Authors Note: Written for round 1 of the Nine/Rose ficathon over at storm_and_wolf on LJ. My prompt was a quote from Mark Twain: "Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person."

Thank you to my lovely betas meremoon and tardismate. You can thank tardismate for the extra "gift" at the end *g*. Also, thank you gioiamia for the support, enthusiasm and feedback. *hugs*

Mountains and Molehills

"Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person." ~ Mark Twain

The Doctor took Rose's hand and led her away from the rubble that had formerly been 16 Downing Street, leaving the situation in Harriet Jones' capable hands. He turned toward the TARDIS, his mind racing. They had defeated the Slitheen. They had survived a missile against all odds. Mickey, the bloody idiot, had actually pulled through. And Rose Tyler had been brilliant.

He unlocked the TARDIS door and turned to Rose, grinning broadly. "Where to next?" he asked, thinking that maybe he should take her to see the waterfalls of Elling or the mountain ranges of Thelund.

She glanced at him nervously, gnawing on her bottom lip in a way that made him want to close the distance between them and kiss her anxiety away. He'd worked hard over the past few months to keep such thoughts at bay, but he'd been finding it more and more difficult to do so as time passed. He forced himself to push the inappropriate thoughts aside and focus on Rose's words.

"I'd like to go see my mum." She shuffled her feet and looked down at the ground.

The Doctor's hearts sank to his stomach and he scowled. Jackie Tyler was not a person he fancied seeing right now. He touched his cheek remembering the force of her slap. No, he'd be happy if it were a very long time before he saw Jackie again.

Rose noticed the expression on his face and immediately crossed her arms. "In case you've forgotten, we almost died and she was chased by a Slitheen. I want to see with my own eyes that she's all right."

"We could already hear from miles away that she's fine," he muttered.

"She's my Mum!" Rose spluttered in exasperation, "I need to see her, Doctor. You don't have to come, I'll go on my own." She spun around and started to march in the opposite directions.

"But Rose, we're miles from the estate," he called after her.

"I don't care," she said stubbornly.

"Get in," he said forcefully.

"But --"

"Just get in," He said more softly. "I'll take you to her if it means that much to you, but don't expect me to be all cheerful and friendly about it."

Rose beamed at him and was back by his side in mere seconds. "Thank you. I won't take long, I promise." She disappeared into the TARDIS and the Doctor followed.

He fiddled with his switches, preparing the TARDIS for the short journey, all the while contemplating the unpleasant prospect of seeing Jackie. It wasn't just that she'd slapped him that made him apprehensive about the encounter, it was the conversation he'd had with her over the phone when they'd been trapped in the Cabinet Room earlier that had him dreading it most.

I can't guarantee your daughter will be safe.His own words rang through his brain only to be overpowered by what had been Jackie's response.

"Don't you dare. Whatever it is, don't you dare,"she'd admonished into the phone. But he'd dared, at Rose's request, and now he was not looking forward to the ramifications of that decision. The fact that he was afraid of a mere human made him cringe. He was far more intelligent than Jackie Tyler, so how was it that she managed to make him so uncomfortable?

They landed in the alley of the Powell Estate all too soon, and he reluctantly allowed Rose to pull him out with her, even though he would have preferred to remain behind in one of the TARDIS' many rooms. She practically dragged him to the flat and soon he was standing outside the apartment as Rose swung the door open.

Jackie poked her head out of the kitchen at the sound of the door, frowning when she spotted the Doctor. She smiled at Rose and bolted down the hall, surprising them both when, instead of embracing her daughter, she started to pound her fists against the Doctor's chest.

"Oi!" the Doctor yelped, backing away from the onslaught.

"You. Nearly. Blew. Up. My. Daughter!" she screamed between each pound of her fist. At her final word, he grabbed her by the wrists, stopping her mid-strike. Jackie looked up at him, her eyes filled with hurt and rage. "You promised. You promised you'd keep her safe."

"I didn't promise. I told you I couldn't guarantee her safety."

