One Man, One Woman

"OW! Ow ow ow ow OW!" Rose yelped.

"Rose! Rose. ROSE. Sit STILL. I can't help you if you're gonna wriggle around – just – wait! No. No, no, no. No, sit! Stay!" he commanded, grabbing a hold of one of her hips with his left hand, keeping her in place.

"I'm not. A. Bloody. DOG!"

"No, but you are a stubborn little minx," he retorted hotly. She snatched the object of her pain out of his right hand and he glared at her. "Oi! No, Rose. Now give me that back! Hand it over. Now."

"But it hurts," she complained, wincing as pain shot up her leg again.

His expression softened. "I know. I'm sorry, Rose. But I'm just trying to see what's wrong with you," he said quietly. "Let me do a quick scan for broken bones and then we can sort you out, alright?"

Reluctantly, Rose gave him back his sonic screwdriver. "Don't poke me with it, this time. We know that something is wrong with my ankle, 'cos I'm in flipping agony, you don't have to poke it to know that!"

He smiled sheepishly, and let the tool hover just above her ankle, the blue light illuminating it brightly. "Sorry. Right, let's see...nope, not broken. Sprained pretty badly, though. I don't have any bandages on me or anything, either. You won't be able to walk on it for awhile."

Rose groaned. "Great. Just great. So now I'm gonna be stuck here, in this rotten old cave, stinking like something a cat threw up, for ages, while you swan off exploring this place without me. Great. Fun times ahead, go me," she grumbled.

He sighed, and ran the sonic screwdriver down the arch of her bare foot to distract her from whining. It had the desired effect; Rose, whose feet the Doctor knew to be very ticklish, starting giggling madly.

"Oh no! No, stop! Stop it!" she squealed, trying to wiggle away from him; unable to do so lest she move her ankle and it start throbbing painfully again.

"Can you stop moaning, then?" he requested of her pointedly, refusing to give up his torture until she acquiesced to his demand.

"Yes, yes, whatever you want, just stop, please!" she laughed.

He did, and pocketed his sonic screwdriver, staring at her thoughtfully. Whatever I want, eh? Weeellll.

"What?" she said self-consciously, when he'd been watching her without saying anything for several long moments.

"Nothing," he grinned crookedly. He shifted until he was sitting next to her, his back against the cavern wall. "Just marvelling at the way you always seem to find trouble, even when we're visiting a perfectly friendly tribe on a peaceful planet."

"Me?" she retorted, starting to laugh again in disbelief. "You can talk!"

"Wasn't my fault this time, though, was it?" he smiled smugly. "All down to you, this one. Thank goodness. I'd be more sympathetic if it was because of me you got hurt - "

" – yeah, and you'd be miserable, wallowing in guilt, too," she added, smiling at him softly as she caught his hand in hers.

He squeezed her hand back tightly. "Exactly. But this time, it's all your fault, and I don't feel remotely responsible." He was staring at the opposite wall, refusing to meet her gaze.

"No?" she asked innocently, knowing he was kidding himself. She hated the way he always, always blamed himself, for whatever it was that happened in their life. And she knew that really, he was concerned about her, even though he was trying not to show it.

"Nope!" he assured her, popping the 'p.' "Not my fault you wandered off and got stuck in a mud pit."

"You don't feel the tiniest bit sorry for me, sprained ankle and muddy clothes and all?"

"Nope," he repeated, quieter now, his certainty in the truthfulness of his answer diminishing. He hated it when she was in pain; would give anything to prevent her from being in pain. Anything.

Maybe if he kept her talking it'd distract her from it. He opened his mouth to speak but she beat him to it.

"So, are you gonna leave me here, then?"

He turned his head quickly, frown firmly on his face. "Of course not," he answered hotly, like she'd just insulted him.

"But like you said, it's my fault." Her eyes twinkled dangerously at him, and he could tell now that she was teasing him. "I'd understand it if you thought me a liability. If you thought I'd only get in the way..."

