“But Rose, I thought you liked Star Wars,” the Doctor says, glaring at the DVD boxset that Rose clutches in her hands.
“I do. It’s just, Doctor…”
She sighs and gestures at the television screen, waving the boxset around in a way that makes it impossible for him not to notice how it resembles the cover to a romance novel.
“It’s really quite hard to pay attention to what’s going on when you interrupt every thirty seconds to point out that something never would have happened on one planet or another or how a particular kind of alien doesn’t really look like a big blobby thing. Plus we’ve watched it loads of times already -- thought it might be nice to have a change, yeah?”
“Oh be reasonable, Rose, it’s more like every five minutes. Every thirty seconds, now that - that would be irritating. Almost as irritating as the sound of the name ‘Buffy’.”
The Doctor wrinkles his nose, shuddering exaggeratedly to drive his point home. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: not exactly the sort of title that demands respect, is it? Darth Vader, now there’s a title that commands attention.”
She rolls her eyes, as if he’s the one being stubborn and petulant. Not exactly fair, that.
“Just last week you were going on about what a stupid name Darth Vader was. And you can’t exactly talk, you know, ‘The Doctor’.“
“Hold on, I hardly think it is accurate to compare my --“ he begins, a perfect rebuttal half formed on his lips, but then he sees her biting her bottom lip, suppressing a grin. “Oh you’re winding me up.”
“Yep.” She smiles, fluttering her eyelashes. “Look, my mate Keisha said Buffy’s brilliant, used to natter on about it all the time trying to get me to come round to hers to watch it. Why don’t we give it a go for tonight and if you don’t like it, we’ll watch something else next time.”
“Well.” He pretends to consider, running a hand through his hair and tugging on an earlobe, already knowing he’ll give in. Really, he never stood a chance, not when she’s looking at him like that, pouty plump bottom lip sticking out in a way that makes him want to give her anything she desires. Still, he can’t exactly let her think she’s won so easily.
Lifting a pointed eyebrow that looks far too sure of itself for his taste, Rose clears her throat.
“Oh all right,” he says, holding his hands up to stave off her triumphant grin. “But if I’m going to be forced to sit through this rubbish, we’ll need some proper nibbles first.”
Twenty-two minutes later, they’re situated on the small sofa in the TARDIS media room, Rose in her normal spot to his left, chocolate biscuits, a bowl of popcorn and two bottles of cider on the coffee table in front of them.
The Doctor licks a biscuit, enjoying the way the chocolate melts onto his tongue as a montage of scenes from previous episodes flashes across the television screen.
He frowns. “Hold on, why aren’t we starting at the beginning?”
Rose shrugs, popping a few pieces of popcorn into her mouth. “Dunno. Keisha only gave me series 2. Figured if we like it, we can always go back and start over.”
“Right.” He nods, then frowns again. “But Rose, I like to watch them in order!”
“Seriously?” She pauses the episode, tilting her head towards him.
“You care that much about watching a show in order that you don’t even want to watch in the first place? You, mister ‘Time isn’t linear, Rose’ think that’s important?” she says, her voice low and deep and estuary as she nudges his shoulder with a playful smile.
“I don’t sound like that.” He crosses his arms over his chest, affecting his best offended look. “And comparing all of time and space to the linear order of a televised series is hardly fair. How am I supposed to know what’s going on?”
“Doctor, I think you’ll be able to figure it out. You’re a smart bloke.”
Without another word, she un-pauses the episode and turns her attention back on the telly.
The Doctor sighs, leaning forward to open one of the bottles of cider and taking a swig, the cool beverage bubbling down his throat and making him feel instantly warm and giddy. When the tall, goofy boy on the screen wipes a dollop of ice cream off of the ginger haired girl’s nose, he snorts out a laugh, confident that Rose will be bored of the show within fifteen minutes. But then a blonde, presumably Buffy, stakes a vampire just as the couple is about to kiss.
