"Do you have to do that?" the Doctor asked, sounding irritated.

Rose froze with her tongue halfway towards the red velvet cupcake she was eating. "What?" she asked, her tongue darting back in her mouth. The Doctor felt a pang of disappointment at its disappearance and silently kicked himself for saying anything. Then he remembered he shouldn't be feeling those sorts of things about his companion.

The Doctor ripped his eyes from her lips and tried to focus on what she was saying. He couldn't very well say what he was actually thinking. Do you have to keep eating that cupcake? Do you have to eat it in front of me? It's utterly distracting and very sexy and how could anyone ever be sexy while eating a cupcake. Rather how could he become distracted by someone eating a cupcake?

His mind scrambled for something acceptable to say. "Do you have to eat that in the console room? You're getting crumbs on the floor," he said gesturing at said floor where three miniscule crumbs had fallen. What an idiotic thing to say. As he if he cared. All he cared about was that her lips be on his. Immediately. Maybe while he backed her up against the console. No. No. No. Stop.

She arched an eyebrow at him. "So? You eat your toast in here all the time." He glowered at her but he knew she was right and the corners of his mouth twitched. Sensing her victory, she waggled her eyebrows at him and grinned. He forced himself to look away and back at whatever he'd been doing. She walked over to stand next to him and he promptly stopped caring about what he'd been doing or ever had done or ever would do unless it involved her. He looked at her and saw that she had some icing on the tip of her nose. He grinned at how adorable she looked.

"What?" she asked at his smile.

"You have icing on your nose," he said, trying not to imagine what it would be like to lick it off of her nose and then wipe away any other sugary remnants from her lips with a kiss.

She wiped at the icing with her hand. "Did I get it?" she asked.

"Nope," he said, watching her longingly.

She tried again. "How about now?"

"No," he answered, his voice getting quieter.

She sighed in frustration. "Can you just get it?"

He swallowed nervously. "Uhhh," he mumbled intelligently. When he didn't move, she rolled her eyes, grabbed his arm and wiped the sleeve of his leather jacket against her face. She saw the icing on his sleeve and gave a triumphant "ah-ha!"

"Oi!" the Doctor exclaimed, pulling his sleeve back, mostly to stop himself from grabbing her and kissing her. Well, truthfully that was the only reason. She laughed and shoved his arm playfully.

"It's only a little," she said pointing at the quickly drying icing.

He grinned goofily at her. "You'll have to make that up to me, you know," he said.

"How?" she asked, grinning just as goofily.

The Doctor leaned down, trying not to show how much he was reveling in the closeness and plucked the cupcake from her hands. "By giving me the rest of your cupcake," he said, shooting her a grin and stuffing the last bite in his mouth. She huffed indignantly at first but when he nudged his arm against hers as she had done, she smiled.

"Fine," she said. Then switching gears, she added, "You know why I like those cupcakes?"

"Why?"

"They kind of remind me of being a kid," she said. "My mum used to buy them for me sometimes for as long as I can remember. She'd just show up after work sometimes with a box of 'em. 'Said they reminded her of me. 'Red as her Rose.'" She smiled fondly at the memory. "Cheesy, yeah, but I loved it when she did. 'Made me feel all…safe. My birthday cakes were red velvet too." The Doctor smiled down at her. He loved hearing stories about Rose's life. Well, not particularly any that involved Mickey but he loved learning more about her. He wanted to know as much as he could about his companion.

The Doctor suddenly nudged Rose and grinned at her. He flipped some switches on the TARDIS. "Let's go," he said.

"Where?" she asked, brow furrowed in confusion.

"To get more cupcakes!" he said brightly. She beamed at him and he felt his hearts flip and grabbed her hand.

….

Rose had been rather down, lately. The Doctor knew she was still upset about leaving Mickey behind in the parallel world even though it had been a few weeks ago. He'd tried to cheer her up by bringing her to several different pleasure planets where he knew there'd be absolutely no chance of danger. Beaches, spas, and just now they'd gotten back from her mum's but so far nothing had seemed to raise her spirits. A few minutes ago she'd mumbled something about going off to her room and he was trying to give her privacy but the distance was making his hearts ache.

