“It doesn’t smell like anything.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“Your jacket,” muses Rose out loud, “it doesn’t smell of anything.”
The Doctor’s eyebrows crawl up to his hairline.
Rose blushes and hides her face behind the lapel of the Doctor’s jacket. Her thoughts suddenly seem rather foolish. Like a 13-year-old girl confessing her love for a cool guy from the graduate year foolish.
Naive. And bound to fail.
“Rose?” the Doctor pokes her shoulder with one finger.
“It’s like the romance books say, Doctor, yeah? When a boy lends a jacket to a girl, she can smell certain smells associated with the owner of the jacket, ya know?” the Doctor is giving her a weird side look, and Rose hurries to explain herself. “Usually it’s the usual, perfume, I dunno, sweat, favourite flavour of gum or even cigarettes...and, well, the authors usually talk about some special smell that belongs only to the person who lends the jacket. Something impossible to describe, yeah?”
The Doctor’s still looking at her strangely, tapping his foot on the icy road impatiently.
Rose knows she’s screwed now.
“Your jacket...it doesn’t smell like anything. Like, nothing at all! Not like the engine oil even - and you spilled it all over the console room last week!
The Doctor stares. And stares. Rose starts to fidget with the jacket’s cuffs, wishing to have never started the conversation. It was just so easy to relax when she was with the Doctor! She could tell him anything, and he would listen. He may disagree with her, he may roll his eyes, but he always, always pays attention to what Rose has to say.
And he never judges. Disagrees? Yes. Switches on a lecturing mode? Yes. Gets angry? Yes, like he did on their trip to London in 1987 to see Rose’s father.
But he listens.
Jimmy didn’t. Mickey didn’t. The boy Rose kissed for the first time when she was 13, Malcolm, didn’t.
The Doctor did.
Rose is contemplating whether it’s possible to disappear from the view completely (preferably taking the leather jacket with her), when the Doctor smiles toothily.
“Nah, Rose, don’t worry. The jacket spent the night in the laundry room, is all. I’ve just taken it out of there and put on for the first time, and I don’t like the smell of the detergent that the Tardis uses - and she keeps using it anyway - and I soniced the detergent particles off the jacket before going out,” Rose blinks owlishly at the explanation. “Although what’s with the ‘special smell’ gibberish? You and your romance novels! It’s an olfactory hallucination, the trick your brain provides when you want to feel safe and secure. The girl smells the boy’s ‘special smell’ not because he’s got any, but because her brain mixes everything surrounding him up and gives her the semblance of protection. Human females, that’s all you. Seeking romance and meaning in a simple instinctive desire to be protected to conceive and bear offsprings in safety…” the Doctor abruptly stops, eyes wide, realising the delicate topic he’s started.
His mortification is interrupted by Rose’s giggling.
“You and your lectures about human instincts! Ha! You can’t live without them!”
The Doctor rolls his eyes and jokingly trips Rose while holding her close, not letting her fall for real. Rose laughs contagiously and leans into the Doctor’s one-armed embrace.
“Well, thank you for lending me your jacket anyway. It was very romantic of you,” she quips.
“Yeah, you’ll never catch me doing that again,” grumbles the Doctor, smiling. “You aren’t cold anymore, though, are you?”
Rose stops herself from smiling like a fool.
“I am pretty warm now, thanks.”
They go down the icy road holding hands from there on.