“Do you ever, I dunno, go out and see a film? Properly?” Rose asks, watching the Doctor leap over the couch in the media room in his excitement to select the film for the evening. After their brush with the supernatural, watching residents of the castle lost to the jaws of the werewolf and then nearly dying themselves, she thought they could both use a bit of stress-free leisure time before they went traveling again. But when she suggested seeing a film, this wasn’t quite what she had in mind.
“What do you mean?” he responds, turning to her with a quizzical look that makes him too endearing when he still has those specs on.
“Y’know, like, in a cinema?”
“Oh.” His excitement fades a bit as his eyes drop to the floor in contemplation.
“That’s a no, then?” She can’t help smiling at the puzzlement on his face.
“Well, who needs cinemas? We can watch anything you’d like right here. Surround sound.” He gestures around to the almost-hidden speakers buried in the coral walls. “The screen’s… 4K…” He nearly turns to the screen but trails off, seeing the smirk on her face. “What?”
“‘S not the same,” she insists, shaking her head. “Didn’t you have cinemas back home?”
“Uhm, no. Cinema wasn’t as popular a form of entertainment as it is for you, I suppose.” His hand rubs at the back of his neck, something she’s learned very quickly he does when he’s nervous. She’d best get to the point or else watch him suffer pointlessly.
“Well, can we go, d’you think? To see something?”
“In a cinema?” She doesn’t let it deter her that he’s looking at her like the proposition is as ridiculous as ordering a pizza from a library.
“Yeah.” She laughs in earnest.
“Just because of a bigger screen?” he asks, squinting and scratching the back of his head like he’s trying to prove a quantum theory.
“And popcorn and chocolate and other people and previews.” She tries to list off everything as she makes her way around the couch, comes close enough that she has to tilt her head up to meet his gaze. Puts her hands on the lapels of his jacket, smooths her hands along the fabric and tugs like she’s smoothing out wrinkles (there are none).
“C’mon, it’ll be fun,” she adds, toying with the buttons on his rather open shirt (he’d skipped the tie, again, after his shower). He swallows hard, staring at the path of her hands rather than her eyes as he ruffles a hand through his hair, lips agape with something akin to shock.
He collects himself, though, as soon as he catches her looking. His mouth closes, his expression transforms from tense to thoughtful as he ponders for a moment, pretending he has some logical arguments to consider. Something else transforms his features, then: that unique air of smug excitement that she’s already intimately familiar with from these new, emotive brown eyes. Or maybe it’s the eyebrows.
“All right, then, Rose Tyler.” He says her name just that way again, a way the other him never could, and the way it rolls off his tongue makes her cheeks heat up as he returns her stare. “I’ve got an idea.” His smile is nothing short of staggering, all brilliant shining teeth.
“Go and grab your best pillows and blankets. Meet me in the console room in ten minutes!” He’s already bounding away from her and out the door, his Chucks echoing through the ship as he reaches the hall.
“Did you already forgot my new title, Sir Doctor?!” she shouts after him.
“Dame Rose!” She can hear his bright smile in the shouted words, and then it’s just that delightful laughter of his carrying through the air, reverberating down the halls.
Remembering the time constraints he enacted, she darts out of the room in the opposite direction, rushing to her room to get the things he asked. Blankets and pillows don’t really belong in a theater, and by the time she reaches her door she’s suspicious they won’t actually be going to one at all. After a glance at her appearance in the mirror of her en-suite, she spot-fixes a smudge in her eyeliner and gets a stubborn, recurring curl out of her hair (for the third time) from the day before with the flat iron.
She trusts he won’t disappoint, whatever he’s got planned, but the thought that they’ll need blankets for whatever it is has butterflies in her stomach. She has no idea whether the Doctor will need or want his own (she’ll never admit she’s hoping he’ll share), so as she steps into her roomy walk-in closet, she chooses the most squishy extra pillow she can find and bundles up the fluffiest throw blankets before taking her favorite, tattered pillow and quilt from home off her bed.
It’s a task to walk through the halls with it all bunched up in her arms, bumping into the curving walls a few times and losing her footing for no reason other than the obstructed view. The only signal that she’s arrived where she needs to be is the Doctor’s greeting.