It wasn't just the distance since losing Mickey though. The second he'd regenerated, he'd felt his feelings for Rose grow even stronger. He hadn't even thought that was possible. It properly scared him how in love with her he was and when they'd left Sarah Jane, he realized just how much Rose needed to be protected from him. He hadn't felt about Sarah, or anyone for that matter, the way he felt about Rose but being so close to Sarah and seeing how much it hurt her when he'd left….he knew he would never leave Rose but he felt like he had to push her away. He was being selfish, wanting to have her and he'd almost crossed the lines of friendship he'd so carefully drawn before so many times already. He couldn't deprive her of a normal human life. She deserved to fall in love with a man who could spend his whole life with her and grow old with her and as much as he desperately wished he could do that for her, he couldn't. So he'd created distance. That whole stupid business with Reinette, inviting Mickey onboard…It was all so utterly idiotic and he hated himself for it.

Naturally, it hadn't worked. The distance was nearly killing him and he needed her. He needed Rose more than he'd ever needed anyone in all his lives. He needed her to know how he felt, because he could tell now how she felt about him. He saw it in her eyes a thousand times but never truly acknowledged it until he saw her face after they got back from France. The Doctor knew he had that same look whenever Rose hugged Mickey or leaned into him or even smiled at any bloke that wasn't him. He realized Rose had thought he loved Reinette and he saw how wrong everything was. He'd been trying to push her away but it was for her, because he loved her anddidn't want to take away her life.

The Doctor realized it wasn't working. The distance was just breaking them. He was losing her. She had to know. She had to know that the reason he'd never acknowledged her feelings before was because he'd been too afraid to destroy their friendship, too afraid to live on after she'd….but he'd always been a coward. He would not be a coward today. He had to fix this. Instead of walking to the console to take them back into the Vortex, he sent the TARDIS a mental note to watch out for Rose and walked out the doors.

The Doctor returned half an hour later, white box in trembling hands. He ran his long fingers through his hair, trying to smooth it down from all the manic pulling he'd been doing out of fear, trying to figure out how to keep Rose. He prayed this worked. He walked through the corridors to Rose's room and knocked tentatively on the door. He heard a rustling noise, then footsteps, before Rose opened the door. Her eyes were red from crying, though she'd clearly tried to wipe the evidence away and his hearts broke. He didn't want her to hide anything from him.

The Doctor cleared his throat. "Rose…I…got these for you," he said nervously, holding the box out to her. She looked down at it, curious. She stepped aside.

"You want to come in?" she asked. He nodded and walked forward. She sat on the bed and motioned for him to do the same. He did and they faced each other, legs crisscrossed, the box in between them. The Doctor tried to think of what to say, how to say it but instead just turned the box to face her and opened it. There were exactly sixteen cupcakes inside. Red velvet. The first fifteen each had one letter on it and the last had a question mark.

Rose looked down at the words spelled out on the cupcakes. 'Will you be my Rose?'

When she didn't say anything, she heard the Doctor babble, "Sorry, I know it's cheesy but you did say you liked cheesy and I…" he stopped when he saw a tear fall down her cheek.

The Doctor's hearts sank. Did he just make this worse?! He quickly reached up to wipe the tear away. Rose grabbed his hand and held it there, leaned into his touch.

"Doctor, I've always been yours," she said softly and kissed the palm of his hand. He felt his stomach float up somewhere in the vicinity of his throat.

"I've always wanted you to be," he said. Then he used his hand still clutched in hers to pull her to him and he kissed her. Suddenly she was kissing him back and she was threading her hands in his hair. He edged himself towards her on the bed and pulled her to him, clutching at her desperately. Rose gasped in surprise and they broke apart when she looked down. He'd pulled her right on top of the cupcakes and her jeans were covered in icing.

"Sorry," he said softly, still breathless from the kiss. She giggled and he felt himself smile hugely.