"Rose," he said, and it came out harsher than he meant; she was only winding him up, he knew that. But there was something there, something hidden beneath all that bravado that she defended herself with, that hinted at a ridiculous glimmer of doubt. He needed to extinguish that irrational uncertainty immediately.

"I mean, how am I gonna run around the universe now, eh? And you'll get ever so bored, sitting here doing nothing until I can walk again..."

"Your ankle will get better, Rose. And even if it didn't..." He coughed awkwardly. "Well, suffice to say, I'm not going to abandon you just because you got yourself injured."

"You'd rather be out there than sitting still in here, though, admit it," she informed him sagely, throwing him a daft little wink.

"Of course I wouldn't," he replied firmly. He wasn't going to play her game and brush this aside with light-hearted remarks. He was going to be deadly serious, so that for once, there would be no misunderstandings between them.

Rose's eyebrow arched in surprise. "No?"

"No. I'd always rather be with you, in whatever circumstances, than not with you," he confessed to her gently, staring deep into her eyes.

"Oh," she exhaled roughly, baffled by his sincerity; her argument now lost. She averted her eyes from his and fiddled with the hem of her jumper absently. "But...but it's boring. And...and I smell of rotten fish because of that stupid quick-mud. And...and I'm a bit moody today, 'cos on top of this ankle business, I'm due my - "

"Ahem," he coughed, interrupting her. "Yes, I know that."

"You what?" she gasped.

The Doctor's cheeks tinged pink as she looked at him in alarm. "Well. I...um...yes, well. I sort of...can tell..."

"You can tell when a woman's..."

"No! Not just any random woman!" he exclaimed, looking scandalised by the notion. "Just you." Her eyebrows met her hairline and then he realised that him saying that probably made things ten times worse.

She spluttered. "How – wha – why?" she settled on.

He sniffed nonchalantly, like it was obvious. "We live together. You – your...uh, body and all its, um, patterns...well, you're always around. I'm bound to pick up on it. Superior senses, remember." Especially where you are concerned.

She stared at him sceptically. "It's a bit..."

"Odd, yes, I know. Sorry. Alien. Can't help that," he said, offering her a sheepish, nervous smile.

"No, it's alright," she said, shaking her head, not wanting him to feel guilty over it. "Just...unexpected, that's all. And. Well. Embarrassing, quite frankly. For me, I mean." She giggled nervously.

"There's no need to be embarrassed," he replied softly, his thumb tenderly stroking the back of her hand. "I'm sure we know an awful lot about each other that other people don't."

Rose's smile turned wicked. "Yep. For instance, I know that you sing Dancing Queen in the shower! I knew you were a secret Abba fan, ever since you adamantly refused to come to see them at Wembley with me! It was a double bluff so that I wouldn't work out that you've already been six times, in other regenerations, and didn't wanna risk bumping into yourself again!"

The Doctor's face flushed bright red with the newfound knowledge that Rose had sussed him out months ago.

She laughed loudly at his horrified expression. "Yep, there's no use keeping secrets from me, Doctor. I'll always find them out in the end!"

"But. But -! I...oh, whatever," he sighed. "I don't care!"

"Good. There's nothing to be embarrassed about," Rose echoed. She rested her head on his shoulder, enjoying their close proximity and the way he unconsciously tilted his own head to rest above hers.

"Which other secrets of mine have you discovered then, Rose Tyler?" he mumbled softly, his lips moving against her hair.

"What, apart from the DVD of Mamma Mia that's hidden inside the True Lies case?" she smirked.

He growled at that, making her giggle even harder. "Stop making me sound so...un-masculine."

"Well, if you do prefer to use my pink towel instead of your own blue one..." she continued, wistfully recalling the incident of her catching him walking out of their shared bathroom with her hot pink towel slung low on his hips.

"I left mine in my bedroom by mistake! Yours was the only one in the bathroom to hand!" he replied defensively. And it smells really nice. All...Rose-ish. Like your pillow. Not that I've stolen your pillow or anything. Pfft, as if. Ahem.

"And I've seen you baking."

Silence.

