The Doctor's Secret Little Hobby

-x-

Rose was looking for the Doctor, but he wasn't in his room when she checked there. Something caught her eye, though; something sitting on his desk. Her brow furrowed as she picked it up. Brown leather decorated with golden swirly symbols that she knew were Gallifreyan words. She smiled, and wondered what someone like the Doctor could possibly write about in a notebook. Perhaps he'd written completely in his language, and she thought maybe she wouldn't be able to read a word...

She couldn't resist. She'd just take a tiny little peek. She liked the elegance of his writing, of his lost language. She wished he would tell her what the things on the console screen meant... although she knew she'd probably not understand the English variation anyway! She wasn't sure she'd ever get to grips with the intricacies of the science and technology that he was always rambling on about. But that was okay; she had him to help her, to teach her, even to tell her she was brilliant – when really, she knew she was just a tiny little human compared to him. She sometimes wondered how it must feel for him, being the cleverest person in the room, having to explain everything slowly for the benefit of the stupid ape humans around. She sometimes wondered if she bored him.

Still, she thought, shaking off her slightly melancholy thoughts; if his joyous laughter of earlier was any indication, she was obviously entertaining him enough today, with their game of hide and seek. He'd think he had a good hiding place, but she knew he was probably in the wardrobe room, or maybe the kitchen. She would look there in just a moment.

But first...

She opened the notebook on a random page, somewhere near the middle, and read the first sentence -

Interestingly, she doesn't even notice.

English, then, she pondered idly. Curious...

She glanced up as she heard a noise, her heart racing as she worried it was the Doctor – she didn't want him to think she was deliberately snooping - but it had merely been the creak of the door.

Her eyes wandered slowly back to the page.

Still, maybe that's a good thing. Because she'll...she'll go, someday. I wonder how long she really will stay with me. She's promised forever, and no one's ever done that, not really, and certainly no one's meant it, but...what if something takes her from me? What if I lose her? I don't think I could bear it.

Her heart leapt to her throat, and she squeezed her eyes shut.

He was talking about her? In his...notebook? Diary? Journal?

Okay, she thought rationally, flicking past several pages; it's probably just one bit of it, one teeny tiny portion of the notebook that he's mentioned her, in one of his more sentimental moments, probably.

She settled on a new page.

There's this perfect little dream I have where I'm just a normal man, and she's just a normal woman, and I marry her.

Rose gave a little yelp of surprise, her eyes widening.

Maybe she'd got it wrong. Maybe this wasn't about her after all. Because seriously, why would he write such a thing about her, his best friend, who he didn't see as anything other than a –

The most beautiful thing about Rose is that she doesn't even realise she's everything to me.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

She snapped the book shut, breathing in deeply.

Okay. Okay, right. Right. Um. So he was talking about her. Complimentarily, too. Right. Blimey. So...

Bugger. Did he...did he...

Did he love her? Her throat tightened with emotion. Surely not, she thought. Not like that. She's just a friend to him, his best mate, his –

She opened the notebook again, once more on a random page.

I can't even write it down. How much this means to me. How much she means to me. Words are superfluous in the face of her smile, in the brightness of her eyes, in the wonderful presence that is Rose Tyler. I've never felt as speechless as I do when she stumbles into the kitchen of a morning, hair a mess, clothed in silly, adorable pyjamas, looking disgruntled at the early hour, before she sips her morning tea and awakens like a Spring morning. I say nothing until her first, 'Morning, Doctor' and then I am rather aware of the silly grin on my face as I say hello back, and wish that there will never be a day that travels by where I do not get to see the transformation from Beautiful Sleepy Rose to Beautiful Ready-for-Adventure Rose; or where I do not get to witness her fingertips lightly caressing the old, wooden tabletop as her hand subtly creeps its way over to mine.

Rose paused in her reading and swallowed, blinking quickly. She felt embarrassed at the tears pricking her eyes, but she couldn't help it. She'd never seen such lovely words written down, and the fact that they were written by the Doctor about her thrilled, scared, and astonished her in equal measure.

Not for the first time since spotting the notebook, Rose wondered why he would even keep a diary, let alone fill it with such sweet, romantic words. It didn't seem like him at all. His outward compliments to her were generic; any hints of more personal, reverent words of praise were brushed off quickly by a qualifier (for instance, his favourite justification: considering you're human.)

