If she hadn't felt fixed to the spot by his presence, the contact between them certainly did it. 'Rose Tyler,' the Doctor murmured, 'are you accusing me of not liking your mother?'

 

She realised, then, that what they were saying was absolutely meaningless; it was just backdrop, white noise. Something to carry them forward as he drew further in, and he had, the distance separating them no more than a few centimetres. All that mattered was the feel of her hand in his, skin touching skin. The closeness of his body, and the way he was looking at her: openly, his eyes searching her face for agreement, she thought, and for reciprocation.

 

His thumb traced a slow circle around the sensitive skin of her inner wrist and she shivered, releasing a shaky breath as she felt the caress all the way up her shoulder and down her spine. There was so little space (and it was taken up by things like shirts and jumpers and ties) that all the Doctor could really do was tip his upper body forward slightly, holding her hand against his chest. Underneath her palm she felt his hearts, a slow and steady pulse that echoed, fainter, on the other side. That's an improvement, she thought: the last time she'd listened to it he'd been comatose, and she'd been worried and scared and furious.

 

The memory of Christmas broke the spell. She blinked, as if waking from a dream. The Doctor raised an eyebrow in question and she swallowed, pressing back on his chest to give her some room to think. 'Doctor,' she began, irritated at the weakness of her voice. 'When I was outside, with Mickey I mean, he said somethin' th-that--,'

 

She didn't get to finish her sentence. His face went blank, filtered of all emotion, and her words stuttered to a stop. Then the Doctor took a large step backwards, tugging on her wrist, all excitement and barely suppressed energy again. 'Oh, never mind Mr Mickey!' He cried. 'We're just in time to catch the start. Thought we'd miss it, what with me having to wrangle your mother into bed. Very concerned about her socks, your mother, when she's drunk.'

 

He was rushing down the hallway and Rose had no choice but to stumble after him. 'Doctor, hang on. The start of what?'

 

Spinning around, he dropped her wrist and used his free hand to ruffle at his hair. 'The documentary? About the pyra – honestly, Rose, we talked about this five minutes ago.' He gave her an absolutely confounded look, a truer version of the one he'd used when they were winding Mickey up. 'Are you feeling all right? You look a bit flushed.'

 

That doco was real? Rose asked herself, taking a seat on the couch before her legs gave out under her. And he actually wants to watch it? I thought the show was just a way to get Mickey out of the house. Did I read him wrong all night? Her head was spinning with the swift change in his mood. He'd been – they'd been so close to... to something, and now he was sitting down next to her, fussing with the television remote.

 

Rose didn't know what to do. Did she watch the documentary? Sulk? Get some breathing space? The Doctor did that, running away when things got too close. But he wasn't. Which was out of character, or out of his old character, at least, enough to merit consideration. She tried not to get her expectations up (and failed miserably).

 

Remembering that he'd asked her a question, she tried to smile, but her disappointment was a horrible, pressing weight on her stomach. 'No, m'fine.'

 

The Doctor's mouth twisted – he didn't believe her, which was reasonable, since she wasn't fine, not really. Leaning over the arm rest he grabbed the crocheted afghan, nearly knocking over the lamp in the process, and pulled it over to where they were sitting.

 

'You shouldn't have gone outside without your jacket,' he scolded mildly, shaking out the blanket.

 

Placing it around her shoulders, his hands lingered, rubbing her upper arms to warm them up – much like he'd done earlier, in the kitchen. Rose felt hope hope flare to life again, burning brightly in her ribcage, fuelled by the way the Doctor's hands travelled, almost absent-mindedly, up to just brush the base of her neck. Her breathing stopped – he would be able to notice, she knew it, but it was impossible to think about anything other than the fact his thumbs had dipped down, only for a second, and were tracing the line of her collarbones. The Doctor let her go suddenly, putting his hands back in his lap.

 

He looked so out of sorts, so much like he was debating whether or not to leave, that the only thing she could do was nudge his knee with hers and fall back on the friendship they'd built over the last year. 'Oh, you know us humans,' Rose said. 'Forget our heads if they weren't screwed on.'

 

The Doctor turned on the telly with the remote, the screen in the dark room making flickering gold and blue light play over his face, and smiled, eyes crinkling. 'Did I ever tell you about the time I fought –,' he seemed to change his mind, his face screwing up. 'Nah, never mind that, now. Would you listen to this rot? Aliens helping build the pyramids? Who comes up with this nonsense?'

 

'Yeah,' she agreed seriously. 'You barely even lifted a hammer.'

 

The Doctor launched into a mild ramble under his breath, something about “the strength of his mind”, and how he was an “engineering genius”, and that, if he really wanted to, he could have built monuments to shame both the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Velushons. Rose let him. It'd patch up his overblown ego nicely. What if he's just as nervous as I am? She wondered. Though he was brazen enough when mum and Mickey were in the room with us. It does feel different, being alone with him.

 

The way the couch was angled at the television meant two very important things (far more important that the Doctor patching up his overblown ego). One, the sofa wasn't facing the telly directly. She had to turn her body into his, thigh pressed against thigh, to be able to see – this also meant she had a great view of his face in profile, if not the useless documentary they were supposed to be watching. She'd never been more thankful for her mother's furniture arrangement.

 

Two, it was entirely appropriate – sensible, even – for her to rest her arm along the top of the couch, preventing it from being squished between the cushion and her chest. Like this, her hand lay dangerously close to the back of the Doctor's neck.

 

Her noticing that was awful, because as soon as she did, the urge to reach out and touch him became less an option than a requirement for her continued existence. Maybe he'll respond better if I make the next move? He's been in the driver's seat all night, after all. Rose became hyper-aware of her skin, the prickling sensation rushing to her fingers, the way her palm, damp with sweat, stuck to the white vinyl of the couch. Out of the corner of her eye she made sure the Doctor was thoroughly absorbed (as much as he ever was) with what was happening on the screen, and slowly, achingly slowly, she inched her hand closer.

 

Under her fingertips vinyl met soft cotton – the back of his shirt - and then met a starchy collar. She paused, keeping her eyes locked on the Doctor's face; he seemed unaware, but she couldn't believe that, not from him of all people. Deciding that he, at the very least, was unopposed to her crossing into his personal space, Rose gathered her courage and moved her fingers forward once more, stopping only when she reached his neck. His leg twitched, a faint jolt she felt where she was leaning into him, and the next breath he took seemed larger than the one before; he remained staring at the television set with a single-mindedness that made a rush of warmth go to the pool in her belly, and she suppressed a smile (a rather triumphant one, at that).

 

His hair, thick and curling down from the back of his head, brushed her knuckles and Rose gave into the temptation that had been brewing since she saw him wear the ridiculous pink paper Christmas hat: she threaded her fingers through the strands. It was soft and longer than before, obviously, enough that she'd be able to actually grip locks of it, if she wanted to – and her cheeks flamed at the idea of how much she wanted to. There was still the almost static-y feeling she remembered from when his hair was as bristly as he was; Rose liked to imagine it was because he had too much energy for his body alone to contain. She spent some time combing his hair in unhurried sweeps of her hand, moving from the base of his neck to the top of his head, as if she had every right in the world to enjoy such an intimate gesture.

 

Act like you belong, and people'll believe it, she thought, amused, remembering the advice he'd given her countless times before. I wonder if that works on Time Lords as well.

 

Rose suspected it did. His hands – one on the arm rest of the sofa, the other on his knee – were tense, curled into fists; when she accidentally scraped her nails across his scalp he shivered, and his head tilted back against the contact, seeking more. Bolder now, she returned to his neck, leaving her fingers buried in his hair but allowing her thumb to drift down and explore his skin. He was warm, still, and she wondered if that was a decision he'd made for her, or if all these daring, furtive touches were making him as flushed as she was. Adjusting her hand to scratch behind his ear, her thumb curved around and brushed against his sideburns. It skimmed across the lobe of his ear, then the shell. Travelled down and followed the line of his jaw, her fingers trailing behind, rubbing against stubble, the rough, prickly feeling so different from his hair that it sent a pleasant – if surprising – shock through her.

 

She was pushing too far, she knew. She was being greedy. The Doctor's body radiated tension, practically hummed with it, but he remained sitting there, letting her get away with... with whatever it was she was doing.

 

Just as the tip of her finger found his mouth, her phone buzzed loudly in her pocket.

 

Rose jerked back, heart racing. The Doctor shuddered and tore himself away from the television screen, turning round to face her. His eyes were glassy for a moment, then he blinked; he focused on her, sharp and curious. She took a deep breath and wiped her hands on her jeans, trying to get rid of the tingling sensation running over her skin. Her lips pursed as she pulled out her mobile – Mickey! – but she couldn't help but snort at the message he'd sent.

 

'Who was that?' The Doctor asked, off-handedly. If she'd wondered if she'd affected him, here was the proof: at least four times since Christmas he'd practically climbed all over her in order to read her text messages, wanting to tease her about Shareen's one-track mind and Jackie's atrocious spelling. Restraint was a quality lacking in this current regeneration of his, and to have it show up here was very, very telling. At least, Rose thought so.

 

'Mickey,' she replied, picking at a loose thread of cotton on her shirt; if he was going to act cool, so was she. 'Very urgent, apparently. Needed to tell me that Trisha Delaney's boyfriend's been arrested for public indecency. Decided the best way to win an argument with a police officer was to drop trou and start wavin' his private around.'

 

'You know, that's a valid form of expression on some planets,' the Doctor offered.

 

'Wish you'd tell me which ones they were before I stepped out of the TARDIS,' grumbled Rose. 'Anyway, the second thing was that Mickey's got a new “I've just been laid” dance he wants to show us tomorrow, if we're free.'

 

The Doctor's eyebrows shot up in surprise. 'What?'

 

She shrugged. 'He does this weird little, I don't know, a sort of jig, I guess? S'bit immature, but it makes him happy, so...' Rose trailed off as the Doctor fell back heavily against the couch, his hand gripping the arm of the sofa. The only word she could use to describe his expression was “stunned”, the way his mouth was slack and his eyes wide making her wonder if he'd just realised he'd left the oven on in a kitchen four galaxies over. 'You OK, there?'

 

He rubbed a hand over his mouth and nodded, not looking at her. 'Yeah,' his voice was squeaky and he cleared his throat before he continued. 'Just thinking about poor Trisha and her terrible taste in men.'

 

Rose made a offended noise, mostly for show, and smacked his knee. 'Oi, half of that is my taste in men.'

 

The Doctor grinned, unrepentant, and caught her hand before she could take it away, tangling their fingers thoroughly. He gave them a squeeze, but kept them there, his palm pressed against the back of her hand, her palm pressed against the rough material of his trousers. The deer-in-headlights look seemed to have given way to one of thoughtfulness. That was rarely a good sign.

 

'Was, I mean,' she continued, self-consciously, shaking her head and frowning slightly. Her shoulder lifted in a half shrug; she almost wished the Doctor would let go of her hand so she could cross her arms, or move back a bit. It was still nice, though, to be close to him, even if she was uneasy with the subject matter. 'I sort of ended it with Mickey.'