He glances at Rose, noting the way her brow furrows when the vampire turns to dust. “That’s not what happens when they die, you know.”
“Hmm?” she says, not taking her eyes off the screen, barely even registering that he’s spoken at all, making him like the show even less than he did three seconds ago.
“Well, real vampires do not turn to dust, Rose. That’s completely ridiculous. Of course, there are several different species to consider, from several different planets, but none of them turn to dust when they die, though mind you, it would be quite convenient if they did, I’m sure. Quite a bit less gruesome too, really. And I suppose there’s a certain amount of poetry to it, in a way, that’s all about returning them to the earth, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’, and all. A bit Earth centric though, that sort of thinking --“
“Doctor! Can we just watch the show? I promise to listen to whatever you want to say about it after it’s over, but it’s not even been five minutes and I’m actually quite enjoying it already.”
Not exactly the reaction he expected; usually she at least asks him a couple of questions or gifts him with one of her brilliant laughs.
His face must betray his disappointment because her eyes soften and she smiles, taking his hand in hers, thumb rubbing soft circles over his knuckles.
“Oh don’t look at me like that -- we’ve got nibbles, just like you wanted. You could, I don’t know, maybe eat a biscuit or a handful of popcorn or even go fetch a jar of jam when you get the urge to say something.”
Glancing down at their joined hands, he relents, reminded of the reason he enjoys these night in the TARDIS media room in the first place; it doesn’t matter what’s on the telly as long as she’s sitting right next to him, her hand resting in his. Smiling tenderly back at her, he nods, pushing a finger across his lips in silent promise to remain quiet.
He doesn’t say a word when the librarian watcher slightly resembles Finch, the Krillitane leader they defeated only a few months ago.
He doesn’t say a word when a broody, tall, dark, and irritatingly handsome vampire with a soul named Angel falls in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the most obvious storyline in the history of storylines, really.
He doesn’t say a word when a bleached blonde vampire pulls into Sunnydale and steps out of a sleek, black car, long black coat blowing in the wind.
Hold on, long coat?
“Rose, he’s got a long coat,” the Doctor says, pointing at the screen
“Um, yeah. Yeah, he does. So does Angel.” Rose replies, eyes dazed and fixated on the telly.
“I’ve got a long coat, Rose.”
She turns to look at him, tongue poking out of the corner of her lips. “And yours is much, much better, Doctor.”
He smiles, pleased, even though he knows she’s just indulging him. Smiling back, she lets go of his hand and grabs his arm, lifting it up and placing it across her shoulders as she pillows her head on his chest.
Her hot breath tickles the skin beneath his oxford and he suppresses a shudder. It’s not the first time they’ve snuggled like this, Rose always being the affectionate sort and not afraid to initiate such things, but lately he has found it more and more difficult to pretend he’s unaffected by her nearness.
From this angle he has a perfect view of the crook of her neck and the long, angular line of her jaw and if he tilts his head down just a little bit, he could --
With his free hand, he reaches for the chocolate biscuits and shoves several into his mouth at once, forcing himself to pay attention to the show instead.
He doesn’t say a word when Buffy and her friends manage to muck up over five hundred years of mummy mythology in less than forty-five minutes, completely missing the fact that the so called Incan mummy girl is actually from the planet Munus, even with an entire library of books at their disposal.
They watch episode after episode and, despite his reluctance, he gradually becomes more invested in the storylines, impressed by all of the witty dialogue and all of the clever ways Buffy and her friends defeat villain after villain. The kicking and punching and staking and use of various weaponry isn’t exactly his style, but the absence of guns does make him happy.
He even begins to care about the love story between Buffy and Angel and when the couple’s first time together ends in the loss of Angel’s soul, he wraps his arm more tightly around Rose’s shoulder and rubs his hand up and down her arm, seeking comfort or providing it; he’s not really sure.
Somehow, he manages to resist the urge to espouse on the dualistic philosophical notions of the losing and gaining of souls and is only a little disappointed when Rose doesn’t compliment him on his restraint.