To read such beautiful, almost poetic language written by his hand made her think about a side to him she rarely let herself contemplate for too long. The side of him that she would briefly catch lurking just beneath the surface as he watched her, before shaking himself out of it. The side of him she knew now, for definite, was behind every gentle entwinement of their fingers, every tender hug, every quick, restrained kiss to her forehead. Every soft stroke of her hair as he comforted her that day back at the TARDIS after she'd seen her father die. Every squeeze of her hand as they faced something scary, or wrong, or horrifying. Every affectionate remark of her being a stupid ape; every whisper of his touch across her cheek as she slept through a nightmare; every smouldering look he sent her way as they danced in old hospitals and around the TARDIS console. He'd even held her as she'd been sick, had rubbed her back as she leant against the cool porcelain of the toilet, when she'd got food poisoning from the trip to Alfadodor last week.

How could she have missed all that, all those signs? Dismissed it all as platonic, as meaningless, as normal, ordinary, nothing-special?

She realised now that it'd all meant something to him. Maybe not as much as it had meant to her, but it definitely meant something.

She couldn't resist reading a bit more; but this time she decided to flick to the last page. His latest entry.

It nearly took her breath away as she read it.

She never ceases to make me laugh. Today, she nearly took Robin Hood's eye out with her poor first shot with the bow and arrow. The look on her face! She knew she ought to try and apologise, but her mouth kept twitching and I could tell she was trying not to laugh. Robin, meanwhile, stood still, utterly stunned. And of course, my dear, brilliant Rose just had to have another go, didn't she? Ha! The horror on his face when she requested another arrow! Mind you, I didn't like the way he offered to show her how to do it properly; if it hadn't been for the Oncoming Storm look I sent in his direction, I'm ninety-nine per cent sure that he would've placed his hands on her waist and got all close and personal to give her some help. Hmph. Couldn't have that.

Naturally, I stepped in to offer my assistance. But Rose being Rose, stubborn and independent and well, pretty bloody gorgeous really (she really did look particularly fantastic in that dress) decided she could do it without anyone's help; and actually, her second shot was more amusing than the first – and not because it was bad. Far from it! It completely split the apple in half! Who'd've thought, eh? Honestly, that's typical Rose, that; she does something once and fails spectacularly, to the point of the great amusement of herself and others. And then, her second try? Nails it. Brilliant! And the surprised but tenderly pleased smile on her face quite possibly made me fall for her even more.

She snapped the book shut again, breathing shakily. She wasn't quite sure what she was going to do with all this information. She couldn't tell him she'd read this – he'd never trust her again. She sighed heavily, trailing a finger across the golden spine of the book delicately. She didn't even notice that she could now read what the front cover of the book was inscribed with; the previously golden swirls of Gallifreyan had been translated to the simplistic language of English, the letters nevertheless still beautiful as they stood side by side to form the words, The Doctor and Rose, and she was too confused about what her next actions should be to realise.

Maybe she should just kiss him, and see what happened next. Because she knew, now, that if he rejected her, it wasn't for lack of romantic affection; it would be because he thought it best they remain as they are, to prevent future heartbreak. Which was daft, really, because she reckoned her heart would break anyway, if she lost him, because although she'd never said as much, she was completely in love with him, too.

Rose stood up, placing the notebook on his desk where she'd found it. Then, she took a step back.

And bumped straight into the Doctor.

"Woah!" he exclaimed, catching her around the waist to stop them both stumbling over. She gasped in surprise and he tightened his hold on her, because she looked like she was going to faint. "Rose, you okay? You were taking so long trying to find me, so I thought I'd come and find you instead. I missed you," he grinned jokily, but his eyes were searching hers, trying to make sure she was alright. He continued more seriously, evidently concerned when she didn't respond further than opening and closing her mouth a few times, "You look a bit odd. Answer me, come on; are you feeling okay?"

She shook herself out of her daze. "Yeah, I'm, um, I'm fine. Listen, I'm really sorry, it was just there, I couldn't – I'm sorry, don't hate me for it - " she mumbled, tripping over her words in her haste to get her apology out.

His brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you going on about?" he asked softly, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear.

She flushed a deep shade of scarlet. "Oh. You didn't see me, then," she muttered.

"See what?"

She sighed, resigning herself to confessing. "Me, reading your diary." She held her breath in anticipation.

