Chapter 5, One Touch

Rose padded into the kitchen in her pajamas, her hair crimped, but finally freed from its plaits. The Doctor breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of her, noticing that even now a few strands had managed to fall across her face.

"What?" she asked with an inquiring smile, taking the seat next to him and pulling her cocoa towards her.

"It's just," the Doctor clenched and unclenched his hands on the tabletop, then gave in and reached up to tuck the wayward strands away. He slumped against his seat, relieved. "I've missed that all day," he admitted.

Rose just stared at him, mouth slightly agape. Then, she said, "You didn't like the braids?"

"No! They were lovely, very nice," said the Doctor, not wanting to be misunderstood. Rose sipped her cocoa with a raised eyebrow. "Very . . . practical," he went on. "Quite an efficient means of hair restraint--"

Rose laughed. "Oh, shut up," she said, putting down her mug and holding his nearest hand on top of the table.

The Doctor intertwined their fingers, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. They sipped their drinks in silence for a few minutes, the Doctor just watching Rose.

Strange, he thought. Rose had been in the least imminent peril today of almost any of their adventures. Still, he was somehow haunted by the threat of the Abzorbaloff and what he had done to Elton's girlfriend. One touch, Elton had said. The Doctor had never even known that Raxacoricofallapatorius had a twin planet, let alone that it was populated with absorbing creatures. One touch. One trip, one destination gone astray, and Rose could step out of the TARDIS and be lost.

"You know," Rose's voice interrupted his thoughts, "you don't need to wait for an excuse to . . ." she hesitated, biting her lip. "I mean," she continued, meeting the Doctor's eyes, "if you wanted to touch me, I mean, like, if my hair's not in my face or somethin', I don't mind . . . ." She huffed out a breath, staring back at her mug.

The Doctor swallowed. He could do this. Just a little friendly contact, right? Friends can hold hands, share a few kisses, little touches. Releasing the hand he'd been holding, he reached up to her face. And if she really didn't mind . . . "If you really don't mind," he said aloud, brushing his fingers gently over her cheek.

She smiled at him, leaning a bit into his touch. "Not at all," she answered.

The Doctor brought his hand back to the table, not wanting to overstay his welcome, but feeling rather wonderful about this latest development.

They both finished their drinks, and Rose stood and took their empty mugs to the sink. Walking back by the table, she stopped next to him and said, "I'm off to bed, then. See ya in the mornin'." Before the Doctor could answer, she bent and kissed him gently on the lips. "Night," she said, exiting the kitchen, but not without the Doctor noticing her faint blush.

"Night," he said to the now empty room, feeling a matching blush rise up his neck. Lots of pleasant little developments tonight.

She couldn't know how he really felt. Someday, Rose would leave him, whether by her own choice or not. She'd leave him, and he'd have to go on somehow. Like he always did.

But maybe, just maybe, he didn't have to drive her away. Maybe they could enjoy life just a little bit, while it was theirs to share.

The end.

"Show Her, Tell Her" is next, covering the before and after for "Fear Her"