Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
A/N: Thanks to JennyLD--my co-contributor to the Glimpses series--for beta-ing and encouragement. She, as well as RachelBeann, prompted me with the word in italics throughout the story.
The Doctor tightened his fingers around Rose's wrist and dragged her a few inches higher up the basket. "Hang on!"
Her feet, dangling just below the basket, hundreds of feet off the ground, were tangled in a loose rope that was, unfortunately, help to neither him nor her. It was too far away for him to grab it and she couldn't very well grab it for him.
The helium-filled balloon whooshed loudly again as he lowered the flame, trying to land them more quickly. "Hang on," he repeated.
"Oh, that helps!"
Right. She was cross, and she had every reason to be. It was, after all, sort of his fault she'd fallen out of the balloon in the first place. Just a bit.
Clamping his other hand around her arm, just above the elbow, he gritted his teeth and pulled. He could feel her grip begin to loosen. "Rose! Don't let go."
There was another length of rope beside him, but he'd have to let go of her in order to use it. If he could reach it and make a loop, he could slip it around her and pull her up.
"Rose," he began, eyes watching her tired face in concern. "If I can get this rope-- I have to let go of you for a second, but, can you--"
"Do it," she grunted, swinging her legs to wrap around the rope swinging free between her and the basket.
She hadn't even hesitated and that scared him. Did she believe in him that much? "I don't know if I--"
"I trust you." She sent him a quick smile as she released his hand and grabbed for the rope, wrapping her fingers around it.
That day, he was amazed to discover that when she was saying, "I trust you"...
"I'm coming for you, Rose, I swear." Wiping the sweat and dirt from his face, fingers tightening around the communicator, his ears strained for Rose's reply from the other end. He knew, from their infrequent communications, that she was exhausted, injured and dehydrated. But she wasn't giving up, and he felt his hearts double their beating. She was a remarkable human, his Rose.
"Just hold on," he whispered to himself, finger twitching near the button.
Over the sound of breaking rocks and dirt sprinkling to the ground, he heard her tinny reply, faint, but there. "I trust you, Doctor."
...what she meant was, "I love you."
The Doctor hovered over Rose, panting as he waited for her to speak, to open her eyes and say something, anything. Desperation swept through him when she remained still. His fingers hesitantly flitted over her temples, close but not touching. "Rose," he pleaded, pain swelling in his chest. "I can't... I don't--"
Her eyes fluttered open and she stared straight at him, straight into him, reaching up to encircle his wrists and kiss his palms. "I trust you," she breathed, shifting beneath his body, wrapping her legs tighter around his waist. He slid deeper into her as his fingers settled on her face and she opened her mind to him completely.
And even more amazing was the day he realized he truly loved her back.