"Right then Rose Tyler, what's next? What you wanna do?"
Rose looked up from the magazine she was reading – she had picked it up during their last trip to Earth and immediately regretted the decision – and looked at the Doctor, who stood in front of her, leaning against the TARDIS console.
"I dunno. I'm a bit tired, honestly." Their last adventure had left her exhausted from all the running – as usual.
"Can we just…stay here, tonight?"
The Doctor shot her a puzzled look.
"Yeah… y'know, eat Chinese, drink soda, watch telly…"
The puzzled look on the Doctor was now so exaggerated it made her laugh.
"You mean…a quiet night-in?" He asked, as if he hoped she was joking.
"Yep. I miss it. A night-in with the girls."
"Well, in case you haven't noticed it, I'm not a girl!"
Rose was amused at the Doctor's reaction. He travelled the Universe, fought aliens, saved worlds, and was terrified at the perspective of spending a normal, ordinary evening.
"I know, I know…but… Can we just do it, Doctor? Stay here, the two of us, and spend a night without monsters and running?"
"If that's what you want. But you're not braiding my hair or putting makeup on me!"
Rose laughed. The idea of the Doctor with blonde pigtails and pink eye-shadow was hilarious.
"No, no, of course not! Well… I might just paint your nails. Pearly pink, what d'ya think?"
He didn't answer, but his smile told her that she had won. Quiet night it was. He turned his back on her and went to press some buttons on the TARDIS console. Almost immediately, Rose heard the familiar landing noise and he was running to the door.
"Where you goin'?"
"You said you want Chinese. Chinese it is. Be right back!"
And he was off. Rose was left alone in the control room, but after less than 5 minutes he was back, loaded with take-away cartons and bags full of plastic forks and soda cans.
"Wow, that was quick! How come when I go to the take-away it always takes ages?"
"Now, now. Are you going to complain or you wanna eat?"
Suddenly, Rose realized she was starving. She got up from the jumpseat and followed him down a corridor, where he used his elbow to push the handle to a small, wooden door.
Rose stepped inside and froze. It was like a little piece of home inside the TARDIS. Except it wasn't her home. It looked like the TARDIS knew what humans found cozy and welcoming, and had created this room just for her.
There was a fireplace on the farthest wall, a big white fluffy carpet in the middle of the room and, at the centre of it, the biggest couch she had ever seen. It could have been a bed, only it had cushions and armrests and everything. The lights were dimmed and Rose could see the night sky out of the windows. Windows? On the TARDIS?
The Doctor gestured towards the couch, and she sat, extending her legs on the cushions. He took off his jacket, came to sit beside her and reached between two cushions. When his hand came out, he was holding a remote control.
"Wait…you have a TV on this spaceship of yours?"
"That would be 'timeship'. And yes, I do have a TV. As it happens, I also have a nice collection of DVDs. So, Rose Tyler, what do you wanna watch?"
Rose could not see a screen anywhere, but by this time she knew better than to ask too many questions. Instead, she thought for a while.
"There is this film we always watch around Christmas, me and Shareen… It's like a little tradition of ours. It's called 'Love, Actually'. You know it?"
"Heard of it, yes. Then… 'Love Actually' it is"
He smiled at her, and pressed a button on the remote. With a faint whirring sound, a panel on the wall moved revealing a flat screen TV.
"Ok, now you're showing off!"
"Who, me?" He looked at her, mockingly affronted, a hand on his chest, his eyes wide and sparkling. "I think you should know, Rose Tyler, that I never show off."
"Yeah, right" She laughed, and gave him a playful punch on his shoulder.
"Oi! Don't you start, or I'll send you to bed without your dinner!"
Rose was still laughing, but didn't say anything.
"That's better". He pressed another button, and the screen came to life, the opening titles of the film already playing. They sat down, took their food, and ate in silence for a while.
When the food was gone, and the movie more than halfway through, Rose started to feel drowsy. She yawned, and rested her head on the Doctor's shoulder.
"Yea, just a bit tired. And a bit cold, too."
"Wait." He stood up and went to a small cabinet in a corner. When he got back, he was holding a light blue blanket, with strange circular drawings on it. He draped the blanket over her shoulders and went back to lay down beside her.
Rose snuggled in the blanket, her head again resting on his shoulder, feeling instantly warm.
"Much. Thanks." She yawned again.
"Hey. You wanna pause the movie and go to sleep?"