"You should have tried harder," Jackie insisted. "Found a way that didn't put her life in jeopardy." Jackie finally reached for Rose then, pulling her into her arms and hugging her fiercely.

Silently, he actually agreed. He hated that Rose was in danger because of him, but he hated the idea of her not being with him more. He always did his best to make sure she was safe, and he'd never have done what he had if there'd been any other options. But Rose was pretty level headed in a crisis situation - she'd proven that today when she'd suggested they take refuge in the closet. He knew better than anyone that reality was bigger than his selfish desire to keep her safe, it was about so much more than that. It was about life, and survival. He'd risked hers, and his own, to save the lives of many, and much as it pained him to admit, he knew he'd do it again if he had to. He'd already seen his own planet destroyed and though it had nearly been the ruin of him, he couldn't let it happen to Earth.

"I did what I had to do," he maintained. "I always do what I have to. Would you have preferred I let innocent people die? Besides, she's fine."

"No, thanks to you." Jackie glared at him.

The Doctor snapped then. "What is it with you humans? You can't see beyond your tiny little lives to realize that the universe is bigger than you? Do you even understand what might have happened today if the Slitheen had succeeded? Do you know what that would have meant? Death, for this whole planet, the whole human race. But you don't care about that do you? You humans are all the same, always looking out for number one. It makes me sick."

Jackie pulled away from her daughter and stepped toward him. "How dare you come into my home and insult me? Rose is my baby and I could have lost her today. She's all I have." Tears sprang to her eyes and the Doctor felt a reluctant pang of sympathy. "You have no right to say such horrid things to me. Get out. You get out of my house right now." She said it with such vehemence, such hatred that the Doctor actually backed away.

"Fine!" He held up his hands in surrender. "I didn't want to come here in the first place." He spun around and stormed off, not even bothering to say goodbye.

xxxxx

Rose watched him leave, her heart aching for him. She was furious with him for being so harsh with her mother but she also knew that he was hurting, that the events of the day must have reminded him of the loss of his planet. She didn't know the circumstances of what had happened but she knew, from the dark, haunted look which often appeared in his eyes, that whatever it was ate away at his very soul. She fought the urge to run after him, to hold him in her arms and comfort him, knowing he wouldn't let her. And more importantly, she couldn't leave her mother, not yet.

"Mum?" Rose ventured tentatively. "I'm all right, really, not a scratch on me. It's youI'm worried about."

Jackie softened. "Awww, sweetheart, I'm just fine. Mickey took good care of me. I'm sorry I treated him so badly this past year. He's a good bloke." She said it wistfully, the unspoken contrast between Mickey and the Doctor hanging in the air.

"He is," Rose agreed. "You're sure you're okay?"

Jackie smiled. "Of course, love. Your dear mum is tough."

Rose laughed. "I've known that for years. You're the best mum I could ever ask for."

Jackie searched her daughters face. "You make it sound like you're saying goodbye."

"I am," Rose confessed softly.

"What?" Jackie's eyes widened. "But you can't."

"I have to go back."

"To him?" The vehemence returned to her voice. "He nearly had you killed today. He said awful things to me. How can you go back to him?"

"He didn't really mean what he said to you."

Jackie gaped at her. "You're defending him?

"I'm not. It's just that sometimes he says things like that, acts like he's better, without really listening to what he's saying. He speaks first, regrets later."

"He seemed to realize what he was saying a moment ago," Jackie muttered bitterly.

"Maybe. But he loves the human race."

"He has a funny way of showing it."

"By preventing the earth from being destroyed to ensure our survival?"

"He nearly got you killed!"

"And I survived," Rose said calmly. "I'm not a helpless little girl, Mum. I can take care of myself. You don't need to worry. I'll be fine."

"Don't go," Jackie begged, as Rose walked into her bedroom and began packing some of her things.

"You don't understand, Mum. There's a whole universe out there, whole worlds of beings that need his help, need myhelp. My life finally has a purpose."

"You can have a purpose here, where it's safe," Jackie insisted.

Rose approached her mother, framing her face with her hands. "Mum, I've made my choice. He needs me and I need him."

