In Vino Veritas
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press
End in what All begins and ends in--Yes;
Think then you are To-day what Yesterday
You were--To-morrow You shall not be less.
- The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, XLII
It's dark when she arrives back in the flat, and initially, she thinks that she's the first one home. He often works late, surrounding himself in the bits and bobs that constitute Torchwood's alien detritus. He could get lost in his examinations, his identifications, and forget that time was passing in a way he would never have been able to before he lost his heart and his true home in the same hour. Sometimes she would watch him at his work. When he really got into it, everything else seemed to slide away from him. Even her. Perhaps especially her. By now, she was used to coming home to a dark and empty flat.
So it comes as something of a surprise when she flicks on the light to find him sitting silent at the kitchen table.
Her breath catches and she gives a little jump, her hand jumping excitedly to her breast. "Jesus!" she exclaims, half collapsing back against the door. "You scared the life out of me!" It's not a true statement, obviously, and there was a time he might have haughtily pointed this fact out to her. Not anymore. He doesn't respond, doesn't even acknowledge her entrance. She waits a moment longer, gives him a chance to say something, anything, in explanation. But he's never been one for explaining his actions, and she's a fool twice over if she expects him to start changing his spots at this juncture.
She pushes herself from the door and continues her way into the flat. "What you sittin' in the dark for anyhow?" she asks, not expecting an answer. She doesn't get one. He continues to stare off into space, or perhaps out the dark square of the windowpane to the bright lit cityscape beyond. It's impossible to tell from the angle he's sitting at, by the way he's holding his head. It would make her feel better if she knew there was something for him to look at. If he was staring so mindlessly at a television screen, she wouldn't give it more than half a thought. But just staring at nothing implies that what he's really looking at is unknowable…to her, at least…something inside himself.
She tosses her designer purse onto the end table nearest the door with a heavy sigh. It's been a long day. She didn't work for Torchwood anymore, but that didn't mean her days were any less tiring. And since he was home, she needs to actually make dinner. Well, not need. There's no requirement, beside a self-imposed one, that she cook at all. She doesn't particularly care if she has take-out every night of the week and he…well…he never complains. But there's always a chance that he does care, that he does appreciate the home cooking, and so she makes the effort. She tries to make the effort to include him, as well.
"Hey," she says, forcibly brightening her mood and smiling, "Anything you'd like to eat?" She strides forward into the flat and looking for an answer.
She finds one.
The Doctor looks terrible. He now has to work at keeping his hair perfectly coiffed, but that still doesn't explain why it's now lying so oily and flat upon his scalp. His chin is dark with five o'clock shadow. His suit is rumpled, his eyes underlined in dark, bruise colored shadows. In the stark light of the overhead lamp, his few wrinkles stand out in stark crags about his face. On the table before him sits a lone bottle of whiskey, and a tumbler half full of liquid amber.
Her tone goes immediately from light to concerned as she quickens her step towards him. "Doctor?" she queries, a hint of disbelief breaking into her question. "What are you doing?" It's a stupid question, she can see very well what he's doing. He's sitting by himself in the dark drinking. But then, she's nothing more than a stupid ape, and he is no doubt used to her asinine questions by this point. Used to them, yes, but no longer as tolerant as he once was.
"What do you think I'm doing?" he answers testily. Each word is spat out distinctly. She hears him very clearly enunciate every last syllable. He's had to remind himself of English all over again since coming to this universe, but that isn't a good explanation for why he is suddenly being so careful with his words. Nor does it explain his disagreeable manner. Her eyes glance again at the bottle and take the measure of its fullness. It doesn't give her any indications, she has no idea how full it had been before he began.
"Sorry," she says, automatically, not sure if she really is sorry, just knowing that it seems to be her answer to everything these days. "It's just…" she lets her voice trail away, and her hand uselessly waves at the objects on the table. She clears her throat. "You're not normally one to drink."
He makes a sound then that might be a laugh, if she didn't know his laugh. No, this is a decidedly darker noise, no mirth in it at all, and she looks again at his haggard face and sees no emotion, amused or otherwise, etched upon it. He reaches a hand out slowly, and fingers at the glass before him. "Maybe," he says, still swirling the words around carefully in his mouth before letting them free, "It's time I pick up a new hobby." He lifts the glass in an almost violent swing of his arm and downs the remains in one swig. He grimaces only slightly, before setting the glass back down upon the table with an audible clink of glass against wood.