Then -

"Rose, you have not seen me baking," he insisted hesitantly, enunciating the word in a way that told her exactly what he thought of the notion and all of the domestic connotations it had. Namely, that he hated it.

Which he evidently didn't, because she'd seen him, with her own very eyes, late one night last week when she got up, unable to sleep because of the delicious smell of cake that had seeped into her bedroom. She hadn't said anything at the time; only muffled a laugh with her hand over her mouth as she stepped away from the sight of the Doctor in an apron, stirring a bowl of cake mixture whilst examining a box of ball bearings to check their edibility; icing sugar everywhere, even on his nose, which she found insanely adorable. She had refrained from teasing him then, however, knowing that she could use this inside information for nefarious purposes such as blackmail or bribery at a later date.

The later date had now arrived, apparently. "I so have. Don't deny it. You've got a nice, girly little hobby there, Doctor."

He huffed, admitting defeat. Then, in a small voice, he murmured, "I was just practising."

"What do you mean?"

"It's your birthday in a fortnight. Thought I'd better learn to bake before then, or else you wouldn't get a birthday cake. And everyone deserves a cake on their birthday. Especially you."

Rose sat up slowly, turning to face him. "You...that's...that's the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for me before," she told him gratefully, her eyes wide with surprise. She shifted slightly, wincing at the brief pain her movement elicited in her ankle, moving to sit in front of him rather than beside him, so that she could see him properly. She didn't really register the fact that she was now effectively sitting between his legs, which he had unconsciously moved apart to make way for her.

"Yes, well," he coughed awkwardly.

"You know, you could've just taken us to Mum's and let her worry about buying me one from Tesco or something," she smiled.

"Where's the thought in that, though? Anyone can do that; I wanted to do something more meaningful -" he blurted, before swiftly cutting himself off. "Er, I mean..." He cleared his throat nervously.

"Thanks, Doctor," she murmured softly.

"Wait 'til you've tasted it before you thank me," he snorted. "I think I've just about got the hang of it. I just need to make sure I don't forget to take it out on time."

"You're so adorable," Rose cooed, reaching up to squeeze his cheek.

"Well, that's the first time anyone's called me that," he chuckled, catching her hand before she could pull it away. Without really realising what he was doing, he pressed a quick kiss to her wrist.

Rose blinked at him for a few moments, and he stared back at her stock still; both silently wondering where that little display of affection had come from.

He still hadn't dropped her hand. Nevertheless, he broke the silence first. "How's your ankle feeling?" he whispered. And even that whisper seemed too loud in the tense atmosphere that had clouded them within the dimly lit cave in which they sat.

"It's - " she whispered back, but her throat felt dry, so she swallowed thickly before restarting, "It's not as bad as it was, thanks. Hardly noticing the pain anymore. Thanks for distracting me from it."

"No problem," he murmured, his voice still pitched low. He saw Rose shiver and assumed she was cold. "Are you alright? Shall we try and get back to the TARDIS? I could...carry you, or..."

"It's a long way back to the TARDIS, Doctor," she replied. "I'd do your back in. I'm heavier than I look."

"No you aren't. I carried you from the mud pit to here alright, didn't I?" He paused and she shrugged indifferently. "Anyway, I'm stronger than I look," he protested.

"I'd rather stay here," she admitted coyly.

"I didn't think you liked it here. Rotten old cave, isn't that what you called it?"

"The company's good, though," she smiled softly.

"Well of course, but you'd have that company back on the TARDIS, too."

"Would I though?" she grinned, feigning confidence. "Maybe that company would hide under the console for three hours 'fixing' things until the electricity in the air had subsided and he felt he was safe to face his best friend again."

The Doctor exhaled roughly. "Or maybe that would be pretty stupid of him, considering that he's learnt from experience that the electricity in the air never subsides anyway, where he and his best friend are concerned, so what would be the point?" he countered.

Rose found she could not reply to that. She bit her lip, hard, to stop a huge grin taking over her face and baring her feelings to him in their sincerest form. "Maybe," she agreed, shrugging.

