Rose groaned frustratedly as the glowing golden star made a feeble attempt to stay upright, before floating limply to the floor where it was caught by the deft hands of the Doctor. He looked up at her in amusement.
"I said you should let me do it," he informed her in a gloating tone, waggling the star around.
Rose glared at him. "Putting the star on top of the Christmas tree is the best bit! You've only been 'ere a few months, you don't get that privilege." She stuck her tongue out at him.
"Fine, fine. I'll just stand here and watch you struggle. Which, by the way, is a great way to spend my Saturday evening." He sounded like he meant it. Rose stepped down from the ladder and gave him a hard poke in his side, before climbing back up.
"I'll get it up! Go away! You just want to show off and use that sonic thing" - she gestured at the screwdriver he was grasping in his hand – "to do something fancy and make me look stupid."
The Doctor looked wounded, staring up at her with large eyes. "There is a name for that 'fancy' thing that I do, you know."
"I don't even wanna know." She resumed her trial and error of trying to make the star remain in its rightful place.
It was Christmas Eve, a beautiful snowy evening, and it just happened to be a Saturday, which meant that Rose had the weekend off from working at Torchwood. As great a job as it undoubtedly was, it didn't allow for much of a social life. For the last two years, this had been a welcome relief, as Rose had allowed herself to get lost in the work, to try and ignore the intense pain she couldn't help but feel. But now that she finally had the Doctor, Rose couldn't help wishing she had a lot more time to spare.
"This is your first Christmas here," she said to the Doctor, forgetting that she was meant to be irritated at him. A happy beam spread across her face.
The Doctor looked agitated. "Yeah, um, about that… what am I supposed to do, exactly? I haven't properly celebrated Christmas in a very long time… is there a ceremony, some kind of ritual, what?"
Rose gaped at him in bemusement. The Doctor looked back at her, his hand coming to tug on his ear as he noticed the expression on her face. Eventually she said, "Half human? Coulda fooled me."
"Well?" He genuinely wanted to know.
"Doctor, we're on Earth. Parallel Earth, but still. You celebrated Christmas with us a few years back, remember?"
The Doctor paused to consider. "Yes, but… I was unconscious for most of it, and all we did was eat Christmas dinner anyway. I didn't spend Christmas morning there, and that's what I'm most worried about."
Rose shook her head at him, and turned back to the tree. "Well, don't worry, you don't have to dance around with sticks wearing nothing but a toga, or anything." She smirked at the thought. "Although some traditions are a bit different than back on my Earth."
"Yeah, nothing major, you'll probably discover it all tomorrow." She abruptly changed the subject. "I give up with that blummin' star for now." She dropped down from the ladder. "I have presents I need to wrap. Comin'?"
The Doctor looked startled. "Was I meant to buy presents for everyone too?"
Rose's eyes widened. "You didn't get presents for any of us? Ooh, that's not gonna go down well with my mum."
"I don't – I didn't – what was I meant to get for Jackie Tyler, monster of all mothers? What do mothers want? I suppose perfume, or flowers, but somehow I'm guessing Jackie wouldn't appreciate either of them…" The Doctor drifted off and started chewing his nails anxiously.
Rose snorted and leaned over to wrap her arms around his shoulders tightly. "You're really really useless, you know that?"
"Probably," the Doctor mumbled from somewhere near her ear. He pulled back slightly. "Although I got something for you." He drew out the word 'you' and looked at her fondly.
"You did?" Rose's eyes widened in surprise. "When did ya manage that? I'm with you most of the time."
"Wouldn't you like to know?" The Doctor tapped his nose.
The Doctor nodded happily. "I reckon you're worth it," he added matter-of-factly.
Rose felt annoyed at herself when her face turned slightly red. She tried to brush the moment off with indifference. "And you knew I'd follow in my mother's angry footsteps if you gave me nothing."
The Doctor grinned. "Nooo, that's not it, actually." He reached up to her long blonde hair and ran a few strands gently between his fingers. Rose's breath caught in her throat as she felt his warm hands smooth across her scalp, and couldn't help but reflect. She had travelled with the Doctor for two years, and not once in that time had he ever been this forward. It still took her by surprise sometimes. Even though she knew this wasn't her Doctor, in many ways he was. Every day Rose thought about the situation on the beach (which she now referred to as 'bittersweet'), and every day it made less sense. She still didn't know how she felt about it entirely. All she knew was; this half human, half alien Doctor seemed to have a lot less inhibitions. Not that she was complaining.
Rose stood there and said nothing, interested to see what the Doctor would do. There was a silence of perhaps a minute, and eventually he let go of her hair and stood back, plunging his hands into his pockets. Rose couldn't help but sag slightly in disappointment and annoyance. OK, maybe he's more like the original Doctor than I thought. Two months he's been here and we haven't kissed once, not including that time on the beach. When is he going to stop being a wimp?
"Let's go and wrap presents," Rose said shortly, dragging the Doctor from the room rather roughly, much to his surprise.
"Ow, steady on!" he winced. "I've already wrapped my gifts." He stuck his chest out proudly.