 

Immediately, his fingers tightened on hers. 'You did?'

 

'Uh, yeah.' Rose flashed him an awkward smile, not really wanting to go into the reasons for the break up. She could say it was an inevitable thing, the natural drifting apart as people grow and change and move in different directions. Or, she could tell him the truth, but that would require offering him her heart, right there, and she could lose everything. And the stakes were much higher than the last time she'd played (a boy with tattoos, a guitar and a van was nothing next to a man who could change his face and take her anywhere).

 

She leaned forward, slipping her hand free from his, so she could place her phone on the coffee table next to the tray of Monopoly money and her mother's half-empty wine glass. 'Anyway, sorry,' she continued, 'must be boring you silly with all this domestic stuff.'

 

Reclining back again into the sofa, Rose discovered that the Doctor had moved his arm, having it lie, now, where hers had before, draped across the top of the couch. It was a relief, cool and soothing to her worried nerves, that he was still interested in furthering what they'd started tonight, and that he was making the next move. She grinned to herself and bit back a comment about him forgetting the crucial “fake yawn”.

 

Though he wasn't touching her – yet, at least - the action felt strategic, the moving of pieces on a chessboard.

 

'Oh, I wouldn't say bore...' the Doctor muttered, back to watching the documentary. They were showing re-enactments, now, actors in inaccurate costumes hamming it up in some studio backlot. He sniffed and tugged at his ear again. 'I'd probably say... well, I suppose I'd say interest, really.'

 

Her heart stopped. It simply must have, because she was suddenly very aware of the how loud the next beat of it was, even over the documentary's enthusiastic narrator. The Doctor's interested in me not being with Mickey – and he just went as far as telling me that, Rose thought, dizzily. She tried to think of something intelligent to say. 'Oh.'

 

At her comment, he nodded, once, twice, to himself it seemed, and then he turned to look at her again. His entire focus was on her, and Rose wondered that she didn't evaporate – the heat of his stare was so intense she was only able to meet his eyes for a moment, before dropping her gaze. It landed on his mouth, and her own lips went dry; she licked them, and watched as he formed a word. Her name, she thought, because he never said anything the way he said “Rose Tyler”.

 

Distantly, she heard the creak of the sofa's vinyl cover, and felt the shift of his arm as he brought his hand down until it curved around her shoulder.

 

Rose tilted her face up, needing to see him now, to make sure that this was real. She caught a glimpse of his expression – dark with anticipation, and he was so much closer than she remembered – and then her eyes drifted closed of their own accord, the lids feeling impossibly heavy, as if she were drowsy. Only she'd never felt more awake in her entire life: her pulse was racing, and she could feel every point of contact between them with aching clarity.

 

She felt him move closer, felt him turn until his knees were pressed against hers. He exhaled, near enough that it skittered across her cheek; the path of warm air was followed by his nose, nudging at hers, tipping her head just so. Her breath hitched, and her hand leapt from her lap to blindly seek out his shoulder, for support; for something to ground her. Then, before she could take in a deeper lungful of air, the Doctor pressed his lips against hers, the pressure light, delicate. Undemanding. It disappeared after only a beat or two – she nearly cried out in disappointment - and then he was kissing her again, capturing her top lip between both of his. This time she kissed him back, keeping the contact soft, almost chaste.

 

Her response was what he was looking for: his body relaxed next to her, and the next kiss was firmer, better, merging into another, then another. His mouth opened, slowly, with every meeting of their lips, and he moved his arm to wrap around her back, holding her tighter, drawing her closer. Rose dared to sweep her tongue across the swell of his lower lip and he groaned, suddenly, taking her in both arms and pulling her into his lap with more strength than she imagined his lean frame contained.

 

At finding herself sprawled on top of him, she gasped; he distracted her with another kiss, his tongue slipping between her open lips. Her left leg was tangled with his, stretched out behind them, and the other dangled off the side of the sofa; Rose didn't care because both her hands were finally in his hair, tugging and angling his head, and his hands were on her back again, under her shirt, on her skin. And when she shifted in his lap, trying to get as close to him as she could, she felt him, hard, underneath her; it was undeniable proof that he wanted her, had wanted her all evening. They both broke away, panting.

 

The Doctor was a glorious mess, his hair askew, his lips red and smeared with her lip gloss. On the telly the fireworks played – God, how long were we snogging? - and explosions of red and blue and green lit up his face, reflecting off his glazed, dark eyes. His hands slipped down to hold her hips, squeezing gently, almost in question – Rose answered by leaning down to kiss him again, her mouth sliding over his, her teeth tugging gently at his lower lip; he groaned appreciatively, and she logged away the reaction for later. His fingers plucked at the hem of her jumper, insistent and impatient, and she nodded, drawing back enough to remove the now cloyingly hot garment.

 

When the cool air hit her skin, she took in a shuddering breath, clearing her head; everything came into sharper focus. With it came the memory of talking to Mickey outside the flat, his completely reasonable question about what happened on Satellite Five. Rose closed her eyes, not wanting to be reasonable. She wanted to be unreasonable and let the Doctor continue doing what he was doing, kissing her throat and licking his way down to her collarbone. Her hands practically trembled as she nudged at his shoulders, making him move back from his careful exploration of her skin.

 

'Rose?' He asked, clearly puzzled. 'Are you – I mean, this is all right, isn't it?'

 

She nodded, biting her lip to stop a smile from forming. 'Yeah, s'just, I need to know somethin'. Mickey said --,'

 

The Doctor's eyes widened in disbelief. 'You want to talk about Mickey now?'

 

'No! I mean, yes. Sort of.' Rose sighed and pushed herself off his lap. 'It's important.'

 

He dragged himself into a sitting position, his hand coming up to smooth down his hair – she was pathetically disappointed at that. Eyes steady on her, he took a deep breath, clearly bracing himself. 'What do you need to know, Rose?'

 

Wincing at his tone – or lack thereof – she brushed back her hair and said: 'You've got to tell me what happened on Satellite Five.'

Chapter Text

'What do you remember?' 

  

He was angry, that much was obvious: his cheek had dimpled, and he was unable to keep from ruffling his hair viciously, or from rubbing at the back of his neck. But she was angry too, and she was resolved. Anything less important, and she'd never have stopped kissing him. She'd waited so long that only something that could shake the foundation of their relationship could make her pull back, and this — this whole trust issue - wasbig

  

It didn't help that she was still turned on as hell, and that he looked amazing, all rumpled. Mussed even, his shirt half untucked, and it didn't help, either, that she knew it had been her who had yanked it out of his waistband, or that her lips had created the smear of pink on his cheek. She tucked her hands under her thighs to keep herself from touching him again. 

  

Rose decided to begin with her first grievance. 'I remember you trickin' me into getting in the TARDIS. An' that emergency recording thing — the stuff about having “a fantastic life, Rose”.' Her eyebrows furrowed. 'Then I was back at the Estate. Had dinner with mum and Mickey — was furious with you, by the way — and...and I was tryin' to find a way back, tryin' to open the TARDIS, to talk to her...' 

  

It got harder to remember, the further she went, the memories curling up and around themselves, like papers put to flame. She squeezed her eyes shut, focusing on the remnants. 'There's just lots of gold and... and singin'... and then I'm lying on the floor of the console room and you're talking nonsense.' Opening her eyes, she looked at the Doctor, his face blank save for the twitch in the muscle of his jaw. 'What happened?' 

  

When he spoke, his voice was harsh. 'The Time Vortex. Rose, you looked into the TARDIS.' In her head she heard herself, ethereal, repeating the words. I looked into the TARDIS. 'And the TARDIS looked into you.' 

  

And the TARDIS looked into me, it repeated, and Rose's temple throbbed. A flash of memory — the Doctor, her old Doctor, on his knees, begging her, pleading with her — and the pain disappeared. 

  

'Rose?' The Doctor asked, his anger melting into concern. 'What's wrong?' 

  

'Just remembered somethin'. Hurts.' She rubbed her forehead. 'Why's it hurt?' 

  

He sighed, and there was no fight left in him, now, just resignation. The Doctor took her hand in his, turning it over so he could look at her palm. His fingers traced over the lines there, her life-line and the creases flowing off it; the large M that in primary school Shareen told her meant she'd get married one day. 

  

'Looking into the heart of the TARDIS... it filled you with all the power of the Time Vortex. You became practically a God — you destroyed the Dalek fleet with a wave of your hand.' The Doctor shivered, as if cold, and she felt it too, a second-hand horror at all the death and destruction and how it had been the only choice. 

  

She curled her fingers around his, and he gave her a thankful smile. 

  

'You called yourself the Bad Wolf,' the Doctor continued, 'and planted all those messages, just to send yourself there. That's... that's power, Rose. Immense power, corrupting power, even after the fact. I'm talking Only Use in Case of the Universe Ending sort of stuff.' He looked up at her and Rose could see awe in his eyes, as well as the faintest glimmer of fear. 'You could see all of creation, all of time, and no human could ever hope to live with that inside their head.' Raising her hand, he pressed a soft kiss to her wrist, his lips warm. 'When I took the Time Vortex out of you, I needed to destroy that knowledge, and the memories of Satellite Five.' 

  

She frowned. 'You took the Time Vortex out of me?' 

  

They'd moved closer, shifting ever-so-slowly as they talked, and she felt him stiffen beside her at the comment. 'Yes.' 

  

Rose's eyes widened. The memory of waking up in the TARDIS suddenly cleared, untangling enough for her to see the Doctor, hunched over, in agony. I absorbed all the energy of the Time Vortex, and no one's meant to do that. 

  

Her heart constricted. 'No,' she shook her head, not wanting it to be true. 'Don't. Doctor, don't. Don't say that.' 

  

His lovely face was pained. He cupped her cheeks with his hands and looked at her, so tenderly it actually sent a sharp splinter of pain through her chest. 'Rose. You were burning up. You would have died. I didn't have a choice.' 

  

She scoffed at that, despite the guilt swamping her. 'Of course you did. There's always a choice, Doctor. You could have let me burn, but you didn't. You died because of me.' 

  

The Doctor slowly dropped his hands, letting her go; Rose wished he hadn't — there was a creeping coldness stealing over her, and touching him, or having him touch her, made it infinitely better. 

  

'And what about you?' He was very quiet, very deliberately casual. 'You knew returning to Satellite Five was dangerous — certain death, in fact; I was never going to have time to refine the Delta Wave, not before the Daleks arrived, that's for sure.' His shoulders lifted in a careless shrug. 'And yet you did everything you could to come back.' 

  

Rose went silent, the impact of his words hitting her almost with the force of a physical blow. He knows, she realised, panicked, he has to. Even Mickey knew, he said as much at Christmas. Mickey, of all people! Though apparently he's a lot more perceptive than I've been giving him credit for. Hearing her actions, what she'd done in tearing apart the TARDIS to get back to him, put into context made her feel utterly exposed. Vulnerable. As if he'd stripped away the thin facade she'd built to stop herself from getting hurt, and underneath it all her emotions were there, neatly packaged for the Doctor to enjoy at his leisure. 

