This is the eleventh fic in my 2013 Advent Calendar!
Note: This takes place after Doomsday in a world where Rose and Jackie stayed in their universe because of reasons!
prompt: "Ten/Rose - they attend a Christmas party on Earth, where the Doctor is assumed to be Rose's boyfriend. Do what you will with it. ;)"
Also, big thanks to fadewithfury/foxmoon for reading it through when I was afraid I hadn't balanced it well enough and needed one more person to assure me. ;)
WANT TO, YOU KNOW...?
"You don't have to come, you know," Rose said, walking down the street hand-in-hand with the Doctor.
"Your mother made it very clear that I didn't have much of a choice, Rose."
She smiled. "So?"
"I don't want to get slapped!"
"Doctor, she's slapped you once–and that was ages ago!"
He rubbed his cheek. "I can still feel it, you know. Even though I've regenerated. It was that hard."
"You're such a wimp."
"She even said she'd get her sisters and your grandmother to help!"
Rose positioned herself in front of him and grabbed his other hand as well, squeezing them and giving him a friendly smile. "Seriously, though. I don't mind going on my own. And I won't let anyone slap you."
"Well," he said and sniffed, "I'm all dressed up now and we're already there." He pointed at a house farther down the street. "That's the one, right?"
She grinned. "All dressed up?"
"New tie! Look, it has little reindeers on it." He beamed and stroked his accessory. "And I've changed my shirt. Oh, and I'm trying something new with my hair!"
"Yeah, it's…" She gestured around her head. "Very sticky-uppy."
"Yes, well, that's what I was going for."
"That's good, then. Mission accomplished." A gust of wind blew across the street, fluttering the skirts of her dress, and she pulled her open coat tighter around her body. "I'm just saying. There's still time to turn around. The TARDIS is just a few blocks away. You can go back, tinker a bit. Maybe read in the library for–"
"Are you cold?" he asked, rubbing her arms.
"Is this about the beast?"
He sighed. "Speaking of things that were ages ago."
"Not even six months."
"Don't be silly."
He took her hand and tried to pull her along, but she tugged him back to her. His chin sunk down to his chest as he stared at their joined hands. Another gust hit them, stroking her stocking-covered legs and playing with her hair. Her skin prickled and she suppressed a shiver, forcing herself to relax.
"Yeah, but you've barely let me out of your sight since Torchwood. Doctor, just tell me. Are you still thinking something will happen?"
He took a deep breath, exhaling as he raised his head and looked her in the eye. "It's not about the beast and it's not about Torchwood."
"Okay. Suit yourself, then. And remember that you chose this when my aunt Stephanie tries to pull you and pinches your bum."
"Yeah. You're just her type, you know. And you're the same age."
"That's not even remotely possible."
"No, I mean," she said, laughing. "You look thirty five, and she's thirty five, so…"
"Please don't let her pinch my bum. Why do people always pinch my bum?"
She frowned. "They do?"
"Eeeeeer… It's happened. On occasion." He ran his hand through his hair and gestured in front of them with the other as he started to walk down the street. "We should hurry up. Don't wanna be late!"
She rushed after him, her heels clicking against the pavement. "You can always say no, you know. That's what us humans usually do when someone we don't fancy hits on us. No, thanks. Not interested. Try someone else. Plenty of fish in the sea."
"Yes. I'll remember that. Thanks. Ah. Here we are, then." He stopped in front of the large, yellow house, took a deep breath and walked up the stairs, ringing the doorbell.
The Doctor and Rose had just hung up their coats on the coat stand and said hello to her cousin Abby, the hostess of the Christmas party, when Jackie stormed into the hall. She threw herself first at Rose and then the Doctor, assaulting them with hugs and kisses, and comments about how long it'd been since they'd seen each other last.
"Oh, I got lipstick on you!" Jackie said, licking her thumb and scrubbing his cheek.
He recoiled, face scrunched up. "There are other fish in the sea, Jackie!"
"Don't mind him, mum. He thinks you're hitting on him."
"Oh, that's ridiculous. Why would I hit on him?" She shook her head, then gasped and leaned closer to Rose, eyes wide open and sparkling. "D'you know who's invited?"
