For the record, it was not planned.
The words came out of his mouth of their own accord, really. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just sort of…. happened.
The situation was entirely out of his hands.
It just so happened that the moment those words chose to present themselves was in the middle of a remarkably ordinary day. He was seated in the Torchwood cafeteria, contemplating the slightly dodgy looking banana on his plate, Rose was across from him, sipping on her soda when suddenly --
"D'you want a wedding?"
Truthfully, the sentence surprised him even as he said it. Rose made a noise that was somewhere between a cough and a snort as she choked on her Vitex and fixed him with a Look. It involved her eyes going wide and her eyebrows threatening to vanish into her hairline and it was anything but encouraging.
Immediately, the Doctor reflected that this was probably not the smoothest introduction to the topic.
Or very good timing.
"A -- what?" she managed between coughs.
He made a mental note that she was capable of making make even her coughs sound incredulous. Impressive.
"A wedding," he continued, once Rose seemed to have remembered how to breathe. "You know, the dress, the cake, the rings, the vows, the fancy food, the guests you barely know, the reception and its inevitable conga line, the DJ who still thinks the YMCA is funny – the whole shebang."
Rose opened her mouth, hesitated, and then settled on – "Actually, the Village People don't exist in this universe."
He blinked. "Really? But then what do they play at class reunions and office parties and other events with similarly bad music?"
She shrugged. "Dunno, I make it a point to avoid those –" She cut off abruptly, narrowing her eyes in suspicion and pointing a chip at him. "Hold on, you're not distracting me. You just asked if I wanted to get married."
He rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, technically speaking, I asked if you wanted a wedding."
"Right." She shoved the chip into her mouth and rolled her eyes upward, considering. "Well, that's probably the least romantic proposal you could've come up with, well done."
"That wasn't a – I didn't --" Suddenly, finding the appropriate words seemed virtually impossible. It was startlingly unfair that this muteness should so closely follow what was evidently a rather large verbal mistake.
"S'all right," she said vaguely, sparing him with a wave of her hand. "It's not as though I fell for you because you're such a romantic." She smirked and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'quite right too'.
He decided to try again, for the sake of his dignity.
"It was a suggestion," he clarified. "I just thought – we'd never really talked about it, and I thought maybe I was …depriving you of some innate human desire or… something." He shrugged. "Don't most little girls dream about their wedding?"
Rose laughed and gave him the same sort of smile she usually did when he was being rude, oblivious or particularly un-human. "Sure, but most little girls don't expect to end up traveling time and space with a strangely attractive alien." She popped another chip into her mouth. "Sort of changes the things you dream about."
He ignored "strangely" and focused on the "attractive", so he grinned back at her. "Suppose it would, yeah." He leaned against the tabletop with his elbows and flicked one hand passively. "It's fine if you don't want to, I just wanted to be sure you didn't feel you were… you know, missing out." In a deft movement he grabbed the banana from his plate and began peeling it, eager to change the subject. "Right! So. Banana?" He tipped the fruit towards her in offering.
Rose wrinkled her nose – honestly, how could she not like bananas? -- and sat back, draping one arm over the back of her chair. "Hang on," she said, running her tongue over her teeth and once again casting her eyes skyward in thought, "I haven't actually said 'no'."
The Doctor stared. The banana remained in an awkward limbo between their two trays.
"Is that a yes, then?"
She considered a second longer. "Dunno, haven't really thought about it in – oooh, years." She tilted her head to the side, considering. "Mum'd love it. 'Course she'd complain about the work the whole time, but she'd love it. Gives an easy answer to the question 'so, you and the Doctor…?' that everyone loves to ask. Might be nice, getting a dress and everything." Then she frowned. "Lots of work, though – lots of planning and booking and dates. And knowing our luck there'd be a full-scale alien invasion whatever day we chose, anyway. Honeymoon'd be nice, though. Isabella – you know, from HR? – got back from hers this week." A bit of Rose's lip curled in distaste as she said it. "Bloody won't stop talking about it, either. I swear if I hear the word 'Rio' one more time…"
She muttered a second longer, and he noticed that the commitment that marriage suggested did not even seem to cross her mind. He supposed, between the various promises and pledges they'd made to each other, she must consider a non-issue.
The thought pleased him to a degree that was verging on ludicrous.
She cocked her head the other way and looked at him. "Where'd this come from, anyway? Do you 'want a wedding'?"
