"Don't you want me?" Rose murmured softly.
His head abruptly whipped around to face her and he swallowed thickly. Staring at her in shock, he whispered, "What?"
She bit her lip and met his stare evenly. "Don't you want me?" she repeated, lifting her left shoulder in a half-shrug.
"Want you?" he echoed, gulping. "What do you mean?" Is this it? Is it finally happening? Does she mean...?
Rose sighed. "You know exactly what I mean. We've been stranded here for a couple of weeks now. Living in such a small flat, together. Sometimes I feel like it's..." she trailed off, and hugged her knees to her chest again, dropping her head to hide her embarrassment. "I've got this all wrong, haven't I?" she muttered. Oh god. I won't be able to bear it if he laughs at me, she thought anxiously.
The Doctor continued to stare at her in bewilderment, disbelieving this conversation was finally arising, but managed to stutter out, "S -sometimes you feel like it's...what?" Please, please oh please say what I want you to say.
She lifted her head again and stared pointedly at the television, refusing to look him in the eye. "I thought, maybe, that this – us, being stuck here for a bit – I thought it might be, you know. The catalyst."
"The catalyst?" he repeated, his pulse racing.
"Mmm. 'Cos we've been quite...close, and I thought maybe that had changed things. Tonight, I thought..."
His mouth was dry as he croaked out, "You thought...?"
When she didn't respond, he reached out and placed his hand at her cheek, gently urging her to face him. "You thought?" he prompted again. I am seriously going to have a hearts attack if she doesn't answer me soon...
Her gaze flickered down to his mouth and back to his eyes quickly; but not quick enough for him not to notice. His eyes widened in hope; he kept his hand at her cheek.
"It doesn't matter," she said, her voice breaking. She cleared her throat, and asserted more firmly, "It doesn't matter, just forget I said anything."
"Rose," he replied softly. "I don't think..."
"I know," she assured him, nodding; his palm was cool against her skin and when she moved her head it slid slightly into her hair, covering her ear. He left it there, fingertips caressing slightly, and she suppressed a shiver. "It would be...weird."
The Doctor's brow furrowed in confusion. "What would be weird?" he asked. It wouldn't be weird! What are you thinking, this is us. Why would it be weird? I don't think it would be weird. Please don't think it would be weird...
Rose frowned back at him. "Well. You know. The thing I was talking about."
"You didn't tell me what it was you were talking about," he retorted.
"No, but you know," she insisted. "You know what I meant."
He nodded but very slightly, removing his hand from her face and dropping it to her knee, poking her hand that was resting there and enticing her to entwine her fingers with his. Then, he shifted, moving so that he was kneeling in front of her.
Her mouth opened to question his movements, but he silenced her with a Look. Said Look – all dark eyes, impossibly deep - also increased her heart rate tenfold, and she bit the inside of her cheek in surprise.
What's he doing? she thought.
The Doctor then stood, pulling her up with him whilst reaching into his pocket and locating his sonic screwdriver. Wrapping one arm around her waist to draw her closer, he extended his other out to point the sonic at the stereo; a soft melody began to play in the room once more. He chucked the sonic onto the sofa and looped his other arm around Rose too, his hand splaying across her back to push them together, chest to chest.
Oh. That's what he's doing.
Taking his lead, Rose brought her arms underneath his to grasp the back of his shoulders, leaning closer and beginning to smile into his neck as he slowly swayed them side to side. She was so lost in the feel of being wrapped up in his arms that she gave a startled squeak when he spoke, earning her an amused look that she could not see.
"It's been a strange few weeks, I suppose," he announced, his lips brushing against her hair as he spoke. He grinned when she jumped at the sound of his voice, and only just resisted the urge to press his lips to her temple. He cleared his throat. "You're probably...confused," he said next, choosing his words carefully.
Slowly, the smile slid off Rose's face. "What do you mean?" she mumbled, disheartened again.
"Weeelll," he drawled, turning them full circle, his knee probing between her legs as he guided her steps in time with the music. "We've not been stuck in the same place for quite this long before, not without the chance to escape in the TARDIS." And it has been surprisingly...wonderful...
"Mmm," she agreed absently, wondering where he was going with this conversation.
"But," he continued, increasing their pace simultaneously with the music. "You are gravely mistaken if you think that being trapped here with you has changed me, per se."