“There you are!” His shoes clang on the grating as he rushes over, his hands squirm against hers to take the pile of blankets and pillows from her hands (she blushes when they brush against her stomach). She laughs when she sees him, his entire torso and face obstructed by the mess of brown and white, and knows she probably looked even sillier.
“Hold on! Close your eyes and wait here, just a tick!” His voice gets farther away as he talks, and she obeys, closing her eyes.
“Where are we going?” Her laughter doesn’t stop, his infectious energy so effortlessly lifting her spirits, making her giddy with excitement. The only response is a rustle of blankets and the soft plop of pillows onto the floor, and she nearly shouts at him for dropping everything, thinking they’ll need to wash them all now, but he returns to her side before she can manage, taking her hands gently in both of his.
“We aren’t going anywhere,” he explains with vigor, leading her across the console room. “We’re already here. Thank you, TARDIS,” he calls over her shoulder. He must be walking backwards in front of her because she doesn’t run into a thing and, somehow, neither does he.
“What do you — ” The question dies on her lips as he tugs her down the ramp and they stop, what can’t be more than ten feet from the doors.
“Okay,” he almost whispers, and she mourns the loss of his touch as he lets her hands fall to her sides. “Open ‘em up!”
She can’t help that she sees nothing but him as she first opens her eyes, standing with arms crossed and a ridiculous grin on his face, eyes bright and expectant and his hair decidedly more of a mess than when she saw him ten minutes ago. She returns his waiting smile and feels that gentle, insistent tugging inside of her again, that distinctive gravity that only applies to the two of them, that constantly draws her to him. It’s always there, enticing her to move closer, to close the distance between them whenever possible, but it’s so demanding now she loses her train of thought. It begs her to move her feet, to do something about this new, undeniable magnetism between them.
“Go on, then, tell me. What d’you think?” The pull eases as he nods emphatically to his left, reestablishes her focus on the reason they’re here, and she glances over with a gasp.
Spread on the grating are two of her blankets, quilt and pillows made up like a provisional bed. Two of his are next to hers in a second arrangement; she recognizes one of the soft blue blankets she’s seen inside his room. Where their two makeshift beds meet there’s a rather large bucket of popcorn, two cans of the root beer she loved from an orange moon she can’t remember the name of, and a small pile of pyramid-shaped bits of foil.
But even all this is nothing compared to the sight waiting for her outside the doors.
“Oh, my God,” she murmurs under her breath, gaping out the doors for a few seconds. She kicks her shoes somewhere across the console room and stumbles over one of her pillows in her rush, but rights herself before she can fall into space, stopping at the ledge and grabbing the frame to stare out in awe.
They’re hovering what can’t be more than a couple miles out from a large, white planet, hardly a blemish on its flat surface. Well, except for the sprawling screen (that’s too clear to be real, she thinks) currently displaying a preview for the Disney’s Cars. She leans and squints but can’t see any pixels, looks above but can’t find a source of the projected light, and quickly gives up the search.
Below them and sprawled to each side of the TARDIS are hundreds of ships, from tiny two-seaters to giant commercial spacecraft, from stark white to sleek silver, dark blue to bright orange. All floating completely still, same as the TARDIS. What passengers she can see in the nearest crafts are fixated on the screen, but no sound of engines or conversation or even of a film enters her ears like in a cinema — only the ever-constant thrum of the TARDIS behind her.
“’s like a drive-in, but…” she starts, turning around to find the Doctor just as he finishes her sentence.
“Fly-in Theater, echo seven delta.” He’s already lounging on his fluffy blankets, hand resting behind his head on the pillow, shoes abandoned by the ramp, a satisfied smirk on his lips. “Largest in the universe until sixty-one-eight-eighty-nine. Classic Earth nights every seventeenth of the month.”
“It’s…” She settles on her own plot of comfort next to him as she struggles to find words, scooting her pillow forward until it’s even with his (he must have moved it up while she was gaping), so the entire screen is visible through the relatively narrow opening of the doors.
“I knew you’d like it.” He saves her from an inarticulate description, turning on his side and propping himself on his elbow to flash another of his best toothy grins.
“Is there no sound, though?” She teases, knowing he’s missed something.
“Oh! Almost forgot!” He sits up again, brandishing his sonic and aiming it at the console until a quick whir brings the preview to life, the squealing of tires and animated voices to match the images on the screen filling the console room on his command.