She doesn't know what to say to that, and so she hides her nervousness in questions. "Drinking's a hobby, then?" She didn't mean for it to come out sounding imperious, holier-than-thou, but immediately after the sentence leaves her lips she realizes he's likely to take it that way, regardless.
He makes the not-laugh noise again. "So I'm told." He reaches for the bottle and uncorks the top with a pop. The liquor splashes into the glass, not a drop spilling onto the table. "A pretty popular one among humans, I gather." The bottle and cap are soon returned to their original locations without incident. The entire action seems slow and calculated, every movement over crisp and precise. The glass, now full almost to the brim, remains untouched before him as he turns his eyes to meet her for the first time that evening. She feels her breath catch again as she is caught by the blackness of their depths. She's seen eyes like that before; on her team members in the morgue, on the faces of the formerly cyber-ized. Unperturbed, he continues in a low voice, "I'm drowning my sorrows."
He lifts the glass to his lips and sips at it almost like a connoisseur, slow and savoring. Not at all like a man trying his hardest to get blitzed out of his gourd. When half the glass is emptied in this way, he pauses and holds the tumbler before him, sloshing the whiskey back and forth slightly, admiring its color and consistency. She wonders, vaguely, if it's a habit he's picked up from Pete or one from his old life. Is he imitating his human model or his former Time Lord self. She shakes the thought from her mind and continues, a bit hysterically, "But…why?!" It's another stupid question, she knows. Drowning his sorrows, indeed; he's had more than enough of those to fill a whiskey barrel. Oh woe is he, let him count the ways and all that rot. Join the party, she thinks bitterly.
The glass slams back to the table. Bronze colored liquid splashes out over the lip and onto his hand. His eyes bore through her and she jumps instinctively backwards, though whether from his look or his actions, she's not sure. "Why do you think?" he hisses between tightly clenched teeth.
He stares at her for some time, fury storming in his eyes, and she finds she cannot turn away. He is like a caged and wild animal and something primal and fearful deep inside of her knows, just knows, that if she turns her back right then it will be the end of her. The only choice is to hold her ground, to hold his eyes with hers, to force him to be the first to look away. Eventually, he notices the wetness on his hand and shirt cuffs. With a grunt of displeasure, he shakes the clinging droplets of liquor from himself. They fly across the breakfast nook, landing on the table and carpet alike. He looks away from her then, contemplates the glass. Very little drink still remains coating its bottom surface and he appears to be considering whether it's worth it to finish the matter off.
The tense moment has passed, and yet it takes a second for her to gather her wits and begin again, "Doctor," she says his name as soothingly as she can manage. He turns towards, his head swinging as if on a pendulum. His eyes are sill dark as midnight, but there's no longer the look of death about them. She bites at her lower lip, thinking how best to go about phrasing this, before she plows right in. "I think you've had enough," she lectures lightly.
The sound he makes in response is clearly disgusted. He rolls his eyes dramatically, "Thanks, mum." He downs the remainder of his glass before reaching for more to fill it.
"Doctor," she tries again, her fingers curling into a fist with the sense of hopelessness that's filling her. He doesn't look this time, but rather gives all his concentration to filling the glass. He doesn't manage the job as well this time. Some of the alcohol splashes onto the table near the glass, and droplets arc through the air from the bottle's lip when he pulls it up to fast. He sets the bottle down negligently and it rocks precariously on its round bottom before coming to a safe rest. "You don't know your limits anymore," she tries to reason.
"Hah!" And this sound is even less like a laugh than the first one. This is dark and sarcastic and angry. "Oh, I know my limitations." The last word is spat out as if it is an abomination in itself. "I'm quite aware of my many failings." Roughly, he grabs at the glass and manages to raise it to his lips without spilling any. Looking at her mockingly over the rim, he growls, "You're making a mistake in thinking I care." Then he drinks.
She wants to dash that damn glass from his hands, but she can't. She doesn't know how he'll react, especially in the state he's worked himself into. In her mind's eye a million Dalek's scream in silence and she is afraid of him. She shivers. He finishes the drink and slams the glass back down to the table. It bounces from his grasp and rolls away from him, coming to rest near the opposite edge. He doesn't bother to reach for it.
