"Doctor, can you stop pacing for a sec?"
Rose was sitting on the bed in the room she and the Doctor and been allocated by the Sanctuary Base crew. The Doctor, hands shoved into his pockets, had been walking up and down the length of the tiny room with a grim look on his face, but he stopped still at Rose's request, and glanced over at her sheepishly.
"Sorry." He sat down next to her with a sigh, running a hand through his hair.
She tilted her head to rest it against his shoulder. "Maybe we should try to get some sleep."
The Doctor scoffed quietly. "That's not gonna happen."
"Yeah." She nibbled on her bottom lip for a moment, anxious to voice her thoughts. "Doctor, we might find it. Her - the TARDIS. Tomorrow, we could, I dunno, persuade them to help us. You must know some stuff that can help 'em out - we could trade your know-how for them diverting the drilling, or something."
"I don't think they'll go for that, Rose."
"Well, we can't just give up!" Rose turned, shifting to face him, drawing her legs up underneath her. "Can you still feel her, in your head?"
His jaw tightened almost imperceptibly. "Yes."
"Then she's down there, somewhere, and - "
"And unreachable," he interjected. He met Rose's fierce gaze. "I'm sorry, Rose, I really am. I've trapped - " He broke off, swallowing hard. "I'm sorry," he said again, looking helpless.
Rose shook her head. "Stop saying that. It's not your fault."
"I knew she wasn't feeling too good. I should've…"
"What? Left? Well, maybe. But these people might need us. We always end up somewhere we're supposed to be. Yeah? So stop beating yourself up. I get that this is hard, and scary, but it is not your fault, and we will get through this. Because we always do." Rose nodded her head, as though convincing herself of this idea. "Yeah. Me and you. Doing the impossible and doing it together. Right?"
The corner of the Doctor's mouth lifted and he gazed at her, his eyes soft. "Right."
She tugged on the bottom of her jacket, straightening it in a display of determination. "Good."
They were silent for a few moments, until the Doctor murmured, "You know what? Maybe you're right. Maybe we will find the TARDIS."
"That's the spirit!" Rose grinned.
"Or maybe we won't, and getting through this might mean doing what we spoke about earlier. Hitching a ride with this lot." He jerked his thumb towards the doorway.
"Doctor - "
"But if it is that. If it's that last thing - if it comes down to us, you know." He sniffed, shrugging a shoulder, looking uncomfortable. "Settling down - "
Rose interrupted him. "I know you said the TARDIS was grown, not built, but this is the future; there must be some spaceships out there somewhere we can like, commandeer. You could drive one, right? We don't have to get that mortgage that scares you so much. We could still travel, maybe."
"We could. Yes. Depends whereabouts we end up, really. And it doesn't, by the way."
"What doesn't what?"
"The - the mortgage thing. Well. It does, a little bit. But it's not - Rose, the scarier thing would be not getting one."
Rose wrinkled her nose up. "Renting's not much better, true, but - " The Doctor laughed, abruptly, and Rose frowned. "What?"
He composed himself, and clarified, "No, I didn't mean - I meant, the scary thing would be not getting one with you. Blimey, I'd never be able to do it on my own, would I?"
Rose fiddled with cuff of her jacket, attempting to seem nonchalant about his remark. "You mean, 'cos you're useless at paperwork?"
The Doctor chuckled again. "There is that, but I wouldn't say it's my number one reason."
She met his eyes again, and blushed a bit to discover them so completely focussed on her. "I guess it's frugal, right? Sharing instead of paying for separate," she blustered, raising a hand up to twiddle her earring.
"That too. Though the economical efficiency of living together is, again, further down the pros list."
Rose pressed her lips together, holding in a grin that felt inappropriate considering that they were discussing a hypothetical house on a planet she might not even like doing the normal life thing that she didn't even want, when they might have lost the TARDIS, their actual home, for good. But it was nice, all the same, to hear that he valued her company so much.
"It'd get lonely, I s'pose. Living alone. On a strange new planet," Rose murmured. She didn't consciously realise it until his face was suddenly a lot closer to hers, but she'd leant in slightly as she spoke.
"Yes." His eyes dropped to her lips, very briefly, but Rose felt her face heating up again when she noticed.
"It would definitely be a…different sort of adventure," she said, then pointed out, "Then again, trouble seems to follow us, so I'm sure they'd be plenty to do."
He smiled. "That's because you're jeopardy-friendly."
"Me?" she retorted, with a snort. "I think you're just projecting."
"Maybe I am," he said, his voice quiet. He sounded distracted.
