Well, it's happened. Much to my initial horror, I've been bitten by the 10/Rose bug. It's burrowed under my skin and planted itself in my head. Oh well, it's not that bad. Warm fuzzy and fluffy feelings do well to make one feel better when one is currently in bed with a major head cold and feeling like crap. Damn. Damn. Damn.

So, I've been spending my time 'aww-ing' over fluff stories. How pathetic. Tawa, I hope you're not reading this – you won't be too happy with me at all! Oh well, I'm writing this and it's making me feel better. It's my first shot at a) Doctor Who fanfic, and b) romance (first shot EVER…please be kind)

So, on with it. The Doctor tells Rose his feelings for Reinette – or so Rose thinks…

(By the way, Mickey isn't with them.)

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"My Dear Doctor. The path has never seemed more slow, and yet I fear I am nearing its end. Reason tells me that you and I are unlikely to meet again. But I think I shall not listen to reason. I have seen the world inside your head, and know that all things are possible. Hurry though, my love. My days grow shorter now, and I am so very weak. God speed, my lonely angel."

He finished reading with heavy hearts – indeed, they both felt like stones. Folding up Reinette's letter and placing it gently on the console, the Doctor stood for a moment; his thoughts dwelling on her. Only forty-three when she died, the king had said. Such a wonderful woman. And for the world to loose her at so early an age. For her to die, alone, still praying she would see him again. He felt the worst about that. Death, holding on to false hope.

Moving around to his ship's monitor, the Doctor took a last look at the fireplace, Reinette's fireplace, still lit by flames. Slowly, he reached out and pressed a few keys, watching as the flames died. He pressed a few more keys and the image vanished from the screen, replaced by Galliferyian writing.

His eyes alight to the folded letter on the console. Reinette. Death comes to all, yes, but he knows she wanted to see him one last time. He could, of course send the TARDIS back to France and find her. Take her to the stars like he promised. So why not? What is holding him back? He likes Reinette. Reinette likes – no, loves – him. She would come in a second.

Time to return to the void. Where to next? Anywhere, he decides, where he can forget about how involved he is in death. They rely on him, and he doesn't come. The situations where time, usually so easy to manipulate, is taken from him. He is too late…or too hasty in decisions. He lets so many people down, lets them die. It is a curse. The Grim Reaper seems to be his only constant companion. Companion…

Rose. How long will it be until she suffers a similar fate? She almost has, he reminds himself, various times – and each time his hearts both skipped a beat. How much longer until she is really gone? Pulled into some strange situation because of him? Dead from waiting for her Doctor to help…but he never comes. This time, she didn't die, she waited. Five and a half hours. Alone, waiting for him. Because she has faith. In him, in the TARDIS.

Hang on, says the voice of reason in his mind, if you're so worried about losing her or her death, why is she still with you? Why don't you let her go now, back to her mother, her life? Explain what's wrong. You've left companions before, you had to – what about Sarah-Jane? Rose has already realised – as you've already said – that you have to watch humans wither and die, and you don't like it.

Because, the Doctor replies to himself, she's so brilliant. She was there after the war, and I love her for it – she's my best friend, my companion and my family. Right now, I just need someone to lean on.

It clicks. Of course…oh, yes! It was Reinette – her letter. One letter, and it's all clear. The Doctor laughed aloud in joy and realisation, his eyes glittering. A moment later there was the sound of soft footsteps, and the console room door opened.

"You alright now, yeah?"

The Doctor smiled at Rose, nodding as she walked around to face him. "Yeah, I'm just…just…brilliant!"

He wasn't lying, Rose saw. Not a fake smile, nor false tone in his voice. "Hang on, when you came back, you were all down and gloomy. Yeah, you smiled, said you were okay, but I can tell. Why the sudden upward mood swing? You didn't take Prozac or anything, did you?"

The Doctor laughed again. "Nah, just made a realisation. Doesn't take much to make me happy, you should know that!"

Rose smiled confusedly. "What realisation?"

