They adjourned to the medical room.
"How's your head feeling?"
He hummed thoughtfully. "Not too bad. Bit sore." He paused, then looked alarmed when Rose handed him some tablets. "Are those aspirin? I can't take - "
Rose rolled her eyes. "Of course they aren't aspirin. You think I want to kill you?"
He sighed in relief. "You know that I'm allergic, then."
"Yes. Obviously. I have lived with you for nearly two years."
"Right, sorry, of course," he nodded, giving her a sheepish smile. He swallowed the non-aspirin painkillers and watched her carefully as she started to patch up his wounded head. "So, you like it here, then?"
"Wouldn't stay if I didn't," she answered cheerily.
"Right. Yes." He winced as she applied some antiseptic cream to the bump on his crown. "How did we meet?"
"You saved my life in the basement of the shop I worked in, then blew it up."
"Ah." He smiled proudly.
"Don't look so smug. You only survived the Nestene Consciousness 'cos of my amazing gymnastic skills," she grinned, tongue between teeth.
He raised his eyebrows. "Sounds like an adventure."
"Oh, it was. We have lots of those."
"So…I take it that you're human. Earth. Going by your language and the way you dress…London, twenty…first century?"
"Yep. Good deduction skills, Holmes."
"Thanks," he grinned.
"There we go, that's you all bandaged up. Hopefully it'll heal quickly, yeah? You usually go on about your superior Time Lord genes, so…"
"Yeah, I should be fine soon," he reassured her. "Not sure when my memory will come back, though – things like that can be a bit temperamental after a bump on the head."
"You will get it back, though, yeah? For definite?" she asked nervously.
"Oh, I should think so. Don't worry, Rose Tyler. I'll be back to normal in no time."
"Is there any way to speed up the process, do you reckon? Like, shall I show you some photos of the past couple of years, see if it jogs your memory?"
His eyes lit up. "That sounds like a lovely idea. Are there many?"
"Photographs. Of us."
She smiled, suddenly a bit shy about it. "Well, yeah. I like taking photos. Made you an album for your birthday."
His eyebrows furrowed. "I don't celebrate my birthday," he said in surprise.
"You do now," she corrected firmly. "After all, who'd want to pass up the chance for cake and presents?"
His hearts warmed with affection for this young woman. "You really…"
She shrugged. "You took me to Paris for my birthday; it was the least I could do."
"Paris?" he retorted, wrinkling his nose up.
"What's wrong with Paris?" she asked defensively, folding her arms.
"Nothing. Just a bit…cliché, really. I'd've thought I could come up with somewhere more romantic than Paris - "
"Well we don't talk about that, remember."
"Don't talk about what?"
"The, er, romance thing."
He sighed impatiently. "Rose. It seems to me that we are a bit daft. Why don't we just - "
"Stop it. You don't even know me properly right at this moment."
"No, but instinct tells me that the way I feel means something."
"Doctor?" she murmured suspiciously.
"Did that bump on the head awaken your…" she trailed off.
"Nothing." She sighed heavily and glanced at the door. "Maybe I should let you rest."
"No!" He cleared his throat, then said, more gently, "No. You mentioned photos? I'd like to see them."
She nodded slowly. "Okay. The album's in your room, I think." She held out her hand and, having jumped down from the infirmary bed, he took it firmly in his, smiling in delight as she led him down the corridor.
"So you know where my room is," he murmured.
"Yeah, opposite mine," she replied, sounding confused. "Why are you so surprised about that?"
"I usually situate my guests' rooms far away from mine."
"Well I'm not just a guest," she sniffed, and shouldered open his door.
"No apparently you're not," he agreed softly.
She let go of his hand and went rummaging through his bedside drawers.
"I think I ought to be offended by your invasion of my privacy, but something tells me that you do this quite a lot."
"Pffft, you're the one who invades personal space, mister," she retorted, then sighed. "Where've you put it now? It's usually in there." She tilted her head to the side thoughtfully. "Any ideas?"
"How should I know?" he replied with a shrug. He went over to her and sat down on the edge of the bed, patting the space next to him. She dutifully sat. "Let's see. Bookshelves? Under the bed? Or maybe…" He reached around her and felt under his pillow. "Aha!"
She blinked at him in surprise as he held out the embossed, hand-crafted book. "That's it. Why would it - "
"I get the feeling I'm secretly sentimental this time around. It's probably my bedtime reading," he smirked, then opened it up. "Oh," he murmured, the smirk dropping off his face. "There we are."
