Rose sighed and pushed her plate away, dinner only half-eaten.
"Are you feeling all right, love?" the Doctor asked as he cleared the table.
"Yeah, I'm just worn out." She massaged her temple. "Two trans-Atlantic zeppelin rides in two days… whose brilliant idea was it for me to take a forty-eight hour trip to the New York office?"
The Doctor walked behind her and rubbed her shoulders, and Rose melted beneath his talented fingers. "I've got a drinks thing at work–did you see in your email that we finished the teleport?"
"We're celebrating tonight at the pub. I have to make an appearance, since I'm a department head, but I should be able to sneak away before too long. Why don't you stay here and relax, and when I get home, we'll spend the rest of the evening together?"
Rose tipped her head back and smiled up at him. She could already imagine the way a hot bath would soothe away the weariness of travel. "That is the best idea I've heard all day."
The Doctor bent down and pressed his lips to hers in a soft kiss. "I should be home in two hours," he promised.
The Doctor breathed a sigh of relief as he drove away from the house. He'd made it through the first step of his plan. Lying to Rose was almost impossible–she knew his tells too well. But he'd counted on her being too tired to notice tonight, and she was. There really was a party, but he wasn't going. His coworkers had all agreed to cover for him if need be.
Time for step two.
After a trip to the shops to get the last few things he needed, the Doctor turned around and drove home, parking at the end of their quiet street and walking stealthily into their back garden.
The TARDIS hummed when he opened the door of her shed, and he patted the gleaming blue wood. Rose had been thrilled when the ship had taken the familiar form, and truthfully, so had he. He would have adjusted to a new look, but after so many centuries, it would have been hard.
"Are you ready, dear?" he whispered as he stepped into the console room. The lights of the time rotor pulsed briefly, and he could feel her shiver of excitement buzz around him.
He hadn't been idle while Rose was gone. The ship had been so close to being ready when she left, and he'd wanted to surprise her with their first trip when she got home.
An unfamiliar weight rested in his trouser pocket. With our first trip, and a question. He ran his hands through his hair, then turned on the monitor so he could go over the final tests he'd run before work.
Half of his allotted two hours was gone. The Doctor pulled out his mobile and sent Rose a brief text, then he put on his glasses and sat down to read.
The warm water had lulled Rose to sleep almost as soon as she'd slid down under the bubbles. In her dreams, she and the Doctor travelled the stars in their new TARDIS, walking hand-in-hand as they explored new planets. She'd learned how accurate his words were when she walked through the dimensions–the one thing you needed to cross the universe was a hand to hold.
The vibration of her mobile woke Rose up, but she savoured the building anticipation a bit longer. They'd be travelling again soon, and she could hardly wait.
Finally, she yawned and wiped her hands on the nearby towel before picking up her phone to see what the Doctor had said.
Are you enjoying your night in, love?
A warm bubble of happiness expanded in Rose's chest at the caring, domestic question. Settling into a human life had been difficult; being planet-bound for two years had been almost impossible at times. But she'd never doubted that he loved her.
Rejuvenated by her nap, the earlier desire to be alone faded. A wicked smile crossed Rose's face as she considered the Doctor's text. She sent a quick reply, then relaxed back into the water to wait.
The Doctor could still read faster than a human, and as he skimmed the report for the pertinent details, a smile spread across his face. By the time he got to the last line, he knew he was beaming like an idiot, but he didn't care.
They were ready.
A wave of giddy nervousness swept over the Doctor. If the TARDIS was ready to travel, then he didn't have an excuse not to propose tonight. Not that they needed to be on an alien planet for that, but he had Plans and he didn't really want to let go of them.
He was reaching into his pocket so he could look at the ring again when his Rose-specific text alert sounded. He read her reply quickly, and his heart sped up.
Just taking a bath and wishing you were here.
