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They’ve been playing this game for weeks, now.

Neither of them acknowledge it out loud, of course. And actually, she doesn’t think that either of them are quite sure about the rules. But ever since Krop Tor, Rose has noticed a distinct increase in casual touching and flirting and, well, looking.

She’s not opposed to this change - far from it. But -

The Doctor seems reluctant to go very long without some form of contact, and though she privately admits that they both get a bit clingy, now and then, after a close call, lately it’s been getting ridiculous. To be fair, their close call with Satan has probably been their closest so far, and it’s not that Rose isn’t grateful that he wants to sit next to her and stand next to her nearly every second of the day, but she’s maybe getting a little bit confused as to why it stops there.

She’s not sure how far he intends this to go. And sometimes, she’d just like to know, really. Whether at some point he’ll be sleeping next to her, too.

Which, again - not opposed to. Definitely not.

::

It’s the waiting Rose can’t stand.

She’s trained herself to be more patient, travelling with the Doctor, and sometimes she succeeds and waits for help, and sometimes she gives up and plunders right on in, but as far as her relationship with the Time Lord she lives with is concerned, Rose reckons she’s been patience personified.

It’s wearing thin.

It’s wearing thin because he keeps brushing his hand along her arm before going for her hand; pulling her into his side as they sit chatting on the library sofa; offering to do things that Rose considers reasonably intimate, like plaiting her hair in the style of the Roko tribe of Santa L’orica, or giving her shoulders a rub when she strained herself rock-climbing in the Lake District.

Take tonight. Surely it wasn’t necessary for him to graze his lips against the shell of her ear when he leant in close to whisper secrets about the Azordian Prime Minister to her?

And okay, so technically she might have started it, with the insistence on him dancing with her, and the way her fingers had maybe possibly played with the hair at the back of his head when her arms were looped around his neck, but then, he’d been just as culpable, really, given the way his hands had sat so low on her hips as he’d guided her around the dancefloor, his thumbs stroking at the clingy fabric of her dress.

And now, lying in her bed at the end of the day after saying goodbye to the Doctor outside her door, she can’t help but resent him, just a little, for not making good on his flirtation and following her inside. Because he has to be the one to make that move. He’s the one holding back, she reasons. He’s the one with all the hang-ups and reservations.

Rose realises in that moment that it’s not that she’s getting impatient that’s the problem; it’s that he isn’t. He seems completely unaffected, so normal, so infuriatingly content, and it’s driving her barmy.

She knows she’s being unfair. To him, maybe all this is just within the bounds of friendship, and her and her dirty mind need a reality check. But the way he looks at her -

Surely she’s not imaginative enough to have completely concocted the memory of that longing expression on his face? This can’t all be in her head.

In her bed, Rose rolls over, and groans into her pillow in frustration.

::

They are at Jackie’s when the game escalates.

As soon as they walk through the door, the Doctor’s narrating a story to Jackie about how brilliant Rose was at single-handedly bringing back the Zescopods from the brink of extinction by stopping an inter-satellite war among the seven moons of the homeworld they share with several other species.

He’s exaggerating only slightly, Rose thinks with a pleased smile, and though he gives her a cheeky wink at one point in his tale, she knows he is earnest in his proud words. She’d done good, yesterday, if she does say so herself. And as he goes on and on, he’s got one arm outstretched along the sofa, behind her, his fingers playing with a loose thread on the shoulder of her pink jacket. His legs are propped up on the coffee table at first, until Jackie tells him off about it, and he dutifully drops his feet to the floor without a rebuttal. When he leans over to grab a biscuit from said table, he brings Rose along with the movement, as though unwilling to shift his arm away from her, and she ducks her head so as to not meet the eye of her incredulous mother.

Jackie notices, to Rose’s embarrassment. She corners her daughter in the kitchen later and folds her arms, watching her with knowing eyes until Rose snaps out a frustrated, “What?”

"Finally got your act together, eh?" Jackie says, with a bit of a smirk.

Rose fiddles with the switch on the kettle. “Dunno what you mean.”

"Come on, you can tell me."

"There’s nothing to tell."

"You used to always tell me stuff like this."

That isn’t quite true, Rose thinks. She stopped talking to her Mum about the boys she fancied immediately after Jimmy Stone had swept into her life with his boyband hair and his ratty old guitar. And Jackie was far too like a surrogate Mum to Mickey for Rose to feel comfortable talking to her about their relationship - or, at least, certain aspects of their relationship.