In fact, it has been hours since he’s said anything at all.
While he finds the show more interesting than he expected, he is simultaneously distracted by the way Rose seems to have decided he’s either her favorite piece of furniture or her favorite teddy bear.
She lays curled up on her side with her head still on his chest, one arm limply draped across his waist. Her hand grips his hip and the warmth of her fingers seeps through his shirt and onto his skin, sending a pleasant tingle up that side of his body that makes him clench his hands into tight fists with the urge to touch her -- his arm is still wrapped around her shoulders, but that’s the only reciprocation that he allows himself.
Her other arm is wrapped around his back, and her fingers absentmindedly pull on the rough cotton of his shirt every time a tense scene unfolds on the show. At least he thinks she’s doing it absentmindedly; she doesn’t seem to have any intent behind her actions, judging by the adorable way her brow furrows in concentration as she watches. He smiles down at her, pressing a light kiss into her hair that she can’t feel.
When there’s a particularly emotional scene where Buffy has to save her friends from the now evil and soul-less Angel, she snuggles her chin more deeply into his chest and wraps her arms even more tightly around him. Then, she lets out a shuddering sigh and entwines her leg with his, her knee brushing the seam of his trousers.
Well, that’s new.
Resting his chin on top of her head, he swallows, enjoying the feel of her hair against his adam’s apple and the way it tickles the stubble on his neck as he tries to ignore the proximity of her knee to his groin. He briefly considers bolting up with the excuse of wanting jam, but when the inside of her thigh rubs against his hip, he knows he’s not going anywhere. In one move he unclenches his free hand and wraps his arm around her waist, pulling her closer until she practically sits in his lap.
The relaxed mood of moments ago has become thick with tension and he’s not sure how to handle it or what to do next. Suddenly innocent snuggling on the sofa doesn’t feel so… innocent anymore.
Feeling the need to lighten the atmosphere, he impulsively brings her wrist to his lips, pausing briefly before nipping at the skin where her pulse beats. She yelps, lifting her head up instantly.
“What’d you do that for?”
“Just thought I’d show you the right way to do it.” He lifts his chin, indicating the vampires on the screen. “That’s not how it’s done, Rose.”
She tilts her head up to look at him, biting her lip and searching his face. He’s not sure what she’s looking for there, but she seems to find it, because she nods and develops a confident gleam in her eye that makes him, very, very nervous.
“Okay. Show me how it’s really done, then,” she finally says, the challenge clear in her words.
Well, he can’t exactly not rise to the challenge.
“Well… First, I’d open an artery here.”
Without breaking eye contact, he lifts her wrist to his mouth and nips her skin with his teeth, leaving a light mark there that he immediately suckles with his lips and soothes with the tip of his tongue. Seeing the way the gleam in her eye turns from confident to glazed, he feels emboldened to continue.
Luckily, she’s wearing a vest so his next target is easily accessible. He brushes his fingers over the light hairs on her arm, walking them down until he finds the crook of her elbow.
“Then, I’d open a vein here.”
He lowers his head and repeats the motion, lingering a little longer with his lips this time when he feels her shiver against his mouth. Although he can no longer gauge her reaction with his eyes, the way her pulse speeds up and her breathing becomes more shallow lets him know she’s enjoying this just as much as he is.
“What -- what would you do next, then?” she asks and he smirks at the waver in her voice.
He raises his head back up to look her in the eye. “Well, Rose Tyler, next I’d bite your neck. That part’s the same.”
Unsure of whether or not the game has ended, he hesitates to continue. But then she lifts the hair off of her neck and points at her pulse point, tilting her head so that his mouth lines up directly over it.
“Here?” she whispers.
Gazing down at the curve of her neck, she looks delicious -- delectable, even, and he wonders if he has taken the role-playing too far.
He could easily give her a quick peck there, having already demonstrated his point, and turn his attention back on the telly. He should do exactly that; sure, it’d be a bit awkward at first but it wouldn’t change anything, not really. They’d laugh it off and then their cuddling would be unloaded of expectations and go back to being an innocent snuggle between friends just watching a show together.