She takes a step towards the table. It doesn't provoke a reaction. She takes another and when he doesn't look up at her, she addresses him. "You're drunk," she states matter-of-factly.
"Brilliant deduction, Miss Tyler," and here for the first time, she hears him slur his words. He's playing it off as sarcasm, rolling the words around his tongue like they're a fine wine. It means something, she knows, that he's still trying to hide his condition, despite his recent words and actions. "They teach you that with you're A levels?" It's a dig, but a poor one. He knows she's never gotten her A levels. He also knows she doesn't give a damn about them. Taking the opening he's given her by inviting her into the conversation, she takes a seat next to him at the table.
Primly she folds her hands before her and tries to deal with this in her best, levelheaded manner. "How many have you had?" she asks critically.
"How many what?" he replies instantly, glancing up at her through the fringe lying low over his eyes. She finds her breath returns to her with his answer because, at least now, she knows he's listening.
"How many glasses?" she rephrases, tipping her head at the overturned tumbler for indication.
He blinks slowly at it, considering. "You think I was counting?" he sounds half shocked and half furious, and completely out of character for both emotions, he begins to laugh. It's a forced and desperate sort of laugh. A were-out-of-danger-for-now-and-can-stop-running-from-the-big-bad-monster-for-a-bit-but-there's-no-way-we're-out-of-the-woods-just-yet kind of laugh. He's still laughing as he folds his arms upon the table and leans his forehead against them. She didn't think he'd give her a straight answer, but she wishes he had. She'd like to know if this is a drag him into bed and leave him a convenient bucket sort of thing, or a rush him to the hospital to get his stomach pumped deal. She hopes to goodness it's the former.
"I'm sick of this, you know," he starts to explain, "All of it. It's the same thing day in and day out. Get up, go to work, eat, sleep. And it's tiring. I never knew how tiring doing nothing is. And I'm bored and angry and I haven't felt right about anything in months!"
Rose drops her face into one hand and rubs furiously at her closed eyelids. She had never pegged him for a drunk, and if she had, she would have bet good money he wouldn't be a maudlin drunk. How very droll. She bathes him in a withering glare. "Well, and do you feel right now?"
He drags his head up and blinks a response. "No," he answers finally, "Just…sorta…numb." He over-pronounces the 'b', then giggles at his own mistake. He stops abruptly, his eyes going vague and slowly tracking along some nearly invisible imperfection it the table's surface. "Better'n before, though," he finishes sometime later, as if the conversation had never paused.
She is suddenly overwhelmed with a kind of angry despair. "What?!" she says, before she can get ahold of her flare of temper. More calmly she continues, "How can this be better? How?" The last is almost a cry, and she certainly feels like crying.
He turns his head on his arms, using them as a pillow while he stares up at her. "Better'n alone," he says, as if that's an answer that makes sense to him. Perhaps it does.
"You're sitting alone," she points out, "In the dark, drinking yourself into oblivion. There's not much more lonely than that."
The sad smile that crosses his face as he closes his eyes tugs at something deep inside her. "I'm in love with my best mate," he murmurs, ""S nothing more lonely than that."
She wants to feel bad for him, she really does. He looks so pathetic, lying there on her tabletop, his hair all askew and his eyes bloodshot. But she just can't bring herself to extend her sympathies to him for this. Her pity, maybe, but not sympathy. He chose this way, getting wasted on cheap booze out of her liquor cabinet, as the best way to make a point to her?! Tramping down her growing fury, she manages to eke out, "You know, I've been there myself. Was in love with my best mate for years and he never looked at me twice, from all I could tell. But I never tried to deal with it by finding the bottom of a bottle."
"Clearly, then, you didn't explore every option."
She starts back in confusion from his statement, which sounded almost half-sane, until she tried to suss it out. "Excuse me?"
He moves his head, rubbing his eyes against the back of his forearms, and his voice comes out partially muffled by his suit coat. "You gave up," he explains. Then, "You're good at that."
Rose is aware that her mouth is hanging open, flabbergasted, but at the moment, she doesn't have the wherewithal to close it. "Excuse me?!" she repeats, this time sounding a bit more like her mother in a fit. "Me?!" she continues in a near-screech, "I'm good at giving up."