"Diary?" His nose wrinkled up. "Diary, really, is that what you'd call it? Oh blimey. I'm a man and I write a diary now. That's...sad, very sad." Then he rushed to defend himself. "But I bet lots of men secretly write them!"

She blinked at him in surprise, and let out her breath. "You're not angry with me?" she murmured.

"Angry?"

"Yeah. Because I was nosy and read it. Invaded your privacy. Betrayed your trust."

"Ohhh," he realised. "Oh, right. I suppose...well, I suppose I would be angry..."

"What do you mean?"

"If it were someone else who read it. But you're a curious girl, Rose Tyler; I suppose I rather expected you'd fall upon it one day. However, I thought the TARDIS would be good and keep the translation to herself...obviously not," he said, briefly sending a glare to the ceiling. The TARDIS just hummed back happily.

"Translations?"

"Yes. I wrote in Gallifreyan in that notebook. You shouldn't've been able to read it."

She glanced down at the book, and smiled as she saw their names written in English now. She loved how the TARDIS and her could gang up on him sometimes. However, one thing the TARDIS hadn't ever let her in on: "Just like I can't read the post-it notes tacked to the console screen?"

"Yes, exactly." He blushed a little, and she secretly found it adorable, though she wondered why he'd be embarrassed about those post-it notes. She'd assumed they were calculations or instructions or directions; just like on the console screen itself. Evidently not. She'd have to investigate this later.

"Oh. Right." She bit her lip hesitantly. "So...is it okay, then? That I read some of it?"

"How much did you read?"

"A bit. A couple of pages. Random pages from the middle and your last entry."

The corner of his mouth twitched up. "You didn't start at the beginning?"

She shook her head slightly. "I promised myself I'd just take a peek. I had no idea I would read that you - " she cut herself off sharply, flushing red again.

"That I what?" he replied softly.

"Well. The, um. The stuff about me that I read."

"It's all about you, you'll have to be more specific."

She swallowed thickly. "Do you do this all the time?"

"Do what?"

"Keep an inventory about the people you travel with? So like, this one has 'the Doctor and Rose' written on it...do you have a whole shelf in the library full of books with memoirs from times with all your other friends?"

He chuckled deeply. "Um, no, Rose. No." He smiled sheepishly. "Just you."

Her eyebrows drew together. "Oh."

They were both silent for a few moments, and during these moments, they each realised that his arms were still comfortably resting around her waist, holding her to him as if she was likely to fall over.

Mind you, thought Rose, the way he's looking at me right now, perhaps I will fall over.

"Why?" she whispered finally.

"I've lived a long time. Seen and done a lot of things. And I remember everything. But you, you're..." he broke off, grabbing her hand and lifting it between them, placing her palm flat against his chest, between his hearts.

"What, Doctor?"

He cleared his throat a little. "Well. You know. You've read it."

"Not all of it," she whispered.

He smiled softly. "You can do. If you want." He chuckled, then. "In fact, it'll probably be a lot easier if you do."

"What, you can't say it out loud?" she countered teasingly, raising an eyebrow.

He tilted his head towards hers. "Where would I even start?"

"I've recently found that the middle is a great way to begin," she grinned.

He grinned back at her, raising his eyebrows. "If you'd read the first page you'd've known straight away that that notebook is basically dedicated to writing sappy, un-Time Lord-y stuff about you. I started as I meant to go on, as it were. It was a kind of therapy at first. Or, you know, my equivalent of an AA meeting sort of thing. I wanted to make sense of everything that I...ahem, felt, and things got so jumbled up in my head, reasons why I shouldn't, why we shouldn't, but then reasons why we should – well, never mind. Anyway, then I realised that I simply enjoy writing about you, so it became sort of a, uh, hobby..." he trailed off, wincing internally in embarrassment. He hoped she wouldn't laugh at him.

Rose lifted her hand from his chest, instead choosing to loop her arms around his neck. He tightened his hold on her, pulling her closer. "When did you start?"

"What, writing it?" he asked. Rose nodded. He tugged his ear, embarrassed again. "Weeellll. A ridiculously long time ago, really."

"But after you regenerated?"

He frowned. "Why would you say that?"

She gave a small shrug. "Not something I'd've thought the old you would've done. I mean, it's not something I'd thought you would do, but the old you even less so."

