Once everyone had left apart from the Doctor, Rose flopped down on the sofa.
"It's not quite bedtime for you yet, Rose Tyler," the Doctor said, as he came back into the sitting room with a glass of water for her and a glass of wine for himself.
She failed to stifle her yawn, but sat up and took her drink obligingly. "Why's that, then?"
"Got another Shondarian tradition to do."
Rose laughed. "You really took a shine to their culture, didn't you?"
"Well, when it comes to this particular festival and its accompanying traditions, yeah. It's a marvellous idea."
"All right, then, let's hear the next thing on your list."
"Well, it's really very simple."
"Yeah?" She sipped at her water for a few moments, watching him watch her, then put her glass on the coffee table. "What is it, then?"
"It's just a dance."
"Yeah. I'll give you another present if you give it a go."
Her eyebrows lifted. "What sort of present?"
"A new ice cream flavour I've sought out for you."
Rose was very tempted. "Hmm…okay, so what sort of dance?"
"Any sort of dance you like. In their tradition it's always a two-person, waltz-type dance."
"And we should do this because…?" she prompted.
"Well, you are rather good at dancing. Remember when we were at that party for the Empress on Santiafar? They practically salivated over your energetic jive…mind you, you were wearing something that left little to the imagination that night. Bet you could still show them lot some moves, especially if you put that dress back on." He waggled his eyebrows.
"Well it was a very jive-friendly dress," Rose laughed softly, before adding, "Surprised you still think of me like that, what with me being the size of a boat now and everything."
He gasped and grabbed her hand, jumping up from the sofa and tugging her up with him. "The size of a boat?" he spluttered. "I'd never call you such a thing." He positioned his hands, one holding hers up, one on her waist, as though they were to begin a waltz. "That would be incredibly insensitive. This music isn't really suited to jiving, unfortunately, but we can still -"
"You might be thinking it though," she pointed out, interrupting him as she arched an eyebrow.
He shook his head, and slowly started guiding her to the music, the baby bump somewhat obstructing their ability to dance together properly - not that they minded. "Rose, the thought never crossed my mind. You look beautiful."
"Stop it," she murmured.
"Being all charming. We're just…very close friends right now, remember?"
He nodded and sniffed knowingly. "Yes, yes. Friends. Who happened to conceive a child together."
"Mmhmm," she agreed, and laughed when he frowned.
He twirled her in a circle and caught her as she spun back in, bringing her as close as her belly would allow. "I know you don't - " He swallowed hard, and slowed their dance to a gentle rocking back and forth. " - feel quite the same as you once did. About me. But I just want you to know that – that, well. I'll always be here for you and the baby. Always. Anything you want or need or – well, whatever. And listen, I'm not – I'm not saying this to put pressure on you or anything like that at all, I just, I just need to say this, yeah? Just let me say it. Because I need you to know; when you're ready - whenever that may be - all you have to do is say the word."
"Yeah. Yeah, I know. And I want to be ready right now, really - I do. But we've changed so much, Doctor, and once we have this baby, things'll change even more. I don't want you making promises you can't keep - "
"Rose, I love you and this baby more than anything in the universe," he interrupted softly, dropping one of his hands to the curve of her stomach. "It's not about keeping or breaking promises. It's about me wanting to spend the rest of my life - " he broke off, the words lodged in his throat as he faltered, realising his mistake, realising he had to correct himself, even though the alternative words hurt to even contemplate, "The rest of your life with you."
Rose nibbled her bottom lip for a moment, then nodded. "I believe you. I need a bit more time, that's all. I'm so nervous about becoming a mum, I just need to focus on that right now. Yeah?"
He smiled, a slow, hopeful thing that set her heart beating faster. "Yes." He leant forwards and gave her a quick, chaste peck on the cheek, then released her from his arms, taking her hand instead.
"For the moment, I believe you said we were going to have ice cream," she grinned expectantly, as she let him lead her into the kitchen.
"Aha! Yes! As I mentioned, I found another flavour that you are going to adore…"
Later that night in bed, once the Doctor had finally left to let Rose get some sleep, she kept going over their evening in her head.