  

He was silent, still tense and pretending to be otherwise, and so she took a deeper breath and calmed herself. Because it was more than just her actions. It was his, as well, and she realised, then, why he'd withheld the details from her. Apart from being distressing — and it was, knowing that she was the cause of his regeneration — it was also practically an admission, too. At least, she hoped so. 

  

Him taking the Time Vortex out of her seemed huge, just as huge as her deciding the universe needed the Doctor (she needed the Doctor), and that any consequence, even her death, was worth it to keep him safe. But she was scared of the conclusion she was coming to, afraid of being wrong, of getting her hopes up. Her mind almost couldn't comprehend the way the pieces were fitting — all she could allow herself to do was get the general shape of the meaning, the feel. 

  

It was exactly like finding a present under the tree early, on Christmas Eve, all wrapped in brown paper. And she could run her hands over it, along the handlebars, over the seat and wheels, and even though she knew it was a bike, and that it would be ruby red and shining, the paper wouldn't come off until the time was right. She had to suppress her excitement, keep her expectations low, because if there was even the slightest possibility of it not being true, the disappointment would kill her. 

  

But she'd known it was a bike. And she knew what it meant when Doctor said he had given his life to save hers. 

  

Rose came to her decision. 

  

'OK,' she said to herself, nodding. 'Yeah.' And then she kissed him. 

  

He hadn't been expecting it — when she grabbed his collar and pulled him down to meet her lips, his mouth had been open, half-way to forming a question, and their teeth bumped together. This kiss wasn't the same as earlier, all sweetly cautious and slow-building: it was forceful and slightly desperate, the tension and desire Rose had put off for the last ten minutes crushing down on her as soon as the Doctor responded, faltering for a moment but holding her steady all the same, his hands at her back making her arch into him. 

  

His nose was squashed into her cheek, and his fingers were digging at her skin, but it was good, really good, and she needed this — the warmth of his mouth, and his body, lean but sturdy. Because this was real, and solid, and tangible in a way that words could never be, especially words only made conspicuous by their careful absence. With her eyes shut, her entire world was just the fabric of his shirt; his lips and tongue sliding over hers; the gasping breaths they both took between kisses; there was no room in this universe for anxiety, or second-guessing, and, for a while, it didn't exist. 

  

Rose wordlessly tipped them backwards, dragging him down after her until she was lying back against the sofa, and he had to brace himself over her, hands planted either side of her head. The kisses became less vicious, messier instead, and she found herself tugging at his shirt tails again, sneaking her hands up under his t-shirt and smoothing up his chest. This — skin on skin contact — finally made the Doctor pull back, disentangling himself from her. He looked dazed, and more than a little confused. 

  

'Rose?' He panted. 'What happened? Why am I allowed to kiss you now?' 

  

She laughed, but shook her head, waving away the questions. She didn't want to talk any more, not about happened on Satellite Five, and certainly not about their feelings and what this all meant. Having that particular conversation before sex was never a good sign. And she really, really, wanted to have sex with him. 

  

'It's fine,' she told him. 'You're a wanker.' Pulling down on his tie, she kissed him again before fumbling to unravel the knot. 'For sending me away, I mean. But I get it.' 

  

He made an impatient noise and batted aside her hands. 'I'm not apologising, though.' Despite his concerns, he shifted his weight to one arm, and removed the tie in quick, efficient jerks, slipping it out from under his collar and tossing it over to the coffee table. 'I made a promise.' 

  

They kissed again, and then his mouth trailed down her jaw, wet and hot. 'I know,' she gasped as he nipped at her skin. 'M'not forgiving you, either.' Her hips rose, hoping to find friction, but it was pointless — the Doctor was still hovering over her, miles and miles of space between them. Rose tangled her fingers in his hair, pressing on the back of his head in encouragement. 'Not yet. Need time.' 

  

'Oh Rose,' he grinned, she could feel it — teeth scraping across her throat. 'I can give you all the time in the world.' 

  

'Later,' she muttered, hooking her leg over his and finally, finally, making him lower his weight down. 

  

At feeling his hardness against her, she groaned, and so did he, muffling it into the crook of her neck. She giggled, and when he pushed himself up, just enough to look at her but not so much that they stopped being in contact, there was a vaguely insulted expression on his face. Rose grinned up at him and lifted her hips deliberately; this time there was friction, wonderful and electric. 

  

The Doctor's eyes fluttered closed and then he kissed her, lazily. Long, unhurried kisses that mapped her mouth, seemed to discover every reaction, every place that made her moan or gasp or kiss him back harder. As he did so, he smoothed his hand over her stomach, exploring under her shirt. On the skin of her belly he created semi-circles with the tips of his fingers, perfect hemispheres of sensation that rippled out to her entire body. 

  

She'd never kissed like this before, so focused, so intent - as if kissing could be an end unto itself, not just a detour on the way to something more. For a time Rose was lost in the texture of his hair, the taste of his mouth. The feel of him on top of her, heavy and obviously aroused, and so verythere, after waiting all this time. 

  

Very slowly, so slowly she didn't notice at first, the Doctor slid his hand up, furthering his light tracing across her skin, over her ribs. At encountering the underwire to her bra, his fingers stopped, seemed to consider, and then he flattened his hand, moving to cover her breast with his palm. Rose tightened her hold on his shoulder, and then he squeezed gently, testing, his thumb moving to swirl over her nipple. 

  

She groaned, and the sound shocked them both. They pulled apart, staring at each other, breathing heavily. 

  

The Doctor came to his senses first. 'Should we...I mean, we should move, shouldn't we?' Even though she'd figured out they were going to have sex — the erection was a bit of a giveaway — the question was still absolutely thrilling, especially hearing it from out of his kiss-swollen mouth. His lower lip looked particularly desirable now. He swallowed (she had been gazing at it with the intention of snogging him again) and glanced over at the hallway. 'Bedroom?' 

  

'Boarded over. Christmas tree made it a shambles, remember?' Rose stroked the side of his neck with her thumb, making him shiver. 'TARDIS?' 

  

He did his thinking face, all wriggly eyebrows and his lips moving as he calculated; it ended with him shaking his head. 'Too far. We'd have to put on coats. And shoes! And, Rose Tyler,' he punctuated this by kissing her nose, 'you wouldn't make it down two flights before you tried to seduce me.' 

  

'S'that a bet?' She asked, eyebrows arching. Her hand slipped down between them, cupping him through his trousers. His eyes rolled back a bit and he made an entirely undignified noise. 

  

'N-no, nope, not a bet. Not at all.' The Doctor reached down and removed her hand, pinning it to the couch to stop her from groping him again. 'Guess the question is,' his voice lowered, roughening enough to scrape deliciously along her spine, 'how quiet can you be?' 

  

Rose couldn't quite believe the suggestion — that was teenager stuff, surely? But it was sort of exciting at the same time, and she had to look away when her cheeks went red; the Doctor was smirking knowingly at her. 

  

'My mum's just down the hall,' she hissed, suddenly very aware of every noise they were making. 'She could have walked in at any point, Doctor!' When he didn't stop smirking, her eyes narrowed. 'Oh, my God. You locked her in, didn't you?' 

  

'Just a bit,' he admitted, not looking at all contrite. 'She's got water and dry food and some Beanos. Could last a month in there with that.' 

  

Rose let out an exasperated sigh, but couldn't find the strength to protest further, not when the Doctor had resumed kissing her neck, his fingers nudging aside the collar of her shirt so he could work his way down to her breasts. 'Sofa, then,' she murmured, shifting so the material had more slack and he could push it out of the way. 

  

'This sofa needs to be twenty-two percent larger,' he told her, the words smothered by her skin. 'Floor.' 

  

She snorted dismissively. 'We'll, I'm definitely on top.' 

  

He growled, actually growled, at that, and covered her with his body again, eyes glittering. 'Sofa.' Then he kissed her, ending the argument the moment her mouth opened under his. 

  

Any urgency they'd been lacking, when they'd been kissing before - so leisurely days could have passed - arrived with a vengeance; Rose thought she'd die if she didn't feel his skin on hers right fucking now. She began unbuttoning his shirt from the bottom while the Doctor did the top — halfway through he sat back on his heels and pulled it over his head, along with his t-shirt, and chucked the pair somewhere behind them. He was thin, very thin, but there was substance, too. Muscle tone where she hadn't thought he'd have it, making the leanness of his frame seem all the greater in comparison; clavicle and ribs and the jut of his hipbones, God, she wanted to touch him. 

  

He helped her into a sitting position, arm around her waist and together they pushed off her own t-shirt, not even noticing where it landed. Then she was finally touching him without the layers of fabric between them, just her hands on the planes of his chest, her fingertips brushing against the hairs; dipping into the hollow of his throat with her tongue and tracing a path down to his nipple. The Doctor was busy unhooking her bra, one handed, and doing so with smug ease. The cocky expression lasted for as long as it took for the straps to slip down and the garment to fall into her lap, revealing her breasts. He paused, eyes wide, then flicked his gaze up to her face, looking just short of worried. 

  

'Is this too fast?' The Doctor asked, running a hand through his hair. 'It's too fast, isn't it?' 

  

Rose shook her head emphatically and moved to wrap her arms around him; he responded by hugging her tightly, the fact they were half naked not changing the underlying comfort of the gesture. Something in her chest was soothed, a tension relieved, and one she hadn't known she'd held. 'I've wanted this for a long time, Doctor,' she told his neck. 'You know that, right? That this isn't about you changin'?' 

  

He nodded, his sideburns rubbing against her cheek, making Rose laugh at the sensation. The Doctor hummed happily in return, then let out a long sigh; goosebumps raced across her skin where his breath blew, and she realised he'd be able to feel how hard her nipples were, given how they were holding each other. As if knowing what she'd just thought, his fingers began to trail down her spine, and the tone of the hug changed from sweet and reassuring to oh God my breasts are actually against his chest right now

  

Rose skimmed her hands along his sides, feeling the rumble strip of his ribs, finding the waistband of his trousers and the narrow hips that kept them up. His lips were on her shoulder, open-mouthed kisses tasting her; her fingers trembled as they skated around to his stomach, dipping down to undo his fly. Pressing her back gently once more, the Doctor unbuttoned it himself, and her eyes followed the action, her breathing coming fast and shallow at the idea, the very thought that this was happening. The surreality of it hit her then, in a dizzying wave, and she was glad she was lying down. 

  

'All right?' He asked, holding up his trousers with one hand. 

  

She nodded jerkily. 'Yeah.' Clearing her throat, she realised there was something they hadn't discussed. 'Do...do we need protection? Like a,' she screwed up her face, 'a condom or somethin', I mean.' 

  

'Nope!' He replied cheerfully, swooping down to kiss her again. 

  

Together they pushed off his trousers, the Doctor using his feet to aid in the process until they had pooled at his ankles and he could kick them off and on to the floor. He was wearing charcoal grey boxer briefs and Rose decided that, whilst is was nice knowing just how affected by all this he was — and he was certainly very affected - she wouldn't mind him turning around for five minutes so she could ogle his bum. Grinning down at her, the Doctor planted kisses between her breasts, his fingers working the button and zip of her jeans. 