His face still buried, he slides one arm out from beneath him and reaches blindly towards her. Patting gently at her elbow he comforts, ""S all right. You're only human."
Her mouth closes into a prim line as she regards him with disgust. Pulling her arm away from his aimless petting, she points a finger at him in accusation. "How dare you say that to me," she hisses. "I tried everything. I tried and tried for years to get your attention, but you just wanted to run off with no-commitment French tarts and…what am I doing?" She interrupts her own tirade in shock, before returning to berating him. "This isn't about me!"
"Course it is," he says, raising his head and wobbling it in her direction. "'S always been about you." He smiles suddenly as memory lights his face, the feature completely out of context with his current dejected state. "Since run," he clarifies. His mood darkens abruptly, as if he's come to the sudden realization of just how long ago "run" actually was, and everything that's happened in the meantime. The whiskey glass has left a semi-circular pattern of condensation on the table and he reaches out to smear it with a finger. "You gave up on me," he says quietly, almost as if he's just now coming to his revelations, "You gave up on being more than jus' mates."
"What are you talking about?" she huffs. "We talked about this. We agreed we'd be friends first."
"You suggested," he counters, swirling the water pattern with the droplets of spilled whiskey, "I consented." He draws the wet mixture in a line towards himself with a squeak of friction. "Six months ago," he finishes.
She feels the need to slap him war inside her with a growing sense of guilt at his accusation. Six months was a long time to string a guy along, but then, she was a gold-medal under-thirties stringer. Just look at how long Mickey had trailed after her like a dog in heat. But, that wasn't the point. She never had any intention of doing that to the Doctor. It was just…things…being abandoned on a beach by the love of her life for one. Another was being tossed a replacement part that she didn't want to love until she could be sure she didn't see him as a replacement at all. She hadn't wanted to hurt him. Never him. Apparently, she had underestimated his talent for self-flagellation.
"You're drunk," she spits at him, finally, "And I am not having this conversation with you now."
"Might as well," he sighs resignedly. He casts a critical look in her direction which comes out all lopsided because he can't quite seem to hold his head up straight. "You may have noticed I'm not the most forthcoming of people when I'm sober."
Well, he's got her there, and she does have to give him props for putting together a coherent argument while so obviously inebriated. He raises a hand to his face and passes it before his eyes as though shading himself from bright sunlight. He looks momentarily discomfited, and he follows the uncharacteristic action up by shaking his head like a dog. He winces. "That was not the right move," he asserts weakly.
"Serves you right," she glares at him. "Nine hundred years old and you can't even have a serious conversation with your girlfriend without getting soused beforehand. You, Doctor, are one idiot human bloke!"
He peers at her from the corner of his eyes. "So you're my-" he interrupts himself to swallow a hiccup, "My girlfriend now?"
"Well, let's see." She begins to tick off the points on her fingers. "We live together, eat most of our meals together, I bought all your clothes, you've met my parents, we go to all those silly Vitex charity auctions together, I quit my job because you were worried I would get hurt chasing aliens without you…" She could go on, but she's pretty sure she doesn't need to. He leans away from her tirade, closing his eyes and resting his head against the chair back. His Adam's apple stands out and she sees it bob quickly as he swallows again.
"We don't," he whispers with some difficulty before raising his hand to indicate the space between them. "You know," he finishes lamely.
"Is that what this is about?" she asks tersely. "You not getting any?"
"No, that's…tha's not it, I…" His eyes blink open to stare at the ceiling. "Blimey," he mutters, "'S this what it's like havin' an argument with me? When you can't think up a proper comeback? No wonder I drive people barmy."
She can't help the quirk of her mouth at his comparison.
"I mean," he goes on gamely, "We don' act like we're…together." His face screws up and she thinks it's because he can't even think the words "dating" in reference to themselves. Far too domestic. "Not to others and not to…there's no kissing or…or…aw, Hell if I know how you humans go about this stuff." He makes a rough sound of frustration and allows his body to slide further down into the chair.
"You're human too, now," she notes wryly.
"An' tha's what I'm sayin'!" he exclaims. He raises his hand above and before him, addressing the ceiling tiles like some half-arsed Shakespearean actor overplaying the part. "I've got no bloody idea what we are…what you think we are…human wise."
