A/N: Wrote this after seeing the "Children in Need" special, the clip that goes between the end of the first series and "The Christmas Invasion". Obviously I was edging towards something particular here, but we're going to drop that in favor of this just being a moment.
I was trying very hard to characterize the Tenth Doctor, having seen only just the clip and "The Christmas Invasion", since the new series hadn't started yet when it was written. Now, in the aftermath, I think I did rather well, if I do say so myself.
"Hm. Rose Tyler, you naughty girl!" the Doctor said, his hands behind his back as he tipped down towards her like one of those water-drinking-bird lawn ornaments.
"What?" she said, from underneath the main console.
He cleared his throat. "Your, um, top. Riding up a bit. I can see your, er, tattoo," he said, taking a hand out of his pocket and gesturing.
A pink-sleeved hand shot out from underneath the console and tugged the shirt down. He put his hand back in his pocket.
There was silence except for the racheting noise, which he was certain wasn't coming from the sonic screwdriver he'd lent her.
"So." She did not reply. "What does it mean? Looked like a little, ehm, writing."
"It means 'mind your own bloody business'."
"Oh really?" he said, raising his eyebrows and tipping back a bit. "And, in what language would that have been?"
He knew she was just upset at him, that it was one of those unthinking blows, and she was quiet, stopped racheting, trying to decide whether or not to apologize or to just pretend she hadn't said it.
"The word is 'Gallifridean', incidentally," he corrected her.
More silence. More racheting.
"Tell me again why you couldn't do this yourself? You said you were smaller. Should be able to get into small spaces."
"Smaller, yes," he unclasped one hand and brought it into his eyeline, turning it over and back again. "But still not as small as you. Besides," he said rather bemusedly, "your hands are much tinier. Even now," he said wistfully, remembering taking her hand, and how it felt different, because his hands were different, but exactly the same because her hands had not changed. They still felt small, like he needed to protect them, but strong, like she wasn't going to go down without a fight.
Racheting. Really, it couldn't take this long. She was just staying down there to stay down there. Had to be.
"And I have to make use of my companions eventually. They can't just be stowaways that get to go on great adventures with me and not have to pull their weight occasionally," he said conversationally, sure that that would get some sort of reaction.
Sometimes he really could call it.
She was up in an instant, folding her body backwards and lifting herself off the ground, like only a gymnast could do. Or perhaps someone who was double-jointed.
"How dare you!" She narrowed her eyes at him, shaking the sonic screwdriver in his face.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," he muttered, pulling his neck in, trying to avoid whatever harm may or may not be caused by the manic gesturing of a sonic implement.
"I've saved your life lots of times!"
He smiled. "Ah! See? There we are, making progress!" He continued to grin, rocking a bit on his heels.
She looked so confused for a moment, and the sonic screwdriver dropped a few inches. "What?" she asked, her voice considerably more soft, but he could see that edge would redevelop in moments if given half a chance.
"You said 'your life'. My life. You know, deep down, that I'm him. That he's me." He lowered his voice, "that we're the same."
She just stared at him for a moment, his grin making his cheeks pop out just a bit, and the corner of his eyes wrinkle. Then she just turned around and got back under the console, without saying another word. He stood there for a moment, savoring his victory, but wondering whether or not it was a true one, or if she just didn't have anything to say. He didn't think Rose Tyler would ever not have anything to say, but there was a very obvious lack of her jabber lately. He rocked on his heels once more, and ducked down to speak under the console.
"Whenever you're done, just give me a holler," he said, and walked away.
She lowered her arms, listening to his footsteps fade away. She'd been just making the noises. She'd been done ten minutes ago. But it was easier to hide under here than try to hide from him when he knew she wasn't doing anything. He'd figure it out eventually. He was just as smart now as he was before. Different, but still smart. And she couldn't help but still feel like he was the same, somehow. And that sameness called to her. She just didn't let the calls get too loud in her ear.