Past Improbable 13/13
Fandom:Bones/Doctor Who/Torchwood,sort of; contains spoilers up to Bones 1x22, Doctor Who
2x09, and for Torchwood pre-publicity.
Characters/Pairings:Booth/Brennan, Ten/Rose/Jack, Gwen Cooper
Summary: Everyone wants to find out the truth about their past. But sometimes, the past wants to find out the truth about you.
And so we're done. I owe huge thanks to faded_memories for being a consistently helpful, supportive, and funny beta - her comments always made my day better.
Thanks, too, to all of you who've reviewed. Authors don't exactly write for reviews, but they definitely help. :)
Neither Dr. Brennan nor Seeley Booth were at the Chinese restaurant when Gwen and Jack got there. The other scientists were there, though, seated in a corner booth. Angela Montenegro waved them over enthusiastically.
“Hey! Booth said you two might show.”
“Maybe we’re going to get an explanation for the last few days,” Hodgins commented dryly, taking a careful sip of his soup. “It’s been insane.”
“Well, that depends,” Gwen told him diplomatically, before Jack could say something…something only Jack would say. “Officially, I’m afraid we can’t say a word. There’d be all sorts of trouble.”
There was going to be, too, when they got home. Upstairs was not pleased with them. Jack would take most of the heat, of course, and uncomplainingly, but she wasn’t about to let him go down alone. There was always the possibility of trading information about the Doctor for a lessening of disapproval, but Jack would be rather against that, and she didn’t feel entirely comfortable about the idea herself. It would be easier, not to mention vastly more ethical, to just take the hit.
“That’s all right,” Zack Addy said, shrugging. “You can’t compromise official secrecy, that’s understandable.
Hodgins rolled his eyes as they seated themselves. “Come on, Zack. Don’t you have any curiosity? Not the teeniest tiniest bit? Dr. Brennan got kidnapped and suddenly she’s back all safe and sound. Don’t you want to know where she was?”
“As long as she’s all right, I can live with it,” Angela objected. “She’s had a rough week.”
“Haven’t we all,” muttered Jack.
“Still – can you tell us where she was?” Hodgins turned to them. “Don’t bother looking for menus,” he added, obviously noting Jack’s surveillance of the table. “They just bring you the food. It’s good, I promise.”
Jack grinned. "Sounds intriguing." He'd try anything once. Gwen had discovered it was best to let him try anything once, and observe the results.
Angela, who was seated next to Gwen, turned to her. “Brennan wasn’t – she wasn’t hurt, or anything, was she? Booth hustled her home almost as soon as she got back, and I didn’t get a chance to ask.”
Gwen shook her head. “No, not at all. A bit startled, I think, and not very happy, but she wasn’t ill-treated, I can tell you that. Just had a few of her – well, a few preconceptions knocked out of place.”
“I must admit to some curiosity about what happened,” Zack said.
“I’ll tell you this,” Jack announced. Gwen winced in anticipation. “We found her in Jupiter orbit.”
There was silence. Gwen shinned Jack, or at least she hoped she had. No one else jumped, anyway. They were all too busy staring.
“New Scotland Yard,” Hodgins said, shaking his head. “Yeah, right. What are you guys, the men in black?”
“They’re American, not to mention fictional,” sniffed Gwen. “And that was a terrible movie.”
“Anyway,” Jack added. “I don’t think black all over’s really me. I’m more a colours guy. What do you think, Gwen?”
She nodded past Jack to Booth and Brennan, who were approaching the table, and let herself succumb to mischief. She deserved it, after the past couple of days. “I think you should ask Agent Booth there. He seems to be a well-dressed man.”
Jack’s eyes sparkled. Next to Gwen, Angela smirked. Zack frowned. Hodgins choked on his soup.
Gwen felt indefinably better, job in peril or no.
Rose felt as if the Doctor should be reacting to the fact she’d had a revelation, but he was stubbornly normal (or as normal as he ever got). He held her hand and nattered on about the Time Agency. It was interesting, really, especially in light of Jack, but even interest didn’t stop her seriously contemplating just throwing him up against a wall and snogging him. Her inner Jack was strongly in favour of this plan, but her outer Rose was not quite brave enough. Especially since he was likely to react enthusiastically and then pretend nothing had happened, which was not what she wanted.