She looked over his shoulder at the first picture of them both in there. "Yep. That's the you that you remember being, right?"
"Yes," he nodded, then looked at her steadily. "I'm glad that you…"
"After me regenerating. That must have been quite a shock. I doubt I told you about it beforehand?"
"Nope, you didn't," she said, in a reprimanding tone. "But I wasn't gonna leave you over it. You're the same man. I got used to that fact quite quickly, I s'pose."
"Do you miss that me?" he asked curiously.
"Yeah, course. But I like this you just as much."
"Yeah, it is."
They stared at each other for a few moments, and then he sniffed and turned back to the photo album, turning the page. "When did you make this, by the way?" he asked.
"Oh, I'd been working on it for ages. Gave it to you last month. But we add to it together, whenever we get a chance to print off some more photos. That's why there are loads of pages left blank near the end. For future snapshots."
"It's a wonderful idea, Rose. I never really think about stopping and commemorating things."
"Well that's why you've got me," she smiled cheerfully.
They continued to look through the photos for quite a while, shifting around halfway through to lean against the headboard and pillows for better comfort. When they reached the penultimate page, Rose murmured, "Oh, and that's us last week, in St Lucia. We had a bit of a holiday."
He stared at the photo and swallowed thickly.
"Doctor, you're blushing," she said, starting to laugh. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," he assured her. "I just – you – uh. You're - "
"Wearing a bikini? Yep. You've seen me in that a fair bit, to be honest. In the TARDIS pool or if we go to the seaside or whatever."
"Ah. Right. Yes. Lovely." He tried to forcibly slow his pulse.
"It's okay; I know you're fond of it. That's why I wear it," she grinned teasingly.
"Rose, can I ask you something?"
"If you and I are both so aware of – of – well, of each other, then why do we persist in not talking about it?"
She sighed, and resolved to answer him. "Two reasons. Mostly because we're a bit worried about what might happen to our friendship otherwise. But also I think we secretly enjoy it."
"The suspense," she smiled to herself. "It's like we're teetering on the edge and – I dunno. It sounds daft. But it's as though it could happen at any moment, and I like the spontaneity of that."
"Really," she nodded.
He sighed. "I can't wait to get my memories back."
"I feel so odd," he whispered, closing his eyes and tilting his head back to rest against the wall above the headboard. "It's like half of me recognises you – or at least, recognises what it's like to be near you – and yet I just can't remember anything of the last two years. Can't recollect any of the moments that have happened in our time together that would've induced such feelings in me. It's a very strange sensation. If I were inclined to being melodramatic and saccharine, I'd almost call it -"
"Don't," she murmured quickly, but it was too late.
"- love at first sight," he finished, then opened his eyes to find her huffing and puffing at him. "Sorry."
"It's all right. I just don't want you to be waking up and, once you've regained your memory, regretting saying all this stuff."
"I'm sure I won't."
"Well I'm not so sure," she sighed. "You do pick your moments, Doctor."
"I'm sorry," he said again, reaching for her hand. She let him take it, and he entwined their fingers. "This feels right. Do we do this a lot?"
"Yes. Since day one," she replied quietly.
"Thought so," he nodded. He swallowed nervously then asked, "In the photos, we appear to be standing and sitting very close all the time, often with our arms around each other and whatnot. Is that also an everyday occurrence?"
"Yep. Any excuse for a hug, that's us," she couldn't help but smile.
He hesitated. Then, tentatively, he said, "Could we do that now, do you think?"
"I could do with a hug, that's all. It's just…" he closed his eyes and exhaled roughly, then opened them again to find her staring at him openly, warmly. "For me, it feels like it's been a while since I've hugged anyone, let alone you."
"Okay," she smiled, and they let go of each other's hands to wrap themselves in each other's arms instead, lying on their sides on the bed. "This is my favourite type, by the way," she whispered against his chest.
He buried his smile in the top of her head. "What, horizontal hugging?"
"Yeah." She paused. "Stop smirking."
"I'm not smirking," he smirked. "But you're right, this does feel good." He squeezed her a little bit tighter, but not unpleasantly so; in fact, Rose loved it when he held her this closely to him. "I suppose it would be completely out of the question to roll you onto your back - "
"Yes, you suppose correctly," she giggled.
"Right. Just checking." He paused, sniffing contemplatively. "I apologise; hugging you like this appears to make me a bit amorous."
"Tell me about it," she muttered. He started to literally do just that, so she hurriedly added, "No, don't really."