"You mean, gift?"
The Doctor deflated. "Um, yes."
"Fine." Rose started walking off in the other direction. "I guess I'll see you in the morning then."
"Wait, wait, wait." The Doctor ran to catch her up. "You seem mad, are you mad?"
Rose turned to him, and softened slightly at the worried look in his brown eyes. She gave him a small smile. "Nah, I'm not mad. See you tomorrow."
The Doctor cocked his head and looked at her closely. "You seem a little mad. Is it something I did?"
Rose paused for too long. "No."
"It is, isn't it?" The Doctor looked confused, and thought back over the day's events. "But I can't think of anything."
Rose couldn't help but giggle at his dorkiness. "How could anyone be annoyed at you?"
"Well, there was this one time –"
"It's OK, I don't need the story. It was a rhetorical question," Rose hastened to add, before he launched into a tale that went into the night. "Just go to bed, or read, or something."
"Yes ma'am." He leant forward, hesitated, and then kissed her softly on the cheek. As he ambled away, he could have sworn he heard Rose say "chicken".
- - - - -
Rose's voice cut like a foghorn through the sleepy haze Jackie and Pete were in. They opened their eyes with a start.
"Rose? Is that you?" asked Pete.
"Oh, it had better be past nine o'clock, I tell ya." Jackie's angry morning voice resembled someone who had smoked about forty fags in one go.
There was a sigh from outside the bedroom door. "Yeah, it's nearly ten. Get your arses up, it's present time!" Rose sounded gleeful.
Jackie groaned. "In your twenties and still like a little kid on Christmas day."
"You got it," Rose declared. She sounded distracted. "I'm gonna wake the Doctor, see you in a few minutes." Footsteps raced off.
Jackie sunk back into the pillows as if she had just run a triple marathon. Pete was already getting up and dressed in his usual smart attire. With a large Christmas hat to make the whole thing seem that bit more casual. He grinned at Jackie and left her lying there, venturing into the living room to start setting everything up and lighting the fire.
- - - - -
"Doc-tor?" Rose called in a sing song voice. She had reached his room and peeked her head around the door. The Doctor didn't usually sleep in until this time. After a few moments silence, Rose began creeping gingerly into his room. It was as mammoth, if not more so, than the rest of the bedrooms. When the Doctor had first arrived on the parallel Earth, Rose had assumed he would want some space away from everyone else, so she set aside a bedroom, en-suite and living room for his usage only. At first this had worked brilliantly, and the Doctor had been more than grateful. However, before long he began appearing in Rose's room each evening, clad in adorable red and blue stripy pyjamas, and claim he was "lonely". Rose could never resist this offer, and every time they spent a very cosy few hours in front of the television on the squashy beanbags in the Doctor's room before heading off to bed. This was Rose's absolute favourite part of the day, when she wasn't working late at Torchwood.
When she finally reached his double bed with dark red bedspread, all Rose could see was a tuft of the Doctor's hair sticking out above the duvet. She fought hard not to giggle. He was such a lazy sod. What time had he gone to bed, to sleep in this late? She was used to him being awake long before she was. Well, she wasn't waiting for him, the morning was almost over. She would have to wake him. Rose leapt onto the bed enthusiastically, hoping the bounce she created would stir him on its own. But nothing doing. Rose frowned. She sat cross legged on the bed and pondered what to do next. Eventually she crawled right up to him, grinned mischievously, pulled the covers away from his face slightly and began whispering obscene thoughts into his ear, hoping it would break into his dreams in some way. Suddenly the Doctor gasped and stretched, and Rose retreated a few inches back and tried to plaster a look of innocence onto her face.
"R-Rose?" The Doctor's voice sounded muffled from under the duvet.
"Hi!" Rose replied animatedly. "Rise and shine – it's Christmas Day!"
She watched as the lump under the covers moved and the Doctor's head appeared, staring blearily around. She instantly felt her stomach do flip flops as her gaze fell on his face. This was the first time she had been into his room before he was up and about, and she had never known anyone look this good when first returning to consciousness. His hair was as beautifully tousled as ever, and Rose wondered briefly why he ever bothered to use gel on it. It looked so soft and the urge to ruffle it was extremely strong. His eyes were half closed and he just looked so innocent and freaking adorable. Could she tell him that? Should she? No, she couldn't. This Doctor may be less inhibited but she still felt nervous around him when it became too intimate; wondering how far she should push it.
"Y'alright?" the Doctor asked sleepily, falling back onto the pillows and grinning up at Rose. She nodded.
"Bored of waiting for you to get up – do you know what time it is?"
The Doctor avoided her gaze. "Well, I might have been, um, up all night worrying about this morning?"
Rose just looked at him. He looked up and frowned.
"Why are you staring at me?" he said incredulously. Rose blinked in embarrassment.
"Um, sorry. Anyway, ya got nothing to worry about, all we do is exchange presents, eat like pigs, and… well, that's about it."
Rose laughed at the look of relief on his face. "It's not scary, like you've made it out to be. Can you get up now please?" She fidgeted on the bed.