"Mum, you tell me about stuff like this,” Rose corrects, leaning against the counter with a huff. “Sometimes too much, when you’ve been on the wine.” She tries for a smile, to soften her words.

Jackie is both unperturbed and undeterred. “I’ve had to watch you two make googly eyes at each other for months, is it so wrong for me to be curious now that you’ve finally got closer?”

Rose heaves a sigh. “It’s all still a bit…undefined. I don’t know what he’s playing at, to be honest.”

"What?" Jackie’s eyes narrow. "Is he messing my little girl around? The nerve of him! I’ve got half a mind to go out there and give him what for - "

Rose grabs her Mum’s arm as she makes for the kitchen door, and hisses at her to keep her voice down. “It’s not like that,” she defends. “It’s just, I don’t know what he wants. We haven’t really talked about it. And we definitely haven’t…you know.”

"Well, I can’t say I’m necessarily pleased with the idea of you two getting it on, him being an alien and all that, but Rose, the look on his face when you walk into a room - it’s pretty obvious what he wants, love."

Rose’s eyes widen.

"And I don’t mean - I don’t just mean you know what. Personally I reckon there’s a bit of a romantic buried under there.”

"Ha, yeah, pull the other one," Rose scoffs.

"I’m serious, Rose. He looks at you like you personally hung up those stars he loves so much."

At this, Rose’s pauses in her fidgeting, and looks at Jackie seriously. “What, you really think - ?”

"Heaven knows he’ll do anything for you." Jackie steps closer, and slings her arm around Rose’s shoulder, giving her an affectionate, comforting squeeze. "Tell you what, I’ll prove it to you. "

"How do you mean?" Rose asks warily, returning her Mum’s hug.

Jackie looks excited, and it makes Rose nervous. ”I’ve got an idea.”

::

The Doctor is sprawled out on the sofa, nosing through her Mum’s post, when Rose leaves the kitchen. “Ooh, look, Rose! You’ve got a letter.” Without thought to how rude it is to do so, he opens it. Rose watches from the doorway, eyebrows raised. “Oh.”

He sounds disappointed, and when he looks up, she can see him frowning. “What?”

“It’s about car insurance. You don’t even own a car! You can’t even drive! How boring.” He tosses the letter onto the coffee table and grins at her. “What’s up?”

“Why should something be up?” she asks innocently, fiddling with her earring.

“Because you’ve got a very particular look on your face that means you’re about to tell me something you don’t think I’m gonna like.”

She pushes herself away from the doorframe and walks slowly over to him, propping her arms on the back of the sofa as she crouches to meet his eye. “Mum wants you to come to the pub quiz tonight.”

The Doctor, predictably, pulls a face.

“No, listen, hear me out,” Rose says, straightening up and coming around the edge of the sofa. He shifts his legs so she has room to sit. “A few of her usual team members have dropped out, and Mum reckons that you’d be…an asset. Yeah. ‘Cos of all your unrivalled knowledge and all that.” He starts to smile, a smug thing that starts slow and then stretches across his face as he straightens his tie. She points a finger at him. “Not that she’d ever say that to your face, so don’t go telling her I told you. So. Up for it?”

He hums and tilts his head, considering. “Will you be there?”

“Course.”

“Will there be food?”

Rose laughs. “I’m sure we can get you some nibbles, yeah.”

“Okay. I’m in.”

“Really?”

“Yep!”

“Wow, didn’t think I’d be able to persuade you so easily.”

“Oh?” he remarks, curiosity evidently piqued. “Hmm. So, you know. Just wondering - if I hadn’t caved in so soon, what else were you going to say - or do - to persuade me it was worth my while?”

Rose leans in close, and his eyes widen. Deliberately licking her bottom lip, just to see his gaze track the movement, Rose lets the moment linger before murmuring, “Guess you’ll never know now, eh?” Jumping up, she laughs at the dumbfounded look on his face, and he scowls at her playfully.

::

Bev, Jackie’s best mate, talks Rose’s ear off as soon as she spots her. They all sit down together in a corner of the local, and, to Rose’s frustration, Bev plonks herself down right between her and the Doctor.

The Doctor doesn’t bat an eyelid at this at first, but when Bev starts going on about the two of them, and how she’s heard all about their travelling together, Rose sees his eyebrows raise. They get so high up his forehead when Bev casually mentions something about warning Jackie to not be surprised if they came back with rings on their fingers that Rose seriously worries he’s going to have permanent wrinkles there.