The Doctor swallowed hard. There was no picture attached, because Rose knew the power of his own memories would be far more effective. Her words reminded him of dozens of times he had watched her bathe, or shared a bath with her. He knew exactly how it felt to sit behind her in the tub, with his arms wrapped around her waist and her head resting on his chest.
And he knew the invitation inherent in those words. It was almost tempting to discard his plans. He could collect the flowers, chocolate, and champagne he had waiting in their bedroom on the ship, take them inside, and propose in their house. Buying that house together had been a symbol of their commitment to each other; it would be a good place to reaffirm that commitment.
The TARDIS sang pleadingly; she wanted to be a part of this moment. The Doctor sighed, but patted the console before sending Rose a reply.
I'm almost home. Why don't you get dressed? I want to take you someplace.
Rose blinked; that was not the reply she'd expected. And if the Doctor was ignoring her rather blatant invitation, he must have a surprise planned.
Curiosity got her moving, and she pulled the plug on the bathtub and grabbed a towel. The Doctor's surprises were always worth whatever effort they took on her part.
A few minutes later, towelled off and wrapped in her dressing gown, she texted the Doctor again. Any special instructions on what to wear?
We'll be outside, so dress warm.
Rose pursed her lips and tapped her finger against her chin. Curiouser and curiouser, she thought as she selected a warm jumper from the wardrobe. Not that it was unheard of for them to take late night rambles through hidden parks. Maybe he'd found a new place to go stargazing.
She laced up her boots and went downstairs as the car pulled into the driveway. Keeping the November chill in mind, she pulled a coat off the rack and zipped it up as the door opened.
The Doctor held out a hand and waggled his fingers, making Rose laugh. "Come with me?"
Rose laced their fingers together. "Always."
The Doctor's heart skipped a beat, just like it had the first time he'd taken her hand in the basement of Henrik's and every time since. He knew he had a silly grin on his face, but when she laughed and pushed herself up on her toes so she could press a kiss to his lips, he decided he didn't mind.
"Shall we?" he suggested, pointing to the open door. Rose stepped outside first, and he let go of her hand to close and lock the door before taking it again and leading her behind the house.
He swung their hands between them and pretended not to hear the confusion in her voice. "Yes, Rose?"
"You said you wanted to take me someplace."
He pressed his tongue to the back of his teeth, then opened the shed door. "You're right; I did. But not on Earth."
Rose looked at their TARDIS, then at him. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, and he brushed away the tears gathering in her eyes.
"What do you say, Rose Tyler? Travel the stars with me?" She laughed breathlessly. He pushed open the TARDIS door, ignoring the "Pull to Open" sign as he'd done for centuries.
The TARDIS sang happily when Rose walked up to the console and stroked the controls. This wasn't the first time she'd been in the ship, not by a long shot, but it was different now that she was ready to fly.
"I didn't know she was ready."
The Doctor closed the door and took his place at the console. "We wanted to surprise you when you got home."
"You certainly managed that!" Rose grinned, letting her tongue tease him, and the Doctor tugged her close so he could kiss her.
Rose sighed into the Doctor's kiss, but before she could get lost in it, he spun away from her and grabbed a lever. She laughed again when his eyes lit up with the giddy, almost manic light she loved.
"Allons-y, Rose Tyler!" he crowed, then threw the lever and laughed exuberantly when the time rotor began its slow up-and-down chug as she sent them through the Vortex to his chosen destination. "We're moving, Rose!"
"I can see that, Doctor," Rose said dryly. "But where are we going?"
He winked and shook a finger at her. "Nope. That's a surprise. But you're wearing a coat, so you're ready." He darted over to the coat rack by the door and pulled on the black peacoat he'd reluctantly purchased during his first winter in Pete's World.
Rose walked over and tugged at the lapels. "Now that we have a time machine, maybe we can find this universe's Janis Joplin and get your coat back," she suggested.
"I love the way you think," he proclaimed as they landed. "But today…" He pointed at the door.
