He watches her sleep from her bedroom doorway, for the sole purpose of making sure she’s there. In her bed. Nowhere else. He also checks that she doesn’t have a nightmare. She didn’t at first, but then they visited an asteroid crater on Valhoon VI and it set her off. He’d had to carry her to the med bay over his shoulder, in a most undignified manner.
And also, unfortunately, a gesture of marriage proposal on that particular planet.
Now though, he is content to watch over her from the doorway, looking on as she recovers. In her strappy top. A low-cut strappy top. Not that it matters — she is comfortable, and he is above such things as ogling sleeping twenty-year-olds. It’s lecherous, that’s what it is (or it would be, if that’s what he’s doing, and it isn’t) and — were those bruises forming on her collarbone? He made a mental note to sonic those when she woke up. The poor girl, (girl, she’s only a girl, now please stop thinking, that would be good, okaythankyoubye) had been through so much recently, especially after Krop’tor, and it seems to him that everything he does to try and alleviate the bruises — both mental and physical — just make them worse. The asteroid crater, for example, was supposed to have been deserted but when they landed it appeared it was being mined for fuel. The site of people in orange-red space suits and the mine elevators had made her start quivering. She had, of course, insisted it was nothing, but when she passed out... That was when he realized how bad things had gotten. She’d almost had a fit, crying and screaming in a part unconscious state. He’d scooped her up and raced back to the TARDIS, but when he got there, it had passed. Just a nightmare, Rose had dismissed it as. Just a nightmare.
He muses over what to do. When he asks her, later, what the nightmare was about she shrugs and writes it off as her own weakness. He tries not to wince at this, he really does, but he can’t... quite... do it. He wonders, a little, if there’s something else he can do for her. He calls her over, and silently places a finger on each of her temples. Her eyes widen slightly as she wonders what she has planned and then... silence.
She leans into him, breathing deeply as golden tendrils of his mind wrap around hers and sing to her, in a language that is just beyond her, ancient and forever, everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It stills her heart, and the lean becomes a full collapse. He holds her to him gently as his mind soothes hers, a mental massage, as he likes to call it. He doesn’t do this normally, granted, not for anyone since the days of his children… and that was long gone; too long gone for him to dwell on it. He fills her head with what is basically white noise, to aid a dreamless sleep. She stills in his arms and he withdraws from her mind, both content to sleep.
They wake eventually from a sleep uninterrupted by nightmares or past visions. They are tangled together on his bed, neither quite sure of how they got there. Neither want to know how they got there. They aren’t sure who wakes first; maybe they wake at the same time, maybe him, maybe her. He smiles softly in the light of the TARDIS. “Hello,” he grins.
“Hello,” she grins back.
“What do you want to do today?” he asks her sweetly.
“Um… nothing? Some R and R, somewhere, somewhen?”
He gives her the widest, most maniacal beam and shoots out of the room like a greyhound. Rose collapses back on to the bed and definitely doesn’t feel disappointed. She can hear him laughing in the console room from where she lies, and a drowsy smile spreads across her face.
The Doctor pulls Rose out of the TARDIS a little harder than he intends to, and they collapse on the sand outside the doors. Rose reaches the stage of giggling that can only be described as hysterics when she sees the Doctor’s face as she lands on him, the fine white sand puffing up around him like flour. When they finally stop laughing, they realize that she is on top of him, and they slowly fall silent. There’s a tense pause as they both wonder how the other will react. The Doctor attempts to clear his throat, his brain screaming at him to leap up and shove her away, start babbling like a fool. His hearts… they don’t.
After what seems like a second and forever but what was probably somewhere in between, she wriggles on his chest, attempting to get off of him. She only succeeds in falling off him like a log, and they both lapse back into laughter. He manages to stand and extends his hand to Rose. Pulling her up, he doesn’t let go, but starts to pull her down the beach. After a moment though, he lets go and dashes back to the TARDIS. Rose looks after him in confusion. A moment later, he re-emerges with a large wicker hamper, blanket and… was that a swim bag? He legs it back to her and presents her with the hamper. “Picnic!” he exclaims proudly. He hands her the other bag. “Swim gear!” he exclaims again. Then, he’s running down the beach and shouting back to her. It only takes a moment for her to join him. She could get used to this kind of running-for-the-hell-of-it rather than the running-for-their-lives-AGAIN sort of running. This was pure exhilaration and she’s almost sorry when she stops. They take their picnic right down to the water’s edge. “No natural satellites here, so no tides,” explains the Doctor. Before they sit, he spreads out the blanket beneath them in a gesture of pure charm. She can’t help but giggle (she’s done more of that in the last half hour than she has in the past half month, she thinks) at the datey-ness of it all. He opens the hamper, and it’s very… traditional. Wine — wine! She didn’t think the Doctor drank at all, otherwise he ended up like that time on the SS Pomp (as Rose had named it). Or had he been faking that? She decides not to worry. It’s much easier to lie there on the deserted beach with the love of her life she did not just think that at all on the towels, watching the twin suns go down. She loves the pattern the light made on the water; they look like a layer of sequins on top of the water. She pours another glass of wine — she was right, the Doctor had been faking it on the ship, but he really, really didn’t drink anything. She also tucked into the sandwiches and mini-pork-pies, the chocolates and ice cream.