Jackie stared into Rose's eyes for a long moment. "You love him, don't you?"

Rose shook her head immediately. "It's not like that, Mum."

Jackie nodded doubtfully. "If you say so."

She sighed, resigned and picked up a photograph of her and Rose from the bedside table. She placed it on top of Rose's bag. "So you don't forget me."

Rose pulled her mother into a hug. "Never gonna happen."

xxxxx

Rose turned down the alley, her bag swung over her shoulder, and breathed a sigh of relief when she spotted the familiar blue box. She'd half expected him to leave without her, and she was thrilled that he hadn't. The TARDIS felt like home and she was looking forward to having a nice long nap in her bedroom.

Just as soon as she had a little talk with a certain Time Lord.

He looked up from where he was fiddling with the console as she entered, regarding her carefully, as though he were expecting her to yell.

She set her bag on the floor and marched over to him. "Sit," she demanded, pointing to the jump seat.

He transported the TARDIS into the vortex and sat, watching her as she paced in front of him. "Look, I understand, better than anyone, what was at stake today. I asked you to do what you needed to do because I knew it was more important than my life." He tried to speak but she continued. "I know that the Earth coming so close to being destroyed today must have brought back memories of losing your own planet, and I realize how painful that must be." She stopped pacing and stood before him, reaching out her hand to cradle his chin so he was looking into her eyes. "I'm sorry for that. You don't know how sorry."

She released him and resumed her pacing. "But, and this is a big 'but', you were out of line today with what you said to my mum."

"But Rose, she--"

"I don't care. What you said to her made her feel like she was stupid and unimportant. Like you're better than her."

"Well I am," he said plainly.

"Doctor." She glared at him warningly.

"It's true. I'm a Time Lord, Rose. I can perceive the whole of time and space. I have a complex binary respiratory system. That's not mean, it's a fact."

"Okay, fine, it's true, but you don't need to throw that in other people's faces. You don't seem to understand how insulting it is, how offensive."

"How is it offensive? It's the truth." He raised his voice, his anger building again.

"Sometimes that kind of truth is more hurtful than helpful, and it's better to keep it to yourself," she said delicately.

"This is precisely why I don't get domestic. It always becomes so bloody personal," he muttered, frowning. "I can't help it if I'm more intelligent than every human on earth, every being in the galaxy. I'm so much more than you stupid little humans can even imagine."

Rose stopped and shot him a scathing glance. "Is that right? So that's all I am to you then? 'A stupid little human'? Maybe I should have just stayed home."

Without giving him a chance to say anything more, Rose stormed past him, scooped up her backpack and stomped down the hallway to her room, leaving the Doctor staring after her, trying to figure out exactly why she was so upset.

xxxxx

Rose sat on her bed with her knees tucked up to her chest, tears of frustration, hurt and confusion rolling down her face. She'd come back, even after he'd been so rude and inconsiderate to her mother, because she thought that he valued her. There had even been a moment earlier that day when she had thought that he really cared about her.

"I could save the world but lose you," he had said. He had looked into her eyes, and in those few seconds that he held her gaze, it had felt as though he could see into her soul. But now he was calling her stupid. She'd known he thought he was better than everyone else, but she'd managed to convince herself that she was different. Now she was kicking herself for being so naive and yes, stupid.

xxxxx

The Doctor sat on the jump seat for a long time, replaying their conversation in his head and trying to work out what had gone so horribly wrong. He had simply tried to explain where he was coming from; he didn't see why she had to be so touchy. He sighed. Humans really were so much work. Time Lord relationships and interactions had been so much simpler because they hadn't involved high levels of emotion. Mind you, it was the human capacity for emotion that was accountable for his absolute adoration of them. Sure, they were stupid and selfish, but they were also remarkably resilient and they loved like no other species in the universe.

A wheel clicked into place and he mentally cursed his vastly intelligent brain for missing something so mundane, as he realized what he had to do.

xxxxx

Rose heard a tentative tap on her door.

"Rose?" The Doctor sounded hesitant.

"Go away."