"Nope. I haven't seen it in ages, and this is my favourite part. "
She turned back to the screen and moved even closer to him. She could feel his warmth, a couple degrees colder than a human – it looked like she was never allowed to forget that he was not, in fact, a human – but still warm. It made her feel safe.
That was indeed her favourite part of the film, and she always got a bit teary-eyed at it. He looked down at her and was startled to see that she was crying.
"Rose? Wha…what's wrong?"
The look of sheer panic in his eyes surprised her.
"Nothing, Doctor… I was just crying at the film"
"Seriously, Doctor? I just got a bit emotional at the film. I'm human, you know? Emotions and empathy and stuff."
He didn't answer. Instead, he placed his arm around her shoulders and pulled her even closer. She took the blanket and draped it over the two of them. The Doctor rested his cheek on the top of her head and they remained like that for a while, watching the last minutes of the film, Rose still tearing up a little from time to time.
"Well, that's it. It wasn't that bad, was it?"
"No, Rose Tyler, it wasn't." He smiled. "You were right, it's nice to have a quiet night-in, every once in a while."
"Ok, now you're winding me up."
"Of course not! Well, maybe. Just a bit." He laughed.
"Oh, come on! You can't always run and scream and fight and…"
"You're right. You're always right, my dear Rose. But I like running with you. Don't you?"
"Course I do. Why do you even ask?"
"Sometimes I think that you'd rather be at home, with your Mum and your friends."
"Getting sentimental , Doctor?" She teased.
"Nope. I'm serious. "
"Then, if it's an answer you want, it's a big, solid 'no'. I wouldn't miss this for the world. I love travelling with you, and all the running, and fighting, and blowing things up."
"That only happened once!"
"Yeah, once. Right."
They were both laughing now, but Rose could see that he wasn't completely reassured.
"Doctor. Please believe me. This is where I want to be, with you, on your…our… TARDIS. Be it fighting aliens or watching a film on your couch. I told you once, I'm telling that again. I'm not going anywhere. There's nowhere I could go where I'd be happier than here."
"Thank you." He leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. "What, now? Wanna go to bed?"
She was still tired, but she did not want to go to bed, not yet.
"No, I'm too warm and comfortable here, I don't want to get up."
"Ah, spoiled human kid. Okay then, let me see…"
He pressed some more buttons on the remote, and an old black-and-white musical came onscreen. People were singing and dancing in the streets. The Doctor clicked his fingers and the lights went off. His arm still around her, he pulled her closer, adjusted the blanket around her and kissed the top of her head.
She was starting to doze off. She blamed it on the darkness, the food, and the music coming from the TV, at low volume. She closed her eyes just for a second…
When she opened them, the room was dark. The TV was off, and the Doctor was sleeping beside her, an arm still around her shoulders, his head tilted back, his mouth slightly open. It was strange seeing him so normal and vulnerable, for once. She had somehow thought that he never slept.
She shifted slowly under his arm – he moved and sighed in his sleep, but did not wake up – and rested her head more comfortably on his shoulder.
"Safe." She thought just before falling asleep again. "I feel safe."
When she woke up the next morning, the Doctor wasn't in the room with her. Wrapping the blue blanket around her like a cape, she got up and went to look for him. It wasn't a long quest: she found him in the kitchen, whistling and singing to himself while he toasted some bread and boiled water for tea.
"Mornin'." She said groggily. She wasn't a morning person.
"Mornin' to you, Rose Tyler! You sleep well?" He was smiling from ear to ear. "Fancy some tea?"
She sat down at the table and said nothing.
"Ooh, grumpy, are we? There you go." He put a cup full of hot tea in front of her. "Sugar? Milk?"
"Ok, I get the point. I'll leave you alone until you have caffeine in your system."
He watched her as she poured milk in her cup, then added three spoons of sugar.
"Like it sweet, huh?"
She took a sip from the cup and looked up at him.
"How come you're in such a good mood, Doctor?"
"Oh, come on! It's a beautiful sunny day – well, it would be if we were on Earth – what's to be upset with?"
She smiled. The tea was working its magic, she was starting to feel more present, and his good mood was infectious.
He sat down at the table beside her, nibbling on a buttered toast, and looked at her while she finished her tea.
"Ready for what?"
"You'll see. Get dressed, we're going out."
"What? Out..? Where?"
"Surprise. Get dressed, I said. Op, op!"
Laughing, she left the kitchen and ran to her room.
"Put on something warm, Rose!" She heard him call after her.
Five minutes later, she appeared in the TARDIS control room, wearing a bright pink snowjacket, a white sweater, jeans and a woolen hat.