"No, Bev, we’re not - that’s not - " Rose hurries to correct her.

"I said to her, I said, ‘Jackie, you know what these youngsters are like, they’ll probably get married in the Bahamas and you won’t see hide nor hair of the ceremony.’"

Rose glances at the Doctor. He blinks, once, twice, and then says, “Nah, we’d never do that to Jackie. Can you imagine how many years she’d bring that up for?As it is, every time I do something wrong, she’s all, ‘you would say that, don’t think I’ve forgotten that you carted my daughter off for a year without even phoning!’ I don’t think I’d last very long if we visited one day and announced I’d married her daughter.”

Jackie chooses this moment to return from the bar with their drinks, and shoves a bottle of beer his way with a stern, “You bet your arse you wouldn’t.”

Rose drops her head to her hands with a groan.

::

"I thought you’d be good at this!" Jackie complains, twenty minutes later. The quiz is well under way, and whilst the Doctor had been helpful with the science round, he keeps disputing the answers of the history questions, and they end up behind the other teams by several points.

"But I was there," he protests in a low voice, for Rose’s ears only. Bev had got up to use the loo four minutes ago, and the Doctor immediately slid into her vacated seat, to be closer to Rose. "I know for a fact who set the course of history back on track, a course which allowed the Magna Carta to even be created, and it wasn’t King bloody John!”

Rose smiles at him indulgently. “Was it you?”

He shifts in his seat, lifting his chin. “Might have been.”

She pats his knee, then reaches for her glass, taking a few sips.

He drops his mouth to her ear again, to whisper, “Saved him from a rebellion, I did. You would have been impressed.”

"Really? Hmm, I dunno."

"You would," he assures her, and his nose brushes her temple as he straightens his head.

::

He also has a few issue with the literature round.

"I’ll have you know, Rose Tyler, that I met good old Herbert, in fact we met the fellows who were the inspiration for the Morlocks in The Time Machine together. I practically wrote the bloody thing, so - “

"Doctor, how’s about you treat this as a quiz in what the silly humans believe happened, rather than the actual facts?”

He closes his mouth with a click, ponders her words, then nods. “That’s a good idea.”

"You do want to win this thing, after all, right?"

A bright smile comes upon his face. “Winning pub quizzes, Rose - is that something that would impress a human?”

She arches an eyebrow. “It would impress me.”

He stares at her for a moment, then leans forward, grabbing the piece of paper they are using to write the answers on. He snatches the pen from Jackie’s grip. “”Right then, let’s do this.”

::

"Would you look at that," he grins, as the quiz master announces their team as the winners.

"Who knew you were such an expert on 20th century music?" Jackie says, blinking in shock. She can’t hide how impressed she is, and it makes Rose laugh.

"Nah, he’s always taking us to concerts and things. Proper punk, he is. With a dash of rockabilly." Rose leans into him, and the Doctor lifts his arm, letting her snuggle in close.

The Doctor starts talking about Elvis, then, and Rose has to nudge him in the side and mutter, “Stick to ones who are alive, yeah? Bev and the others aren’t exactly caught up on the time travelling thing.”

He glances down at her with a sheepish grin. “Sorry. Got a bit excited, there.”

He looks so daft, and so adorable, and Rose nearly blurts out how utterly in love with him she is. She stands up quickly, to temper the impulse, and mumbles something about needing the loo.

When she reaches the toilets, she stands at the sink, staring into the mirror, wishing she hadn’t had that last Bacardi and coke. She’s not drunk, but she’s definitely feeling tipsy enough that she might start saying things she’d end up regretting, so she vows to herself that she’ll stick to soft drinks for the rest of the night.

After using the loo and washing her hands, Rose spends a few moments back in front of the mirror, fixing her hair and swiping away a bit of mascara that had smudged under her eye. Just as she’s about to leave, she spontaneously undoes one of the buttons on her shirt. No harm in trying to catch the Doctor’s eye, she reasons. And he has displayed a fondness for eyeing her cleavage on occasion.

She leaves the ladies and immediately bumps into the Doctor.

"Blimey, what are you doing? Nearly gave me a heart attack!" she gasps, swatting his arm.

"Sorry!" He frowns, then. "I wasn’t lurking. Or lingering. Or whatever other ‘l’ words. I was just - " He clears his throat, starts again. "I wanted to talk to you."

