Rose had no idea where the Doctor was taking her. When she had entered the console room that morning, she was greeted with a mysterious, pleased-with-himself smile gracing his handsome face. He didn’t ask his normal question of where she wanted to go, simply began typing in coordinates on the computer.
She had watched from the jumpseat with some amusement as the Doctor went about his complicated, yet familiar dance around the console, pressing buttons, pulling levers and turning knobs, sending them hurtling through the vortex.
She felt a gentle thud as the TARDIS landed a few moments later. Rose hopped off the jump seat and asked, “Where are we?”
She looked over at her brown pin-stripe suited Doctor leaning against the console, hands in his pockets and a smug, yet excited smile on his lips, evidently waiting for her to move to the door and find out for herself where they were.
Rose looked at the door, feeling the familiar excitement and thrill of seeing a new place coarse through her veins, quickening her breath and heartbeat.
Her smile grew larger as she skipped to the door, threw it open and stared.
They had landed in an enormous garden that seemed to stretch for miles—and quite possibly it did. There didn’t at first appear to be a roof, but when she looked closer, she realized that the sky had a slightly latticed look to it, as though there were an invisible ceiling above them. She wondered what planet they might be on, but the thought flitted away before she could voice it.
She stepped out onto velvety-soft green grass and took a deep breath of the air. It was perfumed with the lovely scent of dozens upon dozens of flowers. Though it was a bit of a heady scent, the soft wind swiftly carried the smells away before it became too much.
Trees stretched to the sky all around them, the variety widely varied and the colors painting the landscape in vivid shades. Flowers in every shape, size and color imaginable danced in the gentle breeze that brushed past them. Her jaw dropped in amazement, her eyes wide as she tried to take in the exquisite beauty before her.
Looking down at the ground, Rose noticed that there were small round paving stones placed strategically, leading into different areas of the garden through trails in the foliage. She glanced back to see the Doctor standing in front of the TARDIS, hands in his pockets, his coat shifting slightly around his legs in the breeze.
He moved toward her, took her hand in his and laced their fingers together.
“Come on. I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said softly, his face close enough to hers that she could feel the warmth of his breath on her face. He squeezed her hand and she followed him as he struck out on one of the stone paths to their right.
She wanted to ask what the surprise and occasion was, but he began a rambling lecture about the plant-life around them. She listened as they walked through the paths about this planet that had enjoyed the plants on Earth and other planets so much, they created a sanctuary nursery to house any and every variety of plant.
The flowers and plants they passed were beautiful and Rose couldn’t help but continually turn her head this way and that, trying to take in all the marvelous sights around her.
She could tell that the place was teeming with life, having heard multiple birdsong calls and more than a few hums of insects flitting about the plants.
They walked slowly down several different paths, the Doctor’s hand never leaving hers. His mouth didn’t stop either as he talked about any plant that seemed to catch her eye. This gave her the distinct impression that he was watching her more than what was around them. She couldn’t help the smile that appeared at this thought.
Several minutes later, on a path that appeared to have quite a few tropical plants native to Earth, he stopped her and focused on one of her favorite flowers. Rose had told him once that although she really liked her namesake, she got annoyed when men tried to give her roses for special occasions instead of being creative.
Rose looked at the plants in front of her and smiled widely, knowing that something was up for the Doctor to have brought her to a place that housed a huge variety of her favorite type of flower. Frangipani flowers in every conceivable color, danced in the breeze and sent the creamy peach-like smells drifting around her.
She knelt before a bush of bright pink ones and simply stared at the beautiful star-shaped flowers.
The Doctor reached down to grasp one of the flowers, but she stopped him saying, “Wait, Doctor, aren’t they poisonous?”
“These have been specially bred, so no, they are not poisonous. The ones on your home plant are though, so be careful,” he said, giving her that special look that could always make her giggle because he knows how jeopardy-friendly she is.
He plucked a pink frangipani from its stem and gently wove it into her hair. Her skin tingled where his fingers touched her temple and she unconsciously leaned into his hand when he cupped her cheek. Her eyes fluttered shut as his thumb caressed the apple of her cheek.
“Are you going to tell me why we came here, Doctor?” she asked softly a few moments later, her eyes searching his face.
“I forget sometimes that being on the TARDIS, it can be hard for you to keep track of the date in linear time.”
“Oh, God, Doctor! Did I forget my own birthday? Mum’s gonna kill me—” she was cut off by his sudden laughter and furrowed her brow at him, feeling puzzled.
“No, Rose. It’s not your birthday. Do you think I would risk another slap from your mother by forgetting to take you home for something so important?”
Rose laughed this time at the look of horror on his face and the way he rubbed the cheek that had been viciously slapped so long ago.
She reached up and took the hand that was rubbing his face and linked their fingers. “Then why?” she asked.
She shook her head slightly, trying to figure out the significance from those words.
“It’s been three years since we stood on a busy London street, after having watched the Earth burn. It’s been three years since I told you about my planet and people dying.” He stepped closer to her, one of his hands once again cradling her cheek in his palm, the other still linked with hers.
“It’s been three years since you said two words that no matter how long I live, I will never, ever forget.” He stared into her eyes, his own showing awe, joy, fear, and—dare she even think it—love.
She quickly recalled the memory he invoked in her and she smiled at him, remembering the words that had quickly become an oath of allegiance to never leave his side.
“There’s me,” she whispered.
He let out a breath and the warmth of it washed over her face, giving her a pleasant skin-tingling feeling running down her back.
“Yes,” he whispered. “Three years of you running with me, challenging me, helping me to again see the beauty of the universe, reminding me that there is still good in people.” He paused a moment and said, “Sometimes annoying the daylights out of me.”
He laughed at her look of sudden irritation.
His voice dropped to a rumbling purr, washing over her and making her feel tingly all over. “And every day of those three years I’ve desperately tried to convince myself that you deserved better than me. I still think that. You, my Rose, my Bad Wolf, my brilliant pink and yellow human, could do so much better than this old, war-torn killer who is the very last of his kind.” He placed a finger over her lips to stop her objections and smiled.
“But I’ve decided to stop running from my feelings, to stop running from you. Rose Tyler, I—” he paused and swallowed hard. “I love you.”
Rose searched his eyes and saw so much raw emotion in them, knew immediately that those words were incredibly hard for him to say aloud. They were the most precious words she thought she had ever heard and felt tears spring to her eyes.
“I love you too, my Doctor,” she whispered.
They moved toward each other simultaneously, their lips meeting in a soft kiss that was tantalizingly sweet.
She had always imagined their first real kiss would be passionate and needy, and although there was no lacking in passion with this kiss, the slow, languid way their lips moved together and the feel of his hand threading into her hair made her wish the kiss would never end.
Her senses were overwhelmed by the scent of him—a mixture of sage, sandalwood, cinnamon and another unidentifiable scent that was just her Doctor—and the heady floral one from their surroundings.
Soon enough the need to breathe forced them apart. Rose stared at her Doctor’s face, so close to hers, her eyes repeatedly drawn to his kiss-swollen lips.
Though they had kissed before, those kisses had been influenced by other forces, such as possession, the fear of almost losing the other or the desire to save the other’s life. This kiss had been filled with so much warmth and promise and love that she knew something had shifted between them.
Rose knew that no matter how short or long of a time they had together, the feel of his lips against hers would always remind her of the day he first uttered those three words that would always be immeasurably precious to her.