He desperately wanted her to wake up. Needed her to wake up. The poison from the flower couldn't have killed her so soon. No. She would wake up. Wouldn't she? He'd see her beautiful brown eyes again.
Time had never passed more slowly. The Doctor's mind drifted to earlier that day as he silently cursed himself. It was all his fault, wasn't it? He'd rather pair all the socks in the world than experience this for a moment longer.
Something he would never get used to: The feeling in his gut when he thought he was losing someone. When he actually was losing someone. When he blamed himself for it. And somehow, this time it felt worse than ever before. That's why he couldn't say it. At least, that's what he told himself. An overwhelming sense of loneliness came over him.
He wanted to talk to her, more for his benefit than Rose's. All he had done up to that point was think. Thinking wasn't getting him anywhere. In fact, thinking made it worse. Suppose he did lose her. She would die without hearing how he felt.
Glassy eyed and unsure, he took a deep breath.
"You know, I don't even know how long it's been since I felt this way about you. I suppose I knew there was something when I asked you to come with me. Twice. Then we ran. And it was brilliant, I mean that." He gave a small laugh, "And you slowly became my undoing."
"You don't remember our first kiss, do you? I mean, not the one where you were possessed by Cassandra or the one after I'd been cast in stone. Not that I really count them anyway, but before that. You never really asked why I regenerated apart from me absorbing the time vortex. When you walked out of the TARDIS all Bad Wolf and glowy and powerful it truly frightened me but I was in so much awe at the same time. And you did it. You beat the Daleks. But the vortex was too much for you so I absorbed it by kissing you. That was, technically speaking of course, our first kiss. Although I never told you. Partially because you never asked but mostly because I never imagined anything like this could ever happen."
His mind flashed through all the times he'd felt like he'd completely lost his chance at her. Their time at the school with Sarah Jane seemed to jump out at him.
"I felt some kind of pain I haven't felt in a very long time when you thought I'd just leave you behind one day. That is something I don't think I could ever do."
He unconsciously moved his hand to hers, not noticing the lack of shuddering on Rose's part.
"But the day it happened. The day it actually happened. I wish you could've heard the things running through my head. Well actually, I don't. They were a bit frantic. It was just ... something about seeing you without a face. Hearing you were left in the street. When I finally got you back I momentarily lost control. I really had no intention of kissing you that day. And I know it was over in an instant, you have no idea how quickly I realized what was happening before I pulled away, but it was like fireworks. That feeling is permanently burned into my brain. And then you responded rather ... well rather enthusiastically, actually. Almost toppled over when you leaped at me."
He laughed softly at the memory.
"And I know you know."
His voice was barely above a whisper now.
"But I don't think you know how much. I don't even know how much sometimes. It amazes me every day. The whole universe is your backyard, you travel about being generally amazing and a human can still bring you to your knees. You know why it's so hard for me? Because I know one day I'll lose you. And that's the part of us I focus on in this big head full of time and space and everything. But what if that day was today?"
A sad smile spread across the Doctor's face.
He swallowed hard and said, "I love you, Rose Tyler. I really and truly do."
Rose's hand squeezed tight on his own, startling the Doctor from his thoughts.
The Doctor's eyes, wide with relief, shock, happiness, love and a million other emotions, darted up to meet hers.
"Fireworks. I see them too."
A look of disbelief broke over his face.
"Really, I do."
The disbelief turned to happiness.
"How much of that were you awake for?"
"Well I may have woken up when you grabbed my hand."
"But I didn't want to stop you talking."
Rose sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed to face him properly, a beaming smile on her face.
"I'm sorry," he said plainly.
"... for almost killing you? How are you not cross with me?"
"S'not really your fault. Hard to be mad at someone who just said they love you, anyway."
"Well I guess that's true. But what if I were to do this?"
Rose laughed as the Doctor swung her off the bed and dipped her close to the floor before kissing her.
"If you think I'd ever be angry at that, you're mad! But maybe we should make deals about the laundry more often if this is how it ends up."
He lifted her upright.
"And all the stuff that happened in between? Everything that happened to you today?"
"The runnin', the adventure, the imminent danger. S'just our life, isn't it?"
"That it is! Shall we get back to it? If you're feeling okay, that is."
"Of course. But this time, I'm wearin' pants."
The Doctor couldn't help but smirk at her remark as he watched Rose turn the corner to change in her room.
He could hear her echoing footsteps running back towards him.
"I really do love you."
Rose stood in front of him, shining bright as ever, her tongue poking from behind her smile.
"I love you, too."