Rose noticed the sky's soft sunset colours before she recognised the ocean, captured for eternity in a cataclysmic tempest.
The Doctor took Rose's hand and led her a few steps away from the TARDIS. "Welcome to Woman Wept." His words were a whisper, but they still echoed slightly on the icy waves. "So named because from orbit, the single continent–"
"Looks like a woman crying."
His fingers flexed around hers. "You remember."
Rose turned from the waves and looked up at him. "I remember every place you've taken me, Doctor. Every trip, every adventure… Every time in the last two years that we've gotten itchy feet and jumped on the next zeppelin, without caring where it would take us." She reached out to touch a wave. "This was a good memory to relive on our first trip in the TARDIS. Thank you."
The Doctor swallowed hard and reached into his pocket. "I chose it for the memories," he admitted. "The first time I brought you here–well, to the other universe's version of here–you looked at me like…" He clenched his fingers around the jewellery box. "Well, like you're looking at me now, actually." He let go of her hand to brush his knuckles over her cheekbone, and she leaned into his caress. "I was already hopelessly in love with you, but bringing you here was the first time I thought you might see me as more than just a friend."
"I loved you then, too." That wasn't news, not anymore, but there was something sacred in the way she whispered the words on this still planet, with the sunset casting a golden halo around her. "And I love you now, and I'm going to love you forever."
Time sang around the Doctor, galvanising him into action. In one motion, he pulled the ring box from his pocket and dropped to his knee. "Then… will you marry me?"
Rose didn't even let the Doctor open the box before she tackled him to the ground. "Yes!"
His chuckles reverberated through her as he tilted his head down to kiss her, and then Rose was swept away by the most perfect happiness she'd ever known. His lips curved in a smile as they kissed, and after a moment, she pulled back to press her forehead to his.
"I love you."
"I love you, too, Rose." He winced. "But can we stand up? It's bloody cold down here with my back against the ice."
Rose laughed and scrambled to her feet, then waited for the Doctor to locate the box he'd dropped. She clasped her hands together in front of her chest when he stayed on his knees and opened the box.
"Now, since someone was so eager to say yes, I didn't get to do this properly."
Rose stuck her tongue out at him.
The Doctor laughed and flipped the box open. "Marry me, love?"
A princess cut diamond solitaire caught what remained of the evening light and reflected it, but the sparkle in the Doctor's eyes was even more dazzling.
Rose nodded and held out her trembling left hand.
Sliding the ring onto Rose's finger felt almost surreal, and the Doctor stared at it for a moment. Rose's hand. His ring. How long had he dreamed of this?
Rose squeezed his hand, and he looked up at her. "You all right down there?" she asked, her voice a gentle balm to his heart.
He nodded, then stood up and reached for her, running a barely-there touch over her eyebrows and nose and then brushing his thumb over her lips. He felt her hand on his waist pull him closer, and he bent down and replaced his thumb with his mouth.
Rose's lips parted beneath his, and the Doctor took the bottom one into his mouth and suckled at it. She sighed and tilted her head so he could deepen the kiss, but he still kept the embrace soft and gentle.
Finally, his lungs burning with the need for oxygen, he broke the kiss and swept Rose into his arms. She shrieked in laughter and wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her back to the TARDIS.
"What are you doing?"
The Doctor waggled his eyebrows. "We just got engaged. I think it's time to celebrate, don't you?"
Her brown eyes turned the smoky colour of whiskey, and she pressed her lips to his neck. "Oh, absolutely."
The TARDIS doors opened for them, and he carried her to their room. "And then, when we're done celebrating, maybe a trip to a new planet? The TARDIS wants to show off for you."
Rose sighed. "I have to work tomorrow."
The Doctor shook his head as he pushed open their bedroom door. "Rose Tyler, I'm sure I mentioned it also travels in time."
Rose smiled as he laid her on the bed. "The perfect life. Time and space and you."
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