“Radio transmission?” she asks.
“Yeah.” He beams, replacing the sonic in his jacket and scooting closer to her and nudging his pillow towards hers before plopping his head back onto it.
“So, what’s the feature film?” With an attempt to mirror his discreetness she, too, narrows the boundary between them before reclining back.
“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
“Chronicles of Narnia?”
“Yep.” He pops the ‘p.’ “It’s contemporary. Only released a couple months back, for you. Wait, you haven’t seen it, yet, have you?” She turns to find his head tilted towards hers, mild concern scrunching his forehead as he realizes the weak link in his plan.
“No.” She laughs, wondering how he can forget she hasn’t left his side since it was released in December back home. She remembers seeing the previews, though, ages back. He couldn’t have picked a better film. “This is perfect, thank you.” Her hand feels out the blankets and chunks of foil between them until she finds his hand, squeezing it lightly.
“You’re welcome.” His thumb brushes over hers as he returns the gesture.
Despite her confession of love for film trailers they don’t really pay them much attention, popping open their cans of root beer and starting to shovel popcorn in their mouths, implicitly starting a competition of whose kernels squeak the loudest.
A piece from his hand falls onto her blanket and she tosses it back, but he denies having thrown it on purpose and two more land on her clothes that he throws purposefully. What little time they’ve spent properly eating the buttery stuff expires as they alternate tossing pieces at one another (the Doctor occasionally actually catches a piece in his mouth). Before either of them realizes it, both of them reach into the bucket only to touch hands as they find it empty, and they both scan the blankets sheepishly to see the mess of popped kernels they’ve created before the film has even started.
It’s only the Doctor that can make her laugh with him about it.
“So, what are these, then?” She holds up a piece of what she can only guess is chocolate wrapped in foil with a little paper flag sticking out of the top, that on closer inspection is more of a raindrop shape with a flat bottom than a pyramid.
“These are kisses!” She wonders at his nicknaming of the treats as he swoops one up from the mostly untouched pile and unwraps it deftly to inspect it between his thumb and index finger. It does, indeed, look like smooth chocolate. “Little bite-sized drops of milk chocolate from the Hershey company. Based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States. Still using the same formula they developed in 1907. Well, in your day anyway.”
“What, they’re properly called kisses?” she asks, still skeptical but also not wanting to admit how much she wants to hear him say that word again.
“Yes,” he insists, chuckling. He pops the chocolate in his mouth and holds up the thin slip of paper that was stuck inside the foil wrapper for them both to read. “Kisses. Says it right there,” he mumbles through the chocolate sticking to his teeth.
“Why are they called that?” she asks, fighting a blush as she unwraps her own and finds the same word inked in blue on the paper.
“Don’t know, actually. Guess they just thought it was nice.” He shrugs as he takes another piece from the pile. “Do they not have these back in London?”
“No.” She shakes her head as she places the piece in her mouth. “Well, I dunno. If they do my mum’s never picked ‘em up before. Nor me.” The words become more muffled as the chocolate melts on her tongue and she starts to chew it, only to find that it’s not at all what she was expecting.
“Oh!” She makes a face. “’S sort of… bitter?” she frames it as a question, wondering if he’ll agree, but he’s already on his third piece and seems to be quite enjoying it, and gasps in mock horror when he hears her question.
“Rose Tyler. How can anyone not like kisses?” he asks around a mouthful of the stuff.
“No, ’s not that I don’t like it. Well, I sort of don’t, but…” She sighs as she finally swallows the odd chocolate with the unpleasantly sour aftertaste.
“No? Well, I suppose it’s an acquired taste.” His tone sounds a little defeated and even more saddened, and she suddenly wishes she hadn’t rejected what she realizes was a lovely gesture so quickly.
“I just don’t like these sort of kisses, I s’pose,” she blurts out, not thinking it could lead them into seriously awkward territory.
“What sort of kisses do you like, then?” She makes the mistake of glancing over to him, where his cheek rests on his fist, his hair sticking out in the back from lying on the pillow, and waiting with focused eyes the same color as the chocolate like her response is the most important thing he’ll hear all night.
“I dunno… others…” she trails off, and it’s just as horrible as she feared. With an awkward pause she turns away from him to find the previews have finally ended and the screen goes dark as music starts playing.
