Peppermint

Rose ran her hands through her hair one more time, smoothing down a few stray strands as she looked herself over in the mirror. She'd been a complete mess the last time she had seen her mum and she was determined to let her know she was alright now, even with Mickey was gone.

She readjusted her jumper again and found that she was still was not happy with the way the wide collar settled on her shoulders. Taking a moment to consider what else she could wear, she remembered the red and white top her mum had given her as a gift months back. She'd never gotten around to wearing it before, but paired with simple black trousers, it seemed like the perfect outfit for Christmas dinner.

Granted it was a Christmas dinner in March, but she'd seen stranger things in her lifetime. She'd probably seen stranger things in the past week actually. Not to mention that her mum seemed thrilled with the idea when she had talked to her earlier. She always liked her (and now it even seemed like she liked the Doctor) visiting, but she had been surprised that the Doctor has suggested a do-over for Christmas. Rose had a feeling that their recent experience on Krop Tor had leant a hand in his decision.

The Doctor, who'd come up with this whole second Christmas idea in the first place, was waiting outside her door. He didn't knock and he was far too afraid to ask how much longer she'd be, but she could hear him shuffling around in the hall, trying to keep himself entertained as he waited.

Rose smiled. He should have known better than to propose having a proper Christmas to make up for their last one being ruined by invading Sycorax (not to mention that whole "Surprise! I can regenerate!" issue). Because now, everything had to be absolutely perfect.

She heard a loud hollow thud outside and worried for a moment before the Doctor squeaked out "I'm alright!" She could practically see his embarrassed face as he realized he'd just blown any chance of Rose not knowing he was waiting impatiently for her.

"Glad to hear it!" She called back. She moved to stand in front of the door, hoping he'd approve of her appearance. "You can come in now.

He stepped in cautiously and looked at her for about two seconds before announcing "You look like a candy cane!"

"I do not!" Rose huffed.

The Doctor leant back to look her over. "Red and white stripes. Skinny as a stick. All you need is to curve your arm and make a hook at the top…" he moved closer to bend her arm in demonstration, "and to taste like peppermint. You don't taste like peppermint, do you?"

Before Rose could answer he took her hand and pulled it towards his face. She expected him to go straight to tasting her but he paused, sniffing her wrist experimentally.

"You certainly don't smell minty. Smells more like…" He sniffed her wrist loudly two more times. "More like peaches." Looking back up and catching her eye, he quirked a brow. "Why do you smell like peaches?"

"It's called lotion," she answered sardonically. "And I know how that brain of yours works. I haven't been taken over my some peachy-smelling alien. -- Nor," she added as an afterthought, "have I been eating peaches and not sharing them."

The Doctor pouted. "Bugger. And here I was hoping you might have some left." He got a far away look in his eyes as he contemplated, if Rose had to guess, where to get some peaches.

Rose shook her head. "It's always about putting something in your mouth. I've seen two year olds with more self control."

In addition to his pouting, the Doctor managed some of the saddest puppy dog eyes Rose had ever seen. She was about to apologize when he suddenly smiled. "Life's more fun without all that silly self restraint. Speaking of which-" He tugged her wrist back towards his mouth and gave it a quick suck, releasing it a moment later with a loud pop.

He grimaced immediately.

"You definitely don't taste like mint. Or peaches! You taste like chemicals and fillers and an assortment of herbs that won't do your skin any good." He stuck his tongue out with an over-exaggerated look of disgust and wiped his tongue with his hand. Apparently this was not enough to get rid of the awful taste because he then repeated the action again, this time wiping his tongue on his suit jacket. He smacked his lips a little and then grabbed her wrist. "Come on. You've gotta wash that stuff off."

"Doctor!" Rose protested as he pulled her towards the bathroom, her stocking covered feet sliding along the metal floor. "Forgive me for not tasting like a candy cane, but I'm not washin' it off. I'd rather smell nice and have soft skin if you don't mind."

The Doctor halted with Rose's arm held over the sink basin. "But tasting good is much better than smelling good, and-"

"I think I'll be smelled far more often than tasted. At least on Earth anyway. Unless you plan on tasting me again, which is something I should probably know about." She gave him a challenging look.