"Okay…?"

"It’s a bit noisy, back in there," he reasons, nodding down the corridor towards the interior of the pub.

Rose strokes his arm, concerned. “Hey, you all right?”

He smiles easily. “Of course! Why wouldn’t I be?”

"Dunno, you just seem a little…tense."

"No, no, I’m fine. Tip-top! Are you?"

"Am I what?"

"Are you fine? Having a nice time?"

"Yeah." She smiles, then, realising how true that is. "I’m having a lovely time. Thanks for, you know. Taking part and all that."

He shrugs, his eyes sparkling at her like he’s in on some secret she’s not privy to.

Rose tugs on the hem of her top nervously, wondering why he’s acting weird. “So, um. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?”

"Hmm?" His eyes drop for a second, and Rose tries valiantly not to seem like she’s noticed that her ploy with her shirt buttons has worked. "Oh, I just - "

Rose backs up when he takes a step closer to her. She doesn’t know why; she does it out of reflex. But his face falls, noticeably so, and she reaches out, strokes her hand down his tie. “Are you feeling okay?”

His brow furrows. “I just said. Absolutely a-okay, Rose Tyler.”

He looks like he wants to kiss her. Rose can’t shake the thought of it from her head. He really, really looks, in this moment, like he wants to lean in and press his mouth against hers.

She isn’t fooled. She’s seen that expression on his face countless times, and clearly it means nothing, because he’s never kissed her before - not properly, anyway, not with intent.

"Can we…can we get some fresh air for a moment?" he asks, trailing his fingers down her arm to take her hand.

A long breath flows out of her, and it’s not relief swirling in her veins. “Sure.”

Rose guides him out of the back of the pub, and they perch on a wall in the beer garden. It’s chilly, so they sit close together. Rose tilts her head up to concentrate on the night sky, because he’s deadly silent beside her and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Sadly, there are no stars for her to look at, or for her to join up in constellations. Light pollution, the Doctor would say, if he’d seemed inclined to want to say anything at all.

"These past few weeks," he says eventually, his voice low and hushed.

Rose hears an Abba song wafting out from the pub, but it fades away the moment he continues speaking, and soon all she can hear is the sound of her own pulse pounding in her ears.

"We’ve…" She watches his hands clench around the edge of the brick wall. "Nearly losing everything, it makes you re-evaluate, doesn’t it?"

Rose swallows around the lump in her throat. “Are you talking about almost losing the TARDIS?”

His response is immediate. “Yes.”

She nods, as though she understands.

"No," he says, apparently changing his mind. He looks at her. "No, I’m not. You know I’m not."

Her breath catches. “Right.”

"Rose - "

"And, um. This re-evaluating, that you’ve been doing. What answers did you come up with?"

"I could do this," he whispers, and she wonders why he sounds absolutely terrified. "I really could." He gestures to the pub, and Rose is even more confused.

"I don’t get it. Do what?"

"I could choose this. You." His jaw clenches and he turns and stares out over the pub garden. He laughs softly to himself. "I think I’d even be happy to."

Rose’s heart starts to thump far too fast and far too loudly. “What are you talking about?”

"If I had to," he says, ducking his head, trying to look all casual as if what he’s saying isn’t the most monumental thing he’s ever said to her - the most magical thing anyone’s ever said to her. “I’d choose you, over everything else, the TARDIS, that sky - ” He looks up, and shoves his hands in his pockets awkwardly. And he shakes his head. “Scratch if I had to. I’d do it, if I could.”

He turns back towards her, suddenly, a fierceness in his gaze that leaves her breathless. “You’d be safer here, a normal life, and I’d do it with you if I could. I really would.”

"I don’t want a normal life," she whispers, her throat scratchy. Tears prick her eyes as she has a sudden, startling thought. "You’re not leaving me here."

"No."

"You said the Devil - the Beast - whatever it was. You said it lied."

"I know."

"Were you lying?”

He winces. “I don’t know. I hope not.” Inhaling deeply, the Doctor seems to inflate with purpose and resolve. “I won’t let it happen, Rose.”

"But you’re not gonna leave me here."

His eyes soften. “I couldn’t do that.”

"Good." They are quiet for a minute, and then Rose hops down off the wall, shivering. "Can we go back inside? It’s freezing out here."

The Doctor looks her up and down, and his eyes widen, probably only just realising she’s not wearing a jacket. “Sorry. I just needed - “

"I know. It’s okay."