Rose continued, "These people. The crew. They've come all this way - so far from home. That's - it's inspiring, really. Their courage. Even in the face of disaster."
"It's certainly remarkable, the way they just dove straight for a black hole like they did. And a bit daft."
"But, think about it. When they get back, it'd have been years, right? For their family and friends and whatever. And they must've known it could be dangerous, that they might not come back. At first, it must have been terrifying." Rose's eyes dropped to her hands, which she was wringing together nervously. She let out a shaky breath. "The thought of never seeing their mums again. But they still came. And they dealt with it." She glanced up at the Doctor through her lashes. "And they have each other. Can't go all through that with someone and not become close friends. Yeah?"
He regarded her intently, eyebrows raised. "Yeah."
"Do you think maybe - I dunno, this is just me being nosy - but do you think maybe some of them have, like, been together?"
The Doctor scratched at the back of his neck. "I've no idea." He chuckled. "That's not really my area of expertise. But, knowing what humans are like…probably. That sort of thing tends to happen with you lot in confined spaces, especially in high-adrenalin situations - which, giving their precarious position beneath a black hole, one might assume this is."
"Exactly," Rose said, nodding. "And it's not as though they can pop along to the pub, or something, is it?"
He glanced away, focussing on the wall. "Mm. Though I doubt anyone involved in that sort of thing would like to think of themselves as mere convenience for the other person - as the other person making do, because there's, well, no one else available." He cleared his throat.
Rose squinted at him, confused. "Well, no. But, like I said. All this time together…bound to grow close. Maybe even - and this is just an assumption, a possibility, who knows, I mean, that lot are quite mysterious really - but, you know, close quarters, close friends; feelings could develop."
She watched his hands tighten around the thin blanket they were sitting on. "That's a fair assumption, I would say."
Her heart thumped wildly in her chest, but she felt like she was on a roll, so she persisted. "Yeah. I mean, who knows, maybe feelings have been there all along, and then something like seeing a black hole and being faced with the endless, er - " She struggled to find the right word for a few seconds, and cringed at what she had to settle with, "- endless…ness, of it all, just sort of, shakes things up."
The room shook a bit, at that point, probably due to another not-storm outside, and Rose laughed at the timing. The Doctor cracked a smile, and added, "Literally."
"Yep," she agreed, rubbing at her eye tiredly. "Oh, I dunno. Guess it all just depends on whether they're too focussed on their work to even think about that sort of thing."
"I'd imagine there's not an awful lot to do, whilst they're waiting for the drilling to be completed."
"Mmm. They can't be that busy - they obviously don't need our help tonight, letting us have this room and all that."
They were silent for a minute, and Rose shifted in her seat restlessly, wondering if this was going anywhere or if she should just give up. Given that the Doctor hadn't glanced her way for a substantial and unusual amount of time, she suspected she ought to do just that.
Forcing a yawn and stretching her arms above her head, Rose mumbled, "Well, suppose I could have a nap, kill some time."
The Doctor's hands unclenched from the blanket and he stood, abruptly shoving them back into his pockets. "Yes, I'll let you do that." He nodded his head towards the door. "Like I said, doubt I'd be able to catch any sleep." His eyes wandered over the bed. "And they did only assign us one bed. So you - yes. I'll just go for a walk, so that I don't - disturb you."
"You don't have to go," she protested, a bit mortified that her plan to get him to sleep with her, in any sense of the phrase, had gone so awry.
"I don't mind." He flashed her a quick, false grin, and headed out of the room. "See you in a bit!"
Rose watched the door close behind him and flopped onto her back, groaning in frustration. He'd definitely understood what she'd been trying to say; she couldn't have been more blatant without outright asking him. The implicit rejection of his departure left her feeling embarrassed and nauseous. She hated the thought that he'd been waiting to seize an excuse with which to get away from her. Hated the thought that she was losing out on any form of comfort from him tonight, platonic or otherwise, purely because she'd stepped too far over the tentative lines they'd drawn around their friendship.
Sighing, she kicked off her shoes and stood up to shimmy out of her jeans, planning on getting comfy and falling asleep under the covers. She suspected it would be difficult to switch off, but it'd probably be a good idea to at least attempt some shut-eye before their no-doubt busy day tomorrow.
But just as she'd unbuttoned her jeans, the Doctor stepped back into the room. Her hands fell to her sides. "What, did they tell you off for wandering about?" she asked, mustering a half-genuine laugh.
The Doctor shook his head, closing the door by leaning his back against it. His eyes fell to her opened jeans and she could see Adam's apple bob even from the short distance between them.
Rose scratched at her forehead, feeling awkward at the sudden tension. "Too tight to sleep in," she mumbled, as some sort of explanation.
