"All right, all right, I made a mistake inviting him along. You can say it. I know you're dying to, you smug git."
The Doctor lifted his shoulders in an innocent shrug, enjoying watching her squirm. "Don't mind me, I'm not saying a thing."
Rose narrowed her eyes at him. "So you're just standing there staring at me with that grin on your face for no good reason, then."
He let out a low chuckle and flopped down on the jumpseat, slinging his arm along the back of it casually. "Better?"
Slowly, Rose walked over to him, folding her arms on her way. "More the grin I took issue with than the standing bit," she pointed out.
"It might surprise you to know, Rose, that you're not the only one who has poor judgement when it comes to travelling companions."
"What, you saying you've made mistakes like that?"
He deliberately looked her up and down. "Once or twice."
She bit her lip, trying not to smile as she leant against the console in front of him. "But I'm not one."
He gave her look.
"What?" she grinned.
"I just said what I said out there, and you're already fishing for more?"
"You're right, been hanging around you too long; need my ego stroking."
Arching an eyebrow, the Doctor asked, "Are you saying that's what I keep you around for? To stroke my ego?"
"I'm saying that being around someone so big-headed is bound to rub off on a girl," Rose smirked.
He lifted his leg, crossing his ankle over his other thigh. "Well, we can't have that. Maybe you'd better quit while you're ahead."
"And miss out on all the fun?"
The Doctor's grin faded. "Not always fun though, is it." His gaze drifted from hers. "And to tell you the truth, sometimes it worries me how much you like the trouble."
"You're such a liar," Rose said with a snort. "You love it."
He rolled his eyes, then looked at her again. "Rose - "
"Admit it," she said boldly, pushing herself off the console and stepping over to him. "You like having a partner in crime." She grinned down at him, and pushed his shoulder playfully. He caught her by the wrist and watched her eyes darken.
"Is that what we are?" he said lightly, hiding a gulp.
She lifted a shoulder coyly. "Better with two, remember."
The Doctor exhaled, and let go of her wrist. "I remember. And, after having that twerp on my TARDIS for a day, can't say I disagree."
"Ah, here we go, this is where you say 'I told you so.' I knew it." She laughed and sat down on the jumpseat, angling her body towards him.
"He was overwhelmed…"
"And then he jeopardised the future of the entire human race."
Rose blew out a long breath. "Yeah, that was pretty bad." She met the Doctor's gaze and they giggled. "His face, though. When we clicked our fingers…oh god, we're going to hell."
"No such thing," the Doctor dismissed easily, with a sniff. His arm was still resting along the back of the seat, and her ponytail kept brushing his hand as she laughed. His fingers twitched.
"Doctor, do you think…" She trailed off.
He tugged lightly, affectionately, on her hair, unable to resist. "What?"
"Do you think that we could just, like, have it be like this, from now on. Just us."
The Doctor watched as she nibbled on her bottom lip, evidently nervous about making such a request. "I wasn't the one who wanted it to be otherwise," he pointed out softly.
She fidgeted in her seat. "Yeah, s'pose." She shifted a little closer to him and murmured, "Listen, I'm…I'm sorry."
He shook his head. "You don't have to say sorry. Nothing wrong with you wanting to invite people along, not really."
"Yeah but what he did - "
"That wasn't your fault. He was an idiot."
"But I invited him."
"Like I said, nothing wrong with that. Just use better judgement next time you pick a pretty boy to come along - "
"But you'd prefer it if it was just us."
They just watched each other for a few moments, because what she asked wasn't really a question and she already had her answer.
So he simply said, sternly, "But if there is a next time, don't give him your key."
Rose smiled. "Promise." She breathed in a little shakily then continued, "Earlier - before all the stuff happened up on Floor 500. In the lift, you - you seemed - " She paused, her hand drifting across the gap between them. Her fingertips brushed against his thigh, and he looked down to watch, swallowing hard.
Closing his eyes, he savoured the moment for a second before jolting himself out of it. "Rose." When she looked at him, he shook his head gently from side to side.
Her hand retreated to her lap and she let out an embarrassed laugh. "Sorry." She turned, gripping the seat in both hands as she hung her head and squeezed her eyes shut, looking mortified. "Misread things. I'm daft." She laughed again, but it was a weak show of amusement.
His mouth opened and closed as he fought for something to say, whilst his eyes were inconveniently drawn to the gap between her jacket and the waistband of her trousers. Amazing that such a relatively small portion of her back could continue to taunt him as it had all day, right at the moment he was supposed to be imitating indifference.
"You didn't," he found himself blurting out.
She twisted to look at him instantly. "What?"
"You didn't misread things."
Eyes widening, Rose whispered, "You really were gonna kiss me?"
"In the lift," she said impatiently. "As we were going up, at like, roughly Floor 250. You were holding my hand so tight and then you looked at me as if…"
Her shoulders sank again. "Then - ?"
He dropped the arm from the back of the jumpseat and let his hand fall in the space behind her. "I wouldn't have."
"I never do, do I?" he continued, with a self-deprecating quirk of his lips.
"But you wanted to?" Rose murmured, staring at him intently.
He raised his hand, trailing his fingers along the skin exposed beneath the hem of her jacket. Goosebumps swept across her back in response, and he smiled. "Lots of things I want. Lots of things I don't do."
"You were jealous of Adam. You want me for yourself," she realised.
There was little chance of her believing a denial of this, not now. "Yes."
Rose tilted her head as she understood. "But you're never gonna make a proper move, are you?"
His jaw tightened and he shook his head.
"Does that mean…"
"What?" he asked, stroking his thumb against a dimple in her lower back.
She cleared her throat and raised her chin. "Does that mean it can't ever happen full stop, or that I've gotta be the brave one?"
He was silent for a moment, and listened to the background whirs of the TARDIS, to the beat of his own hearts, to his and Rose's quick, uneven intakes of breath.
There was, he considered, a multitude of answers, a veritable feast of qualifiers, to her question.
There was exactly one he wanted to voice.
He dropped his hand from her back and met her eyes steadily. "Why don't you decide?"