"Okay, so he's vanished into thin air. Why is it always the great looking ones who do that?"

"I'm making an effort not to be insulted."

"I mean... men."

"Okay. Thanks. That really helped."

-Rose and the Doctor, "The Doctor Dances."

"Do you really not think of me as a man?" The Doctor broke what little concentration Rose had on the book before her.

She frowned before looking up, her hazel eyes meeting blue steel. He looked innocent, like it was a passing curiosity, but his eyes betrayed him.

"What makes you wonder that?" Rose asked, setting the book aside and shifting on the jump seat. She leaned forward, hands folded and hanging off her knees as she nearly folded herself in half.

The Doctor shrugged, arms jostling as he looked at his sonic instead of at her. He was doing maintenance, or at least that's what he said he was doing. She wasn't sure how much she believed that as it sounded more like he was just shifting things around and making sounds with the screwdriver.

"Something you said." He replied. "In the basement back at the hospital. Said all the good looking men disappear."

Rose smirked. "This your captain envy coming back?" She teased.

"Don't have captain envy," The Doctor said gruffly. "Forget I asked." He went to duck down back under the console.

"I didn't mean it the way you seemed to 'ave taken it." Rose said quickly, catching his attention as he was laid out on his side. He still wouldn't look at her, but the tilt of his head said he heard her. She cleared her throat, the effort soft and hardly heard in the expanse of the console room. Rose looked to her hands. "You're a man, 'course I think of you as a man. 'S just, at the moment, Jack came over the thing, and put on Glenn Miller. Then there was talk of dancing, then sorta dancing. Then we were on his ship, and running, and it's just … by the end of it I just sorta forgot." She paused considered the topic once more. "Wait, do you want me to think of you as a man?"

"Well better than you thinking I'm …."

"A woman?"

"Well, no. Obviously not a woman, me. I just … I'm male, of course. Hear you refer to me as him, so not that, just." He stammered, clearly growing more frustrated with himself as he spoke. Superior Time Lord, and here he was all flustered. She could also see he was retreating into himself, likely wishing the topic had never been brought up. His ears were flaming red, and he hadn't been able to look at her for a while.

Rose's heart swelled as it tightened, hoping she understood what he meant as much as she feared getting it wrong. But they had been through enough together since Jack came on board, he had to have seen she paid him more attention. But if this was a question playing on his mind for the last couple months, then it needed proper addressing.

"You remember," She said before he could run, "when you asked why I trusted him, and I said it was because he saved my life?"

"'Course, I do. Perfect memory, me. Also remember you said you trusted him cause he was like me, but with datin' and dancin'." He replied, looking up at her, communicating with just a look that it wasn't the fondest of memories.

"Also said that bloke wise, saving me was right up there with flossing." She reminded him. "How many times have you saved me?" She asked. He was about to answer when she held up her hand to stop him. "Don't answer, not really important."

"So why bring it up? Idol conversation?" The Doctor asked.

"No I brought it up cause … well, flossing's not big a deal, right? Mean, sure, it's good for breath, and a bloke that takes care of him self is good. But … do you know what I really think of a man as, Doctor?" She asked, waiting to see if he'd say something. He didn't, nor did he seem overly eager to hear what was coming next, but listened anyway. "A man's someone who'll do the proper thing, even if he doesn't get anything from it. Who risks himself for the better of others. Says what he means even if he doesn't mean to. Man's someone who thinks with his heart as much as his head, no matter what sorta front he puts on. And he lets certain people see that heart, his true nature, that's hidden behind the armor. And wanna know something, Doctor?" She asked, getting bolder with every ounce of his full, rapt attention she gained. His eyes had locked on hers, and at her question he simply shook his head without breaking the gaze. "Makes him more of a man if he's got two."

Her own heart pounded in her chest, hummed in her ears, as she tried to breath in the stifling console room. Not since that almost kiss while dancing around the room the night Jack came on board, a moment that hadn't happened again, had the air felt so heavy between them.

Slowly, the Doctor got to his feet, staring at her the whole while.

Rose stared back.

He walked toward her, careful like he would spook a deer. He stopped while there was still space between them. "Really think that?" He asked, looking down his nose at her with a hopeful gleam in his eye and a slight smile pulling at his lips.

"'Course." Rose said, a smile of her own breaking out, tongue between her teeth.

It made the Doctor break out into that beautiful, brilliant smile that was all too rare. "More than Rickey the idiot?" He asked.

Her smile fell a bit, and she dropped her eyes to her lap. "Mickey deserves better than me. But yeah, you're much more of man than he is." She stroked his ego, knowing it was the truth as much as it was what he wanted to hear. But it stung all the same, because if Mickey deserved better ….

His cool hand cupping her cheek surprised her, the tip of his nose against hers made her breath catch. "You are fantastic, Rose Tyler. Never forget that."

The TARDIS doors opened, but the Doctor didn't pull away, stroking her cheek with his thumb as the only movement he made.

"Okay, so Kyoto? Way more fun than I expected." Jack said, his feet on the grating echoing in the vast room. "There were these girls, and … oh," he said, the word laced with unneeded innuendo. "Didn't know I was interrupting a party in here as well."

"Nope," The Doctor grinned, turning away from Rose. "Just a little chat is all, straightening something out."

Rose watched as he danced around the console, preparing to send them into the vortex. He paused, for just a moment, caught her eye, and winked.

She blushed, her grin stretching too wide, and her heart doing a little leap. How could he not know she thought of him as a man? When he did these sort of things to her with a simple gesture.

Clearing her throat, she got to her feet and headed to stand next to the Doctor. "So tell us about your lil adventure, Jack."

A/N: Thank you for reading. This is a sort of sequel to "Unchained Melody" in that it's fluffy.

SORRY, I know it's canon compliant. No kiss. My bad. But I'm planning a 9/Rose with a much stronger romantic undertone laved with adventure.

Also, if you love Nine and Rose, check out beth51276's "Are You Really." It's still in progress, I believe, but it's a fantastic read!