She thought about the way he'd danced with her. And seen her, all night, not just the baby bump. Because, god, she was thrilled that he was so loving in his words about the baby, and in the small little touches to her belly he would make, confirming that he did want this child, would be there for them, would be a brilliant dad. But somewhere along the way Rose had been scared that soon, it would be all he saw in her; Rose-as-mother. And she felt ridiculously selfish for worrying about that, because wasn't it a good thing, that he wanted to make things right so that he could be the dad the baby deserved, be the dad he should've been centuries ago to his first child? Yet, there was this lingering doubt, as she grew bigger and bigger and as the due date loomed ever closer, that in the end, he'd realise it was the baby he wanted, not her. The thing that was part-Gallifreyan, part of his lineage and home and life.
No matter how many times he had reassured her, with a smile or a kiss, even, that he still found her attractive, Rose had kept on wondering if he was only interested in repairing their relationship for the sake of their child. But she realised that night, lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, that she'd been foolish for thinking that.
Her minded flitted over all those moments over the last few months, when he had been so sincere in his compliments, so attentive and careful in his actions. They'd had their ups and downs, still, of course, but she realised now that he meant it when he said he was sorry, and he meant it when he said he would wait for her to be ready. He wanted to be with her again. With her, not just the baby. He loved her.
Rose sat up straight. He really, properly loved her.
It wasn't that this was a shocking revelation, as such. She'd always known, deep down, that he did. Of course she knew. He'd even told her so. And just the other night, when he'd slept in her bed with her - he'd told her then, and he'd meant it. But for some reason, it was lying there in bed alone, tonight, that made her realise the depth of it, the certainty of it.
Getting out of bed, Rose stumbled her way over to her window, looking out to see if the TARDIS was still there in the garden. But it wasn't; she must have missed the sound of it dematerialising earlier. Suddenly desperate to talk to him, even though she'd only said goodbye barely forty minutes ago, she scrambled for her phone and dialled the TARDIS' number.
But after five tries with no one answering, she gave up, frowning in confusion. She tried the number for the Doctor's mobile, the one she made him have on him at all times – the one which he answered straight away if she rang, because he knew it would be something urgent. Like that time with Elton breaking into her house, or when she'd taken a tumble down the patio steps and was worried she'd hurt the baby.
The Doctor, however, did not answer his phone this time. Rose sniffed suspiciously, but tried again. Still no answer. And a third time. No answer.
She didn't want to be paranoid about it or anything, but this was a little unusual. That time when she'd rung to say she'd fallen over, he'd answered instantly even though he was running away from an Emperor's guards at the time.
And fine, so this time she wasn't in danger and there was no real emergency, but – he wouldn't know that. If he heard her ringing, he would answer it, because he would think the worst; that was just in his nature.
She quickly realised it was probably in her nature, too, because suddenly she was conjuring up all sorts of gruesome reasons as to why neither he nor their friends were answering any of their goddamn phones. She tried each of the phones in turn again, but even Donna and Martha's went straight to voicemail.
Rose tried not to panic, she really did. But before she knew it she was pacing the floor of her bedroom. All she wanted to do was tell him she loved him back. That was all she needed to do. Because he'd said it, earlier, and she hadn't. She hadn't said it back. And she hadn't said it back the other night, either. And she needed to, really needed to, now, because what if he was hurt, what if he wasdying and he didn't know? What if he thought –
And he'd said, hadn't he, earlier that evening, that he knew she didn't feel about him the same way she had done, which was wrong, he was wrong, and he needed to know that. She'd thought he knew that. Thought that helping him the other night, comforting him telepathically, was enough to tell him. But maybe he was still unsure, maybe he didn't - Jesus, she had to tell him. What if he – what if he died not knowing –
Rose realised she was started to hyperventilate, and that nothing good would come of that. The baby was wildly kicking against her belly, evidently in distress too, and she knew she was probably projecting her anxiety through their link, and that she should stop doing that, but she couldn't. She couldn't breathe.
She kept ringing and ringing, and he kept not answering, and then she rang Mickey and he picked up instantly. Sighing in relief, Rose rushed out, "The Doctor isn't answering his phone, I think something's happened and I don't know what to do."
"Rose, I'm sure he's fine, he's probably just taking down a corrupt government or something."
"No, he would answer his phone, Mickey, he just would."
"Stop panicking, babe, listen, it's gonna be - "
"I just – I can't – I want – "
"Do you want me to come over?"
"Course I can."
"Yes please," she said, her voice quiet.
Mickey rushed to hers straight away. When he saw what a state she'd worked herself up in, he realised it was serious. He enveloped her in his arms and rocked her as she cried, and once she'd got that out of her system, she sniffed, wiped at her eyes, and said she'd make him a cup of tea.
He rolled his eyes, but followed her to the kitchen.