It's hard to keep track of time on the TARDIS.
For example, right now Rose feels like it ought to be morning. She's just woken up from a nice, long eight hours of sleep, and so her internal clock's immediately defaulted to 'morning.' However, considering that it'd still been morning on Rexilon V when they'd left, right before she'd collapsed on her bed for those glorious hours of rest, the timeline's all a bit fuzzy.
The Doctor keeps telling her that she ought to give up on keeping track of this sort of thing, since concepts like morning-afternoon-evening are all just artificial constructs anyways. Once upon a time, she might have balked at subscribing to that particular aspect of his existence, but the longer she stays on the TARDIS – the longer she stays with him – the less it bothers her.
Regardless of whether or not it's morning, though, Rose has just woken up, and that means she's got to have a cuppa. It's with that goal in mind that she slips out of bed, throws on a t-shirt, and makes her way out into the corridor and towards the kitchen.
For the most part, the doors on the TARDIS all look the same. It's the inside of the rooms that really look different. Rose thinks it's been well over a year that she's effectively lived on the Doctor's ship, and in that time all the corridors she's seen have had the same general appearance – dull metal, dim lighting, that sort of thing. Every once in a while there are doors that aren't really doors, passages where nothing actually separates the spaces beyond from the corridors, like the open metal arches that lead into the garden or the observatory. Apart from those, though, it's a bit difficult to tell from the outside where any given door is going to take you.
The ship seems to like Rose enough not to turn her around or confuse her too much, though. It's not usually too difficult to find the room she's looking for – her room after a long, tiring adventure, the library when she wants somewhere quiet, the swimming pool when she fancies a dip. And the kitchen seems to almost always be in the same place, one corridor over from Rose's bedroom, behind a plain metal door in the centre of the hall.
Which is why she's a bit shocked when she opens that door, the one that's always seemed to go to the kitchen, and finds a bathroom behind it instead.
A bathroom whose sole occupant is the Doctor, standing over a sink, his face covered in shaving cream.
He's looking into the mirror, which is directly across from the door, and Rose meets his shocked eyes in the reflective glass before he actually turns around. She means to apologize and leave – as quickly as humanly possible – but before she can do anything, the Doctor whirls around and says "Rose!"
The Doctor's voice is high, surprised. Rose might even go so far as to call it a squeak. "Hello!" he adds unnecessarily, in a tone that is definitely a squeak.
He's barefoot, dressed only in his button-up and pinstriped trousers, sans the usual suit jacket and tie. The sleeves of the light blue shirt are rolled up past his elbows, exposing thin forearms that Rose knows for a fact are much stronger than they look. It's hardly the least she's ever seen him in – someone had to change him into Howard's jimjams at Christmas, and she sure as hell wasn't letting her mum do it – but he looks almost incomplete without his usual layers, somehow younger and more vulnerable. There's also a sort of stunned look on his face, like he hasn't quite yet registered that someone has, in fact, barged in on him in his bathroom.
Rose finds herself suddenly very aware of what she's wearing. It's nothing scandalous, just plain cotton sleep shorts and a t-shirt, but it's still less than he usually sees her in.
She wonders if he thinks of her like that, too – somehow unfinished without a hoodie or a jacket, without trainers, without her makeup and with her hair still mussed from sleep. "Sorry." she blurts out. "I didn't – I was looking for the kitchen, and – the TARDIS must have moved the door. Didn't realize–"
"No, no, it's all right–" the Doctor interrupts, and Rose just nods mutely, apologies trailing off as she grips the door handle tight.
They just stand there for a beat – frozen, dazedly, in the strange domestic tableau – until Rose takes it upon herself to break the silence. "I didn't know you had to shave." she says lamely.
The Doctor squints quizzically at her. "Why wouldn't I have to shave?" He twists his lips into an expression that, in any other circumstance, might have looked thoughtful. With the lower half of his face covered in white foam, it mostly just makes him look ridiculous. "Mind you, I've had some faces I didn't have to shave very often, but I still have to. Unless I fancy a beard – which, generally speaking, I don't."
Rose throws her hands up. "I don't know! You're an alien! 'S not like I've ever seen you do it. You could, I dunno, keep it from growing with your mind, or something!"