“Rose? Rose, are you listening?”
She blinked, trying to focus on the Doctor’s face. “Oh. Yes. Well, no, not so much. Are we there yet?”
He chuckled. “Just in here, I think. Can’t keep your mind on one thing for more than three seconds. It’s ridiculous. Reminds me of this one time I -”
“Three seconds,” Rose reminded him blandly. “You’re right, Jack and the others are just over there.”
It looked like Booth and Dr. Brennan had arrived just before them. Jack was leaning back in his seat and giving Booth his most blatant come-on smile. Rose couldn’t quite hear what he was saying, but Booth looked incredibly confused, stuttered something, and headed straight for the bar. Dr. Brennan trailed in his wake, displaying only mild interest.
“Jack, Jack, Jack,” the Doctor admonished as they reached the booth. “Must you harass innocent passers-by? You’ll give the poor boy apoplexy if you keep that up, and we went to all that trouble today to save him, too.”
Over the other side of the table, Brennan’s team was grinning.
“That was a thing of beauty,” sighed Hodgins. “And believe me, that’s not something I often say about guys hitting on guys.”
“Shove over,” Rose told Jack, sitting down next to him. “What did you say to the poor bloke?”
“Nothing.” Jack tried to look innocent. It was Jack. It didn’t work. “I just asked him if he thought I suited black or colours better.”
“And you did this why?” said the Doctor, sliding in next to Rose and pushing Gwen down to the end of the table. It was a little crowded, but Rose certainly wasn’t complaining.
“Don’t ask,” Gwen advised, “it’s much safer. You two drop off your passenger safely?”
Rose nodded. “She’ll be okay, I think.”
Gwen gave her an odd look. “I’d not be worried about that.”
The Doctor waved a hand. “Pah. Time Agency. Don’t worry about it.” He gave her his most beatific smile. “It’ll be taken care of.”
Next to Rose, Jack shifted uncomfortably. “That’s all very well for you to say, Doctor, but -”
“I promise,” the Doctor said, leaning across Rose. “They’re not going to be bothering you again about this, if I have anything to do with it.”
Jack grinned crookedly. “All right, then.”
“Good.” The Doctor nodded, as if everything was settled; Rose knew it wasn’t. But maybe it was as settled as it could be for now.
“Time Agency?” said Zack Addy, on the other side of the table. “What’s a Time Agency?” Angela and Hodgins leaned forward, expectant.
Rose shot a quick glance at the Doctor, who shrugged, as if to say it wasn’t anything to do with him, and Jack, who frowned. Gwen sighed, and settled the question.
“As far as I understand it, and you’ll grant that’s not much, they’re a government group for the fifty-first century – Earth, isn’t it, Jack – yes, from Earth. They kidnapped your Dr. Brennan, and we got her back, and that truly is all I should be saying.”
Angela wore a slight frown. Zack blinked furiously, as if trying to solve a difficult equation. Hodgins just looked disappointed.
“Oh, come on. You can’t give us that much and then clam up!”
“Ask Dr. Brennan,” the Doctor advised. “No one’s making her not say anything. Or Agent Booth, for that matter. If he’s fully recovered. He seemed to be having trouble processing.”
“Being kidnapped by people from the future doesn’t sound like the type of event which it would be simple to process,” observed Zack. “I’d have to undergo the experience to confirm that, though.”
“Please try not to, sweetie,” said Angela.
“Oh, it’s not going to be a problem,” the Doctor beamed. “All taken care of.”
Hodgins looked sceptical. “And why would these evil kidnapper-types listen to you?”
“Because,” the Doctor said, still beaming, “as far as they’re concerned, I am infinitely more frightening than anything else the universe could ever throw at them. Up to and including Daleks. Well, possibly not Daleks. Everybody’s frightened of Daleks. But at least as frightening as Daleks, I think. I hope. Not that I want to frighten people, at least, not right now, but -”
Rose was distracted from this speech by Jack leaning over to murmur in her ear.
