The Doctor kissing Rose in "Parting of the Ways" wasn't exactly as romantic as some people like to think. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Doctor/Rose shipper, but, well, you'll see. It comes around in the end....

Thanks much to GSRgirlforever for beta'ing!

Disclaimer: Surprise, surprise, I don't own Doctor Who, and I definitely don't own Shakespeare's works. Nor do I get anything from writing these stories--except wonderful, constructive reviews! Wink, wink; nudge, nudge ;)

This takes place on the morning after "The Christmas Invasion".

Chapter 1, Haply Some Poison

"You kissed me." Rose watched the Doctor look up at her from his place on the couch, apparently startled by her early-morning appearance in the living room--or by her greeting, it was difficult to tell.

"What?" he asked.

Rose walked further into the room, kicking aside a pile of discarded wrapping paper and cracker hats and the like. She didn't speak again until she sat beside the Doctor on the sofa. "On the Gamestation," she clarified.

He set his book down on the coffee table. "You remember that?" the Doctor asked, rather evasively, she thought.

Rose nodded. "Just now, I sort of dreamt it, I guess."

"What do you remember?" he asked.

She hadn't known this Doctor long, but Rose could tell he was nervous. She'd never say it to his face (well, probably not), but it was cute. "Lookin' into the TARDIS," she told him, "gettin' back to you, makin' all the Daleks vanish--but don't ask me how." She smiled again. "'I think you need a Doctor?'" she quoted, nudging his shoulder with her own.

He didn't reply right away, and Rose's grin dimmed a bit.

"I didn't mind, if that's what you're worried about," she offered, but the confidence she'd felt at her new-found memories was quickly slipping away at his persistent silence.

"Rose--" the Doctor began at last, but cut himself off, looking anywhere but at her.

Doubt flared for a moment as she looked at him, accompanied by a feeling of falling quickly, as she wondered again about what she meant to him, and how much he had changed--how much his feelings might have changed.

Rose found herself studying the toes of her slippers, embarrassed. He had kissed her, but, "I mean... it doesn't mean anythin'," she tried to cover. "It doesn't have to--I didn't mean--I was just kiddin'," she finished, lamely.

She glanced back at him, surprised to see him looking right at her.

"What?" she asked, desperately hoping his earlier talkativeness would kick in and save her from further pre-dawn humiliation.

"It did mean something," he admitted, quietly. "But not...," he looked away again. "Doesn't matter now. Never mind."

Embarrassment forgotten, she offered, "You can talk to me, you know." He shifted uncomfortably, but since he didn't actually try to run, Rose persisted. "What'd it mean? You saved me, yeah? Said the Vortex was killin' me, and you took it out of me."

"It was killing you," he said, nodding.

"Then, thanks," she told him, reaching for his hand.

The Doctor entwined their fingers, squeezing the offered hand tightly. "But I didn't think I could save you," he told her, looking up only briefly.

Rose didn't like what she thought he was saying. "Then why--"

"When you first met me," he told her, "you have no idea how alone I was. If I hadn't met you that night, the Nestene Consciousness--that living plastic--probably would have finished me off, and I would've let it." He looked at her, closely. "You saved me then," he said, brushing his thumb over the back of her hand. "And not just by swinging to my rescue. When you came with me...."

He trailed off, staring at the floor.

"I didn't want to be alone again," he admitted, quietly.

"Then, you... you were hopin' you'd die." Rose surprised herself by even being able to whisper the words.

He nodded.

"But you'd regenerate," she said, unable to make sense of this revelation. "You did regenerate. Whaddya mean, you wanted to die?" She couldn't believe what he was telling her. She'd been scared plenty of times since she'd known him; it went with the job description. But the cold dread that filled her at imagining his desperation--because of her--was worse than anything she'd known until now.

"Regenerating's a choice," he said, settling back into the cushions of the couch. "Well," he amended, "it's usually a choice. Time Lords--a Time Lord can make a conscious choice not to regenerate."

"An' that's... why you kissed me?" Rose asked. This conversation had gone so differently from how she'd imagined when it had started.

"Why I took the Vortex from you, yes," the Doctor told her. Rose puzzled briefly over his need to clarify that point, but he went on. "Not exactly suicide, but a bit of taking the easy way out, I suppose."

Rose nodded, feeling the almost physical weight of what he was telling her. "You were hoping it'd kill you, because you thought it'd killed me, already."

"Didn't think I'd be able to regenerate, even if I wanted to," he admitted. "Not after that."

Rose shook her head, trying to clear it of what-ifs and focus on reality. "But I wasn't dead," she said.

"No, thank goodness," the Doctor said with a light laugh. "And I've gotta admit, it caught me a bit off guard when you woke up, acting like nothing had happened."

"For all you knew, you'd already done yourself in," she provided.

He smiled. "And there you were, up on your feet, and--"

"Scared to death at the way you were talkin'," she cut him off.

"Right," he said. "I'm sorry."

She sighed. After a moment, she told him, "Don't be. You don't have to apologize. I'm just glad it worked."

"Oh, me, too. Believe me," he agreed.

They were silent for a while, and Rose took the opportunity to study their joined hands. Her mind flashed back to a school play, and she laughed, suddenly.

The Doctor questioned her with raised eyebrows.

"Just," she began, quickly bringing her laughter under control, "it's a bit Romeo and Juliet, innit?"

He seemed thoughtful for a moment. "'I will kiss thy lips,'" he quoted. "Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make die with a restorative.'" He smiled softly, and Rose thought the expression suited him much better than a frown. Just like the last him.

"Doctor, please?" she asked, serious again. "Don't ever give up. Not like that."

His brows furrowed, but he didn't look away.

"Please, I'm not worth it," she said.

"No, Rose, I'm not," the Doctor countered. "On my own, I'm worthless."

Instead of getting into a yes you are, no I'm not battle, she said, "Then promise me you won't be alone. That whatever happens, if I'm ever... that you'll find someone."

He made to protest, but Rose wasn't hearing it. She quickly silenced him with her fingers over his lips.

"Please?" she asked.

He nodded, and she took her fingers away. "I promise," he whispered, looking at the hand he was still holding.

She tipped his chin up with a small smile. "Hey, I'm not goin' anywhere anytime soon," she told him.

His eyebrows rose at that. "I thought you said you were coming with me," he said with a pout.

"I am, silly," she said, laughing at the even sillier expression on his face, and before she could think too long about it, she leaned over and kissed him, quickly.

"Rose?" he asked, as soon as she pulled back.

She forced herself to look him in the eye, despite the sudden nervousness that filled her.

An ear-splitting grin appeared on his face.

"Yes?" she asked, feeling herself smile in answer.

"You kissed me."

I was going to end it here, but I've got a "Turn Left"-inspired chapter to do next.

And, yes, I am still working on my other in-progress stories. I promise!