“We won’t fall out, will we?” she asks, changing the subject in a quieter voice out of habit, though there’s no one to disturb except the two of them.
“’Course not. Why do you ask?” He sounds confused, but she still can’t look at him yet. She wiggles her toes from inside her socks, emphasizing the way her feet are nearly hanging out of the ship from their proximity to the door.
“If we get bumped or she jerks or something, I could fall straight out.”
He’s silent, but she knows him well enough to know that he’s trying his best not to laugh.
“You won’t fall out,” he answers simply, emphasizing each syllable, and she can still hear the smile in his voice.
“Yes. Even if you’re about to, I’ll catch you.” He takes her hand in his again and grasps it firmly, as if to prove his ability to hold on.
“You better.” She keeps her voice light and teasing as she meets his gaze again, rather than threaten the moment with the sort of sentiment that would surely send him running.
They settle into quite a comfortable silence as the film starts, only unlinking their hands when one of them needs to readjust their position or Rose needs to wipe her hand on her jeans (all the moisture seems to be coming from her hand, rather than his).
As much as she’d love to actually watch this film, as she’d been rather interested in it when she heard about it prior to even meeting the Doctor, she can’t focus to save her life. Just when she catches more than one line of dialogue, the Doctor will smooth his thumb in circles over her palm, or whisper a comment about the effects or spout off trivia about the biblical allegories in the storyline.
Even without the interruptions from the Doctor she’s come to expect whenever they watch a film together, making sense of the moving pictures and sounds entering her ears would be a lost cause. She can’t stop glancing over to him, marveling at how young and carefree he is when he talks now, how different this him is from the first man she traveled with. Admiring the way his lips move as he sucks on another piece of chocolate without properly chewing it. Staring for too long at the expanse of his neck that his lack of tie reveals to her, wondering how it would feel to press a kiss there at the base of his throat, what it’d taste like under her tongue.
Sometimes he glances over, too, and smiles when he finds her staring, but it’s innocent: there’s no way he notices her very distracting train of thought. He’s said he can’t read people’s minds without consent and she trusts that admission now more than ever.
It must be at least halfway through the film that she announces she’s a bit chilly, and reaches for the extra blanket bundled at her feet, pulls it over herself. But the Doctor decides they’re too far apart, that even the foot between them and their clasped hands won’t suffice to keep her warm. Not seeming to mind he’s squashing kernels and what’s left of the chocolates under him he worms his way closer to her, murmuring ‘ouch’ a few times and brushing kisses out from under him with his free hand before moving his pillow until it’s squished against hers.
He comes to rest with his body lined up against hers, his clothes touching her blanket but no pressure between them, resting their joined hands on his stomach and reaching the other to rest behind his neck, propping his head higher. It’s just enough that it can still be passed off as platonic, a friendly gesture to a cold mate, so she doesn’t push her luck.
She never expected to feel so drawn to this new version of him, to grow so attached (and attracted) to someone she thought would be a stranger for months, after only after a few weeks. But he’s charming and lovely and energetic and she’s completely under his spell now, completely unable to understand the film with him holding her hand and his stomach rising and falling with each breath, the enthusiastic little noises he makes whenever something major happens on screen. Like a paperclip to a magnet she’s powerless to resist his pull, to be closer any way she can.
It’s a subtle movement at first. She releases his hand no differently than any other time she’s fidgeted with nervousness, props herself up on her forearm and angles her body towards him. He looks over, curious at the new position but she smiles and studiously returns her gaze to the film. He gets caught up again quickly, still sipping his drink and munching on the chocolates every few minutes.
It’s impulsive and probably a bit stupid, but without giving it enough logical thought, she angles her arm towards him, inching closer with measured caution until her fingers just tease the tips of his hair. She’s wanted to know how it would feel since New Earth, when Cassandra had the pleasure but she couldn’t feel it properly, herself. She freezes for a moment, just rests her hand there, playing with the soft ends, testing, but he doesn’t move. Doesn’t react at all, in fact. She takes it as a sign he’ll allow this new level of contact.
Slowly she buries her fingers completely, gives herself only a small moment to relish the feel of it shifting around her touch before stopping again, just resting her hand on the top of his head. Waiting again, making sure she isn’t about to dismantle the natural comfort between them. He hasn’t frozen, though, isn’t tensing under her touch; his jaw is still relaxed, his hands still rest on his chest, and breathing seems even.
