"No, we're just visitors," said the Doctor, holding up the psychic paper to the police officer at the door of the hospital. "See? Visitor's passes and everything."
The officer nodded and let them through the doors.
"That's a bit weird," commented Rose, as they made their way out of the hospital and into the twilight of New Earth. "I mean, we actually were visitors. Why use the psychic paper – did we need real passes?"
"Hmm," said the Doctor, running his hand over his still-damp hair. "You know, I'm not sure. Faster this way, though. I'm not sure we have time for any delays."
Rose glanced back up at the façade of the hospital and at the police officers streaming through the front doors. "D'you think Chip, er, Cassandra will be all right in that cupboard? Won't they search the place?"
"Nah," said the Doctor confidently. "Well, at least not yet. They've got their hands full, thanks to me." He grinned at her, still delighted with simultaneously liberating and healing a new variety of human.
She grinned back. "Yep! Nice work, that. But," she added as a thought struck her, "we're gonna have to get back in, yeah? Once we get the TARDIS down here? And then get Cassandra out again. D'you think they'll let us through a second time?"
"No need," said the Doctor. "We're going to do a bit of precision navigation with the TARDIS, land right smack dab in the middle of the cupboard. I checked; it's perfectly big enough. We'll pick him…her up and away we go!"
Rose quirked an eyebrow at 'precision navigation' but said nothing. The Doctor noticed, however. "Now don't be like that," he said. "It'll be easy-peasy. Besides, I don't think we have a lot of choice. Chip's body couldn't walk all the way back to the TARDIS, not up that steep path," he added, gesturing to the windy cliffs where the TARDIS was parked, about a mile away.
Rose bit her lip. "Maybe I should have stayed with her," she said, worrying.
The Doctor wrinkled his nose. "Right," he said, drawing the word out in mock-thoughtfulness. "Maybe you should have stayed locked in a cupboard with a homicidal trampoline with a certain gift for bearing a grudge. No ta." He reached out and threaded his fingers through hers with a hint of his old possessiveness. Rose smiled and swung their hands between them.
"She was pretty awful," she admitted. "But still, I'd hate for her, or both of them, really, to die alone in a broom cupboard. Doesn't seem right."
"Well, as you say, they have each other," said the Doctor, squeezing her hand. "All the same, we'd better get moving."
They made their way along the shoreline path under the purple twilight sky and up to the apple grass covered hillside.
"So when did you know it wasn't me?" asked Rose curiously.
"Terminal," the Doctor said succinctly. "The voice was all a bit weird, but I'm pretty sure you don't have computer skills from the year five billion." He gave her a wonky smile.
"Ah," said Rose. She paused a moment. "So not when I just snogged you out of the blue, then?"
"Well," said the Doctor slowly, tugging at his hair. "I figured that was just, you know, the prettiness." He gestured at himself with his free hand.
"Oh, I remember about you, Rose Tyler," he said, tapping his forehead. "Always an eye for the pretty boys."
"Excuse me, I don't just go around snogging people just because they're pretty," said Rose indignantly. "And that's a bit of an ego you're sporting there."
"Let's see, there's Adam, Jack, ooh, and can't forget Mickey," continued the Doctor, counting them off on his fingers with a certain glee.
"I never snogged Adam or Jack!" protested Rose. "Well, except for that going-off-to-battle, goodbye kiss. Though I will pass along your compliments to Mickey on his prettiness," she added, trying to fluster him.
The Doctor ignored her. "And what was that fellow's name on Justicia? Darron? Devon?"
"Dennel," corrected Rose. "And I didn't snog him either."
"Ooh, but what about strapping young Tillun from the stone ages, eh?"
"He kissed me!" said Rose indignantly.
"Sure, right after you married him," said the Doctor grinning. "Not exactly a mixed signal, that."
Rose snorted and then fell silent for a moment.
"So when I just up and snogged you out of the blue, you just figured I'd finally been worn down by your natural charisma?" she asked, a little sarcastically.
The Doctor pouted a little. "Not so hard to believe, is it? Besides," he added, speaking quickly. "It's not like it was our first kiss."
"What!" said Rose, snapping her head up to stare at him. She stopped walking, and her hand, still holding his, pulled him around toward her.
"Aw, don't tell me you don't remember," he said, a mock-pout still on his face. "On the Games Station? Eh?"
Rose shook her head to clear it. "D'you mean the smooch to the forehead? Part of the whole trick-Rose-into-going-home bit, yeah?" She rolled her eyes. "Pecks to the forehead don't count."
"Ooh, no," said the Doctor thoughtfully. "I'd forgotten about that one. No, I mean the mouth-to-mouth, lips-on-lips thing. The whole enchilada. The full monty, if you will." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively at her.
Rose's mouth dropped open. "But, but, but, when was this?" she spluttered.
"After you came back in the TARDIS, all glow-y and powerful," he answered.
"Yes, you told me about that bit," said Rose. And lately, she'd had a few memory flashes of her own from that time. "But it seems like you left the kissing part out of the story. When exactly were you planning on telling me?" she demanded, smacking his shoulder lightly.