"Is this warm enough?"
"Yep, think so. Come on!"
He stretched out his hand, and she took it, in a gesture that had become every time more familiar. He led her through the TARDIS doors, into what looked like a forest straight out of a fairy tale.
They were in a clearing, surrounded by pines covered by a dusting of snow. The sky was bright blue, and the snow sparkled in the sun.
"Come with me." He started walking, tugging on her hand, and she followed. They walked among the trees, following a small trail almost concealed by the snow. After some minutes of walking in silence, she couldn't stand the curiosity any more.
"Where we goin' Doctor?"
"Hush. You'll see."
She bit her lip, curious and slightly worried, but said nothing. They kept walking in silence. She could hear the sound of the drops falling on the forest floor from the melting snow, the birds singing on the trees around her, as if they did not know that it was winter, and they weren't supposed to be even there in the first place. The Doctor was still holding her hand, helping her walk over fallen branches and obstacles hidden in the snow.
When she was starting to feel short-breathed, they emerged in a clearing, on the shores of a perfectly round, blue, frozen lake.
The view was breathtaking. Pines surrounded the lake, capped in snow and perfectly still. The sun glistened on the ice, making it look like a huge, perfect diamond encased in the valley. She stood there, mouth open, speechless at the beauty of that place.
"Come." His voice was soft, and she could hear a smile in it. He walked by the lake, her hand still in his, and she followed him to the opposite shore, where she was amazed to find a small wooden cabin half-hidden in the shade of the trees.
"As I told you last night, you are always right, my dear Rose Tyler. We need some quiet, domestic life, the two of us. We can't always run."
"Domestic? But you always said…"
He smiled at her and turned to open the door to the cabin.
It looked like a miniature replica of the TV room of the night before. A fireplace, wooden walls, a white fluffy carpet. A smaller couch stood at one hand, and at the other, a big bookshelf laden with books. A small kitchen and a dining table occupied the fourth wall. The fire was lit, and the room was pleasantly warm, especially after that long walk in the snow. Rose walked in and stood in the middle of the room.
"Well, this sure is a surprise."
"Told ya, didn't I? Hurry now, go open that cabinet over there."
She did so, and burst out laughing at the two pairs of ice skates she found inside.
"Really, Doctor? Skates?"
"Why not? I had a feeling you liked skating, and believe it or not, I like it too. So I just figured…"
She walked back to him, stood on tiptoes and kissed his cheek.
"What was that for?"
"This." She made a gesture to include everything, the cabin, the lake, the skates, even the Doctor. "Come on, now! I want to see you fall on your arse!"
"Oi! I haven't fallen on my arse in the last four centuries, do not intend to break that streak today!"
"We'll see!" She laughed, took the smaller pair of skates, and headed for the door.
He took his own skates and followed her outside, where she found her sitting on a small stone bench, already tying the skates to her feet. He sat down beside her and removed his black boots, then tied his own skates. He finished first, so he stood up and held out a hand for her.
"Yep." She stood and took his hand.
A few clumsy steps later, they were on the frozen surface of the lake. Rose let go of the Doctor's hand and took off first. She hadn't been skating in ages, but soon she remembered the basics, and started circling around the Doctor, who seemed to be taking longer to get accustomed to standing on two thin blades.
"Come on, Time Lord! I thought you said you knew how to skate!" She called, passing him at high speed.
"I said I liked it, not that I was good at it!" He called back. "Why, oh why did I have this idea?"
But after a few minutes of slipping and sliding, he seemed to remember how to stand. He tried a few tentative strokes and was amazed at discovering that he still could skate, after all. He gathered speed and chased Rose, who was spinning and drawing little circles on the opposite shore. She saw him approach and, with a single graceful step, moved out of his way and stopped, watching him try and maintain his balance. He whirled his arms and, somehow, managed not to fall.
She laughed and got back to him.
"Don't laugh at me, Rose Tyler."
"I'm not!" She lied, biting her lips to avoid bursting into laughter again.
"Yes you are. And you'd better run, if you don't want this Time Lord's revenge!"
He moved towards her, and she spun and fled, gathering speed with every step, putting distance between the two of them. Her laughter filled the air while the Doctor tried his best to reach her. Suddenly, she stopped. She turned around and waited for him. He could see her pink cheeks from a distance, flushed from the effort, cold and happiness. He thought he had never seen something more beautiful in his nine hundred years of life. Rose Tyler, the human kid, happy and smiling.