“What do you think he’d do if I bought him a drink?”
Being Jack, he couched his comment in tones that went straight past Rose’s brain, or, more specifically, to very specific parts of Rose’s brain that were in no way connected with processing speech. Her resulting pause was completely blameable on the sudden dose of Jack after not seeing him for a year or so.
“Wha- oh. Yes. Drink. I think that’s a good idea.” She remembered that conversation in Cardiff. What was this new Doctor likely to do? Smile and drink it, certainly, and probably drink it distractingly, being himself, and unable to not lick things, and, oh, that brought up an image of the Doctor licking Jack, and that was – um. Very um. And Jack was smirking, damn him. She knew because his mouth was still close enough to her ear that she could feel it. And the Doctor was quite possibly looking at her funny.
“Budge up,” she said aloud, “Jack wants to go up to the bar,” and the Doctor really was looking at her funny, and if he was there was no way the rest of the table wouldn’t be, so she gave the Doctor a solid nudge with her hip and tried not to blush.
It didn’t work.
Jack, of course, didn’t bother with a simple beer; the drink he brought back seemed to have several layers, and Rose just knew it probably contained as much alcohol as she would drink in a night. That was good. The Doctor, despite some of her best efforts back when she’d been first travelling with him, seemed alternately bored by and immune to alcohol.
“Very nice, Jack, what is it?” The Doctor looked pleased, but slightly concerned. Rose smirked. She’d probably feel the same way if Jack was looking at her with that expression. Wait. Jack was looking at her with that expression. She tried not to look worried. Or blush. Or both.
“It’s a drink,” Jack said, triumph in his tone. “Which I bought. For you.”
“A drink,” repeated the Doctor. “Is there alcohol in it?”
“Yes, there’s alcohol in it. Several types of alcohol, in fact.”
“I hear in some cultures the purchase of alcohol is indicative of the pursuit of a romantic encounter,” commented Zack from the other side of the table.
Rose stared at him. “And…?”
“I’m curious as to its significance here.”
“You know what, so am I,” said the Doctor. “Jack?”
Jack’s charm was wilting. Rose narrowed her eyes. There was no way she was letting any of this go to waste.
“Doctor,” she said, trying to keep her tone as innocent as possible, “I believe Jack’s talking about what you said in Cardiff.”
Jack perked up. “That’s right. I’m sure you remember, Doctor.”
“Cardiff? No, I don’t remember anything about drinks in Cardiff. Except I never did get my steak and chips. Terrible shame, that. I did enjoy a good steak and chips. In fact, I remember that -”
“Drink. You said I had to buy you a drink,” Jack prompted.
“And….?” the Doctor looked at him blankly. Too blankly. Rose slid a little closer. No point in allowing him to escape.
“Does it really matter?” Jack was turning on the charm full-bore. Rose felt herself melting a little just from watching. Damn the man. “You said I had to buy you a drink. I bought.”
“But if I don’t drink it, does it really count?”
“Well, if you don’t want it…” Rose stretched her hand out. It was caught before it got half-way to the glass.
“Ah-ah. I didn’t say I wouldn’t. I was just wondering if it counted if I didn’t.”
“Yes,” Rose and Jack said immediately.
The Doctor turned to Rose. “I do believe there’s a conspiracy at work here. Is that true, Rose?”
“Us, Doctor? Conspiracy? I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The glass appeared at his lips, almost like magic. “I’m sure you don’t.”
He took a sip, still smiling. “I’m very sure you don’t.”
Jack shot Rose a wicked grin, which she returned. Oh, but she’d forgotten that the Doctor wasn’t the only one who could change the rules every now and again. She’d been so scared of losing him, after everything that had happened this year, that she’d given up on ever having him at all. Sod waiting, and sod the rules; Jack was going to be lots of help in that regard, and she didn’t care if that was a bit weird, because it was Jack. With him on her side, the odds had just increased significantly in her favour.
She liked that thought, too.
