So, In Human Relationships, What Happens Next?

When Rose stepped into the library and wandered over to the sofa, she found the Doctor lying on it, asleep. Smiling at how adorable he looked with his fluffy hair, his mouth hanging open, and the ends of his long legs off the end of the sofa, she crept closer. His head was situated in her favourite spot at her end of the sofa, so she gently lifted his head up and sat down, letting him use her lap as a pillow. He was still sleeping deeply, and didn't awake with her movements, which made Rose grin as she reached for her book and began to read.

After about twenty minutes or so, the Doctor stirred, and blinked up at her in surprise. "Oh, hello," he murmured sleepily. He rubbed at his eyes but didn't sit up.

"Hello," she agreed, fondly ruffling his hair. He closed his eyes at the feeling and made a small noise of appreciation at her touch, and Rose laughed. "You'll start purring, next," she warned.

He chuckled and opened his eyes again, staring up into hers. "How long have you been here? I'm rather sure I didn't fall asleep with my head in your lap..."

"I came in a little while ago, and you were hogging my seat on the sofa," she explained casually, turning back to her book.

"Ah, I see," he nodded absently. He squinted up at the book cover. "Ooh, I've not read that. What's it about?"

"The TARDIS translated it for me. It's from the planet Asral. It's about...well, I s'pose it's a love story, in a way. Only, remember what you told me about the tribe Oik on that planet?"

"Oh! Polygamy?"

"Exactly. It's weird...obviously from my point of view I don't completely get it..."

"Social conditioning," he smiled.

"But I understand it's their culture and that they don't see anything wrong in it. Plus, there are some cultures on Earth that are similar, right?"

"Yep, definitely," he agreed.

"But yeah. This story, there's six main characters. One woman with five husbands," she grinned devilishly. "She's a very good seductress."

The Doctor smirked, but said nothing.

"But I think she loves them all, too, you know? Like, she can never decide which one she wants to go out for a midnight stroll with – something she does every night."

"Can't she alternate?" he suggested.

"Well, yeah, she does. They sort of form a rota," she laughed. "But still. She's got no favourites, she treats them all equally. She loves them all equally."

"And are her husbands happy with the agreement?"

"Oh yes," Rose nodded. "Thing is, I have the feeling something bad is gonna happen soon. It's all too perfect at the moment; I can sense a bit of doom and gloom around the corner." She paused, and placed her bookmark on her page and set the book aside. "In fact, I'm not gonna read anymore at the moment, in case I get upset." She smiled sheepishly.

"I remember when I found you in here blubbering over a book a few months ago. You have quite an emotional response to books."

"It was PS I Love You! That's like, one of the saddest books ever!" she defended.

"And then there was The Notebook. That's about love, too, isn't it? And that one from Kesto that you bought in that marketplace. Again, about love." He smiled up at her. "Are love stories all you read, 'cos it certainly seems like to me..."

She shrugged evasively. "Sometimes I read murder mysteries."

He chuckled. "Ah, okay then. I should take you to meet Agatha -"

"Doctor..." she began slowly.

He knew that tone of voice – the one that accompanied that wide-eyed thing she did to capture his attention and hold it; she was about to ask him something personal, or for a favour. Or both. "Yeah?" he answered warily.

"Do you reckon it's actually possible to love five people at once?" she asked softly.

He raised his eyebrows. "Well, yes, in a way. You know, all my friends that have travelled with me – well, except one or two that were a bit iffy – I still love them. So that's, well...a lot more than five."

Rose stared down at him for a moment without replying, and he saw her swallow thickly. He thought he ought to clarify something, in case she'd gotten the wrong idea.

"Of course, love of a person comes in several very distinct ways," he continued quietly. He couldn't meet her eyes as he said this, and so instead, he sat up a little, propping his head up against her thigh, and stared at his Converse trainers. "There's the...friendship thing. Which is what I was talking about. I love all my old friends as friends. With the platonic connotations that has, it's possible to have many friends and love and care for them all in that purely friendly way. Then there's the...you know, the other sort of love..." He coughed awkwardly and quickly muttered, "The in love sort of love." He felt Rose's muscles stiffen and he was pretty sure she'd just inhaled deeply and not let the breath out yet. "Which, I think, it is more difficult to replicate for more than one person at once. In my opinion. Because of all those...those, er, feelings that are associated with a...a non-platonic and more sort of...romantic love." He stopped speaking and bit his lip hesitantly, waiting for her response. When she didn't say anything for a while, he looked back at her. "Rose?"