The Doctor took a closer look at her, and a smile spread across his face. "Check out you, loving this – you're like a little kid, aren't you?"
"Maybe. You're not seeing pigtails, frilly skirt?"
"No no no, that's just Mickey. I can see you as a proper tomboy, jeans, T-shirt and jacket, perhaps maybe even a sweet little pink bow to finish it off…"
Rose's eyes widened and she slapped the Doctor's arm. "Were you noseying at my timeline?"
"Yeah, right. Can you get up some time this century?"
The Doctor thought for a moment, before shaking his head. "Not yet. Come on, in you get," he told her, pulling back the duvet so she could climb in.
Rose stared at him. "What?" This was unfamiliar territory.
"Get in! You're only wearing thin pyjamas, which, by the way, are very sweet, you'll get a chill."
"I… fine." Rose fumbled slightly in her nervousness but scrambled under the covers nonetheless, tucking her knees up under her chin. "Ohh, this is lovely and warm!"
The Doctor giggled. "I know, right? Jackie gave me an electric blanket a few days ago."
"I'm never leaving this bed," Rose commented, stretching out and accidentally brushing the Doctor's leg with her toe. "Oops, sorry," she apologised, and suddenly became acutely aware of how intimate this situation was.
"That's alright." The Doctor glanced at her.
"You are…" Rose swallowed and tried again. "You are wearing pyjamas, aren't you?"
The Doctor grinned. "Do I ever not? I love them." He lifted up the duvet to prove it to her. "And while we're on the subject, what are yours?"
Rose tried to ignore the fact that he was interested in what she wore in bed. "They're, um, fruity, I think…" She had a look. "Yeah, random fruits, strawberries and pineapples and so on."
The Doctor's eyes widened in excitement. "Ooh, is it like Willy Wonka's factory, where the fruits on the wall actually tasted of fruits too?"
Rose scrambled away quickly. "Don't you dare lick me."
"I wasn't going to!" The Doctor sounded affronted. Rose moved back a little closer, however still keeping a slight distance. She really wanted to hug him and wish him Merry Christmas, but the fact that they were both in just their pyjamas made her more than a little nervous and therefore she held back.
"So," she said, rolling over on her side to face him. "Why are we staying in here? My parents'll be up and about by now; we should get the whole festive thing going."
The Doctor didn't answer; he just reached down the side of the bed and pulled something from underneath it. It was a small wrapped present. He handed it to Rose with a flourish, and she shrieked with glee. "Presents!" she cried.
"Present," the Doctor corrected her.
"Well yeah," Rose said absent-mindedly, turning the silver wrapped object over and over in her hands. "I bet you're glad it's only one, otherwise…" She suddenly stopped abruptly, as if she had said too much. The Doctor frowned at her.
"No, nothing." Maybe he would find out later anyway, Rose thought. But she didn't want to be the one to tell him about one of the more unusual traditions this parallel universe expected you to take part in. If any man gave any woman more than one gift for Christmas, they were supposed to kiss them. God only knows where that came from. Maybe the universe realises how stingy men are with presents? It hadn't worked out to Rose's favour so far. Last Christmas she had had to kiss two different men, neither of which she liked, who both had gotten her two crappy presents intentionally and thought they were God's gift. Rose shuddered as the memory entered her head.
"Hey dreamy, are you gonna open it?" The Doctor's voice cut through her reverie. She looked down again at the gift.
"It's not a novelty present, is it? Do I need to be careful?" she only half-joked.
The Doctor smiled. "Nope."
Rose opened the parcel carefully, not wanting to rip the shiny silver paper. Inside was a small black box, slightly larger than one a ring might have been held in, and a folded note. She took the note and looked questioningly at the Doctor, who pulled a slightly embarrassed look but said nothing, so she unfolded the paper. Inside was a short note written in fancy loopy handwriting that was so Doctor.
Well, it's my first Christmas with you on this planet, and I hope by the time you read this I haven't already mucked things up. Let's face it, last time I spent Christmas with you, things didn't exactly go smoothly. What with the whole 'Santa Claus trying to kill us' thing.
I'm not a great letter writer. There's things I want to say but I don't know how to. Like how I'm so glad I'm spending Christmas with you and no one else. If we don't include Jackie.
Thank you for making me feel at home here. I thought it would be really difficult, adjusting to life on a new planet, but thanks to you this is starting to feel more like home than I ever thought it could.
I really want you to like the present! It didn't cost a penny, but I thought it symbolised what we're about. What we do – or did. Just one thing – don't wear it at Torchwood. I don't want it dissected by anyone alien obsessed.
I guess that's about all. How do you end these things?
"Is it cheesy?" The Doctor filled Rose's silence, sounding anxious.
Rose grinned up at him. "Terribly cheesy." His face fell, comically. "I'm joking, of course it isn't."
He exhaled. "Oh, good. Go on, open the box as well."