This distraction cost him his balance. He tried to stop the fall and failed miserably. He fell on his arse, just like she had predicted, and slid for a couple of metres, until he stopped right at her feet.
She was shaking with laughter, bent over, trying to catch breath.
"You alright?" She managed to blurt out, before starting to laugh again.
"Yea.. I think so. Stop laughing and give us a hand, will you?"
He held out his hand and she took it, gently pulling to help him get on his feet again. When he was standing again, reasonably in balance, she tried to let go of his hand, but he strengthened the grip and pulled her closer .
"Where you think you're going?" She didn't answer. "I told you to run, or face my revenge. Yet, here you are." His eyes were playful, twinkling, while he stared into hers. She smiled.
"Then, show me your revenge, Time Lord." She teased.
"Oh, don't worry, Rose Tyler, I will." With this, he let go of her hand and skated off to the other side of the lake, leaving her standing there, wondering what he meant. After a few seconds, she followed him to the bench.
"Aw, are we finished already?" She pouted when she saw him removing his skates.
"Well, my backside hurts, so yes, I'm finished. But you can skate some more if you want."
She was starting to feel cold, and hungry – one single cup of tea wasn't a match to an hour of exercise – so she walked to the bench and took off her skates too.
"Told ya you were going to fall…"
"Is it bad? Are you hurt?"
"Only in my self-esteem."
"Well, that can't have been a great damage then, you have plenty of it!"
"Oi! Human girl! You're playing with fire today, y'know?"
She laughed and stood up, took her skates and walked back to the cabin, leaving him to follow her. He reached her at the door and opened it for her. The inside was warm with the fire, and she walked straight to the couch, taking off her coat and dropping it on a chair nearby.
"How d'ya know?"
"Just figured." He answered, opening cabinets and cupboards and laying the table.
"Wait… you can cook?"
"Rose, always that tone of surprise. You think I can travel through time and space and not be able to cook?"
Half an hour later, they were sitting at the table, empty plates on front of them.
"Good thing that you can cook better than you skate."
"I'd rather not talk about that…incident. If you don't mind."
"Okay! Sorry." She said, but she was laughing once more, and it made him smile.
She got up from her chair and made for the couch again.
"So, what next?"
"Honestly, I haven't thought of it. What you wanna do, Rose?"
"Can we just sit here by the fire? It's so warm and quiet in this place, I feel at peace."
"Your wish is my command." He answered, joining her on the couch. Like the night before, she laid down on the cushions and rested her head on his shoulder. And like the night before, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer. They remained like that for a while, in silence, listening to the sound of the forest around them and the crackling of the fire.
"Doctor?" She called after some minutes.
"For this. I know it is difficult for you to stay still and let the world turn without you. Thank you."
"Do not thank me, Rose Tyler. It's been a pleasure. And I quite enjoyed this day."
She snuggled closer to him and hugged him, tight, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek.
"And that was for…?"
"This." She answered again, like she had done that morning. She made to stand up, but his arm was firm around her shoulders, his hand closed on her upper arm.
He leaned down and kissed her, not the chaste forehead kiss she was used to, but a proper, fierce kiss, mouth on mouth. She parted her lips slightly, and felt his tongue slide in, cold and sweet. They kissed for what felt like an eternity, and when their lips finally parted, she was short-breathed.
He put a finger on her lips, silencing her, before leaning down again to place a handful of little kisses on her cheeks, neck and nose. He shifted slightly on the couch, so that they were laying side by side, his left arm still around her while with the right hand he stroked her hair.
"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do this, Rose."
"I think I do." She answered in a breath, surprised at how husky his voice sounded.
He kissed her again, on her mouth this time, and there was an urgency in him she had not felt before. His right hand slid from her head to her waist, and made its way under her sweater, finding hot, bare skin underneath. She heard him catch his breath when she did the same, sliding her hand under his jumper and grasping his back with her short nails.
He tugged at her sweater until she arched her back slightly to let him take it off. He did the same with his jumper, and when he laid down beside her again, she could feel his warmth, his skin against hers. How long, how long had she waited for this, dreamed about this?
The Doctor's hands kept caressing her, tracing erratic paths on her belly and back, and she wanted to tell him not to stop, but words caught in her throat. Instead, she scratched his back, hard, nails digging into his shoulders. He gasped and shivered, his eyes popped open and she saw hunger and desire in them, mirroring those she felt into her own. His hand was now playing with the clasp on her bra. A second, and it was gone. She felt his warm, rough palm on her breast and suddenly he was on top of her – when had he moved? - his mouth on her neck, his erection pressing on her through two layers of jeans and underwear.