“Is something wrong?” Brennan asked Booth. He was staring at the others’ table with something that approximated horror. She couldn’t see why. Cooper and Angela were giggling, for some reason, but that wasn’t any call for horror. Everyone else appeared to be enjoying themselves, or talking, which Brennan understood to be a significant indicator of enjoyment in such situations. She was quite content to sit at the bar with Booth and not talk very much. She’d had a long day, and there were going to be enough questions as it was. She wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, except the day after that was the weekend, so she was probably safe then.
“They’re…they’re flirting,” he stuttered eventually. “Look at them!”
Brennan frowned. Rose Tyler was certainly sitting very close to the Doctor, and her arm might be around his waist – it was difficult to tell - but they appeared to have no comprehension of personal space anyway. Harkness appeared to be telling them a story, which involved a lot of large hand gestures and exclamations from his audience. She supposed that he was flirting with them. It didn’t seem that extraordinary.
“Yes,” she agreed, turning to Booth. “And?”
He rolled his eyes. “Look, Bones. They’re all flirting. All three of them. That’s…wrong.”
Perhaps he was referring to the fact that Harkness and the Doctor were exhibiting equal attraction to each other as to Rose Tyler. Ex-military personnel were well-known to have phobias and misconceptions regarding homosexuality.
“I don’t understand. Is it not permissible to flirt with more than one person at once? You do it all the time. Or is it not permissible to flirt with people of both sexes at once? If the other person is responsive, I don’t see why it should be considered problematic.”
“Because…” Booth was making some hand gestures of his own, now. “Because it’s – it’s just – do they have to? In public?”
Brennan considered him. “That seems very homophobic to me.”
“It isn’t!” Booth objected. “I don’t have anything against gay people. They can just go and be gay somewhere…else.”
“Technically, I wouldn’t say either Harkness or the Doctor appear to be gay. They both seem attracted to women.” Judging by the way Harkness was holding Rose Tyler’s hand to illustrate some point, anyway. The Doctor was grinning at her in a way Brennan had often seen Booth grin at women he was flirting with. “And the Doctor isn’t even human, so you can’t possibly expect to apply human cultural standards to him.”
Booth stared at her, for a long moment. “Bones, does anything about human behaviour disturb you?”
She thought about it, and took a bite of her noodles. “Not unless it’s particularly aberrant behaviour, which we encounter far more than I’d like in our course of work, but is otherwise very rare. Displaying sexual attraction to other adults is hardly aberrant behaviour.”
“Then how come you don’t?” He raised an eyebrow, and the suddenness of the comment made her flush.
“I do! Sometimes. When it’s appropriate.”
“Really?” He was definitely leaning closer. “Because I don’t recall seeing you flirt much at all, Bones.”
“I can. When I want to. It’s just that the situation doesn’t usually call for it.”
“It doesn’t?” It was difficult to feel crowded at an almost-unoccupied bar, and she’d stopped feeling crowded by Booth months back, but he seemed awfully close right now.
“No.” It was barely more than a whisper, and Brennan cursed herself. She was not being intimidated by Booth. Or anything else. Anything else at all.
“Interesting to know,” he said, and suddenly he was back at a socially appropriate distance. Brennan didn’t want him to be, and that disturbed her.
She decided to be direct. “Do you want me to flirt with you?”
Booth froze. “What?”
Perhaps her interpretation was correct. He seemed startled enough. “You seemed to be trying to encourage me to flirt with you. I thought I’d verify it.”
He was stuttering. It was sort of – cute? “I – ah – um – Bones – how many drinks have you had?”
“None.” She took a forkful of noodles. “But you promised to buy me one.”
Booth looked thoughtful. It was a good look. Then again, most looks seemed to be good, on Booth. Losing objectivity was so depressing.
“I did, didn’t I?” He smirked, suddenly. “Better be careful, Bones. Your squints might think this is some kind of date.”
“And?” She ate her noodles.
A slow grin spread across Booth’s face. “Well, then. What’ll you have?”
Jack was honestly surprised with Rose’s newfound willingness to push when it came to the Doctor. She’d never been this bold when he was travelling with them, and he hadn’t seen any signs of it over the past two days. Oh, there’d been flirting, because this new Doctor was much cheekier than the old. There’d been that undeniable sense of attraction that Jack had seen the instant he first saw them together, accompanied now by even less sense of personal space than they’d had in the past.