She shook herself out of her reverie and smiled. "Sorry, was in my own little world for a minute there," she murmured.

"Did you hear what I said?" he asked, not knowing what he actually wanted her answer to be.

"Yeah," she breathed out roughly. "Yeah, I did."

He wondered why he was relieved that she had, considering he'd tried to avoid this conversation with her for the last couple of years. "Good."

"So...you've, um. You've never fallen in love with a friend?" she asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

"Not really, no," he answered, quickly glancing away again.

"Right," she replied bluntly.

They sat in silence for a few moments. Then, the Doctor sought out her hand, and held it with both of his in front of him, resting their hands on his chest. He nervously played with her fingers for a second before entwining them with his, and then, he brought their joined hands inside of his suit jacket slightly, resting over one of his hearts. "Can you feel that?" he whispered.

"Feel what?"

"My right heart. It's..."

"Beating really fast," filled in Rose, and he could tell from her voice that if he looked at her now, she'd have that little crinkle in her brow where she was confused and trying to work something out.

"Yep." He moved their hands above his left heart. "So's this one."

"Why are you nervous?" she asked him.

He chuckled. "I'm not nervous. Well, I am, sort of, but that's not what I..." he trailed off, and tilted his head back to look at her. "Okay, so listen, I think I should...I want to explain."

"I'm listening," she assured him.

He swallowed hard and sat up, and they both twisted around on the sofa to face each other, their hands falling to his thigh and staying there. "I know I've not said anything before, but I...I thought you knew, so I didn't think it needed saying." He paused, and Rose squeezed his hand in encouragement, eager to hear what he was trying to say. "'Cos...well, you know. You tease me and flirt with me, and..." he smiled to himself, "And you can't have not noticed that I tease and flirt right back."

"You're a flirtatious person," she shrugged. "You're like it with everyone."

"I am not!"

"You are," she giggled.

"Well, even if that's true, which it isn't, it's completely irrelevant, anyway, because nobody else matters, none of that means anything, not if they aren't you."

Her breath hitched. "Because I'm your best friend," she asserted, but he could tell it was a question.

"Because you're Rose Tyler," he replied. He tugged at his ear with his free hand. "Because you're..." He swallowed thickly. "Because you're you, and you make me feel so different. Lighter. Happier. Younger. And I've never stopped and thanked you for that, not properly, so...thank you."

She blushed. "Oh. Well. That's alright," she mumbled uncertainly.

"And..."

"And?"

"And the way I...feel about you, it's..." He gulped. "Different."

"Different?"

"When you are near me," he began, staring at their joined hands in embarrassment. "My hearts beat too fast and I have to ramble nonsense at you to stop myself telling you...something else."

A small smile started to form on her lips. "Oh," she replied breathily. "Really?"

"Yes," he whispered. He met her gaze again, and stared at her meaningfully. "Blimey. I don't know why I'm confessing this now. It doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, does it? Or...or would you, er, would you say that actually it is a good thing that I feel...differently...about you?"

"Are you asking me whether I feel the same?" she asked quietly.

He swallowed hard and nodded.

"Then yes. It is a good thing. Because I feel...differently...about you too."

"Yeah?" he asked hopefully.

"Yeah," she beamed, shyly tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear.

He let out a long, relieved breath. "I can't believe I finally embarked on this conversation with you."

"All thanks to my romantic novels," Rose added.

"Indeed." He bit his lip, uncertain again. "So...these books of yours...the Earth ones, I mean, with the human couples in them..."

"Yeah?"

"I mean, I'm not really all that familiar with, um, human courtships, and well, I was just wondering, well, these books represent real life, right? So...do you think I should read them?"

"Why?" she asked, baffled by his suggestion.

"Well, what happens next?"

"Eh?"

He sighed impatiently at her and squeezed her hands. "We've done the declaration bit, so what happens next?"