This gets a snicker out of the Doctor. "Would that I could. Descended from apes I am not, but my hair follicles work the same way yours do, for the most part." He shrugs, waving his hands as if to say what can you do, and Rose notices for the first time that he's holding a razor in one hand.
She also notices that there's a trickle of blood running down his neck, as if he'd jerked and cut himself there. Before Rose realizes exactly what's happening, her feet are moving of their own volition, taking the half-dozen steps needed to close the distance between them – and then she's there, right in front of him, sucking a thumb into her mouth and pressing it to his throat, stopping the stray drop of blood before it can go any further.
The Doctor is preternaturally still, and even though she isn't looking at him – her eyes are still fixed on the place where her hand's pressed to his neck, on the subtle contrast between her skin and his – she can feel his eyes on her. It takes a strangled Rose to get her attention, and then she's pulling her hand back from his throat lightning-fast, like his skin's fire instead of ice.
Rose makes a decision. She won't let this be awkward. "Right," she says, looking up to meet the Doctor's gaze. His mouth is open slightly, like he's about to say something but can't find the words, so Rose fills the silence for him. "Budge up, then."
The Doctor visibly shakes himself, and gives her an adorably confused look before realizing that Rose means for him to move. He obeys mutely, shifting so that Rose can shimmy up onto the counter by the sink.
As soon as she's up on the counter, hunched over with an elbow on one knee and her chin in her hand, the oddity of the situation seems to fade a bit. The novelty ebbs away, replaced instead by the same natural back-and-forth that's always been there between them, even way back when he'd worn leather instead of suits. He goes about the business of shaving – something she's never actually watched a bloke do before – and they make silly conversation about nothing. Rose teases him with her very best Steve Irwin impression – here we observe the Time Lord in his natural habitat, engaging in a primitive grooming ritual. He scowls, splashes her with foam-laced water from the sink, and laughs when she shrieks indignantly.
(In between the jokes and the laughter and the good-natured teasing, she steals little glances – at the slope of his neck, the line of his jaw, the slight hollow of his cheeks, all coming slowly into view as he swipes the razor across his skin).
When he's finished, Rose hands him a towel from the pile of fluffy white linens on the counter behind her, and watches interestedly as he dries his face and tucks the cloth around his neck.
When she boosts herself off the counter, Rose is standing right next to the Doctor, close enough to take in the clean, crisp scent that still lingers on his freshly-shaved face.
They're this close – closer, even – all the time, and Rose has never minded. The Doctor has next to no concept of personal space. Even when he'd been all gruff and Northern, he'd never blinked an eye at sidling up next to her, at slinging an arm over her shoulder and sliding his hand into hers. Rose intends to do just that, she really does. She means to invite the Doctor to come hunt down the kitchen with her – means to slide her hand into his, to ease into the same comfortable groove they've worn out for themselves.
What happens instead is this – Rose lays a palm against the Doctor's cheek, her callused fingers sliding across his cool, clean skin, and she feels him go absolutely still.
There are lots of moments like this, with him. Little pieces of crystallized time, seconds that seem to stretch out for minutes and hours and days. Sparks passing between clasped hands, between smiles, between his eyes and hers as they meet across a room, or the console, or a battlefield.
Rose wants to know what will happen if she drops this moment – snaps it, breaks it, lets it fall to the ground and shatter.
So does the Doctor, apparently, because before she can move her hand away, he's closed the distance between them and kissed her.
She lets the hand still on his cheek drift down slightly, rubbing over the line of his jaw as she moves her mouth against his. Her other hand comes up to fist at the end of the towel still hanging around his neck, and dimly she registers that he's twining his arms around her as well – wrapping one around her waist, bringing the other to curl around the back of her neck, where his fingers twist into her still-messy hair.
Slowly, the kiss grows softer, less hungry, and Rose finds herself waiting for the inevitable crash – for this to end, for him to splutter and bluster and pretend nothing's out of the ordinary.
It doesn't come, though. There's no sound in the room at all, after the soft gasp she makes when their lips finally part.
There's just the Doctor, staring down at her and smiling brilliantly, looking her right in the eye.
Rose can't do anything but smile back.