"Of course," he replied casually. "Don't mind me. Decided I'd get some sleep after all. You can just - I'll take the floor, feel free to carry on and make yourself…comfortable."
He continued to look at her, and she continued to watch him looking at her, and then he jolted forwards from the door only to spin around, averting his gaze.
"I won't look," he murmured.
Rose rolled her eyes. As if him looking was a problem. She took her jeans off and hastily slipped under the blankets on the bed, lying back and staring up at the grey ceiling. "Done."
He turned around, and shrugged out of his jacket. Rose's eyes slipped from the ceiling to him, but sadly he simply loosened and removed his tie, then sat on the floor. She couldn't help but laugh.
"Doctor, you'll do your back in. Get up here."
"It's okay - "
She heard him mutter something but couldn't discern what, and then he was lying on top of the covers next to her, nudging with his elbow to get her to shift over a bit.
"Won't you get cold?" she asked, as he used his sonic to dim the lights slightly.
He was so close she could still see him in the dim light, so close he was sharing her pillow, and she had to concentrate on breathing steadily for a second. When he rolled onto his side, she mimicked him, and they faced each other with equally trepidatious expressions.
"I can't think straight," he admitted quietly.
His confession stole her breath completely for a moment. "You…because of the TARDIS?"
"Yes." The Doctor paused, his eyes frantically searching hers. "And because of you."
Her eyes widened.
He continued, "Could you take your earrings out?"
Rose touched one of her hoops and narrowed her eyes. "Why, don't you like them?"
His lips twitched. "I like them, but they're a bit of a hazard. An accident waiting to happen."
"How so?" she asked, as she started to remove one. "I'm lying down! You can't tell me you think I'm so 'jeopardy-friendly' that I'd yank them out in my sleep?"
"They might get caught on something," he protested.
She took the other one out, rolling her eyes as she did, and handed them to him. He popped them into his trouser pocket.
"You'll probably stab your own leg with them, putting them in there," she huffed.
"I won't. Dimensionally-transcendental, these pockets, remember?"
"Which means I'll probably never see those again," Rose laughed.
The Doctor cupped her jaw, and she stopped laughing, her breath catching again. She told herself to stop reacting like that, to calm down. He rarely meant anything by his moments of tenderness. A kiss to the forehead or cheek, holding her hand, hugging her close - none of it led anywhere, or meant what she wanted it to mean. He wasn't oblivious, she knew that, but he definitely pretended to be. And Rose knew this would be just one of all those other moments where he'd get her hopes up, say something sweet and touch her briefly and then pull back, retreat, run away.
She was astounded to discover that this time, she was utterly wrong.
His thumb stroked along her cheekbone and then he was leaning in, pressing his lips to hers. Chaste and dry and brief, but it set Rose alight, and when he made to move back to gage her reaction, she pulled his mouth to hers again instead, sinking her hands into his hair.
When Rose woke up, she felt a bit disorientated. Blinking into the harsh light of the room, she sat up, and abruptly realised where she was. She also realised that she was alone.
Rubbing her eyes tiredly, she gathered the sheet around her to cover herself as she went to pick up her scattered clothing. But before she could, the Doctor entered the small room, carrying a cup of what she presumed was the Sanctuary Base version of tea or coffee.
"Thought you could use a drink," he said, handing it to her quickly. He scratched at the back of his neck and just looked at her.
Rose met his gaze, shifting awkwardly, very aware she was naked under the sheet whilst he was standing in front of her fully clothed. She took a sip of the drink. "Mmm, thanks. It's good."
"Really?" His lips twitched.
She laughed. "No. It's disgusting. Try it." Giving the cup back to him, she kept one hand on the sheet at her chest, ensuring it was secure.
The Doctor tasted it, smacking his lips together. "Oh, no, that's not pleasant." He pulled a face, and placed the cup on the bedside table. "I've spoken to Zach. I'm going down the pit with him."
Rose's eyes widened. "Is that safe?" He didn't answer, and she sighed. "Please be careful."
"Of course!" He beamed at her, suddenly. "Got a lot to live for."
Something loosened in her chest, and she smiled back at him. "Yeah, you have."
He kept watching her, still grinning, for a few moments, and then his eyes travelled over her. "Oh, I should let you get dressed."
On a surge of courage, Rose shrugged and said, "Guess it's nothing you didn't see last night." She stood up, and the sheet fluttered down to the floor.
The Doctor made a small, involuntary noise, and Rose smirked to herself as she bent over to pick up her clothes. He hurried to help her, crouching down and feeling around under the bunk.