"That I, Rose Tyler, have fallen in love. Strange, yes, but true. And now I can't stop smiling."

Rose did a double take. "What?" she watched the Doctor as he darted around the console, before her eyes feel on the letter. It had to be from…Reinette. Reinette. "Oh."

"Let me tell you about her, Rose. She's…oh, she's wonderful."

Rose didn't know if she wanted to hear this. She would be happy for him – he was so cute when he was all happy and bouncy like he was now – and she didn't want to be the one who lowered the mood. Reinette would be a better match for him anyway. Better than she would have been. She could get through this – after all, wasn't it always the one you fell for who broke your heart?

She laughed, attempting to keep the despair and hurt from her voice. The Doctor gave yet another grin and continued.

"I don't think I've ever met anyone like her. She…she's…oh, where to begin? Wherewherewhere? I suppose we should start with the basics, eh? She's beautiful. She's got these wonderful eyes, which sparkle when she's happy, and this great smile…"

As the Doctor continued on his tangent about her looks, Rose found her heart breaking. Every time he went out of her view, ducking behind the console or fiddling with something, never halting in his appraisal, Rose had to stop and compose herself and make sure her smile was convincing.

"…and her hair's like gold. She's witty, and funny, and so intelligent." He ran past her and she stopped herself from doing something stupid. Surely he knew about how she felt? Although she tried to hide it, she knew she wasn't good at doing so. He must have guessed…on the other hand, males (being alien wasn't an excuse) weren't the best on picking up on that sort of thing. She realised the Doctor was rambling again and forced her mind back to his words.

"…and loyal. Did I mention that? I swear, you could build a city on her faith, it's that strong. At least, I hope it is, cause that just makes me feel lighter than air. I thought love was dark and depressing. You humans always make out that it is. So, why do I feel happy and…"

"Hyperactive?" Rose offered softly. He grinned at her. "Exactly!"

Love is dark and depressing, she was longing to say. The example is right here before you. Knowing the one you love loves someone else, that they don't see you 'that' way. Knowing as soon as you're alone you'll cry out of despair, but still follow cause that's how strong your love is.

"Ah, Rose. I want to hug her and kiss her but I don't know how she'll react. I have some idea, but just in case I'm wrong…not that I'm often wrong. I don't want to spoil what we've already got, you know?"

Rose did know. Of course she did.

The Doctor looked at her, the glint in his eye reminding her of an adolescent schoolboy. He was so happy…Reinette must have poured out her heart in that letter if his mood could change so rapidly. She wondered for a moment if maybe she should ask to go home…

The Doctor saw something change in her eyes and mentally kicked himself. Was it a mistake, telling her all this? Should he have just stayed quiet, taken them to another destination and left it all unsaid?

"You know, Rose – I'm actually scared to say this to her. I don't know what she would say, whether she'd stop talking to me or slap me or something."

Well, that's unlikely, Rose though bitterly. She knew Reinette loved him. What had she said? One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel. If that wasn't screaming love, Rose didn't know what was. But she did have to agree with Reinette on one point – he definitely was an angel.

"I don't know how I can keep this from her, though. It's like my realisation just…well…made it expand. And I feel I have to tell her now or never…"

He was lost in his head, Rose saw, his eyes staring at the console unseeingly, the smile across his face. She was thinking about every time he walked into a room, every time seemingly inescapable danger arose, every time their eyes met…every time she wanted to blurt out what was at the top of her mind. I love you.

"I couldn't risk loosing her. I don't know what I would do. Kind, smart, funny…and this absolutely kick ass attitude."

Rose grinned. Reinette had never shown her that side of her personality. Presumably it was well-hidden under French etiquette and layers of dress. With a start, Rose realized there was silence – the Doctor, for now, had lapsed into silence. She struggled to find her voice, trying to keep anything but warmth out of it. "Oh, you finished your description?"

"Well…I think that's everything."

"Well…" Rose had to pause, taking in a breath and calming herself before she spoke. "Why don't we go get her, then?"

The Doctor's brow furrowed. "Who?" He seemed happily confused at her words, the relaxed smile still etched on his features.

