Rose looked up from her paper to see Martha tapping on the patio doors. Grinning, she went over to let her friend in. "Hi Martha," she greeted her warmly. "Everything all right?"
"Yep! Just wanted to bring you these," Martha replied, handing over a carrier bag with the medicinal massage oils she'd told Rose she would fetch her from Glaxico Four. "Should clear up your backache in minutes!"
"Oh, you're a lifesaver, thanks Martha." Rose put the bag on the table and enveloped Martha in a hug. "Want to stay for a cuppa?"
"Yeah, that'd be nice. Donna's off visiting her family and the Doctor's tinkering, but he'll be in to see you in a bit, he said."
"Great! So what have you been up to?"
Once Rose had made the tea and heard all about her friends' latest trip to Moscow, she and Martha sat down in the living room and opened a pack of biscuits.
"So the Doctor's been listening to Einaudi a lot lately," Martha commented.
"An Italian pianist. The Doctor says he's the greatest composer of our time and that we ought to meet him."
Rose smiled. "The Doctor's always loved music. Classical, punk, rockabilly - you name it. I even heard him singing a Kylie song in the shower once."
Martha laughed. "He said he's a dab hand at composition himself."
"Pfft, have you heard him compose a piece of music though?" Rose snorted. "I've never heard anything more awful."
"Oh surely he can't be that bad. He's had nine centuries to learn!"
"But he thinks he's so brilliant! Kept going on about his talent at it the other day!"
"That's 'cos I placated him with a smile and a 'well done' once, so that I didn't hurt his feelings, and now it's his favourite hobby. I've never regretted anything as much as I regret doing that."
A few minutes after the women had stopped laughing about the Doctor's musical ability or lack thereof, the man himself walked in, nicked a few custard creams off the coffee table, and plonked himself down in an armchair.
"Hello," Rose said, with raised eyebrows and twitching lips.
"Hello," he replied, the word muffled through his chewing of the two biscuits in his mouth.
"Tinkering all done?"
He shrugged. "For now. Donna just rang, said she's coming over 'cos her Mum and Wilf have gone on a coach trip to Dorset. They left a note on the fridge apparently. Well, Wilf did. I think Sylvia's still a bit miffed that Donna didn't go to see her last time we were in town."
"Talking of mums," Rose said, "Mum wants to know if you're gonna pop 'round to hers to build her a new coffee table." She narrowed her eyes. "She said you landed the TARDIS on her other one when you sneaked in to steal some more of her shepherd's pie."
The Doctor had the grace to look a bit sheepish. "Ah."
"Well, maybe we could go to hers together later," he suggested casually, shrugging a shoulder. "Yeah?"
Rose offered him a small smile. "Yeah, all right." Her smile widened. "You know, that's the second coffee table of Mum's you've broken."
The Doctor frowned. "That first time was hardly my fault, and you were just as responsible."
Martha pitched in curiously, "What happened?"
"Rose and I fell on it."
Martha blinked. "Er..."
"The first time I visited the flat, actually!" he said brightly, remembering the time fondly.
"There was an incident with a plastic arm," Rose said, rolling her eyes. "And we couldn't get it off and - never mind."
But the Doctor was insistent on telling Martha the story of how he and Rose met, so Rose let him get on with it and listened with a small smile on her face as he embellished certain elements and skirted around the issue of his previous self's appearance. Once Donna arrived, he continued to recount tales of Rose's time on the TARDIS. Rose pitched in here and there at first, but the conversation quickly put a lump in her throat, so after a while she excused herself, saying she had a few things she had to get done.
The Doctor, noticing Rose's hasty departure, left Martha and Donna chatting in the living room and followed Rose out to the front garden, where she was attempting to heave a couple of rubbish bags to the pavement ready for collection.
"What are you doing?" he asked her in horror, hurrying after her and taking the bin bags off her. "You shouldn't be lugging those about in your condition."
"It's rubbish day, I forgot," she said. "And I'm fine, they aren't even that heavy - "
"You should have just asked me to do it," he replied, putting them in place.
Rose sighed and shook her head. "Anything else you want to do for me?"
"What do you need doing?"
She smiled. "Nah, it's all right. I get Mickey to do some odd jobs now and then, and - "
"Oh you do, do you?"
"Yeah." She frowned. "You know, like cutting the grass, stuff like that."
The Doctor huffed as they stepped back inside the house.
"What are you grumpy for? You can't tell me you'd want to mow the lawn."
He wrinkled his nose up. "Well, no, but I don't want you to feel like you have to ask your mates to help instead of me."
She bumped his upper arm with her shoulder. "You can do the weeding in the back garden if you like."
He sighed deeply. "Right."
"I'm joking, you don't have to really."
"I don't mind - "
"There aren't any weeds anyway, so you're safe for now."
Rose started putting on her coat, and popped her head around the doorframe to the living room. "Girls, I'm off out to buy a few baby things. Do you need anything?"
"Nah, we're all right Rose. But did you want us to come with?" Donna asked.
"No, you two stay here. Make yourselves at home," Rose smiled. "I won't be long, just an hour or so. Then we'll get some lunch, yeah?"
"Sounds nice," agreed Martha.
Rose turned back to the Doctor. "I do need you, though."
"Makes a change," he grumbled.