"Is it really all that different from what you're used to?" she asks, actually curious.
He blows a noisy raspberry and flaps his hand half-heartedly in her direction. "If we're usin' my standards we'd have been life mates the firs' time you said f'rever." He sounds like himself, his old big-eared self, and she has to check her laughter behind tight closed lips.
"So, what you're saying is your rubbish at human domestics?"
"Nah, tha's not it," he denies, shaking his head or, more accurately, rolling it back and forth where it rests against the chair back. "Well, tha's different," he mumbles absently.
"What?" she asks critically.
"Always thought it was a figure of speech. You humans. Talkin' about your head spinnin'. Room's a bloody merry-go-round."
Shaking her head, she stands, pushing her chair back from the table. "Come on," she says, "Let's get you to bed."
"And wha' if I don' wanna go?" he asks, straightening and eyeing her blearily, but he pushes his chair back as well, following her lead even as he argues against her ironclad logic.
"Then you're gonna end up sleeping in that chair," she grouses, "Cause I don't think I can carry you."
He nods, staring off into space for a moment, or perhaps just considering the new distance between his seat and the tabletop. Gripping the edge of the wood, he pushes himself straight armed into a stand. He even manages to hold that position for a breathless moment before overbalancing backwards, knocking into his chair and crashing unceremoniously to the floor. After a long moment a feeble "Ouch" comes from behind the table leg.
Rose steps nimbly past the chair and crouches down next to him. "You okay?" she gasps. He's managed to land firmly on his bum, his hands falling behind him to catch his fall and save him from cracking his head against the linoleum flooring. But his eyes are scrunched tight shut, as though his head is paining him. She reaches out her hand and presses her palm against his cheek. Behind closed lids, his eyes quiver in response and he turns slightly into her touch. His eyes open, but it's still several moments before they manage to focus and find her own.
"I'm pissed," he observes, with a hint of wonder in his voice.
"That will tend to happen," she smirks at him, though not unkindly. "Did you hurt yourself?"
"I think…" he starts, then squirms a little against the floor. "No?" He looks to her for confirmation.
She merely huffs a put-upon sigh in response and holds out a hand for him. He looks at it curiously before taking it. She slides her palm down and grips at his wrist. Standing, his hand still locked in her own, she instructs, "On the count of three we're going to get you up, okay?"
He nods and she counts and then he is launching himself at her. Their hands get caught between them as she feels herself careening backwards. Before he can bring them crashing to the ground again, she flails wildly with her other arm and manages to just get ahold of the jutting edge of breakfast bar. Several seconds pass as each discovers their new, conjoined equilibrium. When the Doctor sways, Rose shifts her hand to grasp his shoulder and pull him closer towards her. His body presses hers back into the breakfast bar and he gives a heavy sigh as they come to rest. "Easy there, Tiger," she chides. "You all right?"
"'M always all right," he announces to the empty kitchen behind her.
"Think you can get your arm around my shoulders?" she queries.
For an answer, he shifts his arm out from where it's trapped between their bodies and lays it firmly across her back.
"Good," she says, with a heavy breath. Now, if they could just…
She twines her arm around his waist and pushes them both away from the wall. His feet get tangled up, and hers nearly do. They stumble several steps away from the table before Rose regains their balance.
"This is fun," he chuckles in her ear.
"Speak for yourself," she grumbles, trying her best to keep them steady and aloft.
"Hoo," he comments senselessly, leaning even more of his not inconsiderable weight against her shoulder. She can only respond with a noncommittal grunt. "I think I see why you humans like this so much. 'S all…twirly." Rose rolls her eyes and makes a vain attempt to launch them staggering in the direction of his bedroom. "Nah, tha's not the word," he chastises himself. "What do I mean? I mean...'s like…remember New Earth?" She gives a sharp look at his abrupt change of topic. "I mean Newnewnew-" he manages to slur the words together even more than would normally be necessary, his tongue tripping over itself before giving up entirely. "Whatever," he waves absently with his free hand. "An' you kissed me, but it wasn' you, but I didn't care because I really liked it." Rose, barely keeping track of his nonsensical narrative, manages to artfully swerve them around the coffee table without anyone barking their shins. "An' I wanted it to be you- you you, not skin you – so I jus' went with it, and my head got all fuzzy and light and-"
They stop at the hall entrance while Rose figures out a plan of how to maneuver the two of them into the narrow space abreast. He takes the moment to rest his head upon her shoulder and, dropping his earlier line of discussion, notes, "You smell nice."