"I...I dunno, I mean, it's different depending on who you are...there's not some human code we stick to, you know. Plus, who said I wanted you to pretend to be human, anyway? You're fine just the way you are. You don't have to act different just because you think I want to go on proper human dates or whatever."

"Aha! Dates!" he announced excitedly. "Is that what comes next?"

"Um...no, usually the dates go before any sort of conversations regarding the 'L' word."

"Oh. So, we've been dating already?"

Rose giggled. "Well, if you want to put it like that. But honestly, Doctor, we don't have to sit here and plan and analyse, you know. It's better if it's natural. Just...trust your instincts."

"I don't think I have any romantic instinct," he pondered regretfully. "Well, aside from the obv-" He cut himself off abruptly.

"What?" she prompted.

His cheeks tinted pink and he cleared his throat. He let go of her hand to scratch the back of his neck awkwardly. "Weeellll," he drawled thoughtfully, wondering how best to put it.

"Doctor?"

"Well, the, uh...the wanting to kiss you sort of thing. That's pretty instinctive and, well, consistent."

Her face lit up and she leant a little closer. "That's a very good instinct to follow."

He hesitated. "But...isn't there anything else that needs to be said or done before that can happen?"

She frowned. "Doctor, relax. Snogging isn't the scariest thing in the world, you know. Besides," she added, lifting an eyebrow teasingly. "I've seen you kiss a few other women since you regenerated..."

"One!" he protested indignantly. "At that wasn't my fault..."

"And Cassandra?" she reminded him.

His face screwed up in confusion. "But that hardly counts; they were your lips!"

"I wasn't in control of them, though, was I?" she teased.

"No," he conceded, glancing at them as he spoke. "But they were still belonging to you and tasted like you - "

Her grin turned wicked. It was glorious.

"Tasted like me?"

He swallowed, aware he'd been caught out. "I kissed you," he admitted. "On the Gamestation. To, er, remove the vortex from you."

"I know you did," she said softly.

"You do?" he asked, surprised.

"Dreamt about it," she replied, waving away the point. "Not important right now. What's important is, you stop being so nervous and kiss me again."

"I would like that very much, but..."

"But what? Honestly, you practically admitted that you love me, and if your instinct is telling you to kiss me, then I suspect it's the second type of love you were talking about earlier rather than the strictly platonic one, therefore, you've done the difficult bit."

"But Rose..." he protested.

"Oh, do I have to do everything myself?" she asked good-naturedly, before closing the distance between them and kissing him firmly on the lips, her hands gripping the lapels of his jacket to drag him even closer to her. Thankfully, he most definitely kissed back – although his hands were suspiciously static, placed innocuously either side of her on the sofa rather than upon her person in any way. When she leant backwards he followed, hovering over her, careful not to press his body against hers.

Rose released him from the snog to catch her breath. "Now, that wasn't so hard was it?" she smiled.

"Wouldn't say that," he muttered breathlessly, staring at her in that intense way he sometimes did when he thought she wasn't looking.

She grinned at him mischievously, that delicious tongue of hers visibly touching the corner of her mouth. "What's your instinct telling you to do now?"

His eyes travelled down her body rather languorously. "I'm not sure I should vocalise it, to be quite honest," he admitted cheekily, giving a nervous chuckle.

"In that case, why don't you demonstrate?" she suggested, her eyes twinkling.

"Wouldn't want to presume, though," he protested half-heartedly, sitting up straight again when his arms started to ache from holding himself above her. "After all, you are a human woman from an era pre-space colonisation and all the er, dancing with aliens that that entails. I don't want to be ignorant of your sensibilities, whatever they may be. So you'll have to tell me whether this is acceptable considering we've only kissed properly once and, that being just now, is that really enough time before which we can...do other things. And really, Time Lords weren't especially prone to these sort of spontaneous, er...displays of..." He gulped. "Arousal. It's really quite remarkable, the way you affect me."

"Doctor," she said thoughtfully. "Before I tell you not to worry and to make passionate love to me, is there anything I need to know about our...compatibility?"

"How do you mean?" he asked, feeling rather flustered at (and distracted by) her words about making passionate love.

"Well," she said awkwardly, and it was her turn to blush. "Is there anything different about sex between a human and a Time Lord to sex between two humans?"