  

'Well, I mean, yes to protection,' he continued, voice slightly breathy. With her trousers open, his hand was creeping up to the elastic of her knickers, up and over and now under, sliding between cotton and skin. It was so much, and good, too, and she had to drag him down for another kiss so she could hide the ridiculous noises she was bound to make. 'But you're covered. Sorted.' 

  

The Doctor's fingers lowered, slowing down as he got closer, and she could feel how tentative he was, how cautious; she raised her hips to encourage him and then fuck, there it was, he slipped a finger inside and every single nerve in her body seemed to sing. He swore, too, as her thigh brushed against his cock, and Rose whimpered, she must have. Because he was the Doctor, and he was subtly grinding against her, and his fingers were pressing further in, curling upwards, finding that spot that Jimmy and Mickey never had. And he was swearing as he did it all, a stream of filthy words panted into her neck. 

  

He adjusted his hand, another finger sliding in, a slow, relaxed rhythm starting. Rose struggled to get out of her jeans, and the Doctor helped, as much as he could — they managed to get them round her knees and gave up. 

  

'Rose,' he whispered, low and excited, 'you're really, very wet in here. Extraordinarily wet.' She laughed, half-embarrassed — he seemed so enthusiastic about it, it was hard to mind terribly much. And his thumb was there, now, brushing against her clit, sparking pleasure with every stroke. 'Ha,' the Doctor crowed as she gasped. 'Thumbs! Brilliant.' 

  

'Yeah,' she agreed. 'Wait, what d'you — oh God, do that again,' (he did), 'what d'you mean I'm “sorted”?' 

  

He made a strangled noise, lifting his hips from her leg. 'Just sorted,' the Doctor muttered, looking pained. 'The patch. The one I gave you for Adam. It's hormonal, s'got three months left.' He took in a shuddering breath. 'Rose,' he began again, 'my brain is receiving, per second, two-thousand-and-ninety-seven messages. And over two-thousand of them are about how I want to fuck you.' 

  

'Oh,' she managed. Then she broke into a grin and framed his face so she could kiss him. 'I think we probably should, then, yeah?' 

  

The Doctor beamed, eyes crinkling with the strength of it. 'Yeah.' 

  

The elastic of her knickers snapped back on to her skin as he removed his hand, but it was only so he could pull them down, and her jeans, too, when he encountered them. To her amazement, Rose felt a sudden shyness come over her at being completely naked in front of the Doctor; as if sensing her concern, he kissed her, sucking her lip gently, his hand roving over her chest again, feeling so different from when there'd been lace in the way. The calluses she'd discovered when they'd been lying on the floor (a lifetime ago, it felt like) were just rough enough to be pleasurable as his fingers slid over the peak of her breast, around and underneath. Every touch reminded her of how desirable he found her, how he'd been the one to initiate the entire evening — it was enough to calm her nerves. 

  

The Doctor shuffled back to remove his pants and she dared look down, remembering that he was, when all was said and done, still an alien. To her relief, the brief glance she got made everything seem in order — nice, good size, nothing out of the ordinary. When she raised her eyes the Doctor had the worst expression on his face, amused and conceited and she could practically hear the teasing already. 

  

'Shut up,' Rose said, lifting her gaze to the ceiling. 

  

'I wasn't going to say anything,' he lied, the bastard, his voice all charm. He made it better by settling between her legs, his cock resting, heavy, there, and his hands smoothing over her thighs. 'You're right to be curious, though. I am an alien, Rose.' His eyebrows wriggled, and he lowered his head to kiss her. 'You're an alien, too, you know. Maybe I should be the one on the look out for, I don't know, tentacles. Spikes. Corrosive acids.' 

  

Rose smacked his shoulder, but she couldn't help laughing. 'Oh, that's the worst dirty talk I've ever heard!' 

  

He chuckled, too, and his chest rumbled on top of her. 'Mmm, not a bad idea, dirty talk. Next time, eh?' Her breath hitched, then, at the idea that there would be a next time. She'd hoped — well, she'd tried hard not to hope, but she had anyway — that this wouldn't be a one time thing, a fling they could blame on being bored. The Doctor noticed her reaction and his face softened. 'Rose. I... this isn't just tonight. At least, I thought it wasn't.' 

  

'No, no, you're right,' she smiled softly, rubbing idle circles into his shoulder blades. 'Just needed to hear it from you, is all.' 

  

There was a beat or two where he just watched her, clearly trying to gauge how she was feeling. She decided the best way to hurry this along, and to hide the insecurity she was showing, was to lift her leg up and around his waist. It worked — the Doctor's eyes widened, and he shifted, the head of his cock nudging at her folds; when it glanced her clit, any worry evaporated, burnt away by the heat of arousal. He looked at her for consent, and she nodded, and then he was lining himself up, finding the right angle. 

  

'Slow,' she warned, gasping as he pressed forward. 'S'been a while.' 

  

His response was a choked noise, a nod and lips brushing her temple. She could feel the tension in his body, the effort it took him to hold back, to let her adjust. But it was worth, oh God, was it worth it — the shallow, careful thrusts gradually giving way to smoother, longer ones until they both groaned, helpless, at the feel of him finally inside her. They exchanged looks, grinning widely, happily; for Rose, there was still a sense of disbelief that this was happening, even now. The Doctor shook his head, laughing breathlessly into her hair, then cupped her face with one hand and he kissed her as he began to move again. 

  

The rhythm he found was languid, good — good enough, at least, with the friction and how his hand was holding her hair, only tight to be felt, to make her throw her head back and bare her throat for his teeth. She wouldn't come, not like this, but it was nice, and being close to him, intimate, was beyond anything she'd ever dreamed would happen. 

  

And then he put his leg on the floor for leverage, and the next stroke rediscovered her new favourite spot inside her. Her eyes flew open and the heel of her foot slammed down on his arse, pushing him back down. 'OK, fast. Now,' she hissed, ignoring the smirk she could feel against her skin. 

  

He listened, thankfully, picking up speed; she rocked upwards to meet him, guiding his movements with her foot on his back and her hips underneath him. Distantly she could feel him touching her breasts, the side of her waist — she felt his lips close over a nipple and she gasped, the shock of pleasure almost too much. When his fingers brushed across her clit again, with so much more confidence than before, Rose nearly shook her head, not wanting it to be over, not after the slow build up, the syrupy tension. She wanted to be suspended, forever, in this moment — never falling, never stumbling back. 

  

She couldn't. He was insistent, maintaining his rhythm even as his fingers moved faster where they joined; he was muttering encouragements, breath hot against the shell of her ear, and oh —her orgasm rushed through her, so fast, so immense, she forgot about being quiet, forgot about his stupid smug face and cried out. Fuck, she thought, or maybe said, pulses of pleasure washing over her, fuck...fuck...fuck. 

  

When she could see again, and feel and hear, she realised the Doctor had stopped — his face was open, full of wonder and something else, something she didn't dare even consider (a flash of red chrome through brown paper). 

  

'Was that --,' 

  

'Yes.' 

  

He grinned, incredibly pleased. 'Oh, but that was brilliant!' The Doctor smoothed back her hair. 'Do you want another?' 

  

Rose rolled her eyes. By answer, she said: 'It's your turn.' She thought it might be impolite to mention that she was getting a cramp in her calf. 

  

'Oh! Yes! Right, then.' 

  

He kissed her, and began to move again. Lethargic and satisfied, Rose was able to watch and observe and appreciate, perhaps for the first time that evening. She admired the way his hair was a complete mess, pulled and styled by her fingers. The hard press of his bony hips as he thrust into her, and the strength of his muscles in supporting himself over her body. She noticed the dark brush of his eyelashes which fluttered as he grew closer to his climax, and the shape of his mouth as he spoke to himself, not loud enough for her to hear. Never before had she been so glad to come early, to have this little, quiet moment to herself in the middle of sex. 

  

Unbidden, the urge to say those three little words rose inside her, warm and bubbling, working their way up to her throat. Rose panicked — no, I can't, not now — and smothered the desire to confess everything by kissing the Doctor, hard, just as he came, his actions stuttering to a stop, his body tensing, moaning into her mouth. 

  

When they pulled apart he was breathing heavily, gasping for air. Rose didn't want to answer the question in his eyes — and quite frankly, he didn't look up to asking them — so she ran her fingers through his hair and brought him down for another kiss. He returned it, his arms shaking from holding himself upright, and with a sigh he collapsed on top of her, a sweaty, warm heap.

Chapter Text

'Mmph,' the Doctor mumbled, his mouth full of her hair. He stuck his tongue out and removed a few strands with his fingers. 'That wasn't bad. For a first time, I mean.' 

  

'Not bad at all,' Rose agreed, and it was perfect, perfectly them that they were mildly praising the sex they'd just had even as they lay there, sweaty and sticky and with the Doctor's cock still inside her. It was absurd and delightful and a bit messy and Rose didn't think anything could sum them up better than that. 'Just need some practice.' 

  

The Doctor grinned and rubbed the tip of his nose against hers. When she tilted her head up to kiss him, he moved away, pressing his lips, instead, to her chin. His eyes were sparking with humour, though, so she let him play the game, pouting in exaggerated disappointment when he kissed her ear, the curve of her eyebrow, the bridge of her nose and both her eyelids in turn. After he'd run out of places and was looking at her mouth again, slowly moving closer, Rose turned her head to the side, just in time to make him miss her lips. He kissed her cheek, his tongue darting out to brush her skin, expecting to meet her mouth. 

  

She felt him huff in irritation, which made her laugh. He tried again, nearly managing it, but then she began laying soft kisses to the underside of his jaw, across the line of his shoulders, sloping down to his arms and then to his chest. Finally, she lifted her eyes back to his, seeing that the amusement of earlier had been replaced with something softer. His thumb stroked the side of her face, his fingers curling under her chin, keeping her in place. His lips were hovering over her mouth, breath warm against her sensitive lips; she licked them, without meaning to, and she felt his response in the way the smooth line of his thumb's caress zig-zagged across her skin. 

  

Very slowly, deliberately, the Doctor lowered his mouth — the waiting, the anticipation, made her buzz, imagining contact that wasn't there — until he, at last, kissed her. He fit her upper lip snugly between his slightly parted ones, his tongue sliding out and glancing across hers; she deepened the kiss, though it felt more like she expanded it, turning it vast, all encompassing. Pressing closer. Her hands skimming down his back. The push of her tongue into his mouth, taking control. Reducing the Doctor to reaction and hums of pleasure and the irregular puff of breath from his nose against her cheek. 

  

It was only when he started to harden that Rose realised that they were still joined, still lying on her mum's sofa, probably making a mess. More than that, she really needed to use the loo, and having the Doctor on top of her — while it was lovely — was not helping. She pulled back, even as he made noises, a sort of muffled “no no Rose, don't” as he tried to keep kissing her. 