If Jack hadn’t known the pair of them well enough, he’d have thought they were a couple in every sense of the word. But before this evening, Rose hadn’t had the look in her eye that said push had finally come to shove, and she was tired of being so close, and no further. Jack understood that. He understood that very well. He just didn’t understand why it had happened now, unless it had something to do with the way she was blatantly including him in the whole thing.
Wasn’t as if he was complaining. You couldn’t miss something you’d never really had, but this easy flirtation, spiced by Rose’s determination and the Doctor’s well-hidden but still visible interest, was – well, being honest, probably one of the best nights of his life. And there’d been a few of those.
It wasn’t until late in the evening that the attack he’d been expecting from the Doctor finally came Very sadly, it had nothing to do with the rest of the evening’s conversation. He hadn’t expected the events on the Agency ship to pass unremarked upon so long.
They were just exiting the restaurant; the Doctor and Rose were about to head towards the TARDIS. Gwen was hanging back, saying something to Brennan. Jack was feeling relaxed and, by and large, pleased with the world. He should have expected it.
The Doctor turned to him. “By the way, Jack, just one question – nothing, really – why did you prod Andrew Marrin into blowing up his ship?”
Beside him, Rose blinked in surprise. She was very young, sometimes. “You did what?”
Jack looked down, for a second, then stared straight at the Doctor. No point avoiding it. “Because this way I can honestly tell Torchwood that I couldn’t get my hands on time-travel technology. They’d want it; that’s why we got sent. But they can’t have it. You know that.”
The Doctor’s face didn’t change from mild interest. He had a much better bluff than the old Doctor, that was for certain. Rose was caught between horror and disbelief. Jack hated to see that look, directed at him, especially after this evening, but – his reasons still held.
“But couldn’t you have lied?” she protested. “Or – or something? He died, Jack. Did you know he was going to do that?”
“I knew.” He wouldn’t lie to her, to them. Never again. “It was the safest option. The Agency’s less likely to come back, now, aren’t they? Not if they’re losing ships. They’ll never believe Cairns’ story. We’re all safer.”
“And you were angry.” Rose had never been stupid. “You were angry, at the Agency, and this was – God, Jack.”
“Maybe I was,” was all he could think of to say, looking at her horror and the Doctor’s…he didn’t know what the Doctor was thinking. He’d been angry, still was, at the Agency ruining his life. Marrin had been an Agency man to the core. Always followed the rules. He’d know what he would do, given the right suggestions. He used it.
He’d never pretended to be a good man, after all. Hadn’t even hoped to be, for a while there, until these two had taught him that he could be, at the very least, not a bad one.
“I see.” The Doctor was looking at him intently, as if considering the matter. He hoped the Doctor, at least, would get it. He’d seen him make the same choice, before. Sometimes one life was worth less than other things. “You’re angry at me, still.”
That was – not expected, not at all. “I don’t – what are you – well, yeah. I am. But that’s – what are you trying to say?” He was angry, deep down, not so much as he had been, and maybe not angry so much as bitter; but it was there, and it wasn’t going to just vanish, despite how happy he felt to be with the two of them once again.
The Doctor shrugged. “Oh, nothing. Nothing important. Just wondering, really. Because you’re the one who has to live with this, not me.”
“What would you have done, Doctor?” Jack challenged.
The Doctor shrugged, again, and gave the faintest of smiles, and Jack saw the admission in that look. The acknowledgement that the Doctor would have done the same, exactly the same, and the questioning hadn’t been about whether Jack had done the right thing, or even if he’d done it for the right reasons, but to make sure that he hadn’t wounded himself too badly in the process. It was, if you wanted, an admission of caring.
That was better than the flirting. Much better. He met Rose’s eyes, and saw understanding there, as well. Not that it was what she would have done, or even that she liked it, but that this was who they were, he and the Doctor, and they were hers, too, and that was enough for now.
“I got a question, too,” she said. “Since you’re off, now, and I don’t expect – we’ll probably not be seeing you for a while, the way our lives go. What was Max saying about Bad Wolf? What does it mean?”