She even did the air quotations, which he took to mean that she really was less than impressed with his choice of syntax.
"Me?" One of his hands pointed to his chest seemingly of its own accord. "Nah, 'course not! It's a silly, trivial and generally superfluous human ritual. Pointless, really. Just for show. You lot do love attention. And parties. And –"
She was staring at him, both eyebrows raised, once again giving him a very firm Look.
"…and… and naturally I'm quite capable – more than happy, really – ecstatic -- to – to stand at the end of the aisle, if that's what you want."
She stared at him in silence a second longer, her eyebrows still miraculously high up on her forehead. The Doctor wondered why he seemed to be having such a very difficult time forming sentences that weren't in some way offensive and briefly questioned the quality of Torchwood's food.
He set the banana down, wary.
Rose burst out laughing.
Her whole body leaned forward as she laughed, her palms slapping the tabletop, so much like the nineteen-year-old he'd first met that he couldn't help but smile, even if he was certain the laughter was aimed directly at him.
"Oh my God," she managed finally, looking up at him and beaming. "You do, don't you?"
He opened his mouth to defend himself against such a horrid accusation and to his horror discovered that his vocal chords seemed to be incapable of functioning at all.
Someone really ought to check out the food they were serving at this cafeteria.
At his silence she let out another bark of laughter. "You do want to get married! Now who's domestic, Doctor?"
Certain that his dignity was now mortally wounded, he gave up, raising his palms in surrender. "I can't help it, it's Donna!" he whined finally, resigned to his fate. "She loved all that! Got married twice in the time I knew her. …Well, sort of."
Rose's frequently distracting lips twisted into a grin and she arched an eyebrow. "Yeah? You wanna wear the dress, then?"
He raised an eyebrow back at her to communicate that he was not amused (a phrase he still could not disconnect with Queen Victoria, and bugger, he never had given Rose her ten quid, had he?).
She grinned back, tongue between her teeth, clearly intent on communicating that she was. "Planning to blame everything embarrassing on Donna for the rest of your life, too?"
"For as long as I can get away with it, yes."
She snorted. "In that case I reckon you should've stopped a while ago."
"Well, technically, all these human bits are her fault."
Rose rolled her eyes, still grinning. "So that's that, then? Did we just decide to get married?"
The Doctor scratched his chin, replaying the conversation in his head. "You know, I think we did."
"Right," she said. "Hm. When?"
She was smiling, but did not look exactly… ecstatic. He imagined women typically looked more excited when they came to this conclusion, but once again he supposed their previous pledges of "forever" rendered this decision considerably less dramatic than it otherwise might have been.
He considered her question for a moment, and then shrugged. "Our TARDIS should be ready by the end of the year." That sentence alone was enough to pull his mouth into a grin. "Bit better than Rio."
Her smile stretched, too. "Bit better than Rio." She glanced down at her watch, frowning. "Suppose I really should head back to work, it's –" And then her eyes widened as though she'd only just understood a joke.
"Wait'll I tell Mum you proposed in the cafeteria."
He could imagine Jackie's reaction.
It was frightening.
"Suggested," he reinforced, "it was a suggestion."
"Oh?" The smirk on her lips was fairly frightening, too. "Am I to expect a proper proposal, then?"
A proper proposal. He considered what that might entail – candles, flowers, over-priced food, a ring at the bottom of a champagne glass, an awkward, practiced speech full of clichés and stammering and love-yous.
He drew two obvious conclusions. First, human men must be absolutely mad to put themselves through that ritual.
Second, even an indignant, disbelieving Jackie Tyler was less terrifying than the idea of a proper proposal.
He answered Rose's question with an eloquent imitation of a fish. His mouth was already on its second silent open-and-close when Rose laughed.
"Guess not, then." Her gaze drifted to her watch again, her mouth creasing in mild annoyance. "Now I really do need to get back to work. See you later, yeah?" She stood, grabbed her tray and began to leave, all before he managed to relocate his voice.
Then she froze, twisting to look back over her shoulder.
She turned to face him completely. "Will you marry me?"
She beamed at him, and the Doctor was suddenly very aware of the several coworkers who had turned to stare at them.
"There we are, then." Her smile changed just slightly – became just a bit more smug – and he was sure as she turned to leave she muttered, "honestly, I have to do everything."