He follows her, and they are almost to the door when he grabs her arm, turning her around with a bit more strength than his usual gentle touches. “Wait. One more thing.”

"Yeah?"

His arm slides around her waist and he draws her into him, leaning down to kiss her. It’s firm, and dry, and Rose can’t keep it that way. She links her arms around his neck and melts into him, opening her mouth, deepening the kiss, and in seconds she feels him push her up against the outside wall of the pub.

Moments later the Doctor’s hands are on her bum, and it makes her grin against his lips, lightening up the intensity of their kiss. She drags her mouth away with a laugh and a gasp, and he nudges her nose with his.

"What?" he asks, lips twitching.

"It’s just, you copping a feel behind the back of my local pub. Kissing me and talking about spending your life with me if you could. It’s all a bit surreal."

He gives her bum a squeeze. “You should see how it feels to be me, in this situation.”

"Hmm?" She rakes her hands through his hair and his hips push into hers.

"Not where I thought I’d end up, entering my ninth century," he remarks, raising his eyebrows.

Rose is overcome with the desire to tease him. “Well, didn’t expect to meet someone like me, did you?” she grins. “Once in a lifetime opportunity, that.”

He kisses her again, quickly this time, then pushes himself off her with his hands on the wall beside her head. “You’re joking, but you’ve no idea how right you are.”

"Oh shut up," she laughs, linking their arms and pulling him back into the pub. "Are you always this soppy after a few pints?"

::

“Are you drunk?” she murmurs to the Doctor later, when her Mum and her friends are otherwise distracted by the karaoke that’s just started up at the other end of the pub.

“Nope!” he says cheerfully. “Why would you think that? I’ve only had three beers. Well, four. Well, five. But that’s hardly enough for a Time Lord to get inebriated, Rose Tyler.”

“Because you kissed me half hour ago, and you didn’t get weird when Bev talked about us like we’re together, and you’ve had your hand on my thigh for the last fifteen minutes.”

The Doctor looks down and notices that his hand is indeed on her thigh, fingers curved towards the inside, getting a good grip. “Oh.” He clears his throat, but doesn’t move his hand. “Well, don’t have to be drunk to do those things. In fact it’s lot better to do those things sober, don’t you think?”

Rose bit her lip, smiling shyly. “Yeah, I s’pose it is.”

He strokes his thumb against the denim fabric of her jeans and leans his head in close. “How long do we have to stay here, exactly?”

“What, the pub, or at Mum’s in general?”

“Either. Both.”

She rests her hand over his and gives it a light squeeze. “Well, if you’re bored…we could always just, I don’t know. Go home right now?”

“Hmm.” He licks his top lip as he considers her question, and Rose wonders whether he realises what he does to her with that tiny little glimpse of his tongue. “And when you say, ‘home,’” he continues, letting the sentence drift off.

Rose smiles. “Where do I live?”

“The TARDIS,” he replies, his mouth curving into a grin to match hers.

“And where’s all my stuff?”

His eyes twinkle at her and she sees such relief in them that her heart stutters. “In the TARDIS.”

“And where do you live?”

“I get your point,” he says, then sighs softly, happily. He tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear with his free hand. “Let’s go there, then.”

They say their goodbyes to Jackie and her friends swiftly, swinging their hands between them as they leave the pub.

“Thanks for coming with me tonight,” Rose says, cosying up to him as the cool night air makes her shiver. It had been so stifling hot in the crowded pub that the breeze is welcome, but that isn’t going to stop her using it as an excuse to walk beside him more closely.

“No problem. Was quite fun, in the end.” The Doctor shrugs, a casual gesture that has Rose grinning knowingly, and then he tucks their joined hands in his coat pocket. She’s grateful that he notices the little things, with her, like how she always forgets her sunglasses on sunny days and her gloves in the depths of Winter. She thinks about those bigger-on-the-inside pockets of his, and wonders how much he carries, in them, with the direct purpose of keeping her happy. The toothbrushes and the tampons and the Tetley teabags she makes him take wherever they go, so that if they end up stuck somewhere, she can still keep up her human habits, still deal with her human needs.

She laughs softly to herself as she recalls the look on his face when she asked him once, two days into a prison cell stay, whether he had any spare knickers in there for her, too.

He nudges her shoulder with his. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.” They aren’t far from the TARDIS, now, and she brings her other hand up to rub his arm. “Doctor, where are we gonna go next?”