He still hadn't dropped her hand.

"Rose..." he began quietly.

"Yeah, Doctor?"

"I..." he faltered. Switched topics at the last moment, "I'm sorry you got hurt today."

"You don't need to be," she sighed. "You said yourself, it wasn't your fault - it was mine."

"I'm supposed to look after you. That makes it my job for it to be my fault."

"Now you sound just like my Dad," Rose smiled, a lump coming to her throat. At his furrowed brow and troubled expression at her statement, she clarified, "That's more or less what he said, before he..."

The Doctor let out a long breath. "I'm not your Dad, Rose."

"I know that, silly."

"What I mean is, I'm not...I don't...I don't look after you because I think of you like...well, like a daughter, I - "

Rose giggled loudly, and swallowed past the lump in her throat. "God, I know. I'd be pretty freaked out if you did, with the way you look at me!"

The Doctor froze. "The way I look at you?" he squeaked.

She smiled indulgently. "I know all your secrets, remember?"

His grip on her hand at his cheek loosened, and she sneaked it free to trail down to his chest, splaying her palm until her fingertips rested over each of his hearts, which were beating frantically, fearfully.

"I'm not completely thick," she whispered, staring at her hand on his chest, watching it rise and fall with every shuddering, careful inhale of oxygen. "I catch it sometimes."

"C-catch what?" he stuttered, trying to catch his breath as she leaned closer.

"The look in your eyes. Sometimes I think I just imagine it – wishful thinking and all that jazz. But then sometimes there's no denying it." She lifted her gaze to meet his again, and saw how panicked he looked. "I think, maybe, you try and hide it, 'cos you think...well, I dunno what you think. Maybe you think it's too soon, or just plain wrong, or undeserved, or irrational. Maybe you think we're too different. Maybe you think it'll only end in tears. Do you wanna know what I think?"

His hands were hovering over her waist, wanting to hold her, pull her closer, but afraid of what would happen if he did. He avoided answering her question for a moment, contemplating his options. If he said yes, he might just die. If he said no, she'd tell him anyway, and he still might just die. In a good way or a bad way, he wasn't really sure; it depended on what the hell she was thinking. Damn, he really wanted to know, now.

"Yes," he answered breathlessly. He gave in and let his hands settle on her waist regardless of his impending doom, or perhaps because of it.

She took in a deep breath, and summoned all her courage to say, "I think that sometimes, despite all those reasons that tell you that you shouldn't...sometimes, you want to kiss me." She immediately bit her lip, scared of his response but needing to know if she was right in her assumptions.

The slight shake of his head made her heart sink.

"No, Rose," he whispered. "All the time."

Her heart lifted again. "What?"

"All the time," he repeated, a little louder. He tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear. "I want to kiss you all the time."

Her breath hitched and she moved her head infinitesimally closer to his. "Me too," she whispered. Then, she finally closed the gap between them and met his lips with hers.

He let himself have a few moments, a few wonderful, glorious, passionate moments of kissing her back, before -

"Rose," he murmured insistently, pulling back slightly but not too far, knowing he should push her away completely but unable to do so. "Rose, we can't." He looked at her seriously, deep into her eyes, and she stared back at him unblinkingly, arching an eyebrow. He cleared his throat. "Well. Well, we shouldn't..." he amended, trailing off, biting the inside of his cheek.

"I don't care," she informed him grandly, pressing another kiss to his lips.

He didn't respond to her kiss this time, and, disappointed with his lack of enthusiasm, she pulled back.

"Doctor, seriously. What's your problem?" she asked gently.

He sighed heavily, tugging at his ear and staring at her shoulder despondently. Then, after a few moments, he met her gaze again, swallowing nervously. "I don't want to lose you," he confessed quietly.

Rose's eyes widened. "Why would you think you're gonna lose me?" she asked in bewilderment.

His brow furrowed as he looked at her helplessly. "Because I'm scared I'm going to mess this up."

She rested both her hands on his chest, pushing him slightly, as if making her mark on time and moulding her palms to his hearts forever. "Doctor," she murmured.