"Not if you don't taste like peppermint I won't."

Rose laughed at his crest fallen expression and turned her wrist to slide it from his grasp, enabling her to take hold of his hand and lead him down the hall towards the library where she'd set up a small Christmas tree. She paused by the tree and pulled one of the real candy canes from a branch. She turned back to the Doctor with a grin and held out the treat. "Peppermint, just for you."

The Doctor flopped onto the nearby couch with a huff. "You're no fun."

"Suit yourself." Rose sat in the matching arm chair and removed the candy cane from its plastic confines. With the Doctor watching her (and she wasn't sure if it was with envy or indignation), she unwrapped the candy cane and popped the end into her mouth. Rose began to slowly suck on the treat, making her enjoyment very evident with small sounds of contentment as she swirled her tongue around it.

"Mmm. Minty and delicious. No hint of peaches or chemicals or herbs at all." She returned it to her mouth, with a soft sigh. The Doctor twitched. In response she drew the confection back out of her mouth slowly, and ran it across her bottom lip before slowly and deliberately flicking her tongue around the candy.

The Doctor, Rose had decided, was, for all intents and purposes, a child. He wanted what anyone else had, and often resorted to pouting and whining when he didn't get it. Watching his growing frustration as she taunted him was more fun that it should have been. When the feeling of remorse made itself apparent, she stood and offered some to the Doctor, holding it out at arms length for him to take.

He rose to meet her and contemplated his next move, his gaze jumping back and forth between the candy cane and Rose's rather bemused expression. Casting one last glance at the sweet he nodded and quickly bypassed it, pressing forward past her outstretched arm. The Doctor then leaned in and covered Rose's lips with his instead. He expertly ran his tongue over her candy-sweetened lips.

Rose blinked. She blinked again. It seemed to be the only voluntary movement she could manage as her brain worked away to comprehend what the Doctor was doing and why. Before she could fully grasp the situation or respond, he pulled back and licked his lips.

A smug smile graced his face.

"There. Now you taste like peppermint. Like a proper candy cane."

"A candy cane..." Rose nodded slowly. "And that's good?" Her brain was struggling to catch up.

"Of course!"

"And why, in this great, vast universe, is that important?"

He shrugged. "Because I like mint."

After a moment to regather, Rose looked up coyly at him. "So if I always tasted like mint, you would…" She trailed off, not quite brave enough to finish her statement. Perhaps his kiss had just been for the mint, though she did still hold the candy cane in her hand. The awareness of this and the Doctor's wide eyed silence made Rose pop the candy cane back into her mouth.

They stared at each other for a moment, still incredible close. The Doctor broke the silence first and roughly cleared his throat. "Well…" He licked his lips as watched her pull the candy cane out of her mouth. "If you tasted like mint all the time…" his voice squeaked and his eyes darkened as Rose licked some of the stickiness from the candy cane off her bottom lip. "I..."

He leaned forward and softly pressed his lips to hers again. Emboldened by the light pressure she returned, he slowly swiped his tongue across her bottom lip to capture the sweetness still left there. Rose, whose mind had finally caught up, opened her mouth in response and the Doctor plunged his tongue into her mouth. He took his time exploring the inside of Rose's mouth and she did the same in return. When they finally broke apart they leaned their heads together for a moment.

Rose's mouth quirked up and she teased "So if I tasted like mint all the time you'd what?"

The Doctor looked down at her and grinned, meeting her challenge. "Well, I wouldn't get as much done, that's for sure." They giggled a bit both at the truth in his statement and in nervousness of what it implied.

As their laughter teetered out the Doctor managed a somber look as he looked intensely into Rose's eyes. "But I think I've found something I like better than mint."

Smiling widely with her tongue perched at the corner of her mouth she whispered "What's that?"

"Rose." The soft, strong tone of his voice took Rose's breath away as he captured her lips once more. The candy cane fell forgotten from her hand and shattered as it hit the floor. Her hands made their journey up into his hair and his found her waist and pulled her closer.