"Thanks," she says grudgingly. She shifts herself more fully beneath his weight and does her best to lift him to a more comfortable position. He groans, his head slipping from its perch. "Come on, you," she encourages, turning herself and him somewhat sideways and slipping into the hall.
"I went back," he says, out of the blue.
"Went back where?" she questions, figuring it's probably better to have him rambling than unconscious.
"Back to…" He pauses, and seems to think better of trying to name the location. "With the cat people."
"Right," she snorts, surprised he still remembers his story from seven seconds prior.
"With Martha," he clarifies, and she can't help the sickening twist in her stomach. "And Jack was there," he goes on, "At least, I think. I dunno. Might not've been. Doesn' matter. There was this Bliss stuff everyone was addicted to and they all died from it." An unexpected lurch brought Rose's opposite shoulder into contact with the wall and she nearly knocked a little painting of the Thames waterfront to the floor. "An' I remember thinking about kissing you before and how even though it killed me I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I ever got the chance." This last bit was said with great sadness and perfect clarity, and she thinks to question him further on it, but they're at his door, and she is suddenly taken up with the business of angling him inside.
Somehow, by the grace of gods she thought she had permanently offended years ago, they make it to his bed. He flops down on his back, his upper half firmly on top of the mattress and his legs hanging down over the side. "Well, that was an adventure," he drawls. Rose makes a small sound of affirmation and reaches down to unbutton his suit jacket. She pulls open the sides revealing, to her dismay, that he's wearing a three piece. Lovely. She unbuttons the vest and begins working on the tie. It's blue, with little paisley swirls. A Christmas gift from her mum, she recalls.
"I kissed Martha, too."
Rose's hands still with the knot half undone. "Did you, now?" she asks cautiously, glancing up at his flushed face.
"Yep," he intones, forgetting to pop his 'p'. "On the moon," he stresses, "With rhinos." He is nodding sagely at her, as if he has confided one of the great mysteries of the universe.
"There's rhinos on the moon?" she continues to tease, her tongue peaking its way out of the corner of her mouth as she goes back to her unraveling.
"No," he sighs unhappily, as if the moon was really the worse off for being rhinoceros-free. "An' I kissed Donna, but that was just because of the bees." Rose lifted one eyebrow quizzically at him, still struggling with his tie. "You know," he raises his hands at his sides and begins flapping them, "Buuuuzzzzz."
"Bees and rhinos," she agrees, freeing him finally form the silk noose and pulling it, with perhaps slightly more energy than was absolutely necessary, from beneath his collar. It slips out with a light whooshing noise. "Any other animal inspired snoggings you'd like to tell me about."
"Weeellll," he continues, totally missing her sarcasm, "There was Joan, but that wasn't really me, and there weren't any animals that time. Reinette, but you remember her. Grace, hah! That was before I ever knew you. Oh, and Astrid, she was nice." Rose began tugging viciously at the tiny white buttons on his dress shirt. "Then there was that time Jack kissed me-"
"Bloody hell, Doctor!" Rose gave up even the pretense of trying to undress him, removing her hands forcefully to her hips. "Is there anyone you haven't made out with?"
He is briefly silent, apparently trying valiantly to remember the answer to her question. After a pregnant pause, he answers uncertainly, "Mickey?"
She rolls her eyes. "Look, sorry to interrupt the fascinating litany, but are you going somewhere with this?" Returning to her original plans she undoes the last of his chest buttons then, focuses on those at his wrists. She finds cufflinks instead, little silver question marks, and is momentarily touched. She had given him those. She pockets them, not wanting them to get misplaced. Then she helps him into a sitting position.
"'S not the same," he says.
"Hmmm?" Her bottom lip is caught tight in her teeth as she concentrates on removing three layers of his clothes one handed, while the other hand keeps him from keeling over.