"Every Prentice in the country?"
"Yes. Which means…?"
"Is this another ghost thing? Honestly, mum. It wasn't really granddad–"
"No! Ben! Ben is coming."
Rose's cheeks turned pink, fingers playing with her earring. "Ben Lawson?"
"I thought he lived in America."
"No, he's moved back home! Few months ago. He's opening a practise in… Oh, where was it?"
"Who's Ben Lawson?" the Doctor asked, moving closer to them, eyes locked on the fidgeting Rose.
"No one," she said, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "He's just a bloke I used to fancy."
Jackie snorted. "You were madly in love with him for four years, Rose."
The Doctor knitted his brow, hand finding hers, weaving their fingers together. "I thought this was a family thing."
"It is. His dad married Abby's mum when I was thirteen. Ben was older, uhm, seventeen–and really fit. I'd never seen anyone so good-looking in person. God, I just wanted to lick his face."
"Ugh, and he was so cool. Abby's my age so I spent a lot of time at their house. And, yeah, I fell in love with him. All of Abby's friends fancied him. S'not like I was the only one. Not that he noticed me. Was just an annoying little kid to him."
"You're not a kid anymore, though." Her mother gave her a pointed look. "And he's still fit, Stephie said. And single."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Mum, I don't have time for a boyfriend! Wouldn't be fair on him. You saw what happened with Mickey."
"You never fancied Mickey the way you fancied Ben, though. Maybe with him, you'd–"
"Yeah, exactly. Fancied. Past tense. I'm not interested, mum. Besides, I don't need a boyfriend, do I? Got the Doctor, the TARDIS, the universe. All of time and space. Why would I want a boyfriend?"
Jackie sighed. "All right, all right. Stephie just mentioned him, and I was reminded of all those hours you spent in your room with that little box, listening to… What was it?"
"Savage Garden," Rose muttered under her breath.
"Yes! Savage Garden! Oh, Doctor, you should've seen her! She'd saved all these little things in a shoe box. The scrunchie she wore the day he said she looked cute, a free sample of the aftershave he used, an old pencil he'd forgotten at the kitchen table after doing his homework. Oh, and a piece of gum. He'd chewed on it! I tried to toss it in the rubbish, but she got livid, she did!"
"Oh, and that song. Over and over and over. 'I knew I loved you before I met you. I think I dreamed you into liiiiife'," she sang, snickering. Rose glared at her. "Yeah, well, do as you like. All I know is that he's coming later, and he asked for you."
The Doctor's eyes flitted between the two women. "He did?"
"Oh, look at you!" Jackie smirked. "Worried?"
The Doctor raised his chin and took a deep sniff. "Do I smell eggnog?" Another sniff. "With nutmeg and brandy. And, ooooh, cinnamon sticks?"
"Yeah. It's the welcome drink."
He beamed and pulled Rose along, heading farther into the house. "Oooh! I love eggnog!"
A table full of glasses, most of them empty, stood by the window in the large room where the guests mingled. He took one, stirred the drink with the cinnamon stick and took a sip, smacking his lips and humming before downing the rest.
"Good?" Rose asked, chuckling.
"You can have mine, if you want," she said, placing her glass in his hands.
"Oooh, really? Bottoms up!"
"Doctor?" She smoothed out the wrinkles of her dress forming around her waist, and tossed her hair over her shoulder. "How do I look?"
He swallowed down the mouthful of eggnog. "Sorry?"
"How do I look!"
"Hm?" He blinked a few times and she squirmed, fingers finding their way back to her earring. "Oh. Ehm… Lovely. You look lovely."
She rolled her eyes and sighed, turning to Jackie. "Mum, how do I look?"
Jackie scrutinised her daughter, circling her. "You need more lipstick, hair could be bigger, and would it kill you to wear a wonderbra for once?"
"Well, other than that, then?"
"Oh, you're gorgeous, you are. Just pop into the loo and push your tits up before Ben gets here, sweetheart. Oh! Look! Bernadette's cut off her hair! Eugh, she looks dreadful. I should offer to fix that for her."
"D'you think anyone's gonna mind if I have another?" the Doctor asked Rose as they watched her mother scurry away towards the woman with the questionable haircut.
