Rose woke up in an otherwise empty bed. This was not panic-inducing, not like the Doctor’s absence yesterday. This was a familiar behavior, one that had started after New New Earth and their second encounter with Cassandra. Once they finished with clones and cat nuns, once they were back onboard the TARDIS, the Doctor came to her bedroom – a novel behavior at the time. Rose had felt relieved by this development; Cassandra’s violation of her mind and body left her more shaken than she wanted to admit, and she was comforted by his presence, holding his hand and leaning on his shoulder.
After listening to two hours of chatter about nebulae and the movement of interstellar dust, she’d fallen asleep in the Doctor’s arms. It became something of a routine, him sitting on the edge of the bathtub in her ensuite while she washed her face and brushed her teeth; stripping off his jacket and button down; and joining her in bed. He always slipped away sometime before she woke – his Time Lord body didn’t need much sleep, so off he’d go to tinker in the depths of the TARDIS and wait for her to finish resting.
At the time she’d thought it must mean something, the fact that he spent hours of his life just being with her while he slept. Of course it had: I love you.
Now, in this half-human incarnation, he did sleep every night. For how long, she wasn’t certain, but she’d stood in the door of her bedroom on more than one occasion over the last few weeks, watching him on the couch. His head tipped back and mouth open, a bit of drool on his lip, twitching and occasionally calling out in his native language.
This morning, she heard him in the next room, murmuring to himself and occasionally using his sonic screwdriver.
If the Doctor was having a go at the stove again, the landlord would probably evict them.
Rose changed clothes and glanced in the mirror, running fingers through her hair to smooth it down and not bothering with makeup. The Doctor always claimed her preferred her without the war paint on, as he called it.
She found him in the living room with her laptop open and the sonic screwdriver suspiciously close by. He looked up at her and smiled, snapping the computer closed with remarkable speed and setting it on the floor, practically sliding it under the couch.
Arching an eyebrow at him, she said, “Ordering a few WMDs from Amazon?”
“This universe doesn’t have Amazon, Rose,” the Doctor replied, his smile shifting into a smirk. “Today’s a good day. I’m not feeling particularly bloody or angry or vengeful at the moment. I’m saving that to pull out at a more appropriate time.”
“The next time my mum tells you to cut your hair,” she suggested as she knelt beside him, fetching the computer from beneath the couch. He scooted over when she nudged his shoulder and she sat beside him, flipping the laptop open. “That would be the appropriate time for blood and anger and revenge.”
“I’m not hacking into any encrypted databases, if that’s what you’re really worried about. Nothing to do with national secrets or information of a restricted nature, I give you my word.”
“Good.” In spite of his protestations, she found the internet browser history suspiciously empty and three new, unidentifiable icons on her desktop. Rose decided she didn’t want to die on this particular hill. “We’re going to get you your own mobile and laptop this morning. Because when MI-5 or UNIT or the CIA comes knocking at our door, demanding to know why their networks have been breached from this IP address, I need plausible deniability.”
“You’re the Torchwood employee, not me,” he retorted, giving her a cheeky grin. “And after yesterday evening, I was under the distinct impression that you’ve appointed yourself as my keeper. Which means all my activities, including the online ones, fall under your jurisdiction, Agent Tyler.”
“If that’s the case, then tell me somethin’. Last night you said you nicked alien supplies from Torchwood. All our artifacts and acquisitions are under lock and key. How’d you manage to get past security?”
The Doctor sniffed, his attention locking onto something particularly interesting on the bare ceiling. “Found your psychic paper in your desk drawer. Wellllll, my psychic paper, technically, that you had in your pocket at Canary Wharf.”
“You mean,” Rose said slowly, straightening and turning to look at him, “you pilfered my desk drawers?” He shrugged, waggling his eyebrows – surely he knew how very ridiculous and adorable he looked. Rose rolled her eyes and tried to look stern, but only partially succeeded in suppressing a smile. “Right. Breakfast, lecture about respecting other peoples’ privacy, mobile, laptop, TARDIS. In that order, yeah?”