“Where would you like to go?”

“Well, you did promise me something about a resort planet, the other day.”

“Did I?”

“Yep. You lost the bet, remember? I thrashed you at darts, and you said if I did that - ”

“Ah,” he replies, nodding as he remembers. “Yes. Mm. I suppose we could do that tomorrow, then.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“You wouldn’t find it too boring?”

He levels her a look. “Rose, I can’t take you anywhere without you finding trouble. I’m sure I’ll be kept occupied.”

She pulls a face at him. “I think you’ll find we just had a nice evening out at the pub without any trouble at all.”

The Doctor barks out a laugh. “You think?” He withdraws their hands from his coat and lets go of her to unlock the TARDIS doors, and all the while she’s staring at him, confused.

“What do you mean?” She gasps, suddenly. “You aren’t telling me there’s aliens at my local?”

He rolls his eyes and presses gently at her back to get her to move up the ramp in the console room. “Nah. Well. Only me.”

“Oh. So, what was the trouble and why didn’t we get involved?” she asks, rounding on him and blocking his way to the console, her hands secure on the railings either side of the ramp.

The Doctor’s hands land on her waist and give her a light squeeze. “Rose.”

She meets his gaze and then, abruptly, her breath hitches on an, “Oh.” Searching his eyes, trying to determine whether he means it as a bad thing or not, she murmurs, “You like trouble though, right?”

“I do,” he acknowledges, with a slow nod. “Probably best not to dabble in it within the vicinity of your mother, though. That was an oversight.”

“We were outside. She didn’t notice.”

“I’m aware. If she had, I think I’d be getting used to a new body right about now.”

“And we can’t have that,” Rose says, stroking her hand first down his lapel, then down to his jacket buttons. Keeping her eyes on his face, she undoes them, and he doesn’t question it. “This outfit of yours, it looks good on you.”

“It suits me,” he grins, and Rose rolls her eyes.

“Yeah. Pun away. It’s true, though. What if the next you is even skinnier? Dunno what I’d do.” Rose trails her fingers along his shirt, now. “Or, if he’s a bit heavier, well, then all these buttons might just…pop right off.”

His hands, still settled on her waist, twitch slightly, a couple of fingers slipping into the space between the hem of her jacket and the waistband of her jeans. A shudder runs through her and she knows he’s noticed, knows he feels it, by the way the corner of his mouth curves up.

"Can I kiss you again?" he murmurs.

"If you don’t, I’ll have to file a complaint," she retorts, and he chuckles before capturing her mouth with his.

::

They end up migrating from the console room to the corridor, but their lips barely retreat from being fused together. Rose is almost startled by the complete and utter passion he’s exhibiting, but they have been heading for this for a while now, and the build-up of the last few weeks in particular has left her feeling just as desperate. In any case, she’s gratified to discover that she’s not been the only one eager for more.

That’s why she’s so shocked at the words he’s unexpectedly mumbling against her neck.

“I think you should go to bed.”

Rose draws his head back and looks at him with raised eyebrows. “What?”

He looks a little embarrassed, and she wonders, for a brief, frightening moment, if she’s read him entirely wrong all night. If him and his words earlier and the way he’s probably just given her a lovebite mean nothing after all. He soothes her fears in an instant.

“Rose, I’d much rather kiss you all night than for us to go our separate ways,” he says, gesturing with his head down the corridor, towards his bedroom. “But I - I sort of need -” He huffs, frustrated, tugging at his earlobe as he fights for the right words.

Rose gives his hand a reassuring squeeze. “You want to go slow. That’s what you’re saying, right? That you need time.”

He swallows hard - she can see it, see the distinct bob of his Adam’s apple. It makes her want to suck her way along his neck, but she acknowledges that would be counter-productive, given that she’s trying to tell him she doesn’t mind slowing things down a notch.

“Is that okay?” he asks quietly.

She can’t help but laugh. “Of course it is!” Wrapping her arms around him, she draws him into a tight hug. “You’re so daft. Never thought you’d even snog me; I’m not about to start getting cross that you want to sleep by yourself.”

The Doctor coughs awkwardly, then draws out of her embrace with a frown. “Wait. Just had an idea. Do you think, maybe - ” He cuts himself off.

“What is it?” she asks, stroking the nape of his neck.

“It’s just, I could…join you. For sleeping. If you want.”

Rose grins. “In my bed?”