He stared down at her, patient but scared. So very scared. "Yeah?"

"You're not the only one who's afraid." She paused, biting her lip. "Thing is, I sort of..."

"Sort of what?" he asked hurriedly, tilting his head closer to hers again.

"Well. Um...well. Well, I... Oh." She huffed in annoyance at herself, that she couldn't get the words she thought he really, truly, deserved to hear out of her mouth. "Sorry," she smiled sheepishly, absent-mindedly tightening her hands around the lapels of his jacket. "I just..."

"What is it?" he prompted gently.

"You're not going to lose me," she told him firmly. "Because I love you." At his wide-eyed stare and silent response, Rose inhaled deeply. "There. I've said it. So there's really nothing you can do to persuade me that we shouldn't – mmph," she was cut off, the rest of her sentence a mere muffle, as he abruptly seized her face in his hands and pulled her lips to his, kissing her firmly.

Her hands flew to his hair and she ruffled it wildly, pulling herself up and closer to him.

Of course, she'd slightly forgotten about her ankle at this point.

"Ow!" Rose cried, breaking the kiss.

The Doctor's eyes widened in alarm. "What? Are you okay? What's wrong?"

"Ankle," she winced, lifting her leg with both her hands to relieve the pressure she'd inadvertently caused by leaning her weight on it. She smiled up at him apologetically. "Forgot."

He couldn't help but chuckle at the sheepish look on her face. "Oh, Rose. Only you'd forget you had a sprained ankle and immediately try and get back to physical activity straight away," he smirked.

She raised an eyebrow. "Physical activity, eh?"

He chuckled some more, reaching for her leg. "Here, let me have a look."

Being quite flexible, Rose stayed sat where she was – namely, half in the Doctor's lap – and bent her knee, resting her bare foot on his thigh. His hands skimmed over her ankle delicately, careful not to poke and prod like he'd done earlier. Rose shivered at his light touch, a tingly feeling travelling up her spine.

She leant her head back to rest in the crook of the Doctor's neck, snuggling to press her back to his front as she watched him inspect her ankle with his fingers. She had a suspicion that he wasn't really doing anything medical at this point.

That suspicion grew exponentially when his hand left her ankle to slide up her calf, his fingertips pressing more firmly into her dirt-covered skin as they travelled up to her knee. "Shame about the mud," she giggled, lamenting the fact she wore a skirt today; if she'd been wearing jeans, at least her skin would be clean. And jeans could be removed. "Surprised you wanna touch me, actually. I must reek - "

"Don't care," he murmured, his breath ghosting over her temple. He wrapped his free arm around her waist and held her tightly against him. His hand on her knee wandered an inch higher, brushing against the hem of her denim skirt.

She tried to steady her breathing. "Doctor..." she said warningly.

"What?" he replied innocently, and she could tell he had his 'I didn't do anything' expression on his face, even though she wasn't looking at him.

"Stop it."

"I'm not doing anything!" he protested.

"If you move your hand one centimetre further up, it'll be underneath my skirt."

"You say that like it's a bad thing," he chuckled.

"Under normal circumstances it wouldn't be, but right now, I'm covered in this planet's vilest form of mud, and I need a nice, hot shower to get clean."

"Thought you didn't want to leave this cave," he smirked.

"Changed my mind." She looked up at him. "Think you can manage giving me a piggyback to the TARDIS? There's a hot shower with a hot woman on offer at the end..." she grinned, laughing at herself.

He beamed at her, taking her offer quite seriously. "Oh yes. Definitely."

In one fluid movement, he somehow manoeuvred them so that Rose was sprawled against his chest, her legs wrapped securely around his waist, his hands gripping her thighs, her arms around his neck.

"Um, Doctor. I said piggyback," she giggled.

"Did you?" he asked, mock-gasping. "Oops. Ah well, never mind. Much easier to carry you like this, anyway."

"As long as your self-control can make it, Doctor," she grinned.

"Weeellll, I have got a great incentive," he grinned back.