From the timepetalsprompt: "Ten accidentally telling Rose he loves her when she makes him laughs after a particularly hard day, (like chandler telling monica when she puts a giant turkey in her head so he would laugh)"
Thank you to my beta, mrsbertucci :)
Rose smiled at the Doctor as they walked hand-in-hand back to the Tardis. She had seen many things in their travels so far but never thought she would one day be thankful to have her face back. The Wire had wiped her features away, but, unlike the Doctor, she hadn't seen the horrifying result. Based on the enthusiastic hug that he had given her when they were reunited, it must have been a shocking sight.
And now, just as Rose suspected might happen, the Doctor's excitement over a case solved and companion saved was waning and being replaced by a brooding silence. She certainly did not blame him for what happened, but, judging by the look on his face as they re-entered the Tardis, he was wallowing in guilt.
"Think I'll make us some tea. Meet me in the media room? We can finish the film we were watching." The Doctor dropped her hand and sent the ship back into the Vortex before walking off, hands shoved in his trouser pockets.
Rose frowned. There had to be a way she could at least make him laugh if he was determined to blame himself and be miserable. She made a detour to the wardrobe before heading to the media room.
The Doctor stared in the middle distance as he sat on the sofa, two cups of tea cooling on the table next to him. Rose's blank face was burned into his retinas and refused to fade away. The sight of her standing there - no large, caramel eyes or wide, pink mouth - was something he could never forget. And it was all his fault.
He had rushed away without Rose, intent on catching his quarry as it raced down the street. If he had only waited just a few moments longer she would never have had to experience being helpless and faceless. She must hate him.
The Doctor, ever aware of her presence, heard Rose enter the room but did not turn around to greet her.
"Doctor, you alright?" she said, voice oddly muted.
"I'm always alright," he replied.
"No, ya aren't!" she exclaimed.
Suddenly, Rose hopped in front of him, face covered with a ridiculous Slitheen mask as she danced around in a circle. The Doctor stared at her, face gaping in shock.
"I dare ya to be all pouty now!" she cried while flapping about like a bumbling chicken.
His sulky mood broke as he slowly smiled and then started to giggle. He only laughed harder the longer she continued to spin around as an uncoordinated Raxacoricofallapatorian.
The Doctor wiped away the amused tears leaking from his eyes. "You are completely mad! I love you!"
The Doctor froze.
"Wh-what?" she stuttered, voice muffled behind her mask.
The Doctor panicked and leapt to his feet, intent on running out of the room with a pathetic excuse of Tardis repairs. But he stopped himself; Rose didn't deserve such a cowardly retreat. He had two choices: pretend he had said something else or confess something they both knew but were too scared to admit.
Mind made up, The Doctor slowly walked to stand in front of her. The corner of his mouth quirked up in a semi-smile as he took in her ridiculous Slitheen face. Lifting the plastic mask and tossing it to the floor, he revealed Rose staring at him with wide, glassy eyes. He had never seen her look so vulnerable.
Ever so gently, he raised his hands to cradle the sides of her face and pressed a quick, soft kiss to her mouth.
"I love you," he breathed.
Rose's face broke out into the brilliant, sunny smile that he loved and nearly lost today and happy tears began to flow from the corner of her eyes.
"I love you, too," she confessed before launching into him, hands gripping the back of his shoulders and lips hungrily moving over his own. The Doctor lowered his hands and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tightly against him and reveling in the feel of her tongue sliding along his.
As they continued to learn one another through gasps and sighs, the Doctor wondered why he waited so long to succumb to something so obvious. But he had her now, and he was never letting her go.