He gave her an enigmatic little smile. "Read it from the start, and see where you can guess this me begins writing."

"You mean, you did – before you changed?"

He nodded. "Course I did. Because obviously, I was rather besotted with you from, oooh, day one?" he grinned.

"Doctor - "

"No, seriously," he assured her. "I knew I liked you a lot more than I should right from the start."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, 'cos you were so pleased when you realised I lived in that flat that you'd traced the plastic arm to," she said sarcastically.

"No, the fact that I liked you was the reason I acted like I didn't," he replied, as if that were obvious. "And then, well...I s'pose you rejected my offer, which, well, that just stung, that did..."

She pulled his hair playfully. "Shut up. Not like you couldn't have found someone else willing enough to travel with you, was it? Plenty of women have taken a fancy to you since I've known you."

"Yeah, but I wanted you. To travel with me, I mean," he added hurriedly. "Hence my return."

"Glad you did come back and ask again," she said softly. "I regretted saying no the second I'd said it."

He shrugged. "You had a sense of familial duty that just needed a bit of a tug to unravel before you could do something for you for a change."

"I still feel bad, you know," she whispered, swallowing against a sudden lump in her throat. "Leaving Mum and Mickey like that."

His hold on her loosened slightly. "You do?"

She nodded. "Well, actually, I feel bad that I didn't feel bad at first, yeah? Like, I was so caught up in my new life of adventure and – well, you – that I became selfish, really."

"Rose, what with the amount of people you've helped over the last couple of years, I'd hardly call you selfish."

"Yeah, but as many people we save or help or whatever, it doesn't mean leaving Mum on her own was a good thing to do."

"We visit her all the time!" he protested. "Anyway, everyone leaves home in the end."

She smiled. "I know. I know that, I do. And I'd never regret running away with you. Never. But I can't help but feel guilty, still. Especially now that Mickey's in a whole other universe."

"Do you still love him?"

Rose's eyes widened at the unexpected question. "That's not the point," she answered.

"But do you?" he pressed anxiously.

"Not like that, no. As one of my best mates, yeah; but things would never go back to how it used to be, before I...before you. Even if him and me were in the same universe again."

The Doctor nodded, trying not to show his great relief too overtly. He couldn't quite hide his little grin, though, and Rose laughed.

"What's that little smile about, eh? Glad you finally got rid of the competition?" she joked.

"Weeelll," he drawled. "To be honest, I'm fighting competition every day. Yesterday, for instance. Robin bloody Hood. He's not even supposed to be real, and you find him and flutter your eyelashes and he's all 'shove off Marion, Rose is here now,' and - "

She put her finger over his lips. "Firstly, he did not say that, and secondly...shut up, yeah? You know as well as I do that things like that, people like him, don't mean anything. Mickey – alright, fair enough, be jealous of him, because we had a past – but Robin Hood and Elvis and Henry the Eighth and all that lot? They're strangers, that's all. People we meet. Not people who'd ever come between you and me."

He kissed her finger then shook it off to lean in close to her ear and whisper, "I'm very, very glad to hear it." He turned his head slightly and pressed a soft kiss to her temple. "Rose..."

"Yeah?"

"I'll be back in a minute," he said, then unwrapped his arms from her waist, letting go of her.

"What?" she protested. "What're you doing? Hold on, where are you off to?" she asked, as he backed up out of the room with a big grin on his face.

"Just wait here," he told her excitedly. "I won't be long, just – I dunno, read some more of my 'diary' or get naked or something; see you in a tick!"

And with that, he left his room, leaving Rose to lean against his bedpost and wonder whether she'd heard him correctly and whether he was indeed serious about the getting naked thing. She contemplated her options for a moment, but considered that she'd best stick to the safer one, in case he'd not said anything about getting naked at all and it was simply in her own imagination.

-x-

"I wasn't joking about the getting naked thing, you know," he said upon his return, seeing her sitting on his bed still fully clothed. He winked at her and chuckled when she blushed.

"What've you got there?" she asked him, gesturing to what he was holding.

"Food!" he answered joyfully, sitting down next to her, a tray filled with treats on his lap. "See. We've got pancakes, syrup, chocolate, strawberries, ice cream, waffles and champagne." He bumped her shoulder with his. "You like?"

She beamed at him and stole a strawberry, popping the whole thing in her mouth at once and nodding her appreciation. He stared at her for a moment, then blinked himself back to the here-and-now, and said, "You're supposed to dip it in the chocolate first."