"Um…" Rose was a bit nervous now. What was inside it? Judging by his letter - something fairly important. But it hadn't cost him a penny, so what on earth could it be? She slowly popped open the midnight black box. The first thing she experienced was a flash of almost blinding light coming from within, but it only lasted a second. When it cleared, she looked inside. And gasped.
It was a bracelet. But it wasn't the sort of bracelet one would ever see on a typical high street. It was… out of this world. Literally. Rose picked it up as delicately as she could, and inspected it closely. It was shaped as a glass tube, fairly thick, and inside the tube were nine perfect miniature models of all the planets in the solar system, all slowly rotating on their axes and around inside the tube. Every so often the entire thing would glimmer and shine prettily.
"Oh wow," was all Rose could say eventually, unable to take her eyes off it. "Wow. Just… wow."
"I take it you like it, then?" The Doctor was clearly attached to it; he was gazing at it with almost as much fondness as Rose was.
"I love it." She beamed hugely up at him – the beam that only occasionally crossed her face and always made the Doctor grin back. "It's the best present I've ever had. By a long mile."
"Really?" Instantly the Doctor's confidence grew – even his chest seemed to expand. Rose couldn't help but notice.
"Oi, don't get too cocky – you still have to face my mum and dad with no gift, don't forget. And little Tony, although I doubt he'll do much shouting."
The Doctor's mouth dropped open. "Ah. Yes. Well, I might mysteriously come down with the flu and have to stay in bed all day then, that ok with you?"
"No way! You're spending the day with me, Mister." Rose pointed at him warningly. "But anyway… thanks. Y'know, for this." She lifted up the bracelet.
"Very welcome," the Doctor replied softly. He propped himself up against the pillows more. "Can we share a Christmas morning hug?" he asked suddenly, with a manic grin, and Rose felt like bursting into tears, or something equally dramatic, at the fact that he had just asked her for exactly what she had been craving for the past ten minutes. She tried not to appear too desperate as she clambered casually towards him across the vast bedspread, but the effect was ruined slightly as she accidentally stumbled and practically fell on top of him, head on his chest.
"Erm… whoops." Rose decided not to let herself be embarrassed, and wrapped her arms snugly around the Doctor's waist, marvelling at the man's skinniness. "I would so kill for your metabolism, Doctor."
The Doctor chuckled at this, and in return flopped his arms across Rose's shoulders, resting his chin on her head. "I'm very proud of this body's metabolism. Means I can eat like a horse, and no one need ever know!"
"Yeah, it's alright for some," Rose muttered into his chest, and the Doctor felt her voice reverberate through him and make him feel inexplicably relaxed. He released her and grinned.
"OK, I'm ready to get up now. All I needed was a hug! That and tea, of course. You should wake me up more often," he told Rose seriously, nodding, clearly oblivious to the fact that the very idea made Rose's stomach do dramatic back flips.
"Yeah, maybe," she replied vaguely, sitting up. "Oooh, where did the bracelet go?" she suddenly remembered, and they both started scrabbling around in the thick folds of duvet. "Doctor, you have far too many covers on here, it's like folds of skin!"
"Eww, that's not a nice mental image," the Doctor grimaced. "Voila!" He suddenly pounced on the bracelet triumphantly. "Can I-?" Rose nodded, holding out her arm. He held the two ends delicately between his fingers, and brought the bracelet round her wrist, clasping it together gently. "Beautiful," he commented, and suddenly Rose hoped he wasn't talking about the bracelet. She exhaled slowly and the Doctor looked up at her, holding her gaze for a few moments. For just a split second Rose had a flash of hope, but then he let go of her wrist and started climbing out of the bed. She had to suppress the urge to kick him out herself. Why in God's name hadn't he made up his mind yet? He'd been here two freaking months, and Rose still didn't know if he actually wanted… anything. Which meant that she couldn't do anything for fear of being rejected. Which meant that her extreme feelings of lust and love and god knows what else were going… nowhere. They were bottling up, and Rose was rapidly losing control. Either he did something, or she would. She hoped it would be the former, to avoid intense embarrassment.
"Rose?" She realised that the Doctor had been talking, but she hadn't caught a word of it. "Earth to Miss Tyler?" The Doctor was standing there, hands on his hips, looking almost pouty at the fact that Rose hadn't been hanging on his every word. Her anger faded a little, again.
"Sorry, zoned out. What were you saying?"
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "I said, I'm about to get dressed, so do you want to go next door for a minute or something?"
Change out of those adorable pyjamas? Now, Rose couldn't let that happen.
"No, you need to keep them on." Rose was firm. The Doctor looked flabbergasted.
"Hell yeah," and with that she dragged him out of the room, his splutters following her along the corridor.
- - - - -
The Christmas present opening and general merriment lasted several hours, and even several aunts and cousins dropped by for a short amount of time (luckily the Doctor had thought to put on a dressing gown), before rushing off announcing that they were on the way to a ski slope for the day. The Doctor wasn't complaining – he had often wondered whether Jackie's relatives were as mad as Jackie herself, and it turned out that they were. Particularly Jackie's sister. Older than Jackie but looking ten years younger (although not even on his final deathbed would the Doctor ever admit that to Jackie), the woman had absolutely no qualms slapping people around the head. Particularly the Doctor.