"Rose, this can't wait."

She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling, sighing in exasperation. Everything was always a bloody emergency with this man. Couldn't she just have a moment's peace to pout and vent and wallow in her momentary loathing of him?

Resigning herself to no nap and yet another crisis, Rose dried her tears and called out, "Fine. You can come in."

"Thank you."

The door swung open instantly and Rose stood, placing her hands on her hips.

"What's the big emergency this time?"

"What? No emergency. I just wanted to talk to you."

Rose raised her eyebrow at him as if to say, 'so talk'.

The Doctor swallowed hard; this was harder than he'd thought.

"I came to apologize."

Another eyebrow raise.

"I was daft and idiotic and I didn't mean to insult you."

"And my mum?" Rose glared at him.

Silence.

"Get out." Rose barked, turning away so he wouldn't see the tears reforming in the corners of her eyes.

Instead of leaving, he crossed the room and stood in front of her, turning her shoulders so that she was facing him.

"Rose Tyler, you are so bloody infuriating sometimes."

She took a step back, anger flashing through her irises.

Internally he kicked himself. He was doing this all wrong and he didn't know how to fix it. "Look, Rose. I don't think you're 'a stupid little human'. You're bloody infuriating and you're stubborn and you can't see the big picture when you're so wrapped up in what your mother thinks. You don't know what you do to me."

"Why does it always have to be about you? What about me? Don't you care about how I'm feeling? Don't you know how hard it is to keep up with you when I know you're smarter than me? I barely finished school. I know you think I'm not as intelligent as you, but you don't need to throw it in my face all the time."

"But Rose, that's just it, I don't think that. I think you're fantastic. You make me feel like a better person just by being around you. You make me think about things in a different way... and the universe is a safer place because of that." He paused, gazing into the depths of her eyes.

"I do care about you. That's the problem, I care about you more than I should and it scares me half to death…" He trailed off, and looked away, realizing what he'd just revealed.

Rose's expression softened and she came forward, her hand outstretched. She gingerly placed it on his cheek, the action forcing him to look at her again.

"Doctor," she whispered, her voice filled with unspoken emotion.

Their eyes locked for a long time, and the Doctor lost himself in the moment. Suddenly he imagined what it would be like to stoop down and draw her lips to his, to taste the sweetness of her mouth and explore every inch of her body. The thought caused his pants to feel uncomfortably tight and he pulled away, turning toward the door.

"I'm so sorry, Rose."

He was almost at the door when she had the courage to speak again.

"Don't go." It was so soft that the Doctor barely heard it, even with his super-sensitive Time Lord hearing.

He stopped in his tracks, waiting. He didn't have to wait long. Within seconds, Rose was standing before him, both hands cupping his face.

With a confidence that took his breath away, Rose stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his. She kissed him tentatively at first, deepening the kiss as he began to respond.

Despite the warning sirens sounding within his skull, the Doctor drew Rose into his arms, crushing her chest against his as he took control of the kiss, inching his tongue through the valley formed by her lips.

Rose mewled softly and the Doctor groaned. He guided them to the bed, his lips never leaving hers, his hands exploring her back. They tumbled onto the mattress, an awkward mass of arms and legs as they frantically tore at each others' clothing.

Soon his warm mouth and hands were exploring her silken skin as she squirmed beneath him. The feel of his calloused palm gently trailing over her delicate, smooth, skin sent tremors of excitement coursing through her veins. He was like a child opening a coveted gift on Christmas morning, amazement and wonder etched across his face as he became acquainted with every bit of her.

The coolness of his mouth on her hot skin caused the heat between her legs to ignite anew and she arched her hips involuntarily, her body begging for more. The Doctor happily gave in to her silent request, and his swollen lips quickly found their destination. In no time she was screaming his name as wave after wave of pleasure rolled through her body.

Hours later, they lay entwined, emotionally and physically spent as they basked in the enjoyment of finally being in each others arms. The Doctor smiled and kissed her forehead, still marvelling at the way their little misunderstanding had evolved into one of the most amazing experiences of his very long life.

FIN