"Nah. We were the last to arrive. Well, except Ben. But he's allergic to eggs."
"Oh, is he, now."
"Yeah. Think you can go wild. They're strong, though. Always are. A Prentice knows how to hold their liquor."
"Well, so does a Time Lord," he said, starting on his third glass.
The Prentice clan filled every free space of the room and most of them wanted Rose's attention, showering her with questions about her exciting life travelling the world and helping people in need. The Doctor stuck by her side most of the time, helping her lie when needed, but also wandered over to the table with Christmas punch, cocktails, and nibbles whenever it struck his fancy–which it did quite often. During the first hour, he'd kept an eye out for this Ben fellow but, as he didn't show up and Rose neither had fixed her lipstick nor done anything about her breasts, the Doctor had relaxed.
"I'm getting myself another glass of punch. Want me to bring you one as well?" he asked.
"Already?" She chuckled. "Doctor, how drunk are you?"
"I'm not drunk!"
"Yeah? Well, you've had an awful lot. And you're being really sweet and polite. It's weird."
"I'm always sweet!" he said. She quirked an eyebrow and put her hands on her hips. "To you! I'm always sweet to you."
"Oh, god. You are drunk." She grinned. "Maybe I should ask Abby if I can borrow her wheelbarrow in case you pass out."
"Did you just say Lungbarrow?!"
She narrowed her eyes, regarding him for a second. "I've never seen you drunk, ever. What's going on?"
"Nothing! I enjoy a slight buzzzzzzz. Feels all cottony in my head. It's quiet and nice." He beamed. "And my tummy's warm and pleasant. And my chest! And you're here and we're just in a little party on Earth. No dangers, nothing to run from. Besides, I can sober up in under a minute if I need to."
"Can you really, or are you just trying to be impressive?"
"I am impressive!"
"Yes, I can. I promise."
"Okay. Good. Suppose you're old enough to do as you please. And, yeah, I'd like some more punch, thanks."
He cast glances over his shoulder as he walked over to the table and started scooping up the drink with a ladle, feeling a different type of warmth spreading in his chest at the sight of Rose. She'd moved over to a sofa with a few of her many cousins, laughing and gesturing as they chatted. He couldn't help but smile at how happy and relaxed she looked, but the smiletransformed into a soundless snarl, nostrils flaring, as a tall man sat down beside Rose. The man grinned at her, arms held out for a hug. She beamed and threw herself at the man, giving him a warm embrace and keeping her hands on his shoulders as she pulled back.
The Doctor swallowed, fingers tightening around the ladle as he inspected his rival: thick dark hair, deep dimples in his cheeks, and symmetrical features and ears. The man blabbered on, all smirks and winks and sparkling, blue eyes, and Rose nodded, looking attentive. The Doctor's chest tightened and his mouth turned dry, tongue feeling too large and coarse. He quaffed another glass and refilled it, plastering a too-wide grin on his face as he noticed Rose turning her head in his direction, giving him a wave. The man shot him a glance, from the top of the Doctor's head down to his trainers, and arched an eyebrow before returning his attention to Rose; however, someone else had tugged at her arm and she'd turned away from the man. He looked at the Doctor again, got up from the sofa and made his way over. The Doctor put back the ladle in the bowl and straightened his back, arms stiff and hands curled into fists.
"Hello." The man smiled and held out his hand. " Ben."
"Yes, I gathered. I'm the Doctor. So, catching up with Rose?"
"Yeah, sure did."
"What did you talk about, then? Fish perhaps? I hear there's plenty of them. Maybe you should go have a look."
Ben crinkled his forehead. "Eh? No. I'm allergic to fish–"
"That too, hm? Weak genes?"
"Ehm… Yeah, so Rose said you travel together, but she wasn't very clear on, you know, your relationship status. But I assume you're not her boyfriend, are you?"
"No, not boyfriend, no."
"Good to know. She used to fancy me, but she was so young, you know what I mean? Just this little kid who pined after me. All grown up now, though, isn't she?" he said, staring at Rose, his lips parted and smiling. "And I reckon she still has a soft spot for me. Felt that way just now, it did. Should've seen the way she looked at me. Even blushed."