"Ow," he complained. "I'm telling you now! What, did you want an announcement on the bridge of the Sycorax ship? At your mum's during Christmas dinner?"
Rose frowned for a moment. "So I just stared into the heart of the TARDIS and then up and kissed you?"
"Well," said the Doctor, tugging on one ear. "Actually, I kissed you."
Rose raised an eyebrow at him. "I look good surrounded in Time Vortex, do I?"
"No," protested the Doctor. "Well, yes, but that's not why I did it."
"Oh?" asked Rose. "So why did you do it?"
"You were getting overwhelmed by the Vortex," he answered. "Had to make a telepathic connection to take the power out of you."
"Telepathic, what?" asked Rose, shocked. "You're telepathic?"
"Yep," said the Doctor, popping the 'p' nonchalantly.
"How did I not know that?" she wondered.
"You never asked," he said.
She rolled her eyes. "Be a bit of a strange question, out of the blue. So how does it work?" she asked, curious.
The Doctor raised a hand toward her face and then hesitated. "Do you want to see?" he asked.
Rose bit her lip and then nodded. The Doctor brought his hand to her head and touched his fingers to her temple. Rose could feel the slightest brush of another consciousness against her own. It was not entirely unlike when Cassandra possessed her, though it was much gentler and less alarming.
Hello, said the Doctor in her mind. He grinned at her.
Rose gave a little gasp. "That's amazing," she said. "Can you do it from a distance?"
"Nah," said the Doctor. "Well, not generally. Not with humans. Have to be touching."
Rose made a face. "That's too bad. It'd be dead useful in some situations."
The Doctor laughed. "True. Like when you wander off. Doctor to Rose, Doctor to Rose," he intoned. "Come in, Rose." She rolled her eyes again.
"So," she said, after a moment of silence. "That's how it works, then? Hands to head and all?"
"Yep," said the Doctor. "That's pretty much it."
"And that creates a telepathic link, yeah?"
"Mm-hmm," he agreed.
"So," she said, slowly. "Why did you kiss me, again?"
The Doctor stopped. He open and shut his mouth with an audible click of his teeth, and his eyes flickered to her face. She looked back at him with a little half-smile playing across her features.
"Ah," he began. "Hmm."
She raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to continue.
"Because I wanted to," he admitted.
Her expression bloomed into a full smile, tongue touching the corner of her mouth cheekily. "Ah," she said.
"Ah," he repeated.
The Doctor waited. She was still grinning.
"Seems sort of unfair, yeah? You always kissing me when I'm not in my right mind. You have some weird fetish about that?" she teased.
"No, I do not," he said firmly.
"Hmm," she said, nodding thoughtfully. She reached a hand up to tug lightly on his tie. "D'you think you'll ever want to kiss me when I'm in my right mind, then?"
"I always want to kiss you," he answered, and with that, Rose pulled his head down to meet hers.
His mouth was soft against hers at first, exploring the contours of her lips bit by bit. In her mind, she could hear his old voice saying you just have to be…delicate, and felt a flush of heat rush through her body. He made a happy humming noise when she opened her mouth to brush her tongue against his lower lip. His hands slid around her waist, his fingers gripped her shirt, and he deepened the kiss until he was practically drinking her down.
The small part of Rose's brain that was still working wondered exactly how much of this sort of thing he had done in his 900 years of life, because this was one hell of a kiss. Her arms wound their way around his neck and her hands crept up to slide into his hair. (Really, really great hair, she thought.) She realized, with a bit of a jolt, that she was pressed completely up against him, which was not her standard protocol for first kisses. Eh, not really our first kiss, she reminded herself with a little smile.
They broke apart only when Rose started to feel her knees giving out. She gasped a little, catching her breath.
"Well," said the Doctor in a husky voice. "That was…new."
"Yeah," she agreed, running a hand over her mouth. "Good-new or bad-new?"
"Oh, definitely good-new," he said, pulling her close again. His eyes were dark as he chuckled. "Kissing Rose Tyler in the apple grass," he said, pressing his forehead to hers. "Yep, definitely good-new."
Rose smiled up at him. "We should do it again, d'you think?"
"Oh, yes," he agreed. Rose shivered as his nose grazed the side of her face, his mouth drawing nearer to hers.
A thought suddenly popped into her head. "Oh!" she said, pulling back suddenly. "We can't."
"Come again?" the Doctor said, staring at her. He tugged her closer. "Why's that?"
"We can't," she repeated. "Chip and Cassandra, dying alone in that cupboard, remember? We have to get back to the TARDIS and rescue them."
"Oh, right," said the Doctor, startled. "Of course, as you said before, they have each other," he added as his fingers stroked her back suggestively.
"Oh, all right," he muttered. They started walking again. "The things, Rose Tyler, that I'm forced to sacrifice in the course of doing good deeds. Ridiculous!"
"I'm sure the universe is very appreciative," she said with a smile. "Besides, it's only a temporary sacrifice, I'm thinking."
And they grinned at each other as they walked, hand in hand, back to the TARDIS.