  

'Doctor, I've got to get up,' she said, ignoring the puppy dog eyes he was giving her, all big and pleading. 'Or do you want to explain to my mum how the sofa got alien co--,' 

  

'Nope, up is good!' he said, making her sentence stop short. Easing himself off her, the Doctor knelt at the end of the couch and found some clothing from the floor. He handed the bundle to her, looking slightly sheepish. 'I forgot that human sex is so... wet.' 

  

Rose sat up (wincing as she peeled herself off the vinyl) and pulled her jumper over her head, almost, but not quite, surprised at the comment. 'I don't think I want to know,' she informed him, slipping on her knickers and trying not to make a face at the slickness between her legs. She felt awkward, suddenly, at the whole situation — and the Doctor's very obvious nakedness wasn't helping — and so she stood up and pointed at the bathroom door. 'I'll just go and... yeah...' 

  

With as much haste as she could allow, Rose rushed to the loo. She put the seat down — Mickey! - and sat on the toilet, the cistern cool and solid at her back. It was an anchor point, something to keep her grounded as her mind caught up with her body and spun at what had happened. It hit her there, in the bathroom; she clapped her hands over her mouth and screamed into her hands, kicking her feet out excitedly. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God! Rose mentally shouted, and she was grinning, even as she put off thinking about how immense it all was. 

  

She peed and cleaned up, remembering vividly why she'd made Mickey use a condom even after starting on the Pill — well, that, and the fact her mum would actually kill her if she got pregnant at 19. After flushing, she washed her hands and looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. It was just as bad as she expected: her make up had smudged, turning into dark, panda-like rings around her eyes; her hair was mussed and teased and was all fluffy at the back, from resting her head on the cushion; her lips had lost definition, her mouth red and swollen, and she traced them with her fingers, feeling how tender they were after so many kisses. Pulling at the neck of her jumper, she saw that there was a string of hickeys leading down to her collar, all easily covered by a shirt, but proof, wonderful, sexy proof of what they'd done. 

  

Rose met her eyes in the mirror, finding it strange that she should, underneath it all, look the same. That there wasn't a giant stamp across her forehead, or something different in the way she smiled; anything that marked her as separate from the woman who had woken up that morning, late, and had toast and tea for breakfast. Because it felt like there'd been a huge shift, the axis of her world tilting, and it was ridiculous that she hadn't obtained some indefinable quality that showed it. 

  

'The Doctor and I had sex,' she whispered to herself, watching the way her lips moved. Rose's eyes widened at hearing it aloud — it sounded so shocking, even said quietly in the privacy of the bathroom - and she struggled not to grin. She wanted that, the thrilling feel of it, the way the words sat in her mouth, on her tongue. The bald statement of fact and its truth, something so much more than just seeing the evidence on her person. 

  

She tried it again. 'I had sex with the Doctor.' It didn't have the same weight as the first time; she frowned. 'I fucked the Doctor.' 

  

That was the one. 

  

Rose bit her lip, lowering her eyes to the basin, slightly embarrassed at the power the words had over her. Not wanting to dwell on it, she splashed water on her face and began removing the smeared make up and the dried saliva that was making her skin feel sticky. She ran a brush through her hair, grimacing at the knots she encountered. The pain stopped her from thinking about what she might find when she went back outside, how the Doctor might react after having some space to himself — he had an innate ability to cock up even the simplest things sometimes. 

  

She took a steadying breath, squaring her shoulders and giving herself a once over in the mirror. She'd do. Turning smartly on her heel (and nearly laughing at the fact she still had her socks on, and had kept them on during sex), Rose walked out of the bathroom. 

  

Just inside the doorway to the living room, she stopped, needing a moment. She wanted to take in the scene in front of her fully. To note every detail, so she'd be able to conjure it, later, in its entirety. 

  

The Doctor had spread out the blanket, the one he'd wrapped around her shoulders, and it was now covering the floor in a patchwork of blue and orange and pink and yellow. All the pillows and cushions he could find were there, too, and he'd raided her mother's kitchen, preparing a feast of Jaffa Cakes and chocolate, of cold roast beef, of bread and cheese and fruit and crackers and jam. 

  

He sat to the side, back to the base of the armchair, wearing only a ragged band t-shirt he'd had on under the button-down and his underwear. Rose thought the clothing was calculated — he'd known she was in her jumper and knickers — and she appreciated the gesture, the fact he'd not put on all his layers again. And there was something so endearingly sweet about his expression, nervous, and the way he stopped fussing with the plate when he heard her footsteps, looking up expectantly, his hand moving to ruffle at his hair. 

  

'Hey,' she said, softly, and when he smiled, she smiled, too, completely unable to stop herself. 

  

'Hey,' the Doctor replied, and he got to his feet, bounding over to her to take her hand and lead her to the picnic. 'Thought you might have run into some trouble in there. Of the alien variety, I mean,' he hastened to add. ' 

  

'Wouldn't be the first time,' Rose murmured, taking a seat on a cushion. 

  

The Doctor sank down beside her, all knees and elbows. How had she not noticed how many elbows he had? They were just excessive, really, when she saw them outside his shirt and jacket. 

  

She wasn't sure what to say, and the Doctor looked equally uncertain, so they were silent, sneaking looks at each other. 

  

Rose wrapped her arms around her legs, rubbing them for something to do. She was glad he hadn't mentioned the fact they had day-old-stubble on them. Deciding that the best way forward was to be herself — that was how she got here in the first place (and she was a big fan of “here” from what she'd seen so far) — Rose cocked her head to the side and scrunched up her nose, peering at him thoughtfully. 

  

'You put a lot of effort into this,' she said, teasing, grinning with her tongue between her teeth. 'Oh, my God!' Her eyes fell on a green bottle, glittering with gold foil. 'Is that champagne?' 

  

He glanced at the wine in question, picking it up and squinting at the label. Exaggeratedly. Rose ducked her head and hid her expression behind her knees. 

  

'Nooo,' the Doctor denied, long and low, turning the bottle in his hands. 'I shouldn't think — oh, no, look at that: champagne. Right there,' he spun it around so she could read the fancy letters. 'Chilled, too.' He made a face, a can-you-even-believe-it? face, his eyebrows raised and his mouth screwing up in disbelief. 'Would you like some? Since it's cold and all, and I,' he shrugged and sniffed before continuing, 'I may have popped the cork when you were in the bathroom.' 

  

'You even found the fancy glasses,' Rose added, holding one out for him to fill. This was so unbelievably over the top that it was just about right for the Doctor. 'I don't think I've seen these since Cousin Mo's engagement party.' 

  

He poured champagne for them both and placed the bottle to the side. 'Was it presumptuous of me?' 

  

'Very,' she confirmed, taking a sip. The bubbles hit her tongue, sharp and biting as they fizzed — the drink itself seemed fine, was probably very expensive, but mostly she liked that it was cold. 'I don't mind, though,' Rose continued, answering his silent question. 

  

'Yeah?' The Doctor drank from his glass, though it was hard with the way he was smiling broadly. 

  

'Yeah.' Rose moved around so she was sitting next to him, hip to hip, legs sticking out parallel to his; they were both wearing socks, and when he saw where she was looking, he wiggled his feet, and she wiggled hers in return. The Doctor curled an arm around her waist, dropping a kiss to the crown of her head. 'It's nice,' she said softly, meaning everything really: being close to him, the relaxed feeling in her limbs from having had pretty good sex, the picnic and all the work he had to put into it. 

  

His response was: 'You should have a banana.' 

  

Rose tipped her head back, making it rest on the sofa behind her. 'You an' bananas...' 

  

'Me and potassium,' the Doctor corrected, obviously enthused. 'Bananas are a great source of it. I'm sure I've told you that. At least once or twice.' When she only rolled her eyes, he sighed and leaned over to pick one up from the fruit bowl. 'You had a muscle cramp. Earlier. On the sofa — well, I thought you did, I might have misinterpreted the electrical signals. I was a bit distracted. Anyway, it could be from low potassium.' 

  

'An' bananas are high in potassium,' Rose concluded, trying to keep some of the exasperation out of her voice. 'Right. Makes sense. As much as it ever does with you.' 

  

He tossed the banana in the air and caught it again, flashing her a grin as he handed it over. She took it and began to eat it dutifully, though she'd have much preferred the nice chocolates he'd bought, or even a Jaffa Cake. The Doctor had made himself a sandwich; the way he was chewing on it (purposefully, huge bites) made him seem ravenous. 

  

'Sex,' he said around the last mouthful of raspberry jam and white bread, as if that was some sort of answer. 'Are you going to finish that?' Rose mutely shook her head, handing back her half-finished banana. The Doctor began to eat it. 'Always get hungry after sex,' he explained further, quite happily. He took a swig of champagne to wash down the food, and Rose could imagine more than one wine buff staring on in horror at his disregard for the vintage. 'All that movement,' his hands made a vaguely obscene gesture in the air, 'and the heat, Rose — takes a lot of energy, producing heat like that.' 

  

'Mmm,' she agreed, moving closer to him to take advantage of said heat. 'Doctor...?' 

  

He wrapped his arm around her again, his hand splayed out on her stomach. Just above her head, she heard him say: 'Yes?' 

  

'How long were you plannin' this?' 

  

'Oh.' He paused, seemed to consider it. 'Now, by “this” do you mean the picnic? Which, I think we can both agree, is really, just, very romantic — this is some top notch woo, here.' Rose laughed, and he squeezed her hip. 'Or, do you mean how long was I planning...' His voice lowered, and so did his mouth, moving from the top of her head to behind her ear. '...to fuck you, Rose Tyler?' 

  

Her heart skipped embarrassingly at the words, and she buried her face in his neck. Here, all she could smell was Doctor, mixed in with her perfume and shampoo. 'Both?' She muttered this, glad the word didn't squeak out of her like she'd feared. 

  

He removed the glass she was holding, his other hand creeping up from her stomach to just below her breast. There was something incredibly sensual about his long fingers stroking the soft angora of her jumper, the firm pressure and the fabric sliding across her skin. 'Well,' the Doctor said, lips pursing at the tip of her ear, 'this specific brand of romance came to me at Christmas, so, hmm, six days?' 

  

'And the...' Rose swallowed. His hand was cupping her breast loosely, rolling his palm across it; there was heat and wool and he was avoiding her nipple, touching everywhere but where she wanted him. She shifted and tried to finish her sentence: '...the fucking? How long have you wanted that?' 

  

He was kissing behind her ear, the pleasure of it enough to make her jaw ache. She tried to concentrate on how his hand felt like it belonged on her, and how his fingers were reaching up to graze the very edge of her neckline. 'Longer than six days,' he breathed, and brought the heel of his palm over her nipple; she gasped, and arched up, seeking more friction. 'A lot longer.' 

  

She needed to do something, to gain some control over this. By taking her glass of champagne away, he'd left her with a free hand, so she stroked it now along his leg, above his knee, moving higher until she was gently massaging the muscles of his thigh. 'How long, Doctor?' Rose insisted, her touch turning light, teasing, skimming over his boxer briefs and where his cock was tenting them. 