"So, ya trying to date my gorgeous niece then, eh? Well ya not good enough for her." Slap slap. Admittedly the Doctor couldn't exactly class this as abuse, as much as he wanted to, but after half an hour of the same, he felt very much like shoving his sonic screwdriver up her nose. Except, he couldn't do that to his lovely sonic.
"I'm not dating Rose," he replied the first time it was mentioned. He glanced at Rose across the room, and she gave him an extremely sympathetic look but seemed reluctant to come over and save him, despite the strong distress signals he felt sure he was sending out. The next time Rose looked over he simply glared at her, and rubbed his aching head. When the nightmare eventually ended, and the relatives left, the Doctor removed his dressing gown and sank into a chair wearily.
"Was that a bit traumatic?" Rose approached him tentatively from the living room doorway, where she had just said goodbye to everyone. Jackie and Pete seemed to have vanished. "Mum and Dad are cooking lunch," she added, as she noticed him looking behind her. "Sorry; I know that was really domestic for you, we should've just stayed in your room, shouldn't we? Has it ruined Christmas?" The Doctor noticed she looked very worried, and hurried to reassure her.
"No! No, it's fine. I can just about handle domesticity, when it's with you." Rose smiled slightly. "The main thing that bothered me was that you forced me to wear pyjamas during the day, and then they showed up! I've never been more embarrassed in my life."
Rose snorted and dropped down beside him on the coach. "Now, are you sure that's true?"
"Didn't think so. So, did you like your presents?"
The Doctor considered. "I can't expect I'll get much use out of the shaving foam I got from Pete… but it was a nice thought."
"I hardly ever need to shave."
"I bet you don't even know how to." Rose grinned with her tongue between her teeth.
"I do too!" was the Doctor's defensive response. Rose just laughed and rested her head against his shoulder comfortably. He carried on. "Let's see… Jackie got me flowers, for some reason – clearly she ran out of ideas, just like I did." He paused again and Rose put her hand on his chest absent mindedly, feeling his single heart beat. She still found that slightly strange whenever she thought about it. "Your present I will be wearing forever more, if you ever let me get out of these bloomin' pyjamas." The Doctor grinned and indicated the posh shirt Rose had bought for him. She grinned at him proudly, having bought it as soon as she saw it in the shop, knowing it was just the right size and design for him.
"So you think it's alright?"
"Yeah, it's great! You know my dress sense too well."
They lapsed into an easy silence. The Doctor thought back over the morning. It had been extremely domestic, there was no getting away from that. It was just something he would have to get used to, otherwise he'd go completely mad. Although he hadn't been lying when he told Rose that domesticity was a lot easier with her at his side. He was unbelievably lucky to have her. Not that he could ever tell her that, as much as he wanted to get it off his chest. The Doctor looked down at Rose with an affectionate expression. Her hand moved from his chest and began drifting across his torso as if stroking it, back and forth. The Doctor inhaled sharply through his nose, the touch of her skin so close to his through his pyjamas sending waves through him that he hadn't felt before.
"Are you ticklish?" Rose wondered, taking her hands away.
"Huh? No, of course not," the Doctor instantly replied, but after glancing warily at Rose's hands, he crossed his arms tightly across himself to create a barrier. Rose instantly burst into giggles.
"You're not? Really? Take your hands away, then," she teased.
"And why not?"
"Because… I'm very ticklish?" he concluded sheepishly, and Rose couldn't stop laughing for a few moments. When she finally composed herself, she began creeping her hands towards the Doctor's midriff, who gasped and tried to wiggle away on the couch as quickly as possible. "You wouldn't dare," he growled.
"Oh, ya think?" Rose didn't look scared, and continued advancing on him. His eyes widened as he saw that she was perfectly serious. Then suddenly he had a brainwave. He instantly stopped struggling to get away, and it took Rose by surprise, forcing her to hesitate. It was all the time the Doctor needed, and he pounced, lunging for her ticklish sides and forcing her into hysterics. She beat the Doctor's chest weakly with her fist, her head bowed, unable to speak. The Doctor was laughing almost as much as Rose was, but after a few moments he regretfully ceased his torture, as he feared she might be in danger of exploding. Rose collapsed on the couch, breathing heavily.
"My God, Doctor, you're so gonna pay for that," she panted. The Doctor merely smirked. "Do you have magic fingers or something?" Rose asked, confused. "I'm not even that ticklish usually."
"I understand the body a lot better than most." The Doctor was still grinning widely at his triumph over her. "I can hit just the right spot."
"You're a complete fruit loop." She stood up. "And now it's so your turn."
"Oh no you don't!" The Doctor tried to run away but Rose dived for his knees, forcing him to fall on to the carpet with a bump. She held his arms down and he looked at her, terrified that any second she would torture the life out of him. For a second they just looked at each other.
"I got you," Rose said softly.
"I think you did, yeah."
