Rose could stay here forever. And another half an hour after forever, too.
Bliss. Pure unadulterated bliss. This was something from the “Bounty” commercial, too: hot, white sand, so soft it didn’t scratch her calves when she was moving her legs to the blanket, the softest breeze Rose had ever experienced. The bluest, clearest sea that didn’t do justice to the pictures of it in the travelling brochures her friends and her nicked from the neighbours’ post-box to look through and dream about visiting while sitting on the estates’ staircase, huddling closer for warmth and drinking tepid tea from Shareen’s mother’s thermos (with a dash of rum, if Keisha was lucky enough to sneak from her parents’ cabinet).
Rose couldn’t even dream about visiting a place like that, ever, when she was fifteen, flexing her numb fingers to turn the glossy pages that promised summer paradise. How could her teenage self believe that one day all of Time and Space would belong to her closest friend? She daren’t call him otherwise. Rose feels funny inside every time she thinks about the nature of their relationship. It’s the never-ending tug-of-war that threatens to pull her heart apart. Or, maybe, tear her whole apart. Her heart goes out to the Doctor, it sings every moment they are together, each time he smiles at her like she’s the most precious thing in the entire world, all the times the Doctor holds her hand or holds her . Close, closer, promising her his protection, his loyalty, the unexplained gentleness he seemed to rain over her, only ever shows to her.
Rose doesn’t know why, can’t possibly explain the reason why the Doctor would have chosen her, not once but twice, why he is so damn patient with every slip up she makes, with every mistake she brings to his life.
Rose hasn’t got the faintest idea as to why the Doctor landed the Tardis on the beach of this paradise-like planet all of a sudden. Things went on the same way (if slightly awkward) right after visiting Earth and meeting her father, and Rose felt herself slowly emerging from the waters of self-hatred and insecurity with the help of the Doctor’s gentle guidance and the ever-lasting patience. It couldn’t be an extension of his apology for calling her “stupid” three weeks ago, nor he is making up for putting her through something traumatic like civil war they have witnessed two or three months ago on in the stellar cluster of Florentia 2.5.
She racks her brain, thinks so hard it almost hurts and feels suddenly too indifferent about it – why should Rose question Doctor’s motif? His ship, his rules, his choice of location, that’s what he warned her about all those weeks ago.
The sun is beating down on her, too bright and unbearable all of a sudden, and Rose leans back on her elbows on the blanket and splays her limbs on the cloth and the sand languorously, too tired and lazy to care. What was she thinking about?
Out of nowhere, a wide-brimmed hat drops on her head. Rose jumps and widens her eyes in surprise.
A bottle of water is thrusted into her palms, burning her heated fingers with its icy surface.
Rose looks up, blinks repeatedly until the golden rings of light embedded in her eyelids turn slightly fainter and squints.
There stands the Doctor. For some reason she can’t quite comprehend, he looks worried.
“Thanks” she rasps out and licks her lower lip. It tastes like salt and stings her parched tongue. She doesn’t realise she is thirsty until the coldness of the water and the condensation on the blue plastic hit her digits several moments ago.
“Yes, Doctor, I will come back after an hour to avoid overheating and I will drink enough water to stay hydrated” the Doctor mimics her accent perfectly. The imitation of her manner of speaking is astoundingly good, the rise and fall of her speech is true to her character, the only thing that distorts his small scene is the unnatural (and non-believable) highness of his voice.
“I do understand why it’s important to cover my head, Doctor, she says, I won’t fall asleep under the blazing sun and I won’t get a heatstroke because I’m good at following your advice, Doctor, she says.”
Rose just stares at the standing man while he continues berating her carelessness, wonders how he doesn’t burst into flames standing there in the sun in his leather jacket while she takes respite in his long shadow.
Is he standing there to give her a break from the heat?
Soft-hearted curmudgeon. Rose smiles internally.
The Doctor glares at the bottle in her palms and grunts “Come on, I won’t be standing there all day. I’ve got Tardis to take care of, I don’t need another woman needing my medical attention now, too.”
Rose thinks he sounds too kind and too concerned to pass for someone irritated at being interrupted and opens the lid on the bottle, heavily swallowing the blessedly cool water.
The Doctor is squatted near her suddenly, gently prying the bottle from her lips.
“Slow down, Rose, you will make yourself sick,” she relents the hold on the water reluctantly and he adjusts the white-coloured hat on her head so that it hides her face in the soft shadow. Rose sighs.
The Doctor traces the apples of her cheeks tenderly. He checks if she’s sunburnt, she muses.
Her heart is about to burst from feeling too much, experiencing the swell of emotions this big and this unexpected.
She looks into his eyes and she is transfixed by how blue, how radiant they are. The turquoise of the ocean has nothing on his eyes, the steely blue overpowering her thoughts, her desires.
This beach isn’t paradise at all. Being the only concern on his mind is. To be this loved, this adored, this cherished. The glossy pages of the sun-filled still nature pale in comparison with the depth of the Doctor’s stare.
God. Oh, God, what does she do now? She is at his mercy now, she can’t ever imagine being this deep, this far gone.
Her mother is going to kill her. She taught Rose better than falling head over heels for someone out of her reach.
Rose must be silent an awful long time for the Doctor to look this anxious. Is he saying something?
“...Rose? Come on, up you get, there’s no way you stay out here in the blasted sun a minute longer. You, humans, and your primitive cardiovascular system,” he pulls her up by the hands carefully and steadies her. While Rose is standing there, surprised at the revelation about loving him, the Doctor hurriedly collects the blanket, the water bottle and the romance novel she took from the library shelves without looking (judging by the three pages Rose has managed to read, it is something about a couple stranded on the beach and experiencing tropical love under the naked sky).
The Doctor ushers Rose in the protection of the Tardis and as Rose steps in she thinks she hears the soothing hum of the Time Ship. Rose isn’t subtle about her feelings, is she? The only thing that saves her, protects her secret is the Doctor’s cluelessness. He won’t ever believe he’s someone to be loved. Like she can’t comprehend the reason he loves her for.
A mystery. Not even Agatha Christie could logically reveal the reason for the unlikely feelings they both experience for each other.
The Doctor is all frowns and worry, he leads Rose to the beaten jumpseat and lowers her down. He starts checking her pupil reflexes and she swats at his arms half-heartedly, assures him that she’s okay. He still makes her drink the third of the bottle’s contents and checks her temperature with the back of his hand on her forehead. Rose can’t help herself; she leans into his touch, moves her head further until she is nestled nose-first into the collar of the Doctor’s leather jacket. God only knows what it smells like, she is never good at identifying smells and undertones, it’s just something pure him, pure Doctor, warm and cold, sweat and freshness at the same time, it’s making her inebriated and incoherent each time she inhales it.
The Doctor says nothing, indulges her interfering with his personal space, allows her to nuzzle into his jumper, thinking she’s too overheated to think clearly. He’s right, even if only partially. Rose can’t think clearly but it isn’t because of the heat.
They sit there; her on the jumpseat, all but burrowed into him; him squatted on the grating, gently running his hands up and down her back. She chickened out and put on a white one-piece swimsuit instead of cheeky white and blue striped bikini the Tardis provided her with. Rose is grateful to her past self for that. It would have been too awkward, too much tension for them to withstand without combusting. They are in no danger now, the both of them. Nothing but quiet singing of the Tardis, nothing but the soft sound of friction his palms make on the fabric of her swimsuit, nothing but the soothing rhythm of her too-fast-beating heart.
If this isn’t heaven, Rose doesn’t know what is.
God help them, Rose thinks, for they are in love.