  

The Doctor groaned, his eyes drifting closed, and he abandoned the top of her jumper in order to resume working from underneath it — his hand was under them hem, the material bunching up at his wrist as he kneaded her breast. 'Well, the thing is,' he managed to say, even as her fingers played with the waistband of his underwear, 'the thing is that I've - Rose,' her hand slipped under the elastic, down over the hairs on his belly, feeling the humid warmth that didn't seem alien at all, seemed perfectly human, 'I've always wanted to.' 

  

Rose rewarded him by curling her fingers around his shaft, gripping him. His own hand was still, lying motionless on her breast, and there was something amazing that she could do this to him, could make him stop, could make him forget himself. 

  

It was more than that, though, because it was real. Something she could touch, and she was touching, her fingers running up his cock. It was action — the experimental stroke she gave, downwards, from the tip to the base — and consequence - the way the Doctor swore through clenched teeth. Cause and effect. Scientific, in a way. Observable; quantifiable; repeatable. Not like words or emotions, or charged looks at each other that could be interpreted away into nothingness. 

  

She still liked words, though. Especially “fuck” and “Rose”, and he said both of those when her thumb circled the head of his cock. 

  

'Always?' she asked, squeezing him. 'Are you sayin' since “run”?' 

  

The Doctor shook his head, making his lovely, floppy hair stick to his temple. 'Since I told you to forget me.' His eyes opened, liquid brown and dilated pupils, and a faint smile appeared, one she wiped away with another stroke. 'You were persistent,' he gasped. 'Something of an enduring trait of yours, it would seem.' 

  

Before she could make him incoherent, and she rather wanted to, the Doctor put a hand on her wrist, pulling her hand out from his pants. She tried to complain, had even opened her mouth to do just that, but he kissed her. It was the first kiss since the sofa, and she hadn't known how much she missed it until then; she greedily opened her mouth, eyes closed tight, tasting the champagne (light, delicate) and jam (heavy, overwhelmingly sweet) on his tongue. He withdrew in increments, slowing down, offering her soft kisses until finally they stopped, foreheads pressed together. 

  

'Pants. Off.' Rose demanded. 

  

'Off,' he agreed, and they scrambled to make that happen, his hips lifting off the floor as she grabbed bunches of material and dragged them down. 

  

'Shirt, too.' 

  

The Doctor pulled the soft, threadbare t-shirt over his head, bending over slightly to help shake it off. In the process, Rose caught sight of a small, dark spot between his shoulder blades and she ran her fingers over it, making him shiver and turn, trying to see what she was caressing. 

  

'Have you found the mole?' he asked, and there was a note of indignation in his voice. 'Aw, that's my mole. I wanted to see it first.' 

  

'Too late!' she gloated, slapping her hand down just in case the Doctor discovered a way of getting eyes in the back of his head, and really, if anyone could, it would be him. 'I claim this mole in the name of Rose Tyler.' 

  

'Colonialism? Really?' The Doctor reached behind him and moved her arm, shifting it to the other side of his head; Rose had to put a hand on his other shoulder to keep herself upright, suddenly finding herself between his legs. 'Hardly the current fashion, is it? Politically speaking.' He had smile at the corner of his mouth, though, and his expression was soft, thoughtful. 

  

She tsked, shaking her head. 'Jealousy. S'truly sad.' 

  

Rose leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the left side of his mouth, the one that was lifted up slightly. He sighed and let his hands wander, ghosting over the backs of her thighs, up around the curve of her bum. It was still bizarre that they could do this, touch one another, kiss one another, but she was rapidly getting used to it; Rose was already familiar enough with the topography of his throat to know where to lick, where to nip just sharply enough to leave a faint mark, and she followed the fresh map in her head down his chest — a detour, there, at his Adam's apple — moving backwards as she did, out of the circle of his arms. 

  

She placed kisses over the flat plane of his stomach, a ring around his navel; her hair fell down around her face, sliding against his hipbones, gold and pale cream. Lower, and Rose looked at him from under her lashes, wondering when he'd realise where her mouth was headed — the Doctor was stone still, his hands gripping the blanket beneath them. She had a moment of doubt, then, wondering if blowjobs were something aliens liked, something Time Lords — this Time Lord — liked, but then her jumper, hanging loose, brushed against his erection, and he groaned. When her eyes met his, she saw they were blazing. 

  

'Rose,' he began, and his mouth must have been dry because he licked his lips. 

  

She raised an eyebrow. 'Problem?' 

  

His brow furrowed, but he shook his head. 

  

Rose sat back on her heels, her fingers trailing over the top of his thighs, working from the outside to the inside, drawing loops and swirls on lightly freckled skin. As she grew closer to his groin, his cock twitching hopefully with every near miss of her hands, the Doctor became more agitated until he finally surged forward and kissed her, fiercely. 

  

'Wha?' Rose asked when he let her go. 

  

'Just wait, I need --,' he said, distracted. The Doctor clambered backwards, launching himself from the floor and into the armchair just behind them; the move was so surprising that Rose nearly toppled over — he caught her by the shoulders before she could fall flat on her face. 'I need this to be right,' he finished, lamely, answering her half-asked question. 

  

She was confused for a moment. Realisation crept slyly up on her and so did a smile. 

  

'Thought about this a lot, then, Doctor?' Rose took his hands off her shoulders, placing them on the armrests; he kept them there, staring at her intently. 'Anythin' else I need to know?' 

  

'Your hair,' he said, and there was a rough edge to it now, one that reminded her of just how young she was, especially compared to him. 'Put it up.' 

  

Rose kept a hair tie on her wrist — a useful habit on Earth, a near necessity when travelling the universe — and she quickly shoved her hair into a pony tail, making sure to secure her fringe so it wouldn't fall out. The Doctor gave her a terse nod, and somehow even that was sexy, so Rose resumed touching him, stroking from his bony knees to his bony hips. 

  

She wrapped her hand around his cock again, firm, pulling it forward and away from where it bobbed against his stomach. Before, during the mad rush to fuck on the sofa and later, groping him under his pants, she'd not had the chance to really look at what she was working with. If he'd had a specific fantasy about her blowing him, and that fantasy had a way of being somehow “right”, then the same could apply to his cock, and it did: it was thicker, if not longer, than the partners she'd had before, fitting nicely in her hand (and filling her extraordinarily well in other places, as she discovered). Everything seemed very normal, very human, even the texture of his skin and hair. 

  

Feeling self-conscious for having inspected him, Rose avoided looking at his face, deciding that there'd been enough teasing: she ducked her head and licked the underside of his shaft, from base to tip. Above her, he hissed, and she didn't stop; as she reached the top, she took him into her mouth, her hand stroking languidly, pulling back his foreskin. Her tongue swirled around the head, and then she bobbed down, sucking, taking as much of him as she could. On the journey back up, her hand squeezed gently, and she popped him out of her mouth — long enough to breathe on the wet skin, made so sensitive now. 

  

'Fuck,' he whispered, hot and dark, and when he said her name, she dared look up. 

  

It was worth it: she'd never seen anything so arousing, so beautiful, as the Doctor sprawled out on the chair, his lips parted, his chest rising rapidly. She maintained eye contact as she slid his cock between her lips, and he groaned, his thigh muscles tensing under her other hand. After all their kisses, her lips were oversensitive, every millimetre, and it was almost sensory overload how acutely she could feel the heat and hardness of him. She moaned, and so did he, reacting, she thought, to the vibration of her mouth — or maybe just the idea that this was turning her on, too. 

  

Her hand was pumping him, long and slow, working in counterpoint to her mouth. Making sure there was contact and heat and pressure all around him. Rose shifted her attention to the head, sealing her lips around it, flicking with her tongue; stroking him faster, tighter, her other hand moving to scrape her nails across his thighs, to brush her thumb across his balls. His body was straining, his feet pushing at the floor, and his hips trembling, not moving up to meet her — such a gentleman. They were still looking at each other, and when his hand twitched on the armrest Rose gave a tiny nod, letting him move it to her face, to caress her chin, her cheek; his fingers touched, briefly, her wet lips and his slick shaft as it entered her mouth. The Doctor bit his own lip, teeth white and stark against the slash of red, and his hand continued its path to the top of her head where it rested, light, undemanding. 

  

Rose could taste how close he was, could feel it in the slipping of his restraint — the sounds he made, the shaking legs — and she pulled away with one last flourish of her tongue. She continued to touch him, his cock sliding through her fist, keeping the same rhythm, the almost-too-slow rhythm that would lead him to climax at a pace she chose. 

  

And then the Doctor covered her hand with his own, and Rose nearly died. 

  

He shifted the angle, the speed, his fingers adjusting hers on his shaft, and all Rose could think about was the fact the Doctor knew how to wank. Was good at it, too, if the breathy noises he made were any indication. Another smirk played at the corner of his mouth — she dipped down and licked a line up his cock, and it disappeared instantly. Together, and God, that was incredibly erotic, their hands stroked him until his head fell back, his hips rocked forward, and he came, pulsing out between their locked fingers, landing in a mess on his stomach and chest. 

  

They were quiet for a moment, catching their breath. The Doctor rubbed at his face with his clean hand, brushing hair out of his eyes. Rose grabbed his t-shirt from the blanket behind her and offered it to him; he used it to wipe away come from himself, and then carefully did the same for her fingers, making her smile at how attentively he did it. 

  

'Good?' she finally asked, unable to help herself. 

  

'Very,' he said, crawling on to the floor. He was loose-limbed, more so than usual, and he only really supported himself by keeping his back to the armchair. 'Very, very good.' His mouth was on hers again, sloppy kisses for the sake of it; his hands sauntering casually up the front of her jumper to reacquaint themselves with her breasts. 

  

Rose stretched, pushing her chest into his palms, feeling perfectly fine with him having his way with her (it would be wicked, it stood to reason). His teeth were on her earlobe when there was a loud, buzzing noise, harsh and intrusive. Her phone, vibrating on the coffee table. 

  

'Rose Tyler,' the Doctor said heavily, with the gravity of 900 years behind him, 'if you answer that call I will throw your mobile out the TARDIS doors and into the nearest black hole.' 

  

One look at his face was all it took for her to believe him.

Chapter Text

Rose's skin was humming – from arousal, and from the Doctor touching her, his fingers brushing across the sleeves of her jumper, moving down to her waist; he started peeling the material away, guiding her with a hand on her shoulder, pressing her back and on to the cushions piled up behind her. This was the Doctor, determined. She'd seen him like this several times since he'd regenerated: attacking the Sycorax leader; driving six words through the heart of Harriet Jones' career; making his suit jacket lie flat to prevent wrinkles. And yet, having the full force of his attention, the intensity of a Time Lord, directed at her was something different entirely.

 

Wonderful, of course, but different.

 

'Reciprocation,' the Doctor began, caressing the word. It came out “Re-cip-ro-ca-tion”, with a rolled “r”, two jaunty syllables, then his voice darkening, drawing out the end, the timbre dancing across her nerves as his lips found a spot on her collarbone that made her eyes fall closed. 'Rose, I think you're going to like that word.'