She gave him first genuine smile the Doctor had seen in such a long time. It was his favorite smile; the tongue tucked in her teeth smile that made his hearts stop.

"You'll have to make that up to me, you know," she said. The Doctor smiled at the memory and tugged her to him.

"I can think of a few ways," he said waggling his eyebrows, making her laugh before she pulled him in for a much longer kiss.

The Doctor pulled Rose on top of him and grinned at the realization that this was the second outfit of his that would have the scent of red velvet cupcakes and Rose Tyler on it.

The Doctor leaned against the doorframe and watched amusedly as Donna rifled through the kitchen cupboards on the TARDIS.

"Don't you have anything sweet to eat?" she asked grouchily.

"Sweet?" the Doctor asked, trying to hide his amusement.

"Yes, sweet! My hair is singed. I spent the last hour running from some wildebeest thing-"

The Doctor fought the urge to correct her, "and I just really want to eat something sweet!" she finished shooting him a glare over her shoulder as if she could sense what he'd been about to say.

"I don't know," he said, barely stifling a laugh. "I'm going to shower, though. Save me a piece of whatever you find," he added shooting her a grin before heading off.

The Doctor was just pulling his coat back on when he froze just outside of the kitchen. He smelled something he never wanted to smell again and tried to push all the memories threatening to flood his mind away. Of course, it didn't work.

He imagined when he'd walked to the kitchen the morning after he'd given Rose those cupcakes. He'd just left Rose's room. He'd woken up to find himself and the bed sticky with icing but no Rose. He searched for his clothes strewn around the room, delightfully mixed up with hers, before pulling his on and then went looking for his Rose. As he'd walked to the kitchen, the most beautiful smell in the world assaulted all his sensed. The smell that meant more to him now than just cupcakes. It meant Rose and memories and love and kissing and finally.

He found Rose in the kitchen, pulling a tray of unfrosted red velvet cupcakes from the oven. She had showered recently, he could tell. Her hair was still damp and when she turned around, he saw she was wearing her Union Jack T-Shirt from so long ago. The Doctor looked her up and down appraisingly. She raised an eyebrow at him and said teasingly, "Like what you see?"

He growled in appreciation, walked up behind her, and snaked his arms around her waist to join at her stomach. She laid her hands over his and leaned into him.

"I hope you don't mind, I bought some cupcake mix while you were sleeping," she said cheekily. "'Seeing as we kind of ruined the last batch."

The Doctor chuckled and shook his head. He closed his eyes when he felt something cold and wet on his nose. He opened his eyes to find Rose's finger with a dollop of frosting on it inches from his nose.

"Oi!" he said laughing. She giggled and he pulled her finger into his mouth to lick the icing off and ticked her. She squirmed under his touch, and a bit of icing plopped to the floor, which the Doctor then slipped on, taking Rose down with him. She rolled onto him and licked the icing off of his nose. He smiled and held her there.

The Doctor looked up with a start as Donna spotted him when she turned around. "Oi! Spaceman! You hungry?" She gestured at the cupcake she was frosting and gave him a smile. He tried and failed to return it.

"N-no, thanks, Donna," he stammered, barely aware of what he was saying and already backing away. He had to get out of here. "Gonna go work on the TARDIS," he added and rushed away, rubbing his hands over his face to stop the stinging in his eyes.

He'd forgotten there was still cupcake mix in the cupboards. He didn't really make sweets on his own. After Donna had gone to bed that night, thankfully without asking him what was wrong even though he knew she wanted to, he forced himself to go into the kitchen. It no longer smelled like cupcakes. He silently thanked the TARDIS for that and crossed over to cupboards that had held the cupcake mix. He found two boxes still inside. In a different life, the sight would have made him grin but now it brought him almost unbearable pain. He grabbed the boxes roughly, prepared to throw them out. But Rose had bought them. So instead he carried them to a room he only entered on his worst nights when he needed any remnant he had of her for comfort and laid them on her dresser, still scattered with her make-up and the shirt Donna had found in the console room when he'd first met her and a dozen other memories that he couldn't bear to think about for too long or he'd drive himself mad. He tried to avoid looking at the still un-made bed as he walked to the door but he gave it one last look, the way he always did, before he closed the door and left.