She arched an eyebrow as she swallowed the fruit, then replied humorously, "I apologise. Do teach me how best to eat all this lovely stuff."

"Well," he smiled, standing up to place the tray on the middle of the bed. "First comes first, please recline like the Roman goddess that you are."

Rose giggled and swung her legs up onto the bed to lay horizontally, her hair fanning out on his pillows. He grinned at the sight. "Perfect," he murmured. Then he tilted his head, considering something. "Although, technically, you ought to be wearing that toga you wore in Ancient Rome, but it doesn't matter. Can't be bothered to waste time hunting for it in the wardrobe room."

"Besides," Rose continued for him, propping herself up on her elbows. "I know you like my current outfit too." She was wearing her best jeans, the ones that fit her really well. Coincidently, the ones she'd noticed she was usually wearing whenever she caught him staring at her.

His eyes travelled the length of her body and he nodded the affirmative. "Usually do, really," he said. He met her eyes. "Always do."

"So, what happens next?" she inquired innocently, looking at the tray of food.

The Doctor cleared his throat and then lay down on his stomach next to her, the tray of food between them. "Well, maybe we should eat the pancakes first. Before they get cold."

"Hmm, maybe," she murmured, dipping her finger into the bowl of warm syrup. She brought it to her lips and sucked the delicious mixture into her mouth, and the Doctor thought he might just explode with sheer desire.

"Oh," he whispered.

"What's wrong?" asked Rose distractedly, dipping her finger back in for another taste. "This is really nice, you know. You should try it."

Before she could lick the syrup off her finger this time, the Doctor seized hold of her wrist and changed its direction, following her advice and trying the syrup for himself. Her mouth fell open in shock as she watched him take her finger into his mouth. "Guh," she muttered.

He released her hand and smacked his lips together in appreciation. "Mm, yes, you're right. Delicious," he said, his dark eyes captivating her in his gaze. "Strawberry?" He dipped one in chocolate and held it up for her. She took a bite from it, licking the chocolate from her bottom lip afterwards.

"Starting to think you picked all these foods on purpose," she murmured breathily. "Surprised there are no oysters."

"Don't know about you, but I don't need any aphrodisiacs where you're concerned," he informed her quietly. "In fact, one might say that you are all the aphrodisiac one needs." He bit into a chocolate covered strawberry himself this time and watched her eyes darken with desire.

"Then what's with the food?" she whispered.

"It's good food," he answered, with a small shrug. "I was hungry."

"Right."

"Plus, I thought it'd be even better when eaten in bed."

Her eyes sparkled at him and her tongue touched the corner of her mouth as she smiled. "Naked?"

He gulped. "Yeah," he replied hoarsely. "Naked."

They stared at each other intensely for a few more moments, then the dam broke and they gave up resisting. Rose lunged for him, pushing the tray of food safely aside as she went, pushing him onto his back so that she could sit astride him.

"Hello," he murmured, staring up at her, his hands running up her thighs to grip her hips.

"Hello," she echoed, smiling beautifully; and then she leant down and pressed her lips to his.

-x-

"Rose," he whispered in her ear. "Rose..."

She giggled at the tickling sensation of his breath against her, and reached her arm back to grab his hand, pulling it around her waist to rest his palm to her stomach. She felt his lips curve into a smile at her neck. "What's up?" she asked sleepily.

"Nothing," he replied softly. "Just wanted to see if you were awake."

"Am now."

"Sorry," he apologised sheepishly, kissing her shoulder. "I just wanted to let you know that I'd rather like it if you made this bed your permanent residence, now." He paused, and nuzzled the back of her neck. "With you here, in my arms, I think I sleep a lot better." He lowered his voice to a murmur again, "You take away all the bad things, Rose Tyler. You take away the nightmares."

She turned over to face him, and pressed a brief, affectionate kiss to the top of his nose. "I'd be delighted to stay," she smiled tenderly. "Your bed is very comfy."

He grinned, slipping his hand from her lower back down to her bottom. "And you are very sexy." He pulled her against him, and she hooked her leg around his to tilt her hips perfectly. He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly. "And oh, I could get used to waking up to this."

"Me too," she replied, stroking her thumb across his cheek as she leant forwards to kiss him. "Me too."