"Rose isn't really into, ahem, casual…eeer…ehm–" The Doctor grabbed one of the punch glasses and emptied it in one, feeling the burn of alcohol spreading in his body. "Well, Rose is–"
"Casual? Oh, I'm not looking for anything casual. Don't worry." Ben laughed and patted the Doctor on the arm. He bristled, but the other man had locked his eyes on Rose and didn't notice. "It's great that you're protective of her–like a good mate should be–but, trust me, I've met Jackie Tyler. I wouldn't even consider Rose if I weren't serious… Oh, that smile… She's quite something, isn't she?"
"Wish me luck!"
"And she's taken." The Doctor's stomach flipped and his eyes flew wide open in shock over what he'd just blurted out, but he had time to school his features before the other man turned back to him.
"Oh, really?" Ben folded his arms over his chest, holding his head high and offering the Doctor a smug grin. "I thought you said you weren't her boyfriend."
"I'm not. I'm…her fiancé."
"Horse shit. I didn't see a ring on her finger."
"That's because I've not proposed yet."
"Sorry to break it to you, mate, but as long as I don't see a ring, it's fair game. And I doubt I ever will."
"Fair game? This isn't a game! And Rose isn't a prize! She's a-a brilliant woman, and I'm proposing and that's that."
Ben tilted his head to the side and gave the Doctor a look full of pity, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Look, I get it. I really do. Who wouldn't fall for her? Of course you did. But we both know you're not planning on proposing to her and we both know she's not really interested. Travel together for years and she's still not–"
"No?" The Doctor shrugged off Ben's hand and shoved his own deep into the pocket where he kept pieces of jewellery for trading, rummaging around after a fitting ring. He moved a few plain ones to the side until his fingers felt an infinity twist wedding band with a princess cut gemstone, and pulled it up with a triumphant smirk. "Why would I be carrying around this if I weren't proposing to Rose, hm?"
"Oh, my god!" he heard Abby say behind him and his blood froze, hearts tumbling over one another in his chest. "You're proposing tonight? Oh, that ring's gorgeous, it is. Look, nan."
He couldn't breathe, couldn't move, only hold up that blasted ring as Rose's cousin, grandma, and one of her aunts flocked around him and gasped over the ring, chattering about the romance of him proposing in front of her whole family. More people gathered and his eyes glided over to Rose, who had neither moved from her spot nor noticed the commotion surrounding comfortable buzz he'd enjoyed for the last couple of hours left his body and he sobered up in an instant.
He could run. Just run the hell out of there. Run and suffer an endless string of slap from Jackie, her sisters, her mother, and all those cousins. Prentice women had such broad palms. Farmer's daughters. The lot of them. Oh, well, a slap never killed anyone–at least not a Time Lord.
Yes, he would run.
He gave the women a curt smile, slipped the ring back into his pocket, and made a beeline towards the door, but then someone clinked their glass and cleared their throat.
"Can I have your attention please? It seems like the Doctor wanted to tell us all something."
What felt like a thousand Prentice eyes burned into the back of his head and he turned around, forcing a smile on his face and relying on his respiratory bypass system not to pass out from lack of oxygen. Rose peered at him with a smile and a crinkle between her brow, and he rushed over to her, feeling knitted Christmas jumpers under his fingers as he squeezed himself between the curious people staring at him. He grabbed her hands and pulled her up on her feet, leaning in to whisper in her ear.
"Rose, I did something stupid."
"Uh-huh. Go on."
He pulled back, frowning. "Oi! Can you at least sound a bit surprised?"
She grinned. "Not really, no. Doctor? What did you do? Were you rude to someone hitting on you?"
He leaned in again, whispering, "Ehm, not quite. I… Rose. Please, just play along. I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. If you just play along I'll… I'll… I'll watch telly with you and give you foot rubs every evening for a month."
"Oh, my god. What the hell did you do?"
"Alien stuff. Here. In my cousin's house."
"Yep! Very important alien stuff. I need to maintain my cover. Please just play along."
She sighed, put her hands on her hips and stepped back. "Yeah, all right."