He shrugged. "I've never been human. How should I know?"

She raised an eyebrow dubiously. "All that time you spend on Earth, and you've never found that out for yourself?"

"Oh, well, centuries ago I might have...dabbled. Can't remember it properly, though, which...now that I think about it, doesn't bode well. I want this to be memorable for you..." he trailed off, then realised his mistake. "Ah, but that was just, you know, casual, you see, and this, between us, is not at all casual, so maybe that makes a difference, yeah? Special and all that. You and me. Yeah, this'll be memorable, definitely. Although...it has been a long while..."

"For me too."

The Doctor chuckled. "Not nearly as long as it's been for me, I can assure you." They smiled at each other for a moment, and he felt the desire to be kissing her again. He leant forward to capture her lips, but she spoke before he could.

"So, whilst we're getting all the awkward conversations done in one go today, what about protection?" Rose asked pragmatically.

"Ah. Well, I expect there is just a very, very, very, very, very, very teeny tiny miniscule chance that a Gallifreyan could impregnate a human. Oooh, 0.000000005% probability or so, really. Nothing to worry about." He squinted at her in thought, then. "Mind you, you are very jeopardy-friendly. Perhaps we should worry; knowing you, I'd get you pregnant first go."

Rose's eyes widened in alarm but then she giggled. "Guess we'd better pop to the shops then." She paused. "Unless you have any around here...?"

The Doctor shook his head. "Nope, none here. You see, this is what I meant about the talky things that are necessary before embarking on this kind of adventure. Good thing you're sensible enough to ask the right questions before allowing me to make passionate love to you, as you say, otherwise I would not be nearly focussed enough to have this important discussion." He jumped up and held his hand out to her. "Right, Rose Tyler. Where's the best place for buying..." He coughed meaningfully. "And don't name a shop anywhere within a ten-mile radius of your mother's flat; I am so not risking buying them anywhere she might bump into us and see. She'd regenerate me."

"She wouldn't. She likes you now," Rose smiled. "But...let's go somewhere far away from London, just in case."

::

After landing in the twenty-first century outside a nondescript shop somewhere in Britain that was resolutely not London, Rose led the Doctor to the appropriate aisle and showed him the many different varieties of condoms they could choose from. The Doctor was flabbergasted. Rose found the entire event hilarious.

"But...but...why would there need to be flavours?" he whispered in confusion.

She giggled into her hand and glanced around to make sure no one was close enough to hear her when she murmured her reply into his ear.

He gave a strangled sort of, "Oh!" and blushed. Rose didn't think she'd ever seen him blush before that day.

"So," he mumbled, and waved his hand towards the selection. "I suppose you ought to pick what you think..."

She rolled her eyes and hooked her arm through his, standing up on her tiptoes to murmur in his ear again. This time, she was expressing her lack of knowledge about his particular, ahem, size. His eyes widened.

She was looking at him all innocently, but he could tell she was trying not to laugh at his inability to purchase this item by himself, and he realised he needed to man-up and get his confidence back. He cleared his throat, waggled his eyebrows, and told her that she'd be very impressed.

::

By the time they'd made it back to the TARDIS, the shopping bag in the Doctor's hand swinging back and forth excitedly, both of them were practically trembling with anticipation.

They hurried out of the console room and down the corridor to find the nearest bed, which just so happened to be his. As soon as they'd stepped through the door he launched himself at her, gently but determinedly guiding her towards his bed.

"And there I was thinking my decades of celibacy would render me able to resist you," he whispered, and then let out a small chuckle, sliding his hands down her back to squeeze her bum. "I was wrong."

"I'm glad," she replied softly.

He leant his head forward and bumped his nose against hers affectionately, closing his eyes as she pressed her forehead into his. "I love you," he whispered, almost inaudibly, and then gave her a passionate kiss to distract her from his words.

Smiling against his lips, she dragged him down with her as she lay back on his bed. Her eyes fluttered open and then his did too; meeting each other's darkened gaze even as they continued kissing, both felt the compulsion to giggle in sheer happiness and disbelief.

That night was the first of many nights to come that were filled with giggling, murmurs of adoration, and the timeless connection that making love afforded them.