A/N: Apologies in advance for the short length of this chapter, but there is more to come and I promise I'm working on it. I hope you are still enjoying this story, and thank you enormously for the wonderful reviews you've kindly given me x

Chapter 8

Once she'd returned and he'd topped up their glasses, the Doctor manoeuvred Rose to sit between his legs as they lay lengthways on the sofa. She snuggled back into him, her books on her lap, and he leisurely played with her hair as she spoke of her time without him.

"And this Paulo," the Doctor interrupted, after hearing this interesting tale of a stolen painting, a giant mouse-like creature and a – to quote Rose – 'fit Italian' and how he had such an 'adventurous spirit' that the Doctor would've 'admired.' "Was he, by any chance, to stick around long?"

Rose turned her head to look at the Doctor steadily. "After we recovered the painting and defeated the Bojjaka, he ran off with a leggy museum curate, believe it or not."

"Oh," the Doctor replied, trying not to sound too smug. "So...you and him...?"

"I never had sex with him, Doctor," she sighed, mock-exasperatedly, smothering a laugh.

He couldn't hide the smile that graced his lips at that revelation. "Oh, okay," he shrugged innocently.

"Then there was Philip," she continued.

He huffed. "Don't you have any female friends?"

Rose thought it best to avoid answering that, seeing as the answer wasn't particularly in the affirmative. "He was kind of cute, but also a bit of a wimp. Helped me out in Prague, but freaked out when he realised that it wasn't actually all a big joke."

The Doctor raised an eyebrow.

Rose bit her lip. "He thought he was being pranked. You know? Like a secret camera show..."

"Pah!" the Doctor laughed. "You don't half pick 'em, Rose Tyler."

"Well," she shrugged.

He grinned. "So? Anyone else?"

"Yep. Slayed a dragon in Pierrefonds with a bloke named Patrick. Well, I say slayed...I didn't actually kill it. Obviously. We actually just fed it candyfloss, and it flew quite happily away. But slayed sounds more knight-ish, and there was a jousting competition going on at the time, so it was all quite medieval."

"I think the proper word for the past tense of slay is slew, Rose," he informed her wisely. She rolled her eyes. He wrinkled his nose then, considering, "Patrick?" he asked. "Do all your...huh, companions...begin with the letter 'p?'"

"Nah, I just renamed him for the purpose of the story. Thought you might appreciate the alliteration. He was actually called Gary."

"Oh," the Doctor smiled, relieved. "For a minute there I thought you had a fetish."

"I do have a fetish, but it's got nothing to do with names," she snorted in amusement.

His eyes widened and he leant closer. "Really? Do tell."

She giggled and squeezed his hand. "Maybe later." She turned a page of her notebook. "Ooh! Yeah, this is Charles. He was quite posh. Reminded me of that guy we met on Diablo Four? You remember, with the - "

" – giant pet ladybird? Yeah, he was funny," the Doctor reminisced. Then he pouted. "Was Posh Charles funny?"

"Not in the slightest," Rose sighed. "The looks were where the similarities ended, unfortunately. Oh, apart from the love of insects. That's how he became useful, really. Good at digging through dirt. Literally. Found me a fossil, he did."

"A fossil?"

"Yep. Of an alien. Couldn't name it, though, never seen the like before. Still haven't named it. You might be able to shed some light?" she suggested.

The Doctor smiled. "Well, I am brilliant."

"Indeed," she laughed. She shifted topics again, "Went to Egypt, too. Met this man there, right, who - "

He groaned. "Must they all be men? Seriously?"

Rose smirked. "Must all your companions be young human women, Doctor?"

"No!" he insisted, resenting her remark. "I've travelled with all sorts of people, all sorts of genders, all sorts of ages!"

"Sure. Well, funnily enough, for me it tends to me the men that are more interested in helping a crazy blonde girl who goes on mad adventures." She levelled her gaze with him, making sure he believed her when she said seriously, "But Doctor, nothing weird went on."

"Weird? Of course not; slaying dragons with candyfloss and finding fossils of alien creatures isn't weird at all. Not for us, anyway."

"I meant, like...you know. Stuff."

"Yeah, I know what you meant," he smiled. Then he narrowed his eyes at her. "Honestly, though? Six years without..." he coughed meaningfully.

Rose narrowed her eyes right back at him. "What are you saying? You couldn't -?"

" – no!" he cried, alarmed. "I can go without for decades, if need be. Have done, in fact. A lot. Weelll, most of my life, actually. Which, upon reflection, is rather depressing. No, I just meant, well. You're human. Only natural for you lot. Plus, it is very fun. Randy apes, you are, and - "

"- Doctor," she interrupted calmly. "Shut it. Do not collectivise me with my species. Some humans captured aliens and proclaimed them to be theirs. Sometimes I don't want to be associated with certain misendeavours of humanity."

"Firstly, you did sort of do that, too, you know," he waggled his eyebrows at her. When she looked confused, he sighed and clarified, "Me, obviously! And secondly, you can hardly call randiness a misendeavour of humanity. It's a biological imperative, that's all. Human nature. Necessary to keep the blood line and best-looking going. Natural selection. Survival of the fittest. You know, Darwin once said - "

She shut him up with a kiss. When she pulled away, she murmured, "I'll show you biological bloody imperative," before yanking him up into a standing position, scattering her notebooks. He raised his eyebrows, looking dazed but pleasantly expectant. "In the guest bedroom," she finished, before taking him just there.

Twenty minutes later:

"We are going to keep doing this as often as this, right?" he panted beside her.

She giggled breathily. "If you want."

"Good. Your flat next time? 'Cos I am slightly petrified that Jackie will find out about this."

"Don't worry; she said we could stay the night." She let out a wide yawn. "Do you mind if I get some sleep? I'm knackered."

He chuckled smugly. "Be my guest." And he watched her doze off before sneaking out of the bed, pulling on his boxers and shirt, and creeping downstairs to retrieve something, hoping fervently that he wouldn't bump into anyone on the way.

Luckily, he made it back to the room without any awkward meetings. He smiled softly as he watched Rose wriggle slightly in her sleep, throwing her hand out and unconsciously feeling around for him in the space he'd vacated. He quickly shed his shirt again and climbed in beside her, trying not to jostle her awake as he eased his arm beneath her shoulders to hold her to him.

He pressed a kiss to her temple and sighed contentedly. How wonderful it was to have her sleeping next to him again. He couldn't believe how lucky he'd been to finally get her back.

And as Rose slept soundly beside him, his arm wrapped around her and his fingertips lightly stroking over her skin, he read her notebooks deep into the night, alternately laughing and crying as he absorbed her life without him.