Now that was problematic. The Doctor looked suddenly shifty. Damn the man. Jack was not handling this one on his own.
“Bad Wolf? Like on Satellite Five? I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
Rose rolled her eyes. Here came trouble. “You know perfectly well what I’m talking about, Jack Harkness. And you, Doctor. When Max was talking about Time Lords, and the War, and legends and all. He mentioned it. Like it was a myth. Don’t tell me people are telling stories about what happened there. Makes for a terrible myth. Everyone died.”'
“Everyone except you,” Jack said wryly, and then realised his mistake. Her eyes narrowed.
“You’re still alive, far as I can see. What d’you mean, everyone except me?”
Salvation came in the form of Gwen Cooper. He could have kissed her. Briefly. And chastely. What was wrong with him?
“Are you ready, then, Jack? We’d best be getting back to the hotel; there’s going to be a long day tomorrow, once we get back to England, and I’d rather not face upstairs over the last few days on three hours’ sleep. Or I’ll see you in time for the flight, if you’re going-”
“No, ah, yes, we should let you get back, Jack, can’t keep you up, terribly impolite of us.” The Doctor was scratching the back of his neck, and Rose’s impish grin gave it away as a sign of discomfort. “We’ll see you round, yeah, Jack? I’m sure there’s any number of things that we’re going to cross paths over.”
“At the least, we can stop for milk in Cardiff when we need it,” Rose added. “Or if we need to stop by the Rift again. Or – whatever, really.” She did the tongue thing. Jack grinned.
“Yeah. I’ll see you guys. Take care, now. Don’t want to have to get used to another new face next time I see you.”
“Oh, believe me, last time was bad enough,” said Rose. “Crashes the TARDIS, falls into a coma, confuses the hell out of all of us…he’s not doing that again anytime soon if I’ve got something to say about it.”
“I don’t try to get myself killed,” the Doctor protested. “It just tends to happen on its own. Funny thing, really.”
Rose came forward to give Jack a hug, which he accepted gratefully. Pity tonight was only going to end in hugs, but there was always another day. He got a gleeful hug from the Doctor, too. That was a change he could get used to.
“You’d be best not to draw too much attention to yourselves around home for a while,” Gwen advised them. “Headquarters aren’t awfully friendly, where the pair of you are concerned.”
“We’ll keep an eye out,” the Doctor agreed. “And I hope you will, as well.”
Jack caught himself nodding. Oh, and this was the best idea he’d ever had. Practically agreeing to spy on his very paranoid and dangerous employers, in case they took a real dislike to the Doctor. But Gwen had nodded too, before she’d caught herself, and it was the Doctor, and Rose. They had his first loyalties, and more, even after everything. That wasn’t about to change.
“It’s not important.” The Doctor was walking fast towards the TARDIS, so fast Rose practically had to run to keep up.
“It is.” They were up to something, Jack and the Doctor, and she wasn’t letting it go. “Max Keenan mentions it, in the same breath as the Oncoming Storm - that’s you, let’s not forget – and then you and Jack clam up about it. It’s something to do with what happened, isn’t it? With me opening the TARDIS, and all. Why won’t you just tell me?”
The Doctor stopped dead, and she almost fell over, she’d been going so fast. “Rose. I – look. I will tell you. As much as I can. Just – not tonight. Please? Let’s just – enjoy ourselves. Be happy that we got an old friend back, that everyone’s safe, that Dr. Brennan and her FBI Agent are still sitting at that bar making eyes at each other instead of on their way to the Time Agency. Let’s not talk about stuff we don’t have to. Not tonight.”
His tone was almost pleading – not quite, not the Doctor – and Rose could feel herself relenting, as they began to walk again. Letting it slip into silence, where it would stay. Just like all the other things they didn’t talk about. Just like -
Sod it. He wasn’t going to give on Bad Wolf, but maybe he’d give on…other things. There were no convenient walls, but they were approaching the TARDIS, and that was a good solid surface. Rose grabbed the Doctor’s shoulders and twisted.