…..

The Doctor rolled over in bed, sighing in frustration. He was tired but he couldn't sleep in this unfamiliar bed. If Rose was with him, he could've definitely fallen asleep but now that they were finally in the same universe and the bed next to him was empty, he couldn't sleep.

They'd just gotten back from Bad Wolf Bay yesterday. The best day of his life. The day he'd gotten to finally kiss her after so much time apart. The day he finally told her how he felt because he finally could. He could finally give her forever. The day he saw the recognition in her eyes that this was him, that he was still the Doctor. The day he saw the doubt start to cloud back in when the TARDIS left without her. Without them. Such a long day and they arrived back at the Tyler mansion, a much happier, lived-in Tyler mansion, he noted, at the insistence of Jackie that the Doctor and Rose stay with them for the first night. So they had. In separate rooms. Rose didn't make a move to suggest they stay in the same room, so he didn't ask. He would wait. He would wait as long as it took. After all, how long had Rose waited for him show her how he felt. Even longer to say it.

He gave up on trying to sleep and sat up in bed to watch the sun rise outside his window. He dressed in a T-shirt and jeans that Jackie had bought him on the way home yesterday and went downstairs. He padded silently through the house. Everyone else was still asleep. He took a tour of the house that he'd been too tired to take yesterday while simultaneously thinking of ways to prove to Rose that he was still the Doctor. When he reached the kitchen, he was struck by an idea. He searched frantically through the cupboards until finally he found what he was looking for. A box of red velvet cupcake mix.

The Doctor quickly set to making the cupcakes. He was very slow and clumsy about it. He'd rarely had to cook before and when he did, the TARDIS always managed to control things so that he wouldn't set the kitchen on fire. The Doctor now learned he was a bad cook.

The Doctor quickly pulled out his second ruined batch of cupcakes from the oven. He swore under his breath and shook his finger wildly as he burned it. He felt a wave of panic rise up in him. He had to get this done before Rose woke up. He would've just gone out and bought some but he didn't know where anything was in this universe. He had at least managed not to ruin the icing. He was scooping his finger into the bowl and licked the icing off when he heard a small cough behind him.

He spun around, finger still in his mouth and found Rose standing there. He pulled his finger out with a pop and wiped it on his jeans. "Rose!" he said, joy bubbling up inside of him at the sight of her. She was still in her pyjamas and her hair was still mussed from sleep and he was pretty sure she'd never looked more beautiful. Then he took in his surroundings and realized how messy he'd left the kitchen. She was looking at him in shock.

He felt himself starting to panic again. This was all wrong! He'd wanted this to be a romantic gesture that made her finally realize how he was. Then it suddenly occurred to him that this might make her sad if she really didn't believe he was the Doctor.

"Rose, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry!" he said quickly. "I was just trying to make you cupcakes. I wanted to surprise you. I was going to make it like last time," he added with a frown. "I was going to write something on them…wellll hopefully, if I could find some different colored icing. I was going to write something better though." He huffed in frustration. "This isn't right. I'm sorry. I wanted it to smell like cupcakes when you woke up like…." He broke off. If she didn't believe he was the Doctor, he didn't want to remind her of the full Time Lord version of himself. "I-" he started to say but Rose crossed the room to him and took the spoon he'd been holding out of his hand.

"I forgot to tell you something yesterday," she said. "I-I should've told you."

"What?" he asked, his hearts…his one heart he reminded himself, hammering.

"I love you too," Rose said smiling at him. The Doctor saw the recognition in her eyes he'd seen yesterday right before she'd kissed him. This time he kissed her, chasing away any doubts she may have had that he was her Doctor.

"I love you," she repeated giving him that tongue in teeth smile. The Doctor realized it felt just as strong when it made his one heart flip instead of two.

The Doctor grinned at her goofily and said, "That's what I was going to write on the cupcakes."