 

'Yeah?' She asked, though she suspected she already did, if it meant what she thought it did – his tongue and his mouth, and the fantasies her imagination had come up with well before he put on a suit and tie (and then, after the costume change, in sharper, stunning, vivid detail). 'Probably will. But is now really the time for a language lesson?'

 

He paused, then, just as he'd got the jumper over her head. Rose fell back on to the pillows, and she looked up at him to see what had happened. Everything about him was strained, from the tendons in his neck, to the tight press of his lips, to how large his eyes appeared. Her own widened as she realised what she'd said, and what he so obviously wanted to say – she could almost hear it.

 

She fluttered her hands in the air and slapped one over his mouth. 'Don't you dare, Doctor. I'm warnin' you.'

 

He made a noise of protest, muffled, but finally nodded, breathing out a long breath through his nose, his shoulders slumping down as he relaxed. Rose tentatively drew back her hand, still glaring at him, and the Doctor shook his head.

 

'I want points for that, Rose,' he said, leaning over her again, pinning her with his hips. He was keeping most of his weight off her, but there was enough to feel his body, to appreciate his warmth, his muscles and the lithe lines of his frame. 'I could have made that joke – filthy, yes, but completely appropriate,' he continued, letting his fingers ran from the curve of her throat, two parallel streaks of sensation, slowing down as they travelled over her chest, his fingertips on her light, delicate. 'And I didn't.' His mouth followed, a hot, wet trail, and she arched into it, into him, lifting off the lumpy pillow beneath her. 'That's restraint, that is,' the Doctor mumbled, around her nipple, 'and I think we both know that didn't carry over into this body.'

 

'Shut up,' Rose told him, breathlessly, and he did.

 

She pressed her hand to the back of his head, keeping him in place; from the way his tongue flicked against her, and his stifled moans, Rose had to believe the Doctor was probably not in discomfort. Her other breast felt cold, far colder by comparison, and it ached at the lack of attention – a moment later, his hand came up to cup it, fingers stroking, first gently, then increasing the firmness of the touch, finding the right pressure to make Rose forget herself and gasp his name. Hearing that, he changed, moving to the other nipple; the air was a cool shock on wet skin, and his mouth was hot, hotter than she thought possible.

 

Rose lost track of time. With her eyes closed she was able to feel every movement of his tongue or fingers with clarity. At least, at first: soon it all became sparks of pleasure, pooling between her legs, her desire building, making her breathing laboured. She needed something, anything, to give her some relief – his thigh, his mouth, his cock. As it was, all Rose could do was struggle not to ask (beg) him to stop the teasing.

 

Finally, she tugged at his hair, pulling him up.

 

'What?' The Doctor asked, peevish. 'I'm rather busy.'

 

'Reciprocation, Doctor,' Rose reminded him, squirming just enough to help convey the message.

 

'Ohhh! Yes! Yes, yes, yes, right, sorry.' He pushed back his fringe, leaning on one arm. 'But, you really should know that your breasts--,' the sentence stopped abruptly as his face broke into a huge smile. His eyes were twinkling as he looked up at her. 'Rose, have you been holding out on me?'

 

'Huh?' She shifted on to her elbows. 'What are you talkin' about?'

 

His finger circled a spot underneath her left breast. She shivered, fighting the urge to knock his hand away.

 

'It appears that you have a mole,' he ducked down and inspected it closer. Really, he needed his glasses, but they were in his suit and his suit was definitely not within reach. He was so close that the tip of his nose kept grazing her skin. 'A lovely, adorable, little mole, hidden away.'

 

Rose laughed at his excitement. 'Never knew I had a mole there,' she told him. With the way he was hunched over, she also had a clear view of his mole, well, hers, actually. She felt a rush of warmth and something else, possibly possession – it was the strongest desire to just wrap her arms around him and not let him go. Nudging his ribs with her knee, she asked: 'Are you gonna claim it in the name of “the Doctor”, then?'

 

He pretended to consider it, eyebrows drawing together, and then he ducked his head; he licked a circle around the mole and she nearly twisted away in surprise – her skin was still buzzing from his earlier attention. He held her still, his hand on her hip, and continued drawing with his tongue; the motions made her think of the writing in the TARDIS, the intricate, interconnecting shapes that made up the words he wouldn't translate. I really hope he isn't just writing “The Doctor was here” on me, Rose thought, smiling despite herself.

 

'There,' he said, moving back until his chin rested on her stomach. 'We're even. Well, almost. Still the little matter of reciprocation.'

 

Rose nodded seriously; the way he'd said it, his tone dark like before but with none of the restraint, none of the methodical distortion of consonants and vowels, made her flush, and the warmth from his breath heated her further. It was a sign that his mood had flipped again, from playful to intense, and she had no time to appreciate the change because he was working his way down her body with soft kisses, lips pressing, parting to taste her, sliding, as if he was unable to leave her skin alone, not even for a second.

 

His thumbs brushed against her hipbones, slipping under the elastic of her knickers, and then he was tugging them down; Rose helped, lifting her hips, and it was almost entirely successful – they did tangle around her ankles for a moment, but the Doctor soon had them tossed aside once again.

 

This whole scenario was different from before, on the sofa: then she'd played an active role, and he'd been distracted in his haste; now, Rose felt on display, open to his perusal. She fought the self-consciousness bubbling inside her and tried to relax, tried to enjoy the way the Doctor was smoothing his hands over her legs. She decided to close her eyes – the sight of him down there would be too much, she just knew it – and so it was a surprise when she felt his tongue lick her folds in a broad sweep. Rose cried out and smacked him on the head for shocking her, and for making her be so loud; he looked up at her, completely unapologetic.

 

'You seemed eager to get to the main event,' he said, explaining his actions. His lips were wet, and his eyes so dark, she could barely see any of the chocolate brown she was only just getting used to. 'So was I, to tell the truth.' The Doctor shifted, moving her right leg over his shoulder; he planted kisses along the inside of her thigh. 'Is that all right?'

 

'Y-yeah,' she muttered, running her hand through his hair again; it was a soothing action, she thought, for both of them.

 

He bent his head back to his task, slower this time. There was still no timid exploration, or delicate caresses; he stroked his tongue from her entrance up to her clit – circling around, but not touching her where she was the most sensitive, the most in need of contact – then back down again to tease, thrusting in but not filling her.

 

When Rose began to move, shifting hopelessly, trying to direct his motions, he finally flicked the tip of his tongue against her clit, the single action enough to make her moan and clutch at his hair as she felt a jolt of pleasure. She relaxed, too, no longer worried about being wound tight with no relief, and the Doctor rewarded her by focusing attention there, a stroke or two added to the pattern, bringing her closer to orgasm and then dropping back, carefully, gradually, until she felt like a puddle of sensation.

 

'Oh,' Rose murmured after he made her say his name, a breathy gasp, her hips rocking up to meet him. 'You're really good at this.'

 

The Doctor paused in his reciprocation. 'I know!' It was equal parts enthusiasm and arrogance, and she giggled at the very Doctorishness of it, even as he buried his mouth between her legs again.

 

He was good, but through it all, Rose still felt the need for more, more than just his tongue and lips and mouth. The climax she'd have from this alone would be amazing, of course it would be, but one from feeling his fingers inside her as well would be mind blowing. Realising that, the last fragment of her willpower dissolved, and she tried to get his attention.

 

'Doctor?' She said it too quietly for him to notice, so she tried again, louder, tapping him on the back with her foot at the same time. He paused, and she could feel the huff of an indignant sigh against her for interrupting his very important work. Rose finally broke, and begged. 'Please?'

 

That did it. He pulled back, putting her leg back down on the floor and moving to kneel in front of her. Eyes meeting hers, he licked his lower lip, a full sweep of his tongue, clearing away the moisture there before darting back into his mouth; the action seemed so obscene, especially the way he appeared to enjoy it so thoroughly, that it pushed all the air out of Rose's lungs, her ribcage feeling as if it was a size too small. The Doctor wiped his face on his shoulder and leaned forward, framing her body with his.

 

'What do you want, Rose?'

 

There was no smugness in his tone, just breathless interest, as if no question in the entire universe had an answer more important. It was perfect, the way he said it, making her feel sexy rather than shy. She grabbed his arm and pulled him closer, their stomachs pressing together as the distance between them vanished. He was hard – again – and she had a sudden flash of memory, him on the Sycorax ship, waggling his fingers and saying “Time Lord”. No wonder his ego was enormous.

 

'I want more,' she whispered in his ear.

 

His hips jerked in response, involuntarily, it seemed; he gasped, and the head of his cock slipped through her folds, wet and slick and so, so ready for him. The Doctor recovered quickly, throwing her a filthy grin as he settled over her, his mouth nipping at her neck, her shoulder. 'Like this?' He asked, adjusting himself, the angle, too, sliding down until all it'd take was one thrust to fill her. 'Is that what you want?'

 

She nodded, her throat tight; the anticipation was making her head spin, and she didn't trust herself to form a coherent sentence, not when the Doctor was lifting her leg up around his waist, his fingers gripping her thigh, firm, unyielding, digging in to her soft flesh – it wasn't painful, not really, it was just sensation, heightening, deepening, what she was feeling. Rose scraped her nails along his back, and he took it for a sign that she was ready: he plunged forward, smoothly, and she was overwhelmed by it, the feel of him stretching her, inside her, again, after all the teasing, all the wanting.

 

'Greedy,' Rose accused, without much heat. So much for reciprocation, she thought, mentally rolling her eyes.

 

'Oh, very,' he agreed. The Doctor kissed her, briefly, on the mouth, and then kissed his way down her jaw. 'Couldn't help myself,' the continued, and she suppressed a moan, at his words and at him pulling out all the way, then thrusting back in. 'You feel incredible, Rose.'

 

The sound of the Doctor's voice, on edge, strained as he fucked her, sent a stab of excitement down her spine, embarrassment and arousal mixing somewhere in her belly; her heart raced just that tiny bit more. She didn't know how to respond, how to get the same reaction out of him – didn't even know if she could get the same reaction – not this early in their relationship. Instead of trying, she just scratched his back again, harder, this time - he growled, and hooked her legs over his arms, over his shoulders, too, changing the angle so the next stroke hit her deeper, and she could feel the whole length of his cock inside her.

 

Rose didn't think she'd last much longer, not with the way his pelvis met hers with each thrust, enough contact with her clit to send her spiralling towards orgasm. The Doctor was watching her, his eyes bright with lust, with all those other nameless emotions she couldn't bring herself to analyse, but which she depended on so much. As if realising how closely she was looking at him – and afraid of what she might see – he turned his head, obscuring her view, his sideburns brushing against her knee as he found a spot on the inside of her thigh to suck, hard; Rose knew she'd have another hickey to add to her collection, to run her fingers over when she was alone, later, in her room.