He gave an oof of surprise, and another startled noise when she leaned up to kiss him. After an initial moment of terror when he froze, he responded – cautiously, then downright enthusiastically. Rose concentrated on enjoying the moment (just in case it wasn’t repeated), and was rather startled to find herself turned smoothly around and backed up against the TARDIS.
She took careful note of the sensations: the feel of his lean body pressed against hers, the slight itch of skin that was close to needing a shave, the silkiness of hair as she ran her fingers through it, the texture of his lips. Cassandra’s buried not-memories were rising, and being thrust aside, because now she had her own. She didn’t open her eyes. If she opened her eyes, it might go away.
But she had to breathe, eventually, and it seemed ridiculous to stand there gasping for air three inches from him with her eyes screwed shut. So she opened them, cautiously. He hadn’t stepped away; that was good. She tightened the hand that was resting on the small of his back, just in case. He didn’t look wary, or upset. He did look surprised. Well, so did she, probably.
“You mind telling me what that was all about?” He ran an absent finger along her jawline.
Rose gave a diffident half-shrug. “Because. Do I really need a reason?”
“Yes, Rose. You rather do. Sure you’re all yourself?” Still not moving away physically, but distancing himself with humour; reminding her with his eyes of all the reasons that they didn’t do this. Rose went, recklessly, for the kill.
“I’m sure. Because -” She paused, gathering herself. “Because I want this. Because we dance around this all the time and pretend we don’t. Because seeing Jack reminded me that I don’t have to let you set the rules, for any of us. Because I’ve been so scared of losing you, after meeting Sarah Jane and…” That sounded wrong, and childish. She tried again. “I’m not going to go anywhere, but I’m not stupid. You could leave me behind or I could – or anything could happen. And I’d rather be regretting the things I did than what I didn’t do.” Breath. “And if you want, we can pretend this didn’t happen and I’ll run off to my room for a bit, but I don’t think you want that.” Breath. “So. That’s why.”
The Doctor regarded her steadily, with those ancient brown eyes. She felt naked, empty. She’d laid all her cards out and didn’t have anything left, and she couldn’t tell what he was thinking. “That’s a lot of reasons, Rose Tyler.”
“You’re prevaricating.” She leant back against the TARDIS, deliberately giving them both space. “Don’t. Please.”
He pulled his hand away from her jaw to rake it through his hair, in that so-familiar expression of worry. “Rose – I’m not going to leave you behind. I’m not. Even if we aren’t – if we -”
She couldn’t help rolling her eyes. “I’m not daft, Doctor. I’m not thinking that makes a difference. But it might not be up to you, and I just want – I want – that’s it. I want, and I think you do, except you keep acting like you do and you don’t and I can’t tell and would you just make up your mind? If I’m gonna have to run off in humiliation I’d rather get it over with.”
The Doctor grinned, suddenly, that beautiful, goofy grin that reminded her immediately of him as he’d been when she’d first met him. She couldn’t help smiling back, even as she tried to be serious. “Make up my mind, eh?”
“Yes!” She would have continued, except his tongue had sort of ended up inside her mouth and there were much better things to do than talk. The Doctor seemed to agree since he was fumbling in his jacket pocket for his TARDIS key. He broke away briefly to get it in the door. Rose just stumbled in backwards, because turning involved letting go and that was also a bad idea.
“So,” she managed to get out in between kisses. “I’m gonna take this as a yes, you realise.”
“Mmmhmm,” he mumbled into her neck. “Weren’t you planning on running off to your room about now?”
“That was if you sent me packing,” she gasped. “Change of plans.”
“It sounded like a good one to me.” He licked up the side of her neck and Rose forgot to breathe. This opened up whole new aspects to that licking habit of his. “Can I come along?”
She steered him towards the inner door, managing to get one of his arms out of his greatcoat as they went. “Also a good plan.” She went back to occupying his mouth, just in case he felt the need to talk about it any more.
This wasn’t solving anything, precisely; it wasn’t making the bad things go away. But it was making life seem much better, Rose thought, just before she abandoned thinking altogether.
She was going to have to thank Jack the next time she saw him. Right now, she had other plans.
But that's not all she wrote: look out for the sequel, Present Subjective, coming reasonably soon to a computer screen near you.