"Yes. Good. Eeer… Well…" Holding out his hand, he curled his fingers in a wave. She lay her hand in his, raising her eyebrows, and he cleared his throat and began talking in a loud, stilted voice: "Rose Marion Tyler! When we met I was not a happy man. I'd lost everything and I was very lonely and broken and felt so very old. But then I met you and I became a new man–quite literally actually."
She chuckled at him as he grinned and waggled his eyebrows.
"You made me see the beauty in the universe again in a time when all I wanted was to…" He swallowed and ducked his head, voice growing softer. "You gave me something to live for, to-to fight for. And every day you make me better. By just being there, holding my hand and being… Well, Rose. By being you. And I need you. With me. And you promised me forever once and I think you meant it, but I…" He inhaled and shrugged as he let the breath out, staring at the toes of her chunky red suede heels. "Oh, I'm rubbish at this."
He slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out the ring as he went down on one knee to the sound of awed gasps from everyone in the room.
"Want to, you know…?" He quirked the corners of his mouth downward and shrugged with one shoulder, holding up the ring in front of her as he dared to lift his head and look at her.
She stood frozen, staring at him with glossy eyes and her mouth hanging open.
She worked her lips for a brief moment, eyes blinking before drifting to the ring. Her brows knitted together, her eyes cleared, and she slumped as a breath escaped her.
"Oh. Uhm, yeah, sure."
The people around them broke out in laughter and the Doctor scrambled up on his feet, wrapping his arms around her in a hug.
"I'm going to kill you," she whispered into his ear.
"I'm so sorry," he mumbled into her hair. "I had to!"
"Yeah? Really? D'you know what I think? 'Cause I saw who you were talk–"
The crowd around them interrupted her by clapping their hands together and demanding a kiss.
"'Kay, I hope you're ready, then, Doctor. 'Cause I'm gonna kiss you."
He closed his eyes and puckered his lips, waiting, but nothing happened. Rose cleared her throat and he opened his eyes again, finding her standing with her hand held out in front of her. He furrowed his brow, eyes flitting between her and her hand.
"The ring, Doctor."
"Oooh." His face split into a grin and he slid the ring onto her finger. "There! Perfect fit!"
She took a step closer, running her hand down his tie until she reached the first button of his suit jacket, fingers slipping under the fabric and tugging him towards her. "They're expecting a proper kiss."
"Yeah. Is that all right? We don't want to blow your cover, do we?"
"Nope. Yes. Mhm. That's… Yep."
She smirked and tilted her head up, sliding both hands up his chest to his shoulders as she pressed her lips to his. His eyes fluttered close and he clenched and unclenched his hands when her mouth began to move against his, soft and tender. A shiver ran through him when he felt her tongue, and he encircled her waist with his arms, pulling her flush to him as he parted his lips in invitation. In the back of his mind he registered her relatives cheering and applauding, but most of his senses honed in on Rose–the scent of her warm skin and orange blossom body lotion, the fruit punch and cinnamon taste of her mouth, and the heat radiating from her body.
His knees felt weak, head light, fingers itching to feel naked skin rather than her jersey-covered back. He couldn't help but groan and buck his hips when she sucked on his tongue, but the cat-call from a few of her relatives broke the spell and he pulled back, panting, cheeks burning.
"Well, hello there, future husband," she said, giving him her Rose Tyler trademark grin.
He sputtered, mind reeling as he tried to find something–anything–to say, but she just chuckled and patted him on the chest before turning back to whomever she'd been talking to before he proposed to her in front of her entire family.
Someone found champagne and soon people were toasting, holding speeches and running ahead of things. They talked about dates, dresses, cakes, and hairstyles and when, exactly, should they expect a visit from the stork?
Rose avoided the questions with expert ease, deflecting, changing the subjects, and giving vague answers. The Doctor stuck by her side, smiling, nodding, and receiving more slaps on the back, handshakes and kisses on the cheek than he'd done in his entire life. As though they'd reached a silent understanding, they did their best to stay far away from Jackie. Although she'd had several cocktails throughout the evening and one would assume she'd be in a gullible state, she didn't buy their little act for a second. He could see it in her eyes, baby blue and piercing as she kept her distance, watching them from across the room.