But it would be a lie and at the moment, at least, he’s done pretending.
Rose’s eyes turn nervous and she starts to lower her hand, letting a few wisps of hair fall back onto her shoulders. Before she can drop it, he grabs her wrist and holds it in place as he brings his mouth to rest on her neck. Hesitating for only a second, he takes a deep breath and then nips her there, a little rougher this time, leaving the indention of his teeth on her skin.
When she gasps, he kisses the mark and sucks lightly, tongue darting out between his puckered lips, and the salty taste of her skin mixed with his own saliva almost undoes him. He lets her wrist drop and wraps one arm around her waist and the other around the back of her neck, gently tilting her neck a little more as he increases the suction of his lips, replacing the light mark with one that will be visible for days.
Rose runs her fingers through his hair, encouraging him to continue. He does, for a few seconds longer, before pulling away and tilting her head down so that he can kiss her on the lips instead. She kisses him back roughly, lips sliding over lips, and then slings her legs over his pelvis so that she’s fully straddling his lap, undoubtedly feeling the evidence of his arousal.
He has an inkling in the back of his mind that this is all happening too fast, but he’s too far gone to care, what with the way she’s currently rubbing up against him and sliding her tongue in and out of his mouth. But just as his hand grazes her breast, she’s vanished and he has his arms wrapped around empty air.
“Doctor, we can’t do this.”
It takes a moment to register that she has actually moved off of his lap, but seeing Rose look upset pulls him back to reality. Running a hand through his hair, he scratches at the nape of his neck and turns his attention on her.
“Why’s that, then? I thought we were doing rather brilliantly. Just perfecting our technique, towards the end there.”
“I’m being serious, Doctor. What if… what if that happens to us?” she asks, pointing at the screen with the remote control.
He has no idea how she could possibly focus on a television show right now, not when she’s looking so thoroughly snogged and has a bright red mark on her neck put there by him. But since she seems so insistent on the idea, he turns to look at the screen anyway.
Paused on the screen, there’s an image of the now soul-less Angel taunting Buffy, the day after their first time together.
“Rose, you do know that I’m not really a vampire, don’t you?”
She sighs, shaking her head. “I’m not daft, Doctor. I know that. It’s just… what if you regret it? What if it changes everything? What if you decide you’re, I don’t know, done with me or something afterwards?”
She wraps her arms across her chest, rubbing her hands up and down them and worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. And here he thought he was the only one afraid to upset the fragile balance of their friendship, a friendship so precious to him that it’s very existence has saved him more than once. Taking her hand in his, he smiles at her warmly, hoping to convey a little bit of how much he adores her.
“Do you really think I’d so easily cast you aside?” he asks, his voice low and gentle.
Her lip quivers and she looks away to stare at something on the wall.
“Blimey, Rose, I’m not going to change or go off you, no matter what happens between us.” His voice sounds a little sharp to his own ears, but it gets her attention and he rubs his thumb over her knuckles to let her know that he’s not angry.
“And we don’t have to do anything at all, but now we’ve… kissed, I’d like to do it again, if that’s alright with you, but we can take it slowly. I’d quite like to take it slowly, honestly.”
She bites her lip, nodding in agreement. “Okay, but Doctor, let’s see how this series turns out first, before deciding for sure.”
He scowls in confusion, not understanding what the fate of a fictional couple has to do with his relationship with Rose and then she throws her head back with a laugh and wraps her arms around his neck, leaning in for a hug.
“Relax, Doctor, I’m only joking. Haven’t quite lost my grip on reality that much. But I really would like to see how it all turns out and then… then maybe we can pick up where we left off?”
“Maybe?” he asks, pulling out of the hug.
She smiles, a teasing and confident gleam in her eyes having replaced the uncertainty he saw there minutes ago.
“Definitely,” she says, before snuggling into him and pressing play on the remote.