Rose pushed her forehead harder into his shoulder and blinked back tears. "Right," she breathed out shakily, praying he didn't notice.
"Because maybe you think that this has been the catalyst for something uh, different, and I suppose in a way it is, but it isn't, not really," he murmured, slowing them down again. His hand trailed down her bare back and rested just above her bum.
Her breath hitched in spite of his words; his hand belied his statement. "Right," she said again, feeling dizzy and wishing he'd stop with the mixed signals.
"You, in this dress," he whispered now, his breath ghosting over the shell of her ear. His other arm tightened his hold of her and he tried to focus on his words, not on what she felt like pressed against him. "It doesn't tempt me any more than usual. Because I am tempted, Rose. All the time."
Her head came up in surprise and her hair brushed against his chin. "What?"
"So if you think you need all this," he continued gesturing around them at the candles and then at her dress again, his hand sliding an inch lower and now definitively where it shouldn't (should) be. "To entice me in, then you're wrong. It's lovely, and sexy...but then, you always are. To me."
He nuzzled her ear, then, and Rose swallowed, clutching onto him more forcefully in an effort to stand up straight; her legs were rapidly becoming of no use to her, and it was lucky that the Doctor could guide her dance steps for her with his steady hold. "Am I," she breathed against his neck, not quite a question. Oh god. Oh god. Oh god.
"Yeah," he shivered. "You enticed me in way back," he admitted, his voice dropping low. Oh so long ago...
Her smile started to return, decidedly more wicked, this time, and she giggled against his jaw as she moved her head to look at him. "Before we came to Kalo?"
"Before I became a new man," he corrected, staring down at her adoringly. His arm left its place around her waist so that he could brush her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "It's not the circumstances, Rose, not really," he told her gently, hoping she understood. He wasn't being like this with her because he was stuck here and bored and had nothing better to do. It meant something, had always meant something, it was only now that he'd had the chance to see how she felt that he had the chance to confess all this, and he wanted her to believe that. "It's you. It's always you," he finished, a lump in his throat.
Rose smiled beautifully and stood on her tip-toes to press a soft, warm kiss to his lips. "Good," she murmured as she pulled back.
His lips quirked upwards. "Rose," he started, but she interrupted him before he could finish.
"That night. That first night," she whispered, her courage building. "You were dreaming. And the way you were with me after, I started to think that it was, you know, about me," she confessed, blushing. "But whenever I mention anything about that sort of thing, you go all oblivious. Act as though you don't have a clue, like you did earlier. And then the next second you're flirting again. And then the next, you're back to being oblivious." She paused, steadying herself for his answer. "So, tell me, Doctor. What exactly have I enticed you in to do?"
The Doctor's eyebrows rose at her question, and he lifted his hand to tug nervously at his ear, but she caught it in hers, and guided it to her hip. Watching her carefully, he realised he owed her an answer. A proper answer.
"Lots of things," he murmured. He closed his eyes and inhaled a deep breath, before releasing it as he opened them again. "Of course I was dreaming about you. I constantly dream about you. You've enticed me into feelings and thoughts I haven't had in, ooh, feels like ever, might be ever, actually, because I don't remember ever wanting - " he cut himself off, shook his head at himself. "No, needing someone so much."
After this confession, all Rose could hear was her pulse beating irrevocably hard in her veins, and the laughter bubbling up within her. Stumbling a little on her unsteady feet, she stepped backwards and fell onto the sofa, clutching her stomach and giggling happily to herself.
Oh. My. God...was all she could think.
The Doctor, meanwhile, remained standing, dumbfounded. "Uh, Rose." He coughed pointedly. "Rose?" he tried again. "Sorry, look, can I just ask...why are you laughing? It's awfully insulting, you know, after I just declared my undying...need for you."
Rose got her hysterics under control and schooled her expression into one of abject apology. "I'm sorry, Doctor, it's not...I don't...I'm not laughing at you."
"Feels like it," he retorted sarcastically. He shifted awkwardly on his feet, and was relieved at Rose's invitation when she patted the space next to her, immediately flopping down and flinging his arm around her shoulder.
Smiling into his chest, she curled into him. "I'm sorry," she apologised sweetly. "I just, I can't believe it. All this time, I've been worrying, thinking I'm the only one feeling so...so..." she trailed off as he looked at her questioningly.