When Rose decided that they'd stayed long enough, he let out a whoosh of relief, threw on his coat and left the house in such a hurry he'd reached the street before Rose had as much as put on one sleeve, and he had to use every ounce of decency he had to keep himself from legging it back to the TARDIS.
Rose smiled to herself and took her time putting on her coat and saying goodbye to all of her relatives before joining the Doctor outside. She waited for him to say something, explain what had happened–even though she had her suspicions since she'd seen him and Ben talk–but three blocks later the Doctor had still not said a thing.
"I know it's silly, but… Just wanted him to see what he missed out on."
"Ben. I wasn't really interested in him. Dunno. Just felt like I was thirteen again and when he looked at me like that, like he wanted… It felt good."
"You must think I'm really vain."
He smiled and took her hand, lacing their fingers together. "No, I don't."
"You know you'll have to marry me now, yeah?"
"Oh. Well. Ehm…" He puffed up his cheeks and blew out a breath. "I suppose–"
"God, I'm joking. Of course you don't have to. We'll just pretend to be engaged. Lots of people just get engaged, actually."
"Suppose you'll need this back, then." She pulled off the ring and gave it to him. "Why did you have it, anyway?"
"Oh, I have loads of trinkets and jewellery in my pockets. Need them for bartering and trading. These are starphires," he said, running his fingers over the twists. "And this one, the big one, is an amiandi from Solus Forty. Worth at least ten diamonds of the same size and clarity."
"Is it really an engagement ring?"
"No, on Solus Forty it's a wedding band. But I suppose you can use it however you like."
"You-you should…keep it."
She laughed. "That's not very practical, though, is it?"
"Said the woman who fights in hoop earrings to keep the universe safe. How you've not torn your ears off yet…" He shook his head. "But all right, if you don't want this extremely rare and beautiful–"
"Oh, give it."
She snatched back the ring and held out her right hand to put it on, but the Doctor stilled her.
"No, I meant," he said, taking the ring and sliding it on her left ring finger, brushing her knuckles with his thumb, "keep it."
Her chest constricted, heart skipping a beat before racing, and she could do nothing but stare at her hand for the longest moment.
She swallowed down the lump in her throat and drew in a shuddering breath, smiling to him as tears prickled in her eyes. "You meant it? What you said. All those beautiful things you said about me… You meant them?"
"Oh… I didn't– Doctor…"
She threw herself at him and linked her arms around his neck, capturing his lips and pouring everything she felt for him into the kiss. He reciprocated without hesitation, holding her close as they moved lips and tongues, nipped and sucked. The world fell away and she knew nothing but the feeling of his lean body clinging to hers, the rasp of his slight stubble against her skin, his fingers digging into her sides, and how his cool tongue grew warmer with each stroke of hers.
"Oh, it was real!"
They broke apart at the sound of Jackie's voice, but their arms lingered, bodies pressed together as they turned their heads to look at her.
"I thought you were doing something daft as always, but it was real. I was running after you to… But…" Jackie waved her hands at her teary eyes. "Oh, I'm so happy for you!" She let out a squeal and hurled herself at them, hugging them and showering their cheeks with kisses. "Now go on, go back to your box. Don't let me hold you back." She raised her shoulders and bit her lip, beaming at them. "You should celebrate, all right? And tomorrow you're stopping by the flat for brekkie with me. I want you all for myself so you can tell me everything, from start to finish. All right, go, go," she said, shooing at them.
Rose waved at her and grabbed the Doctor's hand, once more walking down the street towards the TARDIS. She shot a glance over her shoulder to make sure they had put enough distance between them to be out of earshot.
"Next time you wanna take the next step in our relationship, maybe just go about it the normal way, yeah? I mean, if you really want to, I suppose you could pay for 'Rose Tyler. Want to, you know…?' in skywriting whenever you're ready for a shag. But honestly, though. It's so much easier to just tell me, all right?"
"Hm…" He nodded a few times, then gave her hand a soft yank to spin her to face him. She held her breath, tongue darting out to wet her lips as he leaned close enough to brush them with his as he spoke. "Want to, you know…?"