She combs her fingers through the strands, making little circular motions with her thumb and fingertips, and though he doesn’t shift and his eyes don’t leave the screen, a wave of relief washes through her when he sighs in subtle approval. She dares to continue, wonders vaguely how good this feels to him as his thick, soft hair brushes against her fingers deliciously, leaving a bit of product behind on her skin she couldn’t care less about. She lightly scratches her nails close to his ear and he hums low in the back of his throat, his eyes drift closed and his head lolls to the side, leaning into her touch, and it’s nothing short of gorgeous to watch.
Emboldened by his receptiveness, she keeps going, varying the swirling movements of her fingertips as they dance in a swirling pattern over his head, leaving every inch of his perfectly styled locks thoroughly ruffled. He doesn’t protest when her hand slips behind his head, even leans his neck forward to give her better access while she massages down to the back of his neck. Though she keeps her movements relaxed, his consistent, muted groans of pleasure tighten her stomach into a knot.
When her hand threatens to cramp, and she starts to worry he’ll be suspicious that she’s trying to distract him from the film if she keeps this up much longer, her hand finally retreats, coming to rest next to his head as she continues staring at the screen like she isn’t bothered (she’s hoping to get a rise out of him).
“That… that was nice. Good. That was good,” he stutters and mumbles almost incoherently and she smiles proudly to herself. “Yeah, quite good.”
It’s a few peaceful minutes of a Lion giving battle advice before he can speak again.
“It is a bit frosty out here, without that very warm-looking blanket you’ve got.”
It’s the way he says it that makes her certain he’s caved, too. It’s all he needs to say before she’s lifting it up, laughing as he pulls it over himself and they have to squeeze in closer facing each other so they both fit underneath it. He never gets cold inside the TARDIS and she knows it; her insides are mushy because she knows it’s not why he wants to climb under the covers with her tonight.
“You know what, though Rose?” he whispers once they’ve settled in and are warm enough, and he’s so close she can almost taste him, his closeness radiating something reminiscent of a snow-covered forest, only the faintest hint of pine and cinnamon. “You never told me what sort of kisses you like.” His nose brushes against hers as he breathes the words.
His entire demeanor has changed, his arms wrapping around her underneath the blanket and his hips wriggling closer to align with hers, like suddenly he’s completely lost track of his usual boundaries, the lines around their physical relationship she’s always been too afraid to cross. He waits there for her to answer for a long moment while she’s still too nervous to finish what he started, to close the distance between them and end this sudden bout of playful torture.
She doesn’t have to, though.
It’s a slow transition. They hover on the edge of a kiss for so long that she can’t pinpoint the moment he closes in, only that now his mouth is on hers, their lips brushing together warm and wet and in perfect synchrony. His bottom lip is everything she daydreamed it would be, smooth and plump between hers; his tongue calculating as it is delicate when it teases along the seam of her lips, tasting.
It could be seconds or hours they lay there wrapped around each other, the film made irrelevant by this new layer of intimacy, but she never wants it to end.
She learns she doesn’t mind that American chocolate when she tastes it on his tongue. That the inside of his mouth is a little cooler than hers but it sends all the right sorts of shivers down her spine. That though his excitement makes him rush through all their adventures and, really, most things in his life since he regenerated, he takes his time when he kisses her. Slowly maps the shape of her lips, the texture of her tongue, draws each of her lips into his mouth in turn to savor their taste, discovers all the ways to make her hum with pleasure into his mouth. Knows that about every thirty seconds she needs to breathe and doesn’t mind waiting, presses kisses to her chin and cheeks until she’s ready to meet his lips again.
It’s after too many of these short interludes to count that they finally glance over at the screen and the credits are rolling.
“So, what’d you think?” he asks, cheeky bloke that he can be.
“Excellent. Five stars.”
“Well.” He draws out the word in that swooping tenor that flows like honey. “We can always go back and finish it later.”
“Later, yeah,” she agrees, tracing along his collarbone with her index finger absently.
“And what’s the verdict, Dame Rose?”
It only takes her a moment to remember.
“I think I do like this sort, Sir Doctor.”
He giggles contentedly even as she tugs on his hair to bring his mouth back to hers, and she knows now that he likes this sort, too.