She makes a noise of satisfaction, leaning back into the Doctor. They look up at the stars together, wondering where to visit next. The sea is flat as a pane of glass, and he suddenly remembers what else they brought. “Fancy a dip?” he asks.
“Oh, go on then. Where’s the bag?” she replies as she glances around them. The Doctor reaches behind his bag and rootles around in the sand. “Here,” he says. He chucks her a bikini — how did he find it? — and looks at her expectantly. “Go on then,” he tells her. “I won’t look, honest!” He pulls out his own trunks and turns away politely. Rose sits there, slightly in shock, before shrugging and removing her own top.
They change quickly, but the Doctor changes first. He turns around, naturally, only to get an eyeful of Rose. He spins round again faster than he thinks is possible and tries not to breathe heavily. He hopes Rose hadn’t noticed. After a moment, and he prays to Rassilon that his furious blush has subsided, Rose asks, “Ready?”
He has never been so sure of anything in his life. He leaps to his feet and extends his hand, wiggling his fingers. Laughing giddily, the race each other to where the waves lap the sand. The Doctor attempts to dive into the surf a la Baywatch, but manages more of a belly-flop. He resurfaces, wincing. “Those waves don’t half sting, you know!” he exclaims. Rose rolls her eyes: she expects nothing less than the puppy-dog indignation, the dripping hair (so artfully tousled a few moments before), the grin that slowly spreads across his face when he realizes she isn’t wet at all.
“Why are you looking at me like — oi!” she starts, but is cut off by a large amount of water. In her face. She narrows her eyes — the second last thing the Doctor thinks before he’s submerged is how much she’s like her mother. The last thing he thinks is how badly she’d slap him if he told her.
An epic battle rages between them for a good hour, until the night makes the water too cold for them to swim in any more. They dry out on the shore, lying on towels and finish the remainder of the hamper. Eventually, the air cools as well as the water and they are forced to return to the TARDIS.
Back in the TARDIS, Rose is lying on her bed, a smile playing across her face. This is certainly one of their better trips, and one she would certainly repeat. She is, however, completely done in, and sleep is a welcome —
“Hey.” Her drifting is interrupted by the Doctor’s arrival. He stands in her doorway, unsure.
“Oh... were you asleep? Sorry, sorry, I’ll bugger off. Humans. Sleep cycle, important. Yes.”
“Oh, come here!” Rose kicks down the covers and tries to sound long-suffering, but can’t help keeping the mischievous note from her voice. The Doctor doesn’t hesitate (he wonders, later on that night, when he stopped doing that) and leaps in fully clothed. “Don’t you have pyjamas? You shouldn’t sleep like that!” she fusses, “It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it?” She sees the look on his face, amusement threatening to crease his features.
“Rose — it’s fine. I don’t sleep, remember?”
“Oh. Can you at least take off your shoes?” The Doctor has to concede here, and wriggles off his Chucks.
“Did you enjoy today?” he asks softly.
“It was lovely, Doctor,” she murmurs through sleep heaviness. She curls into him, her arm falling across his waist not-quite-accidentally. Her head rests on his chest and her hair falls across her face. She screws up her face slightly but is too tired to brush it away. The Doctor does it for her, not as a habit, but as a habit he could quickly fall into. He plays with her hair, the wispy pieces on her temple. Thinking, he places two fingers there, and projects waves of serenity into her mind. He would never probe it when she was asleep, but this... He thinks she’d thank him for it. He hopes she would. She stirs slightly and he realises some of his panic has reached her. He carries on sending calming signals to her, and he feels her slip into a dreamless sleep.
For all of his earlier protests, he can’t help but do the same, and they lie together for a long time.
Many, many years later, he returns to that beach, and remembers what once was.