He finds her out on the balcony. Jackie popped out for groceries to make for dinner, mumbling something about a shepherd’s pie long owed. They’re all quiet, subdued, in the wake of their return to the right universe. Jackie seems shell-shocked and on the edge of breaking and he thinks he’ll confine himself to the TARDIS tonight lest he overhear her crack. That seems too private a thing for the relationship they have.
Rose retreated after she cried herself out and he let her, tinkering to keep himself busy, but when he emerged Jackie was leaving and she was nowhere to be seen. He made tea and went to look. The flat is small and it only took a moment to see her silhouetted by harsh street lamps
The balcony is just a sliver of concrete, big enough for two plastic chairs and a stool serving as a small table, which is where he sets their tea when he settles next to her. She looks over and gives him a soft smile, taking her mug. She looks tired and her nose is still red, but her face is dry. He watches her drink before he speaks.
“I know, you know.”
That brings another grin to her lips, this one brighter.
“I know you know.”
“Do you?” he takes a sip of his own tea, hiding behind the mug and peering at her over his hand. She nods.
“What do you know?”
“I know you know what I’ve lost today.”
He nods, because that’s what he meant and that is what he knows, and scoots the stool out of the way to move his chair next to hers. She tips her head onto his shoulder, looking out over the concrete and swing sets of the estate commons. After a moment his hand comes up and starts to comb through her hair.
“I was cruel to him,” he murmurs after a long silence. “I shouldn’t have been.”
“No,” she looks up at him, dislodging his fingers for a moment before he can adjust his wrist, “He needed it.”
That surprises him, to hear her say that. His eyebrows shoot up his forehead.
“He pitied himself,” she explains. “His life has been hard, you know, properly hard and that’s real, but ever since I met you, he’s pitied himself. I guess that’s kind of my fault, actually—”
Her voice breaks on that and she looks away, blinking rapidly. When she turns back he cups her cheek, stroking her cheekbone with his thumb, slowly. He cannot tell what she’s going to say and holds his breath, waiting.
“You snapped him out of it,” she forges on, the set of her jaw determined. “You were someone to prove himself to and look at him, he’s brilliant. He’s always been brilliant, but now he knows it.”
“I don’t think—”
“You did. ‘S what you do for all of us. I’m not angry, or sad,” at his look she smiles the tiniest bit again, “OK, I am sad, but that’s because he left. But he needed to know he’s better than he thought he was, and he needed someone to kick his arse until he stopped feeling sorry for himself and started doing something again. And now he’s savin’ the world. I’m proud of him. I am, I’m proud.”
Tears well in her eyes and he catches one on his knuckle when it spills over. She doesn’t break down though, just keeps staring him steadily in the eye.
“Rose Tyler,” he breathes. “When did you get so wise?”
She blinks at him, slowly.
”I could see all of time and space,” she finally says, voice so soft it’s almost a whisper. It sends a flash through him, as hot and bright as the time vortex, and before she can say anything else he drops his head and presses his lips to hers.
Immediately she tilts her head and parts her lips. Light bursts behind his eyelids at her taste, tangled up with a little bit of tea and time itself. He deepens the kiss without thinking, sliding his hand to her neck and tilting her head back so he can drink from her mouth, taste her and taste her until she’s gasping for air through her nose. He pulls back a fraction, letting her breathe, trying to slow the way his head is spinning and hers must be too, but she won’t have it, leans in again immediately, demanding. He doesn’t mind being taken, doesn’t mind the way her lips are firm, almost hard, and how she nips at his lower lip just before he opens his mouth to let her in. In fact he rather likes that, moans a bit to let her know. She does it again, as he hoped.
“Don’t leave, though,” she says against his mouth. “Don’t do that, it hurts.”
“I won’t,” he says, tries not to make it a promise and fails anyway, “I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want you to leave me.”
It’s awkward, speaking between kisses but they manage, vows that will likely be broken, promises incredibly hard to keep. They are still holding their tea and it sloshes on his hand when she manages to get her fingers into his hair, twisting and tugging. For once he doesn’t know how much time passes before they hear the sounds of Jackie arriving home. She shouts something about potatoes he doesn’t care enough about to understand and then Rose is pulling away. He whimpers softly, tries to chase her with his lips, and feels the puff of breath when she laughs.
They lean their foreheads together a moment, breathing fast and shaking slightly, vibrating with want and anticipation and need.
“We’re going to stay, right?” Rose asks, brushing her lips over his one last time. “Tonight, tomorrow?”
“Yes. If you want. As long as you want.”
She smiles, cups his cheek for a moment, and pulls fully away. He watches her stand, feeling a little less ready for standing quite yet, and gather their mugs. She almost walks inside then pauses at the door, looking over her shoulder at him. Her eyes are dark and, he thinks, rimmed with gold.
“I know, you know,” she says softly. He regards her a moment then grins, a slow and sure thing.