"Here you go," he said, looking sheepish, as he found her knickers and held them out to her, dangling them by his fingers.
"Thanks," she murmured, standing up straight to put them on. As she dressed, she could feel his eyes on her the entire time, and a blush spread across her face and neck.
"Ooh!" he exclaimed, remembering something. He dug out her hoop earrings from his trouser pocket. "Don't forget these."
"Ta." She put them in and then tugged on the hem of her top and tried to flatten out the wrinkles in it. "Right, then. Gonna pop to the loo. Do you have one of those toothbrushes on you?"
"Yep!" He went into his jacket pocket this time and found one. "Here you are. I'll meet you out there?"
"Yeah, sure." As he started to leave, Rose felt uncertain again. "Wait, Doctor?"
He turned to face her from the doorway. "Yeah?"
She walked up to him and kissed his cheek. "We okay?"
"We are," he assured her, tilting his head, returning her peck with one of his own. "See you in a minute."
"Yeah." She bit into her bottom lip as she watched him leave.
Once they'd said goodbye to the remaining crew, Rose asked the Doctor to take the TARDIS to Earth.
"Not on Earth, yet," she clarified. "But like, hovering in orbit. So we can look at it from space."
He nodded his assent and set the coordinates.
Soon, they were sitting together in the TARDIS doorway, legs dangling over the edge as they stared at her home planet. The Doctor wrapped his arm around her shoulders, drawing her closer, and with no room left between them, she placed her hand on his thigh. Hearing his breath hitch, she felt compelled to elicit further reactions, so she let her thumb absently stroke against the pinstriped material. His arm tightened around her.
She thought about tilting her head up, thought about leaning in and seeing if he'd kiss her again, but then her stomach gave a loud rumble.
The Doctor chuckled, and pressed his lips against the top of her head. Rose supposed that was close enough.
"Are you hungry?" he asked her. "You must be, you haven't eaten for hours. Come on, I'll take us to our favourite chippie."
When he landed the TARDIS in London, it was starting to rain outside. Rose didn't care; in fact, the Doctor was surprised to see that she looked excited by the prospect. She dashed out of the doors and laughed as she span around in a circle, her head thrown back, eyes closed as she felt the tiny droplets of rain hit her skin.
He stared at her for a few moments, entranced, then walked slowly over to her. Her eyes fluttered open just as he stepped close, and her arms easily slid around his neck to welcome him nearer.
There, in the middle of the courtyard her mother's block of flats overlooked, the Doctor clutched at Rose's waist, drawing her against him, and lowered his lips to hers. They kissed leisurely for a couple of minutes, pausing here and there to suck in a breath, and then Rose broke away.
"Thought for a bit you were just gonna keep that sort of thing for on impossible planets underneath black holes," she murmured, smiling up at him shyly.
"What, snogging?" he enquired, tilting his head and pretending to contemplate that for a second. "Nah. Seems like something that can be adapted for its surroundings."
"Mmm. For instance, kissing you in that room last night, with strangers not so far away, well, had to keep it relatively quiet, eh? Kissing you here, in public, in the rain - have to keep it relatively decent."
Rose started to grin. "And what about in the TARDIS?"
"Hmm, parked in the middle of space? We could kiss as loud as we want. Right now, I'm sorry to say that we've missed our chance to sneak back inside, because your mother is walking towards us." As he imparted this information, he took a step back from Rose, releasing his grip on her and waving cheerily at Jackie.
"You can wipe that innocent look off your face," Jackie snorted, as she came up to them. "Already seen you stick your tongue down my daughter's throat."
"I can assure you that I didn't," he sniffed, running a hand through is hair.
Rose correctly thought to herself that he probably assumed Jackie was insulting his technique, and rushed to diffuse the situation. "Hi, Mum. Don't worry! Nothing to see here."
Jackie raised her eyebrows. "Yeah, all right," she said, disbelievingly. "Now are you two coming up for a cuppa or what? It's gonna start chucking it down in a minute."
"Actually we were gonna go for chips - " Rose started, but her mum linked arms with her and started walking her towards the doors to the flats.
"You can't survive on them, you know - is that all he feeds you? Daft alien. I've got some shepherd's pie in the oven, it'll serve all of us. Howard's over, by the way." She lowered her voice. "What's he kiss like, then?"
"This 'daft alien' can still hear you, Jackie," he pointed out, catching up with them in a few quick strides. "How would you like it if I asked you how Howard kisses?"
"Mmm, you know what, I don't mind telling you: for all his faults that man really does know how to use his - "
The Doctor slammed his hands over his ears. "Okay, shepherd's pie it is!"