 

The feel of his teeth and lips on her soft skin was enough, finally, to tip her over, and it was a surprise. Her orgasm arrived without warning: three, short, beats of pleasure, each punctuated with a whispered “oh”, then a longer, more intense wave, a figurative note, sustained. Distantly, she realised she was clawing at the Doctor's back, his shoulder, scrambling for purchase, it felt, as he lost the rhythm, thrusting erratically, and falling, then, into his own climax soon afterwards.

 

This time, the Doctor managed to roll himself to the side, rather than just collapsing on top of her. He flung an arm over her stomach and pressed his face against her ribs, ignoring the fact he'd knocked over a bowl of crisps and caught his elbow in the jam in the process. Rose ran a hand through his hair – damp and sweaty – and tried to catch her breath.

 

'You were right,' the Doctor said, the words muffled by how he was trying to burrow his way into her chest. 'Practice. That's all we needed. Good, old fashioned practice.' She made a noise she hoped meant she agreed, too tired to come up with something witty. He curled his fingers around, stroking the skin of her belly, idly. 'Rose...do you think the universe would believe it if I said I regenerated into your mother?'

 

That made her take notice. 'What?

 

'I was just thinking that if they did believe it – that Jackie was the Last of the Time Lords, I mean – then I could stay here. Right here. About two centimetres from your left breast.'

 

'What about all those creatures an' planets an' horizons you haven't seen yet?' Rose asked, amused by his take on after-sex conversation.

 

'Well, I'd certainly get there. Eventually. But first I'd have to explore you. And I'd be very thorough.'

 

'Of course,' she agreed, trying not to laugh.

 

The Doctor sighed heavily and shook his head, nuzzling her side as he did so. 'It's no use. No one would believe I'd wear velour.'

 

Now she did laugh, wriggling around in his arms so she could face him. 'Oh, come off it! I've seen what you wore before I met you. Cravats. Velvet. That Technicolour Dreamcoat.' She poked him in the arm for emphasis. 'Not to mention the whole vegetable thing. No one'd bat an eyelid at velour.'

 

He shot her an unimpressed glare, but refrained from commenting; he'd noticed the jam again, and was more focused on trying to lick it from his elbow. Rose was reminded, vividly, of exactly what sort of man she had tied herself to – thankfully, the realisation was not one that filled her with dread, just slight exasperation. She took his arm and craned her neck so she could wipe away the jam with a sweep of her tongue. It was wholly unsurprising to her that the Doctor let out a small, disappointed whine, and then hurried to kiss her whilst she still tasted of raspberry and sugar.

 

Afterwards, she cuddled into him, learning the feel of his body from this angle: discovering how far her fingers could inch their way up his back, or down to his bum; which layering of arms and legs worked best for fitting together snugly, and how to angle her head so she could breathe and still stay close to him. Rose knew that this was the only night they'd have where they felt like this – like everything was new, and exciting, and fresh, and so hopeful her heart ached with it – and as soon as it was over, they'd never get that feeling back, not like this. Because they might have other nights, amazing nights (and she really hoped they would) but none of them would ever be this one.

 

It struck her as unfair, that, for all the Doctor boasted at having a Time Machine, and boasted that he could take her any place or time, he'd never be able to take her back to experience New Year's Eve, 2006, the Powell Estate – a game of Monopoly, a dodgy sofa and a Time Lord - in the same way again.

 

'I don't want this night to be over,' she confessed to his sternum.

 

The Doctor rubbed her back in soothing circles. 'It doesn't have to!' He told her brightly. 'We could get the TARDIS. We could go to New Year's Eve celebrations around the world – see them all, one after the other. Times Square in New York, then pop down to Sydney. See them shoot fireworks from the Harbour Bridge. Be the first to welcome the new year on Kiritimati Island, though it's all relative, of course.' He tucked her head under his chin and tightened his arms around her. 'But... it wouldn't be the same.'

 

The way he said it, sort of slowly, as if coming to a realisation, made Rose wonder if he actually felt that way, or if he just knew that she did. It's probably not a very Time Lord-y way of thinking, she thought. Shaking herself from her melancholy - it certainly wasn't how she wanted to spend the rest of the evening, especially not one as brilliant as this – Rose looked up at him from under her lashes. 'Doctor...' she began.

 

'Oh no. No, no, no. I know that tone. Never ends well, that one.' He pulled back to look at her; his expression was pre-winced, braced for her demand. 'What do you want?'

 

Rose made her eyes as big as she could. 'Chips?'

 

'Chips?' The Doctor exclaimed, letting her go so he could rub a hand across his face. 'Chips? I've got you expensive chocolates, and champagne, and – and – and three types of soft cheese, and you want fried potatoes?'

 

'With loads of vinegar,' she confirmed, hugging his arm, her cheek pressed against his biceps. She was trying not to smirk as she saw his resolve waver. 'We can get two lots, so you don't even have to share.'

 

'The things I do for you,' he muttered, and she knew she had him.

 

She kissed his cheek, whispering “thank you!” into his ear. Rose jumped up out of their nest of pillows and cushions and blankets for a quick shower and change of clothes.

 

When she came back, she found the Doctor fully dressed – shirt tucked in, shoes tied, suit jacket on and buttoned – and Rose felt a surge of nervousness at seeing him like that, all wrapped in his layers. He said it wasn't only for tonight, she reminded herself, trying to push past the anxiety.

 

He glanced up at her, and broke into another huge smile; instantly, the unease melted, and she felt herself smiling back. The Doctor bounded over to her and grabbed her hand. 'Where should we go?' He asked her, pulling her close. 'The 1960's? Get some real chips, done in drippings, all wrapped up in newspaper.'

 

'You just want me to wear a mini-skirt.'

 

He closed his eyes and sighed happily. 'Would you?'

 

'Time Lord!' Rose scoffed. 'Just like any other bloke when it comes down to it, aren't you?'

 

'Or,' the Doctor started again, ignoring her teasing. He reeled her out, suddenly, a half-twirl, launched with a firm push to her elbow. She laughed in surprise. 'We could skip ahead. See the brave new world of the 22nd Century. They develop a new type of tuber, a cross between a potato and a cassava. A possava, if you will. Or a cassato, well, actually,' he tugged his ear, 'that's a word in Italian, now that I think about it.'

 

He spun her back in, a sloppy circle, one that made her giggle and fall into his chest. His lips pressed against her forehead in a gentle kiss and she wrapped her arms around his neck, relishing being close to him.

 

'Not that I'm not interested in tryin' that new tuber of yours,' Rose said, 'but we should probably just aim for before the shops closed today, yeah?'

 

The Doctor put his hands on her hips, resting them there comfortably; Rose thought they fit perfectly, like they'd been moulded to her curves. 'You make one, tiny error in calculations and you never hear the end of it,' he complained, but his shoulders soon sagged in defeat. 'Fine, chips in south London twelve hours ago.'

 

She kissed him again, mostly because she could; he eagerly kissed her in return, bringing their bodies closer as he deepened it, his mouth opening, sliding across hers, as thorough as if they hadn't kissed a hundred times already this evening. When she drew back, Rose was rather breathless, and it took her a moment to realise that there was a hint of guilt lurking in his face. She narrowed her eyes, worried that he was about to start talking nonsense about this all being a bad idea.

 

'What is it, Doctor?' Her tone was sharp, leaving no room for him to skate around an answer.

 

'It's just that we might have a slight problem...' he turned away, pacing a few steps before absent-mindedly messing up the hair at the back of his head. Rose sighed and crossed her arms, and the Doctor hurried to continue. 'That phone call, earlier, the one I told you not to answer...?'

 

She waved for him to go on. 'Yes?'

 

'Yeah, about that... your mobile seems to have lost sync with the TARDIS, and it picked up a call from the wrong timeline. It was from your future – your personal future. It's nothing to worry about,' he reassured her, bouncing back, all boyish charm. 'Just a minor paradox. Minute paradox. A little, baby, incy-wincy paradox we can have fixed in a flash.'

 

There were a number of ways Rose could have reacted to the news, but after travelling with the Doctor for so long, all she found the energy to do was shrug and roll her eyes. 'And then we have chips?'

 

'And then we have chips,' he agreed, holding out his hand for her to take.

 

Twenty-five minutes later (well, thirty minutes, adding in the time it took to unlock Jackie's bedroom door), and three hours earlier, Rose and the Doctor exited the TARDIS doors, their arms full of spray cans. The night was cold, but she'd found her gloves, so she didn't have to worry about losing her thumbs to frostbite. As they walked along, their hips and shoulders bumped occasionally, the simple contact making them glance at each other and break into matching happy, silly grins.

 

'So what is this stuff?' Rose asked the Doctor as they approached a dimly lit street. 'It's not permanent, is it?'

 

'Nah.' He rubbed his nose with his sleeve and peered around, looking for a Mini Cooper with terrible suspension. 'It's a bit brilliant, actually – liquid polymers in a solvent suspension. Dries to create a non-woven material.' At her blank stare, he simplified. 'Think silly string. Fabric-in-a-can.'

 

It was a lot like silly string, Rose discovered as they started covering Mickey's car in silver strands – only it melted together to create a soft, uniform layer, one that reminded her of quilt-padding. There was glitter in the mixture, too, making it reflect off the solitary street light on the corner, almost like metal. With her tongue between her teeth and her brows furrowed in concentration, Rose worked to coat the doors and windows, the wheels and the boot in the material; the Doctor was in charge of the rest, and with his added height, had to be in charge of the roof.

 

Near the end of Rose's last spray can, the Doctor decided they were finished. He looped an arm around her waist and together they admired their handiwork.

 

Rose shook her head in disbelief. 'I can't believe we got caught in a paradox where we had to vandalise Mickey's car.'

 

'Well, he did want to play with the race car,' the Doctor commented mildly. He fished around in his coat pocket and pulled out a handful of small stones. 'Right, if I've timed this correctly – and I have – he should be just about to take of Trisha Delaney's bra.'

 

'Oh, my God,' Rose moaned, covering her face with her hands. 'Is that what this was about? Mickey... cockblocking you earlier?' She smacked him in the arm.

 

'Ow! No, no, no, no, this is about saving the universe, Rose! Or do you want a hole in time and space centred over London?' He asked her sternly. 'Because we can just go now, if you want.' The Doctor sniffed, and she could tell he was preparing for a really good spiel. 'That's right, we'll go off and let England's capital get torn apart, eh? Good bye, Trafalgar Square! Whoops, there goes the British Museum! Sorry about the corgis, Lizzy, but I'm afraid Buckingham Palace's been wiped out of existence, and all because Rose Tyler wanted to have chips.'

 

'Oh, shut up,' she said, finally. 'And throw that bloody rock already.'

 

He did.

 

A shirtless and very irate Mickey Smith appeared at the third-floor window. His eyes bulged as he saw a giant Monopoly playing piece right where he'd parked his car, and then bulged out even further when he saw the two figures – one dressed in a long brown coat, the other in a pink hoodie, her hair, yellow in the light of a street lamp, spilling out of a lumpy knitted, hat – standing next to it.

 

Rose exchanged a look with the Doctor. She held out her hand, her fingers already wiggling, and said: 'Run!'