Impatiently, he rolls his eyes. “Unless you sleep standing up or amongst all that rubbish on your floor, yes, in your bed.”

She just laughs, again. “You get so snarky when you’re embarrassed.”

“I’m not embarrassed.”

“Nervous, then.”

“Rose.”

“Am I allowed to cuddle you? If you sleep in my bed with me?”

He cracks a smile at that. “Yeah.”

“All right. Go get your pjs.”

::

“I’m not gonna be able to get to sleep if you keep doing that,” Rose points out later.

The Doctor’s hand, which has been distractingly stroking along her arm for the last three minutes, abruptly froze. “Sorry. Thought it’d be soothing. Lull you to sleep.”

“It tickles.”

“You’re not giggling - ”

“All right, it tingles.”

“Tingles?”

She shifts her legs restlessly. “Makes me shiver.”

He pulls the duvet up around them more securely, and then his hand moves to her side, settling on the curve of her waist. “Better? Don’t want you to be cold.”

Rose grins into her pillow, and mumbles, “You’re so sweet.”

“Hmm? Whilst I might dispute that description, isn’t that a good thing? Because your tone of voice indicates that you’re mocking me.”

She rolls over to face him, and his hand slips around to her back. Her top has ridden up a bit, so his palm is against her bare skin, and she sighs, smoothing a hand across his pyjama shirt. “Sorry, Doctor. It’s just, you being all touchy-feely, it’s…”

His bottom lip juts out a bit, affecting him a pout. Rose desperately wants to nibble on it.

“You said you wanted to cuddle,” he says, sounding even more lost than before.

“I did, I do, but I didn’t factor in the fact that whenever you touch me it makes me want to straddle you and snog your face off.”

“Oh. Oh.” He suddenly looks completely pleased with himself. Deliberately, he drums his fingers against the base of her spine, and goosebumps prick her skin.

“Doctor,” she says sternly, but she’s grinning, she can’t help it.

“Sorry.” He gives her a sheepish smile, then lowers his voice. “I want to - I want you to do that, I really do. But - ”

“It’s fine,” she assures him, pressing a quick kiss to his lips. “I know.”

A small, helpless sound escapes his mouth and then he’s following her as she pulls her head back, securing their lips together again. And then he deepens the kiss until it’s just as wet and needy as it was earlier, against her bedroom door, and in the console room, and at the pub.

“More dangerous, here,” she whispers, as she pushes at his chest and breaks the kiss.

His breath puffs unsteadily against her lips and chin. “Hmm?”

“Before, you said about the trouble you found at the pub. Me. Us. Kissing. But it’s more dangerous here, isn’t it?” She pats the duvet. “Especially in here.”

“You’re right,” he whispers, and then he rolls onto his back, letting go of her completely. His eyes squeeze shut and he runs a hand over his face.

“Am I really so tempting?” she teases, propping her head up with her hand on her chin, her elbow pressing into her pillow.

The Doctor groans, and opens his eyes, staring up at her ceiling. “You’ve no idea.”

“Can I just - can I ask you a question?”

“Go on,” he murmurs, tilting his head to look at her.

“Why is it that you want to wait? I don’t mind, honest. I’m just curious. Seems like you didn’t want to stop, before.”

Mimicking her position, he rolls onto his side to face her properly. His hand finds hers, and their fingers link together so easily that she has to bite her lip to hold back a grin. He rests them atop her thigh, and they just look at each other for a few moments, breathing just a tad unsteady, but nevertheless in sync.

And then, he laughs. “I don’t know.” He shakes his head. “It’s all just so…”

"New?"

"Yeah."

Rose smiles. “Let’s go to sleep.”

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

She rolls back over, facing the opposite wall again, and they’re silent for a minute or so.

"Rose?"

"Mmm?"

The Doctor scoots a bit closer to her on the bed, and drapes his arm across her to find her hand again. “Is this okay?”

"Better than."

He drops a kiss to her shoulder. “Rose?” he says again.

"Yeah, Doctor?"

"How long are you gonna stay with me?"

It occurs to her, then, that for all his sad, earnest words earlier, back in the pub garden, she hasn’t really given him an equally meaningful response, not yet. Perhaps she should’ve told him she loved him after all. But maybe even that’s not the answer he needs right now.

"Forever," she says firmly, and she means it. She means it so much she can barely breathe for the couple of seconds it takes for him to reply.

He nuzzles her neck, kisses her skin again. “That sounds good to me.”