"Listen –" She was cut off by Pete entering the room.
"Dinner's on the table… oh, not interrupting something, am I?" he smirked, noticing the two of them lying on the floor. They scrambled up quickly like two naughty school children.
"Not at all," the Doctor pointed out hurriedly, his hand moving to rub the back of his neck. "We were just…" He couldn't come up with anything convincing, and after a few seconds fell silent.
"I'll leave you to it." Pete laughed, raised an eyebrow, and then left the room. The Doctor started to follow, very eager to be fed and waited on, but as he passed Rose she reached out and poked him in his stomach, and he only just managed to swallow down the giggle that instantly built in his throat. He would have to be very wary of her for the next couple of hours.
- - - - -
Rose sat back in the living room after having consumed a rather sizeable lunch, and was absent-mindedly flicking through the channels. Suddenly the Doctor appeared, and Rose couldn't help but notice that he was staggering slightly.
"What's the matter?" she asked worriedly, as he flopped heavily into a chair beside her.
"I think… I think I might be drunk." The Doctor whispered these words, and with great purpose, as if telling a deadly secret. Rose bit back a smirk.
"Oh, really? Exactly how much have you drank?" she asked mock-sternly.
"Hardly anyone… anything!" The Doctor was having a bit of trouble forming words properly. "Just a small bite – bit - of that eggnog stuff that was lying around. It was yammy – sorry, yummy – but now I think I might die."
Rose swore, and the Doctor rubbed his head. "Sorry Doctor, I forgot to tell you – eggnog is a lot stronger on this Earth, more than one glass and you're pretty much pissed… how much did you have?"
"Um… two mug fulls?" The Doctor groaned and held his head. "Oww…"
"Oh, you poor thing," Rose said, instantly wanting to comfort him. She moved to sit next to him on his chair and wrapped her arms around him, manoeuvring his head onto her shoulder. He went willingly, making little pained noises that made Rose's heart melt. She had learnt that eggnog left the system very quickly, and within an hour he would be feeling somewhat better, so she wasn't too worried. But was she really going to pass up an opportunity to comfort the ill Doctor? Hell no.
Twenty minutes later, just as Rose was falling into a comfortable doze, the Doctor stirred. She looked at him – from his heavy lidded eyes it seemed that he'd been asleep too, and a happy little smile spread across her face at the realisation.
"Rose?" The Doctor's voice was groggy but his eyes looked slightly clearer.
"Mucho, loads, thanks to you," he informed her. He still sounded out of it, so the compliment didn't affect Rose like it would have done. She let his head flop back onto her shoulder, and closed her eyes again. A few moments passed. Rose was just drifting back into relaxing thoughts when she felt something soft and wet press insistently against her cheek. Her eyes flew open. It was the Doctor's lips. He drew back, and looked confused. Clearly, he had been aiming for her lips (Rose's stomach juddered at the thought) but in his clumsy state had missed completely. She stared at him, eyes wide.
"What are you doing?" she asked, flabbergasted.
The Doctor frowned. "I wanted to kiss you!" he said stupidly. "Is that not allowed?" He folded his arms sulkily.
"Now you want to kiss me," she pointed out sadly. Suddenly her eyes felt very hot. "What am I doing wrong?"
"Nothing! Nothing wrong. Rose is always right. Rose doesn't want to kiss me, does she?" The Doctor seemed to be having a conversation with himself. Rose stared at him.
"I don't want to kiss you?" Rose didn't feel embarrassed speaking about this, as she doubted very much that the Doctor would remember any of it in a while. "Are you kidding me?"
"You just stopped me kissing you, Rose Tyler!" The Doctor prodded her.
"Yeah, because you're drunk."
"Am not! I'm just fine." He paused. "Time Lords never make the first move."
"Excuse me?" This conversation had lost all sense to Rose.
"Time Lords! They're rubbish, Rose. Rubbishy rubbish. They always need someone else to make the first move, because they're rubbish. See?"
A smile spread across Rose's face. "So what you're saying is – you actually want something to happen, but basically you're a chicken?"
"YES." The Doctor bellowed the word for no reason, making Rose jump violently. Suddenly he flopped off the couch and fell asleep on the floor at a strange angle. Rose left him to it and headed out into the garden for some air.
- - - - -
Half an hour later, mid afternoon, Rose saw the Doctor ambling towards her across the gardens. It couldn't just be called a garden, it had to be plural. Rose was sure that they could fit another house of the same size in it. But she loved it – it was a great place to get lost in when you just wanted some time alone. Right now, however, she wanted the Doctor around, after the conversation they had had earlier - which she desperately hoped he didn't remember. She decided to try and find out earlier rather than later.
"Hi." She smiled warmly at him as he approached, hands in pockets, grinning.
"Hello," he replied. "What's been going on?"
Might as well tell him. "You erm… drank too much eggnog and fell asleep on the floor with your legs in the air," Rose told him, unable to stop herself snorting with laughter. The Doctor's eyes widened.