"I mean, 's fun an' all, but-" He grunts, his shirt is half off of him and his arms are trapped uncomfortably behind him. "'S just lips and tongue and saliva. 'S not…it wasn't…"
She pulls him free of constricting cotton. Smiling in triumph, she turns to him beaming. "Not what?"
He's looking at her with lost eyes that make her suddenly very aware of the closeness of their two bodies and the half-nakedness of his. "Bliss," he finishes and she finds she can't meet his eyes anymore.
Turning her gaze to the carpet she nudges his knee with her thigh and says, "Come on, now. Budge up." It takes him a second before he catches on and scoots up towards the head of the bed. She keeps one hand on his shoulder to steady him. When he gets close enough, she lets go and, after shooting her an 'et tu Brute' look, he lists slowly sideways into the pillows. She reaches down and one by one, drags his legs onto the bed. He's lying on his side and she thinks that the more sensible option is to start with his shoes. It has absolutely nothing to do with her wanting to avoid his zippered area as long as humanly possible. She slips the knots on his trainers, thinking maybe he'll pass out before she gets to that stage, and hating herself for the thought.
"You kiss Mickey?" he mumbles from somewhere in the sateen folds of the pillowcase.
She snorts. "Yeah. 'Course I did."
He sneaks a peak at her with one drooping, glassy eye as she slips his feet free of shoes and socks. "Didja' do it after…?"
She returns his gaze sharply. "After you?" She doesn't want to inflate his ego any more than is necessary, but she doesn't want to lie either. "No. I never kissed anyone else after…well…since run." He regards her silently. It's a fairly rare event, his silence, and she recognizes that she will, in fact, have to rid him of his pants now or face the dry cleaner's wrath. She worries at her bottom lip first, thinking how best to go about it, and this gives him an opening.
"Then you don't have anything to compare with." He sounds sincerely sad, as if he feels she really shouldn't have missed out on buckets worth of non-bliss-worthy tongue and saliva.
"I've had three of you," she points out, "That's something."
He lazily hums his agreement. She leans forward, reaching slowly for the clasp at his waist. He says something then, breaking the silence and making her jump away nervously. This is stupid, there's no reason for her to be this skittish. It's not like she's undressing him for…sexual reasons. And if she were, they're both adults and can make their own decisions. Although, the Doctor is, of course, suffering from the double whammy of only really being six months old and being extremely intoxicated. She's not really certain his dubious "consent" would hold up in court.
Inestimably thankful that he no longer can read her mind (she's pretty sure at least), she covers her bobble by saying, "Sorry, what? Didn't quite catch that."
"Which of us was better?" he murmurs. His eyes are closed, so he doesn't see her rolling hers.
"You were all very, very, good. Terrific. Best I've ever had. Now, if you're satisfied I'm going to have to get these trousers off of you before they get creased." There, she had answered his silly question and given a thorough explanation of why she was about to start fiddling around with his crotch.
"'K," he mumbles, burying his nose into the pillow.
She reaches again for his zipper, only to stop mere centimeters short of her goal.
"You're not, ummm…" He slits one eye open at her. "Commando?" she asks, her cheeks feeling suddenly hot.
"No," he replies, sounding almost offended by the suggestion. He squirms more onto his side and reaches down to undo his fly by himself. Rose feels unaccountably relieved. "You bought me all those nice silk boxers," he explains, and yes, she remembers. They had gone shopping shortly after returning to alternate London and she had extolled to him the virtues of undergarments in a world where suits did not remain preternaturally clean from day to day.
With more manual dexterity then she would have credited him, he finagles his trousers loose and even manages to push them down his hips a bit, before giving up with a heavy sigh and flopping over onto his stomach. She's pleased to see he is, in fact, wearing pants. Black ones. She grips the trousers by the belt loops and slowly eases them over his taut bum and down his long, shapely legs.
"Are we gonna have sex now?"
She stops dead at the seriousness of his tone, his trousers half–tugged down his legs. "Wasn't planning on it," she muses, continuing with her task.
"Oh," he says, managing to sound disappointed despite the muffling effect of the pillow. He twists towards her as his pants finally slide off his feet and are dropped to the floor. "Can we?" he asks, sounding terribly hopeful.
She has to smile. If she doesn't, she'll probably cry. "Now would not be a good time," she explains.
