Author: sinecure
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Thanks: to JennyLD for the beta.
Summary: How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat -- Hotel California; The Eagles

"She's quite beautiful."

Startled that someone had voiced his thoughts, the Doctor turned to find a pretty woman with curly brown hair standing beside him. She smiled at him and leaned back against the stone wall, examining the crowd of partygoers.

"Mm," he agreed, glancing back to where Rose was talking with a young girl on the other side of the courtyard. But then he realized that the woman probably wasn't talking about her. Not everyone was as... obsessed with his companion as he was. "I'm sorry, who?"

The woman smiled a knowing smile, nodding in the direction he'd just been looking. "Your Rose."

"Yeah," he agreed, eyes settling on the golden glow of hair surrounding Rose's face. And her red dress. That fabulous red dress she'd picked out from the TARDIS wardrobe.

"Tell her," he heard whispered, and turned to face the woman again, to ask who her she was, how she knew him and Rose when he was certain he'd never seen her before.

But she was gone.

He searched the area around him, but there were only two places she could've gone; over the stone wall, or into the crowd.

Shrugging, the Doctor tipped back his glass of tilno wine and was about to join Rose again when a man stepped up to him, wanting to know about the water-powered engine he'd helped perfect earlier that afternoon. With a sigh of resignation, he tossed a look of longing at Rose.

She definitely was beautiful tonight.

--

"Oi, he's a handsome one, isn't he?"

Rose tore her eyes from the Doctor and the man he was with. Well, just the Doctor actually. If asked, she wouldn't have been able to describe the other man's hair, general body height, or shape. The Doctor, however, was looking very nice in his black tux and chucks; black and white ones to fit the occasion. She rolled her eyes, and turned with a smile to the woman beside her.

The woman smiled back and raised her drink in a toast. Her curly brown hair blew gently in the warm breeze, a lock of it freeing itself from the rest before falling into her face. She tucked it back behind her ear with a casual move.

"Who's that then?" Rose asked, smoothing her own wayward hair behind her ear. She'd opted for leaving it down tonight, in a sleek fashion that fit the dress she'd chosen more than her own typical style, but at the moment she was regretting that decision.

Green eyes intent on Rose's face, the woman nodded across the courtyard. "Your bloke, the Doctor."

Hearing her thoughts voiced aloud was startling. But, instead of answering honestly that, yes, he was indeed looking handsome tonight, and that she wanted so badly just to grab him and snog him senseless, then maybe head back to the TARDIS for a little alone time, she merely shrugged. "I guess so."

It wasn't like she could ever act on her desires. The Doctor would be startled, to say the least. Probably be so shocked that he'd trip over his words, stumble a few times, then ignore the kiss by talking a mile a minute and taking them somewhere with lots of danger and slimy aliens.

Standing straighter, the woman gave Rose a knowing smile and leaned closer. "Tell him. Tonight. Please."

Dragging her eyes from the Doctor, Rose glanced toward the woman to ask her what she meant, but she was gone. A flash of blue slipped through the crowd and disappeared.

Rose scanned the crowd a bit before turning back to the Doctor, tossing back the last of her wine.

He really did look gorgeous tonight.

--

Moonlight poured onto the red stone covering the courtyard and the circular wall that surrounded it. Most of the revelers had gone home by now, drunk on wine and fun and good food and good music. Rose, returning after walking with a few of the younger girls, paused in the open archway to watch the Doctor.

He was leaning against the wall across from her, staring up at the stars. Blue moonlight caressed his features, tinting his hair black, and making his cheekbones more prominent... as if he needed the help.

Smiling, she crossed the courtyard, listening to the distant music that still floated past her on the air. He glanced down at her and smiled back when she joined him; just a quick upturning of his lips before it was gone again.

The night was hot, the breeze too warm to actually cool anything down, and being this near to him, she felt her skin flush even hotter, but she moved closer anyway, threading her hand through his. A few minutes passed in comfortable silence as they stood together, staring up at the night sky dotted with tiny, far away stars.

The music surrounding them was lilting and pretty, and she found herself swaying to it as the Doctor's thumb lightly smoothed the heel of her hand. He caressed meaningless patterns into her skin and the intimacy of his caress was enough to make her heart pound and her stomach flutter.

Another twenty seconds of that and she couldn't hold back the words forming in her throat. Without thought, she blurted out, "You look handsome tonight."

His head snapped around, and he looked at her, startled, but with a smile curling up his lips. A grin broke free and she couldn't help but respond in kind. When he raised his eyebrows in a near smirk, she bumped his shoulder with her own before returning her attention to the night sky.

"And you look beautiful," he whispered into her ear.

She jumped at the feel of his warm breath on her skin and the vibration of his low voice so near. Licking her lips, she fought down panic as she opened her mouth to ask him something that, the last time she'd asked, had meant something completely different. Looking shyly at him, she swallowed and held her hand out. "Dance with me?"

There was a full second when she thought he was going to turn her down and insist they return to the TARDIS at once, but only that one second passed before he wrapped his arm around her waist. Threading the fingers of his other hand with hers, he swung them out into the middle of the courtyard and began to sway to the strains of the distant music.

Around a softly splashing fountain they went, weaving in and out through beams of moonlight spilt across the stone floor. A few other couples twirled around them, spinning into whirls of color, but the Doctor held her tight and moved slowly, eyes on hers, mouth curling up softly. He looked-- she ducked her head and rested it against his shoulder.

He looked content.

The warm air created a light sheen of sweat on her body, making her skin glisten in the darkness, but she didn't want to leave his arms, didn't want to stop holding him.

Didn't want to stop being held by him.

She didn't know how long she simply enjoyed being with him, pressed against his body, but when she next looked up, they were alone. Smiling, she reluctantly drew away from him, but he tightened his arm around her waist and dipped his head down, pressing his lips to hers.

Not daring to move, afraid she was dreaming, or that he'd pull away, she simply breathed in and out, inhaling his scent as he gently explored her lips. His hand released hers, thumb settling on her chin, urging her to open her mouth to him.

--

The brown-haired woman stepped out from behind a tree as Rose and the Doctor headed back to the TARDIS, hand in hand. Rose's head rested on the Doctor's shoulder, and in her free hand, she carried her shoes. Barefoot, she moved through the grass, her voice drifting through the warm night air.

"...visit Earth another time, I'm sure mum won't mind, since she didn't know we were coming anyway." Straightening up, Rose turned to walk backwards, swinging her shoes back and forth as she led the Doctor by his hand, a teasing smile playing at her lips.

The Doctor drew her toward him to press a quick kiss to her lips. "What about her gift?"

Rose stopped, placing her hands on the Doctor's chest to lean up on tiptoe to kiss him back more firmly. The woman heard Rose giggle as his hands wandered down her back to her bum.

"It predicts the weather," she laughed, dancing free of his wandering hands, "it's not like it's not a million pounds."

"Mm. True." He pulled her closer and kissed her again, pressing her against the TARDIS. It took a few minutes for them to pull apart, and when they did, they were both breathing heavily. The Doctor fumbled with the key and they stumbled into the TARDIS, their voices fading as the door shut solidly behind them.

As they disappeared into the TARDIS, the woman turned to the man beside her. "Doctor." She gave him a sad smile. "You were right, changing the past is as easy as one, two..."

The Doctor stared at the empty space beside him. "Thank you, River." He turned to watch the TARDIS fade from sight, his somber expression turning into a wide grin before he, too, disappeared.