He was already on his feet. “Yeah.”
They picked up coffee and scones at a bakery across the street. At the electronics shop, the Doctor was phenomenally easy to please. Rose was convinced he’d want something fancy with a touchscreen and the latest connectivity, but he brushed off the shop assistant’s attempts to steer him toward anything of that ilk. He made his way to the trash bins full of used phones at the back of the store, where he pawed through the scratched and hard-used offerings until he came across a five-year-old blue flip-phone. His procedure for finding a laptop was remarkably similar, and he refused the salesman’s attempts to sell him an OS for the computer or a data plan for the phone.
To Rose’s further surprise, the Doctor motioned for her to put away her credit card at the register. He fished deep into his jacket pocket and, after pulling out a ball of rubber bands, a butter knife, two distinctly alien gadgets, and a pillowcase, he procured a wad of £20 notes. He shoved them all at the startled cashier, who took out the appropriate number of bills before handing the spares back to the Doctor.
“Where did you get cash?” Rose asked as soon as they were on the sidewalk and heading toward the tube station.
“Picked up a bit last night,” he replied, surveying his two non-functioning electronic bricks with the same kind of excitement he usually reserved for new and dangerous life forms. Or bananas.
Rose sighed, scrubbing her hands across her face. “Oi, you can’t just go sonicing cash-points when you need money, Doctor. I have a job and a salary, and I refuse to see you go to jail for stealing.”
“Ooh,” he said, pulling on his collar and grimacing. “That makes me sound like a kept man. Am I a kept man, Rose? Is that what I am now?”
“Kept and not ginger,” she retorted. “Of course, if you take the position at Torchwood, you could keep yourself. We could split all the bills down the middle. It’s what people do, when they share a flat.”
“Flatmates.” The Doctor busied himself by slipping the telephone into his pocket, but Rose didn’t miss the question in his voice.
“Flatmates,” Rose agreed as they headed down the steps into the tube station. The Doctor turned his head away, but Rose still saw the frown he directed at the ground. Her chest twinged. Flatmates was really very unfair. Boyfriend and girlfriend was so very childish, hardly beginning to encompass the depth of their connection. Lovers wasn’t quite true, not yet. Life mates was accurate, because there wouldn’t be anyone else for Rose, not as long as she lived, but the words were so very heavy and terrifying to say aloud. She settled on something more comfortable, instead: “It’s what couples do, when they share a flat.”
“Couple,” he repeated, looking up at her from the corner of his eye. The train came roaring into the station at that moment, grinding to a stop beside them, and they stepped into the nearest packed car.
“So where are we going, Doctor?” Rose asked as the doors hissed closed. He reached up to grab a strap hanging from the ceiling; she reached out to grab him, arms slipping under his jacket and around his waist. Feet planted together, they braced against each other as the train lurched forward.
“Are you trusting me yet?” he asked, tipping his head toward her.
“Yeah,” she replied, staring up into his face – his pupils stayed dilated even as the train emerged from the tunnel onto an elevated track and sunlight flooded through the windows. “Been running things on my own for a while now. I’m gonna need to get in the habit of letting you take the lead sometimes.” She cleared her throat. “But only sometimes. We’ll split it down the middle. It’s what couples do. When they share a flat.”
He smiled, not his usual wide grin but a small curl of his lips, soft and full of promise. Rose’s fingers splayed against his side and stomach. His skin was warm through his t-shirt, his eyes were full of laughter, and she stared back at him like a deer caught in headlights. Calculating, heart-meltingly brown Time Lord headlights.
Leaning down, he touched the tip of his nose to hers. “Breathe, Rose. I don’t have any extra hands to catch you if you pass out from oxygen starvation.”
# Part Four is coming but it might be a few days because ... weekend # Doctor Who # The Doctor # TenToo # Rose Tyler # TenToo/Rose # OTP to end all OTPs # fanfic # ficlet # And thanks for the awesome beta goes to # episode613wasalie
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