"So...?" he prompted, smirking.
Rose grinned in that mischievous way of hers, and in an instant, she had swung herself onto his lap. He gasped in surprise, but his hands almost instantly flew to her hips to keep her there. She ran her hands through his hair and was delighted as his eyes fluttered shut.
"You know," she pondered quietly. "I thought once that you were unconsciously determined to kill me with unresolved sexual tension."
His eyes opened swiftly and he gaped at her. "Yeah? Now why would I do that?" he asked, once he'd recovered his surprise. "I'd be killing myself in the process."
She shifted closer, and his grip on her hips tightened. "Well, you're an idiot, remember? You do silly things that you don't really want to do." Her voice grew quieter still, contemplative. "But this?" she inquired gently. "You do want to do this, yeah? Or have I misread things again?"
"Yeah, Rose?" he replied sarcastically, "I can't see you misreading that, somehow." He pointedly glanced down between them, at the precarious position where she was sitting. Namely, on top of a very specific part of his anatomy that was doing its very best to let her know exactly what it wanted.
Rose shrugged, suppressing a satisfied grin. "Well, who knows with you, eh? I've never done this sort of thing with a Time Lord before. I might need to learn to, uh, read things differently. You are Mr Mixed Signals, after all."
"I've never done 'this sort of thing' with a human before," he retorted. "And not very often with anyone else, so I might need to learn a lot of things full stop."
She smiled, resting her hands over his chest, feeling the frantic beat of his hearts beneath her palms. "You're nervous," she whispered, her tone a little like awe.
"Well, obviously," he whispered back. "This is bloody terrifying."
Rose giggled. "I'm not that scary, am I?"
"Yes," he replied, honestly. "Especially as earlier you said it would be weird if we...you know."
Rose bit her lip. "I was lying. It won't be weird."
"I know," he replied. "And I want things to be..."
He swallowed heavily, very embarrassed. "Perfect," he mumbled under his breath. He coughed meaningfully, to dispel his brief humiliation, and was relieved when she didn't laugh at him again.
"Oh," she breathed wistfully, touched. "You're so..."
"What?" he urged.
She watched her hands smooth over his chest as she spoke, not wanting to meet his eye. "I kind of thought, if we ever...you know...that it would be a one-time thing, in a rush, caught up in the moment of being reunited after I almost got killed or something. Or if we were stuck in a prison cell preparing to face our execution and just had one last night together. Or...something."
"What, against a random wall, or something?" he teased, putting his hands over hers and squeezing.
She rolled her eyes, but couldn't hide the way she flushed scarlet at his words. "Maybe."
"Weeelll, we could do that too," he offered, with a wide grin.
She looked at him, ignoring her blushing cheeks. "I never realised you'd be so...conscious of it. Like, not running away. It's like, you're actually planning it or whatever, it's not..." she trailed off, trying to find the right word.
"Spontaneous?" he supplied, frowning a little. Is that what she would have preferred? More spontaneity? he thought. Bugger. I'm rubbish at this.
"Well yeah, but no, that's not... I meant, like..." She took a deep breath. "It's as if we've accepted it's going to happen, so we can't regret it and pretend it was just because of the heat of the moment, or blame it on the atmosphere or the adrenalin or whatever," she finished.
"Is that how you would've preferred it to be?" he asked her, concerned, anxious.
"No!" she said hurriedly. "No, of course not; I'm glad it's this way. I want it to be perfect, too. I'm just surprised that you're letting us do this."
He smiled warmly, and cradled her face in his hands. "I'm tired of pretending, Rose. I don't think I can stand not giving in anymore." He trailed his gaze over her. "You're so beautiful," he murmured. "And I can't resist you any longer." He met her eye again. "And I'm not going to abandon you," he said softly. "Not ever."
Rose beamed at him, finally feeling reassured that he would carry this through to the end. "Good."
A/N: Thank you all so much for your reviews so far. I'm incredibly proud of the amount of reviews received for this, and can't quite believe my luck, to be honest. You are all so wonderful for sticking with this despite the long waits between updates. Quick question...where should the next chapter take them? How much of their next actions do you want to, ahem, know the details of? I'm just asking so that I don't disappoint...(and also, regarding the T rating, not sure what sort of, um, description should be the limit...?) feedback on this would be greatly appreciated :D much love, laura xxx