"Oh," he sighs again, sounding even more dejected than before. She unfolds the afghan from the foot of the bed and shakes it out. "'Cause I really want to," he adds, and she nearly drops the blanket in her hands.
"That's, ummm…" She thinks of the right thing to say as she spreads the knit wool covering over his mostly naked frame. "Good to know," she finishes.
"It's annoying," he continues unasked, "I mean, 's all the time. Stupid human body." Rose feels her cheeks beginning to color. "Especially when you wear the red dress," he looks quizzically up at her, "You know the one…with the…" He makes a sweeping motion in the air with his hands that is completely indecipherable. Strangely, though, she knows what he's getting at.
"The one with the low neckline," she prompts, raising a suspicious eyebrow and blushing even further.
"Yeah," he says, his face taking on a transcendent appearance. "An' you don't wear a bra with it," he enthuses. "I really like your breasts," he adds seriously, as if she had accused him otherwise.
"And here I thought you loved me for my mind," she deadpans pulling the blanket up over his bare shoulder in an attempt to end the conversation before it got any sillier.
He snorts a laugh into his pillow and she finds herself caught between grumbling annoyance at his response and a resigned sigh at his par-for-the-course reaction. She decides on neither, giving him the benefit of the doubt because he clearly has no idea what he's saying. "You're brilliant," he enthuses after his brief moment of hilarity, and it's the same way he always used to say it. It's the tone he reserves for absolute truths of the cosmos. The speed of light is 299,792 kilometers per second. Time is fluid. Rose Tyler is brilliant. Despite his state, she is touched to find he thinks of her that way…still. "And you're beautiful and sexy and perfect and if this bed would just sit still a moment and let me hop off I'd show you how dancing is really done."
She smiles at his confession and shakes her head. "That reminds me," she notes absently to herself, before heading off to the en suite. A moment's rummage beneath the sink brings up a bucket, and she empties the various cleaning supplies stored inside it onto the counter. Then she fills his toothbrush cup with water and returns to his room. She finds he has gripped the afghan in one tight fist and shoved it up under his chin. She leaves the bucket on the floor where he can easily reach it. Placing a soft hand on his shoulder, she shakes him to awareness. "Hey, sleeping beauty," she teases as his eyes blink wearily up at her, "Got something for you."
He eyes the glass in her hand for a moment, before pushing himself unsteadily to a sitting position. The afghan falls off his shoulders, leaving his torso bare. Though she tries to ignore it, she can't help but glance with appreciation at the fine musculature that makes up his chest. He is nearly hairless and in the faint light filtering in through the bedroom door, he looks like a Greek god carved from marble.
He takes the cup from her and stares down at it incredulously. "Doesn't sleeping beauty get a kiss?" The painfully hopeful look he turns up to her almost makes her laugh aloud.
"Trust me," she says, barely covering her humor with a steady voice, "This is better for you right now."
Giving a heavy sigh, he lifts the glass to his lips and slowly drains the cup. He tilts it back towards her, showing that it's empty. "Good?" he asks, looking to her for praise.
"Good," she affirms, and takes the cup back from him. She returns briefly to the bathroom and fills it again. When she comes back he is lying down, wrapped in the covering she provided. She leaves the cup for him on the bed stand and instructs him to drink more if he wakes up in the night.
"'K boss," he mumbles, more than half asleep already, and then, "I love you."
Her hands freeze in the act of smoothing his unruly bangs over his forehead. "Yeah," she says softly, "Love you too."
He is suddenly wide awake, his eyes staring at her in near comic disbelief. "You do?" he gasps, amazed.
"Of course, you bloody moron," she answers testily, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Wouldn't be here if I didn't."
"Oh," he whispers, considering. A strange, faraway look passes over his features like a low cloud over the horizon. "Oh," he says again, before sinking back down onto his pillow. When it becomes clear he's never going to finish his thought, she steps away, heading for the exit.
"Rose," he calls plaintively from the bed, and it's the first time he's used her name all evening. She turns towards him and can just make out his prone form in the light beaming in from the hallway. "Are we still gonna be friends tomorrow?"
The sigh that forces its way out of her chest is short and light and more than half a laugh. "Yeah," she says, smiling despite herself, "'Course we are."
"Too bad," he groans back, and before she can get another word in to correct him, he is fast asleep.