Rose pointed to the letter. "Reinette."

The Doctor looked at the letter. "Reinette? Why…? Oh." It clicked. No wonder he detected a hint of hurt in her eyes, which she was trying to cover up. "You think…oh, Rose…" She must have been listening and wanting to kill him at the same time! She had thought it was Reinette. She stayed, appeared happy, even though she thought it was Reinette! What did that say about her? Oh, he was right to fall…"It's not Reinette. It's…" Now he actually had to say it, it was hard. Why was it so hard? He swallowed. "It's you."

It took a moment for the truth behind his words to get through to Rose. She didn't know what to say. She had wanted to hear these words, dreamt of it, knew, in her heart, it wouldn't happen. But now it had. "What?" she said in a small voice, barely more than a whisper. It was all she could think of to say.

The Doctor laughed softly. Trust Rose to make him do it the hard way. Those three little words, which one had to summon so much courage just to sound – even for a Time Lord. "Rose, I love you. And for some reason I've only just realised."

He gently took her hand and led her to the console chairs. "That letter…Reinette's one…" he paused, unsure of what to say next. The truth. "She died, Rose, she died waiting for me. I said to her that I would come back and I was too late. She wrote that letter for me when she was dying, and the king gave it to me when I went back. I watched her coffin leave for Paris."

Rose didn't know if she should say something here. She was still numb from those three little words of his. She decided to keep quiet, although she was buzzing with happiness. Was it all a dream? He loved her…

"I came back and read that letter – I was distraught – you saw. She died waiting for me; it's all I seem to do to people. I was thinking about that, and you, when I realised. You've nearly died many times, and I don't want to be the cause of your death. So there's me, thinking why haven't I explained it to you and left you with Jackie? It's because I've fallen for you." He looked away, shyly. "I can't see myself without you." Why was he finding this so hard?

Rose placed her hand upon his, the touch bringing his gaze back to her. "Doctor…" She didn't know what to say. She was, quite simply, speechless. So, instead of speaking, she gazed silently at him, trying to calm the butterflies she felt, before she leaned in and kissed him softly. Actions spoke louder than words, after all.

The Doctor thought his hearts might burst – or at least one of them. Rose's soft lips against his own was what he had wanted, but his shyness and uncertainty, especially at her silence, had stopped him. He wrapped his arms around her, kissing her back, praying that this was all real.

They parted slowly, Rose resting her head against the Doctor's shoulder. No, not the Doctor – her Doctor. "I was…I was so sure you were talking about Reinette." She felt stupid now, but how else was she meant to have worked it out? She hadn't read Reinette's letter, after all.

"Nah, course not. She was nice, but she's not you."

Rose smiled. This was real – the words she had only dreamed him saying, the fact that they were sitting like this, together…she felt like she could go anywhere, do anything. He loved her. That was all that mattered now. Slitheen, Sycorax, Nestene Consciousness, Werewolves. Daleks. Bring it on. They would face it together.

The Doctor felt Rose sigh against him. No wonder he couldn't stop smiling. She was so fantastic, so wonderful…so Rose. His Rose, his English Rose. He kissed the top of her head and bit his lip as she giggled. He would always come back for her. He made a silent vow. She wasn't going to wait in vain, ever. "Now, you know what? We never did get to Barcelona."

She lifted her head and looked at him. "No, I seem to remember that someone changed his face and scared the life out of me. We made a change of destination, and ended up doing what we usually do – fighting aliens."

The Doctor nodded, reaching out to the console and typing, one arm still around Rose. "There," he murmured as the TARDIS landed in the seemingly unstable way that she always did.

Slowly, Rose got up from the chair, walking over to the TARDIS' door as the Doctor put on his trench coat and followed her over. "Are there really dogs with no noses?"

He only grinned, opening the door and taking her hand, entwining their fingers together. "See for yourself."

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Yes, it's terrible. Never written romance before. Comments and reviews appreciated, flames will be read, patted on the head and sent to the Death Zone on Gallifrey.