He's going to start again. Any minute now. She can feel it. Any minute. Any second.
"Rose, I'm bored."
Take a deep breath.
"I'm bored, Rose. Rose, I'm booooored!"
"Okay!" she snaps and immediately feels guilty as his face drops and a hurt expression crosses his face.
"I'm sorry," she apologises. "I'm a mean lady. Forgive me?"
"Course!" He gives her a toothy grin. "Just because you're Rose."
"That's right." She smiles at him. "Let me just finish this and we can find something to do. In fact—" she perks up as a bright idea attacks her with all the force of a mid-night plot bunny "—why don't you make a list of things we can do?"
"All right!" He bounds up out of his chair and is across the room before she even registers that he's moved and she puts down the odd spanner-like tool that she's been attempting to use and closes to book that she pretends to understand, resting her head against the TARDIS controls.
"Help!" She whimpers against the cool metal and takes a steadying breath. Okay she can do this.
"Finished!" He races back into the room brandishing a piece of paper filled with squiggles and circles that Rose has no hope of ever reading.
"You finished already?" Rose manages as he waves the paper in her face.
"Yep, all done. I read fast and write fast too. Faster than you!" He bounces on his toes and gives her a manic smile.
Despite herself Rose can't help but return it.
He's so damn cute.
"But I'm bored again."
And annoying. Cute and annoying.
"What do we do now, Rose, huh?"
Cute, annoying and hyperactive.
And three feet tall.
Rose reaches out and ruffles his already ruffled hair. "Why don't you read this out to me and we'll see …" she swallows "Doctor."
It wasn't her fault.
She was going to say that to him long and loud with emphasis and possibly diagrams when she saw him again.
It had been his idea to go to the damn planet and it had been his genius idea to drink something 'sacred' without even asking what was in it.
Rose had learnt her lesson after the rat-burger debacle of the fortieth century, but the Doctor?
"Here's some magic water," she mimics in a mocking tone. "No idea what it does or what affect it might have. I know; I'll drink it!"
"Fountain of youth, Rose," she mutters irately. "Come on what could go wrong? Idiot."
"Are you talking to me?" She looks down at the trembling lower lip of the Doctor. "Am I an idiot?"
She feels like she just kicked a puppy at those big brown eyes.
"No, sweetheart, Rose is not mad at you."
"Good!" His eyes light up and he beams. "Because I'm a genius."
"Course you are."
Such a genius that you drank from a sacred alien artefact and got de-aged to a seven year old with ADHD.
Such a genius that you left me unable to pilot the TARDIS and I've had to take reading lessons from said seven year old so I can understand the TARDIS manuals. Such a genius that we have no idea when you'll turn back, or if the potion will even work its way through your system. Such a genius … I'll need to rewrite the dictionary.
She doesn't say anything like that to the little boy at her side and just plasters the smile on her face.
She so isn't a child person.
"Hey, Rose, can we buy this?"
"Hey, Rose, can we go over there?"
"Hey, Rose, what's this do?"
"Hey, Rose, how much is this?"
"Hey, Rose, why does that happen?"
"Hey, Rose, what happens if I do this?"
Rose spins around. "Oops? Oops, what oops?"
The Doctor stands with his hand behind his back and a sheepish look on his face. "I didn't do it."
Rose rubs a hand over her face. "Doctor?"
"I didn't. Well, I don't think I did. It's possible I did it but I don't think I did and if I don't know then surely I didn't do it. Or didn't mean to do it."
"Show me!" She plants her hands on her hips.
With a shamed look he brings his hands forward and offers them to her. He pries open his fingers and in his tiny, grubby palm lays a broken figure.
"I just looked at it and broke." He bites down on his lip.
"Did you look at it with your fingers?" Rose asks, quite reasonably, she thinks, and the Doctor nods.
"And what did I say?"
"No touching." He takes a deep breath. "No touching, no walking off, no running off, no hopping off, no jumping in puddles, no dancing in the fountain, no removing of clothes of any kinds, no insulting aliens, no staring, no fixing the merchandise and no asking the market sellers for a random transponder circuit or explaining the metaphysical manifestation of the Blinovitch limitation effect which prevents time travellers from meeting themselves through a force which intervenes manipulating chaotic and quantum variables."
"But mostly no touching."
She turns to the market seller who is staring open-mouthed at the young boy.
"I'm sorry, how much was that … figure?"
"The celestial representation of the Rigellian Goddess Miractus," The Doctor amended. "It was a beautiful piece; I just wanted to see if it had the hidden third eye."
The market-seller seems to melt in front of Rose's eyes. "Such a clever little boy. I'm sure it was an accident. No charge."
Rose smiles. "Thank you."
"You have a wonderful son, Miss."
Her smile is less genuine now. "Yeah, thanks."
"He doesn't look much like you, though, does he resemble his father?"
"Oh, Rose doesn't know who my father is," the Doctor pipes up and the market-seller stares at Rose, horrified.
"I'm not his mum!" She protests but the market-seller isn't listening, motioning over her shoulder to some guards.
Rose takes one look at their mean faces and heavy armoury and then reaches down for the Doctor's hand.
