A/N: This part is Nine/Rose.

His Favourite Place

~ 1. There is this place, and there is you, and here are we ~

"Where do you want to go next?" the Doctor asks Rose casually one morning.

It's barely three weeks since she started travelling with him when she replies with a question as to what his favourite place in the universe is.

He looks up from his position half submerged in the grating, not expecting that as her answer. Regarding her with a tenderly curious expression, he murmurs, "It's not that exciting." And he's somewhat apologetic, because he is aware of just how much he enjoys impressing Rose Tyler, and how he would hate for her to find something he shows her to be dull as dishwater.

"I don't care," she replies, her eyes lighting up with excitement anyway. "Tell me."

"There's nothing there," he continues, shrugging a shoulder. "No people to meet, no great monument to visit; nothing happens and the only sound is the rustle of leaves."

"Sounds different," she says, tilting her head to the side in contemplation. "Good different. Take us there?"

He beams at her with that daft, goofy grin of his and jumps up to set the coordinates.

When he opens the TARDIS doors upon their destination, they step out onto a terrain of plum-scented verdant grass.

"Wow," she whispers, her eyes widening in awe at the sight in front of her. "This is definitely the most beautiful place you've brought me so far."

There is a green, grassy hill and at its base there is an amethyst lake that elongates for miles and miles and miles. There is a slight whisper of a breeze in the air, a breeze that caresses them like a soundless song. Rose is entranced, enthralled, enraptured. Mesmerised. It is so, so beautiful.

His breath hitches slightly at the glorious smile on her face, and all at once his favourite place in the universe becomes theirs.

He takes her to the spiralling oak tree that sits upon the hill surveying the silent kingdom below. And he's right – the only sound in this whole place is atop that hill, sitting beneath that tree, under the rustle of the silver leaves.

He is sure to sit as close to her as possible, and this includes slinging his arm around her shoulders to tug her against his side. He does this so casually that he thinks he's fooled her; fooled her into thinking that such an action is inconsequential and does not mean what it might mean were he a boy her age sitting with her in front of a cinema screen. In truth, it does mean that, and so much more. He needs her there, a reassuring presence, right in his arms. He needs her there like he's never needed anyone, and that scares him.

He listens to her breathing softly against his jumper as she stares at the colour and wonder of this beautifully hidden pocket of the universe that no one has touched. No one has been here to spoil the scenery, or exploit its resources, or deforest or burn or command.

And he considers that maybe this place and she are the only things he has touched and not spoilt. He wonders, with no small amount of fear and trepidation, how long he will be allowed to cuddle her close like this before the universe catches him and tears her away. Or how long he will get to keep her before she realises he ruins the things that mean the most. How long he'll get to keep this wonderful, courageous human girl before she leaves.

And it is there, barely three weeks after he first laid eyes on her, that he realises that he might be falling in love with her. She blinks up at him with those big, brown eyes and he loses sense of time for awhile, and simply gazes back at her. It feels as if the air between them ripples with an electric pulse, a connection that is intangible forming between them, a bond growing and growing that will not be stopped or interfered with. A friendship that he knows, knows he wants to keep forever.

He is glad she likes it here just as much as he does. Oh, she loves the adventure and she's brilliant in a crisis, but here, here, is where they can just...be. And she's so gorgeous in these quiet moments, and she places her hand between his hearts, and she lets him hold her there next to him as if they're together even though they're just friends and will likely always be just friends. And he marvels at this pink and yellow girl, because she fits so effortlessly into his world that he struggles to believe she's only just fallen into it.

They leave imprints in the grass when they stand up, the only evidence of disruption in this peaceful, peaceful sanctuary, and he smiles.