She was so aroused she could barely think straight. She let him touch her, fondle her, suckle on her nipples and bite her collarbones until it was almost unbearable. Her hands found his belt and unfastened it, then she unclasped the buttons on his trousers, pushing them down his thighs. Her hand slid under the waist of his boxers and closed around his hot erection. She heard him draw a sharp breath when she started slowly moving her hand up and down through all his length, stopping for a second and squeezing the tip before caressing him again, and again.
His hand had found its way to her panties, and with a single movement, he tore them away and threw them on the floor. She was surprised at how urgent his movements had become. She felt one finger slide inside her, then another. His thumb was circling around her clit.
"You're wet. You're wet for me, Rose."
"And you're hard."
"Yes. I want you so bad, Rose. I want to be inside you. I want it so much."
"Do it then. Do it. Please!"
He propped himself up on his arm used his other hand to place himself at her entrance, teasing her, drawing circles around her clit with the tip of his cock. Then, with one fluid movement, he slid inside her, immediately starting to move slowly, going deeper and deeper with each thrust. She gasped and bit his shoulder. "That will leave a mark" she thought feebly, only to find out that she didn't care.
He stopped moving and looked at her.
"I want you to ride me."
Without speaking, she let him move her so that she was now sitting on him.
"I want to watch you while you fuck me. I want to see you come. For me."
He put both his hands on her waist and helped her find her own rhythm, his eyes open and locked in hers. She could feel him filling her, and it was beautiful. Her clit rubbed on his belly with each movement, sending waves of pleasure down her spine, to her legs and up to her head. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, feeling an urgency that she had never felt with any man before.
"Look at me, Rose. Look at me."
That was an order, there was no disobeying it. She opened her eyes and looked down, into his, immediately locked in his gaze, unable to look away. His hands moved to her breasts and pinched her nipples, hard. She screamed. The pain was wonderful and sweet. Her hands grasped his shoulders and she used them to steady herself, while she kept moving over him. She could feel the orgasm coming, tried to tell him, but words failed her.
"Come for me, Rose."
Another order. She increased her pace and, with a last rub of her clit on his belly, a last touch of his hands on her nipples, she came, screaming.
"Good girl." His voice was husky, drawn through shallow breaths. "Now, don't stop. Make me come."
She resumed her movement, slowly at first, then faster and faster. His hands closed on her waist again, and she adjusted her rhythm to the one he was imposing her.
"Faster, Rose! Faster!"
She obliged, while his hips rose to meet her at the end of each thrust, while he dug deeper and deeper inside her. His grip on her waist tightened, it was painful, but she didn't stop.
"Come for me, Doctor." She told him, just like he had done to her. "I want to feel you come inside me."
He closed his eyes and grasped her shoulders, pulling her down until she was laying on him. His hands tangled in her hair and she heard him stop breathing for a second, before feeling his orgasm fill her.
He let go of her hair and caressed her back, slowly, while kissing the top of her head. She could hear the beat of his two hearts, fast underneath her.
"Look at me, Rose." He said again, but his tone was gentle now. She sat. "You're beautiful, and amazing."
She smiled, suddenly self-conscious. She could almost feel his eyes on her naked body. She moved from on top of him and went to lay down beside him. He opened his arms to let her rest her head on his chest one more time, and they remained like that, in a naked and sweaty embrace, for a while.
"Doctor?" She called, when she was able to speak again.
"Yes, my Rose?"
"I think I love you."
"No, that's OK. You don't owe me anything. I just wanted to let you know. I don't want an answer, I don't want you to tell me that you love me back. I just wanted to tell you."
"I love you too, my Rose. I've loved you since the first time we met in that basement. I have wanted to do this since the first time I held your hand."
"Why did it take you so long, then?" She asked, only half-joking.
"I'm not a human, and I was damaged. Until today, I thought I was beyond repair. I was scared."
"Of loving again. Of losing again. But you mended me, Rose Tyler. You healed my wounds. I still have scars, they will never go away, but I'm not bleeding anymore. Thank you."
For some minutes, the only sounds in the room were the crackling of the fire and their slow breathing. Rose closed her eyes, hiding her face in his neck, inhaling his scent.
"You know what, Doctor?"
"I think we should do 'domestics' more often, you and I."
"You're right, Rose" He laughed. "You're always right."