They manage to lose the guards somewhere around the fish stores and she pants for breath.
"Okay, Doctor, do me a favour and not mention that I don't know your dad, yeah?"
"But you don't." He pipes up, not even out of breath. "He lives on Gallifrey and humans aren't allowed on Gallifrey … except my mum."
"Right," Rose straightens. "Well we won't mention …" her ears catch up with her brain. "Wait, your mum was human?"
The Doctor is poking the eye of a fish delighting in the way it bulges as only small boys can be. "Yep," he says, "from Londinium."
Rose wrinkles her nose. "Is that in the counties?"
"London," the Doctor replies with a roll of his eyes and his expression brightens as the fish eye explodes coating his fingers with goo and white mucus.
Rose catches his hand before it's even half-way to his mouth. "Don't you dare!"
She is so busy dragging a handkerchief out of her pocket to clean his fingers that she doesn't notice the Guards come up behind her until they yank her by the hair, placing one hand over her mouth and drag her into an alley.
It's a typical disused side alley with broken boxes and hungry rats and smells of urine and worse, above her head are lines of washing and she'd be forgiven for thinking herself back in old London. But the guards aren't human and there is no police to help her.
No Doctor either.
She keeps her eyes on the frightened figure of the small boy as he, too, is dragged into the alley by one large guard with a sneer on his face.
She takes a breath through her nose and then drops suddenly, forcing the guard to let go of her.
She darts back, realising that it's a dead end with no chance of escape.
"Filthy scum," hisses one of the guards into her ear. "Immoral harlot and your half-breed bastard."
"Language!" Rose spits as she steps back. "There's a child present!"
"I know more swear words than that!" The Doctor protests, even though his face is white and scared.
"Words or not, you are gonna get what girls like you deserve." They give crude laughter and Rose knows what they mean.
"Let him go, he's just a kid," Rose asks and they laugh, dropping the Doctor and pushing him aside.
"But he's so cute!"
Rose glares at them as one ruffles the Doctor's hair. The Doctor scowls and pushes at the meaty hand, only to receive a blow that knocks him back against the wall.
He looks up with wide eyes and a small trickle of blood dribbles down his lip. "Rose?"
"Run home," Rose tells him.
"I'm staying," his voice trembles and he rushes behind her, fisting his hand in her shirt and staying well behind her.
"I'm glad," says the guard who hit him. "I like children."
Rose feels her blood run cold and her eyes dart around for something to use to help her. She feels cold metal press into her hand and looks down to see the sonic screwdriver and the Doctor's worried smile.
She gives him her best reassuring grin even though she knows that the screwdriver can't be used to main, kill or wound.
Rose makes a mental note to suggest it to the Doctor when he comes back.
She turns back to the three guards and scans the alley as they approach.
Triumph lights her expression as she raises the screwdriver to the lines of washing and presses the button. The rope snaps and the lines of washing fall down onto the guards who panic at first thinking it's an attack.
Rose reaches down and picks up a broken wooden slat and swings it like a champion batsman.
The crack as the bat hits a guard sounds like a crashing watermelon and she feels sick.
"Teach you pick on my Rose!" yells the Doctor as he picks up his own bat, albeit smaller and thwacks away at the sheet-covered guards.
His gleeful expression and battle cry makes Rose laugh and suddenly she sees the funny side, laughing with delight and grabbing the Doctor's hand with one word, just one word.
They bolt out of the alley and race along the streets laughing at each other in victory.
"We win, we win, we rule!" sings the Doctor. "Rose and the Doctor forever!"
Rose agrees with a cheer and drags him out past the city limits and they collapse on the grass giggling.
"That was fun!"
"It was…" the Doctor pauses, searching for the right word. "Fantastic!"
Rose watches him. "Yeah, it was."
He darts to his feet suddenly chasing a butterfly and Rose is content to watch him, allowing his unquenchable energy to run free.
She never thought that she was a child person. She'd hated babysitting the Trent's down the road and refused point blank to hold Maria's latest whining brat.
But there's something appealing about the innocence of the Doctor, his penchant for getting into trouble hasn't changed and neither has his amazing ability to get him out of it.
He's alive in a way that no one ever had been and he was dragging her along for the ride.
Maybe kids aren't so bad after all.
He spun, looking guilty and she stifled a grin as he took the creepy-crawly out of his pocket.
"How'd you feel about ice-cream?"
His smile was manic. "Yes please!"
She stands up and brushes off her jeans. "Then let's get back to the TARDIS, get some ice-cream and get off this planet, yeah?"
"You can even help me pilot."
His jumps over and throws his arms around her waist. "Thank you, Rose!"
"All right sweetheart, but you have to let go of me," she giggles as he leaps back, looking more like a kangaroo or a frog.
"So what do ya think?" She says as they start back. "Barcelona? They have dogs with no noses, ya know. Or how's about Raxacoricofallapatorius?"
The tiny form of the young time lord reaches up and tucks his hands into hers. "Are we going to have an adventure, Rose?"
"Yep," she says with a grin. "You and me, you know why?"
The Doctor beams at her. "Because it's better with two!"
And it is.
Even if one is only three foot tall.