"Seriously." He looked appalled. "I'm not bothered, honestly." Thank God he didn't remember. "Come and sit down." The Doctor walked over and squashed himself next to her on the wall, so he was right adjacent to a huge bush covered in large white flowers. Hang on a minute, they looked familiar…
"They're the flowers Jackie gave me!" the Doctor realised. "Honestly – not only does she give me flowers, but she doesn't even buy them."
Rose smirked. "She always gives at least one person flowers from the garden, it's become like a tradition. They're pretty though, aren't they?"
"I guess." The Doctor examined them, before picking one off and handing it to Rose. "Here you go. Would look nice in your hair, I reckon. White and yellow, good combination."
"Thanks!" She grinned and attempted to attach it to her hair in some way, but it soon fluttered to the floor, not wanting to cooperate. Rose looked up, as a sudden thought struck her. "So in a way, that's the second present you've given me today, isn't it?"
"I suppose so…" The Doctor didn't understand the importance of this.
Rose gathered the small amount of courage she had. "Well… there's an unusual tradition that I didn't tell you about." The Doctor looked at her. "If any man gets a woman more than one present…" - she shifted closer – "it means I can do this." Without giving herself any time to think it over, Rose brought her lips up to the Doctor's in one quick motion. She didn't let the kiss become anything more, still not confident enough to do so, and after a moment she pulled away.
The Doctor's reaction was priceless. It was clearly the absolute last thing he had been expecting Rose to do, and for a moment he just looked at her, agape. There was definitely something in his eyes, but Rose couldn't make it out. "So… that's a tradition, is it?" he finally asked huskily. "I can see why you didn't mention that particular one to me."
Rose fiddled with the zip on her jacket awkwardly. She hadn't exactly expected a dramatic declaration of love after she had kissed him, but a little more reaction would have been nice. But there was still time for that. Maybe he was just nervous. She decided to try and move the conversation on.
"How are you enjoying your first proper Christmas?"
The Doctor finally closed his mouth, and shook his head slightly. "It's… great, I'm having a great time. Apart from the last hour which I can't really remember." He grinned embarrassedly at her. "Did I really sleep with my legs in the air? How is that even possible?"
Rose giggled. "I wondered that when you were doin' it."
There was a silence in which the Doctor just looked at her steadily. He picked another flower from the bush and in one gentle motion managed to brush back the long blonde hair off Rose's face, and fix the flower in place expertly. He dropped his hands to admire his efforts.
"Pretty," he concluded. "They actually smell quite nice, too, for a change," he added, sniffing one.
"I'm impressed," Rose commented, feeling it lodged securely in her hair. "You can style my hair in future," she joked.
The Doctor was about to reply, but suddenly he turned his head away and sneezed. "Whoopsie. Anyway, I was going to say… I took a course in hairdressing. Years ago."
"Ya did? Bit of a girly thing to do, isn't it?"
"Not at all! Not the course I went on. Learnt everything you'll ever need to know." He smiled proudly, before another sneeze took him by surprise. "Dammit. I think I might be allergic."
"Do Time Lords get pollen allergies?" Rose teased him.
"Part human ones apparently do," the Doctor replied pointedly. He rubbed at his nose irritatedly. "I don't think smelling that flower was such a great idea."
Rose looked at him affectionately. "You with hay fever? I so didn't see that one coming."
"No, neither did I." He looked slightly embarrassed. "Anyway, that tradition before…" he began, looking at her and cocking an inquisitive eyebrow.
Rose hadn't been expected this, and her face flooded with colour. "It's… it's a genuine tradition!" she began, defensively.
"Seriously? It wasn't just an excuse to –"
"No." It was only partly a lie. "If ya didn't want the kiss, ya shouldn't have given me the flower," she said, irritated.
The Doctor opened his mouth and closed it again several times. "I didn't say I didn't want it," he eventually blurted out.
"Oh…" Rose decided to try and push further. "But you've been here two months and you never…" She hesitated.
The Doctor sighed. "I know. I'm rubbish." Rose giggled which confused him, but she didn't explain why. "I mean… did you want to… y'know?" He glanced at her nervously.
"Well, yeah. Of course. You're really blind, you know, Doctor."
"Well, I do wear glasses," he informed her, stupidly.
"Not what I meant."
The Doctor looked at Rose. There was a frustrated air about her and suddenly he felt extremely guilty. Had she been waiting and hoping all this time? "I'm sorry," he told her with emphasis. "I didn't mean to… mess you around." He impulsively stood up and pulled her into a tight hug, her head resting under his chin.
Rose sighed against him. Finally, he seemed to have woken up to a bit of reality. Of course she wanted something – why did he think she had grabbed him and kissed him on that beach? An act of friendship? He was such a fool. They stood there in each other's arms for a few moments, swaying slightly. Rose was about to break the silence when she heard the Doctor curse.
"Everything alright?" she asked.
"You're wearing one of those blummin' flowers," the Doctor said in a disgruntled tone, before quickly pulling away from her and sneezing twice in a row into his hands.
