“Rose, come on,” the Doctor says– says, not whines, no matter what Rose likes to accuse him of. “How long does it take to get dressed as seventeenth century courtier?”
“Quite a while, thank you very much,” Rose fires back good-naturedly through the door of her bedroom. “I don’t know where half these ties go.”
“Well if you want to go somewhere else…” the Doctor drawls, knowing what the answer will be. His hand goes to his sonic screwdriver, thinking it would be one way of putting on a dress, though then in order to take it off–
“Are you kidding me?” Rose squeals in response to his suggestion. “No, hang on a moment– I’m coming out.”
She emerges, smiling and self-conscious, decked out completely in an elegant gown of pale greens and yellows. The Doctor beams at her, exorbitantly proud as though he’s personally responsible for her being so beautiful. He can’t stop his eyes from roving over her– checking for any anachronisms of course, never mind that he’s wearing a suit and trainers with no plans to change– and they fix of their own accord on her throat.
“What’s that?” he asks, pointing a finger to the necklace nestled– far too intimately, in his opinion– in the hollow of her throat. It’s a small emerald set in silver and shaped like a heart; the Doctor has never seen it before, it certainly didn’t come from the TARDIS, and he feels an irrational dislike for it straight away.
“It’s a necklace,” Rose answers, fidgeting with the sleeves of her gown. “What d’you think? These don’t make me look like I’ve stolen some rugby player’s shoulders, do they?”
“Where did you get it?” the Doctor presses, unsure why he cares so much but choosing to voice that thought over the one that pops up asserting Rose’s shoulders look lovely, rather like the whipped ice plains of Morestra when they have the slightest coating of snow, which only occurs in late summer the Doctor is now aware after the last time he tried to visit and almost couldn’t open the TARDIS door because of the drifts–
“Um, it was a gift.” Rose glances down at the necklace, and apparently doesn’t see its offensiveness because her face breaks into a smile. “From Jimmy Stone, actually.” The Doctor glares at the necklace anew, dislike mounting towards something like hate. “It was something of a joke, actually, because his last name is Stone, and it’s a stone…” Rose must be completely oblivious to the waves of unlikeability pouring off the necklace, for she actually laughs then. The Doctor considers checking to see if she somehow concussed herself putting on the dress.
“I thought things between you and him–” The Doctor won’t validate that stupid joke by uttering the boy’s name, “–ended badly.”
“Yeah, well.” Rose shrugs, still smiling. “You never forget your first. And I thought this went nicely with the dress.”
Something cold hits the Doctor in the region of his chest. He looks around quickly for the source, but spotting none, looks back at Rose. “Your first what?” he asks, his voice a little strangled on account of the coldness, which is probably a broken valve in the TARDIS he’ll have to fix later, and he’ll probably need Rose’s help, meaning she’ll have to change, and that stupid necklace certainly won’t ‘go with’ a t-shirt and jeans–
Rose laughs again, and if the Doctor isn’t mistaken there’s a mischievous glint in her eyes.
“Your first time someone gives you jewelry,” she answers, then before he has a chance to ask just what exactly is so special about jewelry when it’s really just a collection of minerals molded and polished and sold at ridiculous prices to the idiots who buy them in shapes that aren’t even what real hearts looks like, Rose seizes his hand and tugs him towards the TARDIS doors and the court of King Charles II.
When he dances with her later that night, he holds her very close to his body, willing to risk offending seventeenth century sensibilities so he doesn’t have to see the candlelight reflecting in the emerald at her throat.
Three planets and one accidental and ill-fated asteroid later, the Doctor opens the door to a place with purple skies and blue grass surrounding a enormous, shallow pool at the bottom of which glitters what look like a million tiny suns.
“What are they?” Rose breathes, dropping to her knees next to the water, its sparkling light reflecting on her face.
“Stardust,” the Doctor answers. “This planet’s atmosphere attracts and holds the refractory bits of matter that condense and fall from the gasses emitted by stars, and many of them end up here, where the water and the radiated sunlight make them all shiny and sparkly like that.”
“Stardust,” Rose repeats, trailing her hand in the water after checking with a glance that it’s safe. “They’re beautiful.”
The Doctor moves to crouch beside her, trailing his fingers in counterpoint to hers. “Pick one,” he murmurs.
Rose looks up at him, surprise and delight on her face. “Really?”
His smile spreads of its own accord. “Yeah,” he replies. “Pick as many as you like, actually. The inhabitants here can make them into anything– decorations… clothing… jewelry…”
Rose looks at him again but he’s resolutely turned his gaze away across the pond, staring intently as though counting the infinite flecks of stardust. And he could, really, if he wanted, but when Rose kisses him lightly on the cheek and murmurs a quiet thank you, he suddenly doesn’t feel any need to.
Instead, he spends the next few hours with Rose wading in the pond with shoes off and pants rolled up, picking out the stones that shine the brightest, ones he think will bring out the color of her eyes, and ones he think he’ll like the sight of against her skin.