imbroglio n. a difficult or intricate situation; an entanglement.
The only open bed is in the brig, which is fine, really. It’s private enough they can talk without worrying about one of the crew suddenly appearing with a question. As an added bonus, there’s something familiar about being thrown in a jail cell together, and anything familiar is a welcome comfort.
Danny shows them the way, pointing out the facilities on the way down. Rose keeps track because the Doctor doesn’t, and she can only imagine the trouble he’d cause wandering around this ship alone, in the dark, the whole crew sleeping and him running on desperation and boredom. He’d mean to head to the loo, but he’d end up spelunking the pit himself or steering the ship through the black hole in some mad scheme that might just work.
Once Danny unlocks to the door for them he makes a hasty retreat. In an unintended wordless unison, they strip off their jackets. The Doctor silently surveys their accommodations: Small bed, a bit bigger than a twin, with plain sheets. It smells stale but clean. Plain walls, no markings, not even prisoner scrawl. He breathes in, deeply, and looks over to Rose. She’s slumped on the bed, leaning against the wall, eyes closed though she’s not sleeping.
Rose pats the empty space beside her on the mattress and watches as the Doctor stalks over toward her, fists stuffed in his trouser pockets. He sits, stiffly. Rose snakes an arm around his back and pulls him toward her. He resists at first, then sighs and collapses back into her.
“I’m so sorry,” he mutters as he turns his face into the hollow of her shoulder.
“Stop apologizing,” she whispers back. “I meant what I said. Plus, it’s not your fault. You didn’t plan it.”
“I’m still sorry,” she can feel him smirk through her thin vest.
“Me too,” she says. They sit together, silent but for the ship. This one creaks and rocks—it doesn’t hum and breath like the TARDIS. Both of them avoid thinking through the comparison.
Rose is lying on her side, playing with the end of his tie. They’ve been talking, the usual banter. Small talk and jokes and avoiding the very serious issue of being stuck on a space ship orbiting an impossible planet that’s swallowed up their home. It’s grown quiet again. He pulls her hand away from his tie and threads his fingers through hers. She looks up at him, his head a few inches higher on the pillow than hers. He’s looking very serious, and she’s almost certain he’s going to apologize again.
She wriggles her other arm free from under her body and puts two fingers of her free hand over his lips.
“Don’t say you’re sorry again, ‘kay?” she smiles as she moves her palm to cup his cheek.
“All right, then. I won’t say it,” he chuckles.
“We’ll rest tonight. Tomorrow morning we’ll figure it out, yeah?” she says, not moving her hand.
“There’s nothing to figure out, Rose,” he sighs. “We’re stuck.”
“Nah, we’ll be all right,” she answers, moving her hand up to ruffle his hair.
“I’m not so sure,” he frowns and looks away, not feeling worthy of looking her in the eyes.
“Doctor,” she pulls their foreheads together, noses almost touching, lips only inches apart. His gaze flicks down to her lips then back to her eyes. They’re…full. There’s hope and fear, in equal parts, and faith. And…
“Rose,” he whispers.
“Doctor,” her eyes flutter closed. “If I’m stuck with you for the rest of my life, that’s all I wanted anyway. Forever, remember? But there’s always hope, ‘f you ask me. I believe in you.”
He pulls her into a tight hug. Love, too. That’s what else was in her eyes. He’s utterly unworthy of her love and faith. He shouldn’t be encouraging her. But her belief, her love, it gives him a spark of hope he’d lost. If she believes, there’s something worth believing. Simple as that.
When she’s in his arms, she’s safe and home. The hum of the TARDIS is background noise compared to the double beat of his hearts. That’s what keeps her grounded. Face burrowing into his shoulder, she can’t resist a kiss. She turns her head, presses her lips to his neck.
He jumps back and fraction of an inch, eyes wide with surprise. His pupils rapidly move back and forth, looking from her eyes (also shocked, now, and scared) to her lips and back again. She’s broken the rules, stepped over the line, he’ll back away now and things will be awkward on top of all their other problems. She’s about to apologize when he pulls her in.
He doesn’t kiss her, not yet. But the tip of his nose brushes her cheek and his bottom lip is a hair’s width from hers. One of his arms is around her shoulder, the other grasping desperately at the curve of her hip. Her arms are curled up between them. Trembling, she closes her eyes and breathes. Maybe he won’t kiss her but that’s his breath in her lungs, his scent filling each inhale with the tang of salt and skin, and that’s something.
Still shaking with surprise and desire, she tilts her head up, lightly moving their lips together. It’s not even a press—just a touch, a breeze. She opens her eyes as his close. They’re so closely meshed she can feel his adam’s apple bob. Bolder now, she raises a hand to either side of his face, cupping fingers gently over his ears, and pulls him toward her. She arches in as she pulls him toward her, and there’s no mistaking now. They’re definitely kissing.
Their lips work through a complicated dance, advancing and retreating, turning and moving. He’s the one who seizes the opportunity between busses, slipping his tongue through he lips. She responds enthusiastically, and the dance has added players and moves and if he could compare it to any dance he’s seen, it would be a Sufi sama, the so-called whirling dervish—complex in its simplicity, ecstatic, sublime.
He turns on his back and pulls her on top of him; she gladly follows. Her fingers rake through his hair. Their lips part from each other, only to move elsewhere. He presses wet, open-mouthed kisses to her neck; she kisses his temple, nips his ear. He licks at a slightly ticklish spot on her clavicle and she bucks her hips against him, feels the sharp angle of his hipbones press just right. Hands in his hair grasp and pull him closer, as if that were possible. He responds with a grind of his own, pulling her hips down as his fingers brush bare skin between her vest and her jeans.
Soon they slow; neither initiates it. There’s no rejection in it, either. The urgency just fades; the kisses gentle. Rose wriggles up, curling into his body. Her eyes are as heavy with sleep as they were with desire and her breathing evens out. They’ve never done that before, the whole snogging thing. He’s trying not to be too delighted with just how swimmingly the experiment went, considering the circumstances. What impresses him more than anything is that without statement, without fuss, they’ve just gone back to being them.
He wakes with a small start, no memory of falling asleep. Rose is still sleeping, mouth slightly open, fingers still clutching the cloth of his shirt. She looks peaceful—content, even. He was sure he would feel guilty or awkward. As he runs his fingers up and down her back he finds that he is quite decidedly neither of those things. Perhaps it will be different tomorrow morning, when she is awake and they leave this little nest. When they will face the crew and he will face, once again, the impossibility of this place.
But for now, Rose Tyler, by whom he has just quite thoroughly been kissed, is sleeping beside him. He feels tired, not in the old and drained sense—the usual way. He feels like sleeping, like he could sleep. Like he could sleep tonight and not dream of Gallifrey burning and TARDIS swallowed by black holes. As his eyes flutter shut, he presses one last kiss to Rose’s forehead and if he is honest, he feels a glimmer—tiny but sparkling—of hope.