"Wow, you really are allergic to these, aren't you?" Rose said, mirth clear in her voice. "Do you want to go back inside?" The Doctor nodded vigorously and they made their way back to the house fairly quickly. When they got inside, Rose lead the way to the Doctor's part of the building, where they relaxed on bean bags and switched on the television. "Feeling any better?" she asked, glancing across at him.
He nodded. "Yup, I think I'm done." He paused and frowned. "Oh, for the love of…" He suddenly sneezed a final time. "OK, now I'm done," he assured Rose. He sounded offended. "Allergies are not my friend. And neither are those little white monsters," he added, indicating the flower in Rose's hair, which she quickly removed and threw across the room. "I'm a Time Lord - OK, slightly less than I was, but the essence remains – we don't get hay fever." He stuck his nose in the air.
Rose bit her lip to stop herself from laughing at his obvious annoyance. She had been pleased to discover that he wasn't one of those obnoxious sneezers, which happened to be a strong pet hate of hers. For example, when Pete sneezed, everyone dived for cover and babies in France woke up and started bawling. The Doctor's sneezes were almost feminine, but in the sweetest way possible.
"Your first Christmas hasn't exactly gone very smoothly, has it?" Rose pointed out. "You overslept, got slapped around the head by a mad aunt, drank too much eggnog and found out you have a new allergy to flowers – which, by the way, are right behind you," she noticed with a start, indicating. The Doctor wheeled around sharply and saw that she was right, the attractive white plants were just sitting in a vase, clearly put there by a housemaid. He swallowed, as if it was a Dalek about to advance on him.
"I'll come and sit with you, then." He leapt up and crossed the room to where Rose was perched on a large beanbag. Without giving her any warning, he flopped onto the said item, causing her to squeal and almost fall off. She giggled and grabbed on to his arm to keep her balance.
"What are you doing, you nutter?" she spluttered.
"I'm getting closer! That alright?" he wondered. "Making up for lost time, or something along those lines."
"I… oh." The Doctor shifted himself so that Rose's legs were across his lap, and his arm around her waist to keep her from falling off. It was the most intimate position they'd been in, and in that moment Rose knew things were going to change. A huge amount of joy rose in her, constricting her chest for a second. But she couldn't help making a joke. "You know something," she started.
"What's that?" the Doctor asked. His hand around her waist began trailing up and down her side, making it very hard for Rose to concentrate. She cleared her throat.
"I'm half on top of you at the moment… you can't get away quickly, and my hands are free, so…" She trailed off and let the Doctor work it out. He suddenly gasped and started trying to wiggle free, but Rose held him down with her legs firmly.
"You wouldn't – you – I'm completely defenceless – you can't –" The Doctor sounded desperate, still wiggling. Rose was so very, very tempted, but she shook her head.
"No. I won't. That would be way too unfair to you when you're in this position. As tempting as it is," she added, and felt the Doctor relax slightly, though still watching her warily. "But sooner or later, I'll get you. When you're least expecting it."
The Doctor snorted. "Not if I get you first."
Oh, fine. Rose snaked a hand across quickly and dug her fingers into his stomach, laughing triumphantly as the Doctor instantly squealed and bent right over, struggling to get back under control. "Let's just call that a taster."
"Devil woman!" the Doctor exclaimed, breathing quickly. He was looking at her in shock, but there was something else in his expression too. Rose couldn't quite make it out.
Hours passed in the cosy room, and the two friends stayed in that same position watching television and chatting, neither wanting to leave the comfort of each other's arms. Eventually Rose nodded off on the Doctor's shoulder, and the Doctor just watched her for a while, attempting to come to some sort of decision in his head. He had just decided something when Rose stirred.
"Hi sleepy head," he greeted her, smirking. She stared around groggily for a few moments, before letting her head flop back down tiredly. The Doctor waited a few moments and then spoke.
"Rose? You awake?"
"Yeah," came the slightly sleepy reply. "God, I'm so comfortable."
The Doctor chuckled, having just had his thoughts voiced. "I know what you mean. Listen… I had an idea."
"Ooh, did it hurt?"
He poked her. "I'm serious! What I was thinking was… I should come up with some early New Years Resolutions and really try hard to stick to them."
"Sure, if you want." Rose sounded ready to go to sleep again, so the Doctor shook her slightly.
"And the first one is… to be more open, and tell people things that are on my mind. Which means… I need to let you know how I feel, more often." Rose seemed to realise he was being very serious, and brought her head up to look at him. They were sitting so close that their faces were now only inches from each other, and suddenly the Doctor was struck by nerves. But he carried on nonetheless. "I don't want another day to pass when I don't tell you how lucky I am to have you." He paused and took an unsteady breath. "And maybe we can do this more often, because I know you've been waiting." The Doctor just looked into her shocked face for a few moments, before closing the short distance between them. As he kissed the woman he knew he loved, his mind brought him back to that day on the beach. Except this kiss was different; it wasn't a kiss of realisation and desperation as that one had been – it was sweet, and gentle, and passionate, and as the Doctor felt his entire body slowly turn to jelly, he knew he would be hard pushed to have another Christmas like this one.