“Oh, I love it! I love that smell. But this one in particular, you know? Here, in the countryside. Or are we not in the countryside? Anyway, it’s never the same in the city, never, it’s all gasoline and asphalt and rainbow-coloured puddles on the road, but it’s never this fresh," Rose takes a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the trees, the flowers in the meadow, the revitalising smell of the wet soil. "Oh, Doctor, this is so good. I feel like I’m thirteen again, out on a camping trip! Mum wouldn’t allow me to come if Mickey wasn’t with me, mind you, she was scared I’d scamper away with Shareen. Mum wasn’t worried in vain, though, we were always the first ones to run away from museums and boring trips, you’ve got no idea how many times I was grounded and suspended from school for “undignified and rebellious behaviour.”
Rose is talking fast, she’s excited, exhilarated; she feels free and light in the nature, basking in the twilight, enjoying the gentle rustling of the tree leaves, the barely-there chirping of the field crickets.
The Doctor watches in amusement as Rose spreads her hands and skips further from him, touching the swaying flowers gingerly, breathing deeply and sighing blissfully as she goes.
“They should bottle this smell and sell it in perfume stores, I tell you. Who needs Chanel No.3 and Vanilla when you have the smell after rain bottled up on your nightstand?” Rose turns around playfully and smiles at the Doctor while rolling her eyes dreamily, thinking about the heavenly smell.
The Doctor is charmed. Bewitched. Stunned by her cheerful response to the perfunctory trip for the Tardis to recharge (the rift in Cardiff is not the only place where the Tardis may refuel and they’d been to Earth just two days ago. Rose’s been nagging him about not letting her see other planets and galaxies and he was affronted, too.)
This is an alien planet in the system Yevonnia just to the left of the Solar System. The Doctor is pleased at how Rose is impressed with the planet’s nature yet takes the “alieness” of it so easily. Naturally, if you forgive the pun. She blinked comically the first moments she realised that the trees were short and golden there and the grass was blue and so high that it almost reached her waist. He had to assure her several times that the grass inhabitants wouldn’t harm her and that the crickets were not the crickets, actually, but singing butterflies. When the Doctor informed Rose that the name of those butterflies was the Violinista, she laughed gleefully, tipping her head back just as she did that day when he first brought her back home after 12 months instead of 12 hours.
He enjoyed the sound of her happiness more than he was ready to admit.
They sit in the tall grass, squeezed onto the Doctor’s leather jacket. He had to remember his manners when Rose looked at him meaningfully after he plopped down on the moist soil without using anything to sit on. He raised his eyebrows meaning “as if”. Rose folded her arms across her chest and started tapping her right foot conveying the message “I’m waiting”. The Doctor rolled his eyes, exhaled loudly, shucked off the leather jacket and carefully arranged it in the place where the grass was the shortest.
Rose’s demeanor changed that instant and she dropped on his jacket next to him. They had to move and push each other playfully before settling down finally. Rose hugged the Doctor’s arm and put her head on his shoulder, pressing her cheek into the woollen surface of his dark green jumper. The Doctor ceased breathing, afraid of moving and scaring his companion away. Rose, upon feeling the Doctor’s tension, mumbled quiet “Sorry!” and tried to untangle herself from him. The Doctor wouldn’t have that. He put his open palm onto Rose’s smaller ones still clutching his forearm and tsked softly, shushing her protests. Rose snuggled closer to him after all. The Doctor deliberately refused to use the term “cuddle”. Time Lords do not cuddle!
Even if their companions are the cuddliest humans in the world.
He heard Rose inhale the smell of the rain again and watched as her lips stretched in a beatific smile.
“Petrichor,” he supplied.
“Huh?” was Rose’s only reply.
“Petrichor," the Doctor repeated the term, "that’s that smell after rain you, Rose, find so pleasant”.
“Pet-ri-chor,” Rose repeated carefully. “Never thought there’s a word for that, too!”
The Doctor smiled crookedly. “You have no idea, Rose, how many terms there are for anything you humans think of. There’s also the word “pluviophile” meaning the person who loves the rain and who enjoys rainy days, and…”
His explanation is cut short when a butterfly with bright blue wings lands on Rose’s nose, and both the human and the Time Lord stop breathing and freeze when the tiny creature starts singing and glowing while fluttering its fluorescent wings.
The Doctor will never admit that Rose looked positively adorable: awed, still as a statue, afraid to breathe, cross-eyed from looking at the tip of her nose, absolutely radiant in sitting in the swaying grass; youthful, glowing, alive.
The moment of total stillness is gone when the butterfly folds and unfolds its wings for the last time before taking the highest note of its song and flies away, content with its artful music. The Doctor helps Rose off the ground, shakes the soil and grass specks off his jacket dramatically and offers Rose his hand before starting the journey back to the Tardis.
The next morning when Rose wakes up she finds a small beige box beside the door of her bedroom. She gasps delightfully when she opens it and sees a bottle of perfume labeled “Petrichor” and hugs the small bottle close to her heart.
The next morning the Doctor receives a kiss on the cheek from his dear companion before they embark on a new adventure.