"Aww, don't be like that, Mr Grumpyface." She pushed him playfully out of the door. "You're gonna carry the shopping. That should make you feel useful." Calling out, "See you later Martha, Donna!" Rose closed the front door and they made the way back down the garden path.
They were silent for a few moments.
"It's not my favourite hobby, you know," he murmured suddenly. His favourite hobby actually consisted of Rose and him being naked. Well, not necessarily naked, but certainly naked enough for particular activities -
"Composing," he clarified, putting emphasis on the 'p.'
She looked at him in alarm. "You heard what I said earlier?"
He nodded. "Came in through the back without you hearing me, evidently."
"Oh, god. I'm so sorry. I was exaggerating, anyway – "
"No you weren't," he chuckled. "And that's okay. Listen, you can be honest with me, you know. You can tell me anything."
"I just didn't want to upset you. You love it."
He shrugged. "I can acknowledge that I'm bad at it and still love it. I just wouldn't've gone on about how good I was if you'd told me the truth."
She smiled at him sheepishly. "I'm sorry. I promise to tell you next time I think you're awful at something."
"Thank you," he said primly, then burst out laughing. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and tugged her so that she was pressed against his side as they walked.
"Am I forgiven, then?"
"Of course you are." He dropped a kiss to the top of her head.
"So are you gonna stop being grumpy?"
"Consider it done."
"Good," she said, pleased.
"So, what's on the list for today?"
"Buggy, bottles, and baby clothes."
"Ah, alliteration, I'm impressed. You're definitely a woman after my own heart, you are."
Rose rolled her eyes and hid a smile. "You know, you talking about our - our adventures. It got me all nostalgic," she admitted.
His grip on her shoulders loosened, but only so that he could slide his arm down, wrapping it lightly around her waist instead. Rose's pulse quickened, but she didn't tell him to move it, didn't want him to move it.
"Should - should I not talk about it? With them, I mean. Or - well, at all."
"No, it's all right, course you can talk about it. I'm just a bit..." she trailed off, shrugging, and then shifted her arm. It had been dangling uncomfortably between them as they walked, but when she moved it, it was to mirror his own arm's location, sliding it around his back. Her hand gripped the hip furthest away from her to hold her arm in position, and both of them resolutely pretended there was nothing unusual about them walking together in such away these days.
"Just a bit what?" he murmured, looking down at her in concern.
"Jealous? I think. And - well, a bit lonely."
"I could - "
"I could stay," he rushed out. "For a bit. If you want."
"Nah, it's all right. I know you've got to be out there, taking care of the universe. And I'm fine with that! Really. It's how it's meant to be. And if I wasn't pregnant, well, I'd be out there too and it wouldn't matter in the least that we can't see each other every day because we would be seeing each other every day." She swallowed, a bit unsure about whether she ought to be saying all this.
"Rose, it won't be too long and you'll be back on board," he said, his voice low and sincere. "And I'm very much looking forward to that. If, that is, that's still - you know, what you want."
"Yeah! Obviously. Of course. Just hope that I haven't lost my touch," she said, trying for a smile.
"Travelling. Saving the world. All that."
"Nah, course you haven't. You're Rose Tyler."
"There's a Mothercare down here, there's a nice pram I want to look at," she said absently, gesturing down the road, and they headed towards the shop. "So when I'm back, will Donna and Martha mind? I mean, it'll be a change of pace, right? For a bit, at least. What with the baby. Unless - they won't want to leave, will they?"
"I shouldn't think so. They both sound very excited by the prospect of you and the little one joining us."
"Really?" Rose asked, fiddling with her earring.
"Yep." His mouth tipped into a bit of a smirk. "Donna even insinuated that she'd be happy to babysit for us if we - " he cut himself off abruptly and changed the course of his sentence, "- uh, if we wanted a day off."
"Oh," Rose smiled. "Well, that's really nice of her."
"Yeah." They'd reached the shop, so he let go of Rose to open the door, then guided her through with his hand low on her back.
"Bet it'll feel weird for you, having a TARDIS so full."
"Good weird," he replied with an excited grin. A display of babygrows with variations on the theme of 'Daddy's Little Star' caught his eye, then, and he unconsciously gravitated towards it, his grin fading into something softer. He shoved his hands into his pockets and just stared. Rose watched him curiously, intrigued by his reaction.
"Rose, we're having a baby."
Rose laughed, and patted her large bump. "Are we really?"
He pointed to the baby clothes adorned with the words that were to be his and Rose's new names. "We're going to be parents."
"The baby is going to call us things that aren't Doctor and Rose."
Rose looped her arm through his. "Yep. How do you feel about that?"
He swallowed hard, but lifted his hand up to rest over hers on his bicep. "Before, I wasn't - I was never that," he said, nodding his head towards the clothes. "I was never 'daddy.' But this baby will be human and it will call me that and I - " He turned his gaze onto Rose, looking down at her with eyes filled with something a bit like confusion and something a bit like fear. "Do I even deserve to be called that?"
"Doctor, you're going to be a great dad," Rose said, resting her cheek against his shoulder as she looked up at him. "And you absolutely deserve to be called that."
He sniffed and looked back at the babygrows. "Thank you," he whispered.
"Let's buy a few of those," Rose said. "In different colours and stuff."
"Only if we get the 'Mummy' ones too."
"Okay," she laughed. "Let's do it."