“Are you almost ready?” The Doctor called out from the console room, “it's been far longer than the minute you promised me.”
“That was an expression Doctor,” Rose yelled from behind the dressing room door. “ 'minute' is earth lingo for anywhere from five to ten.”
“I'm sorry,” The Doctor replied, “growing up a Timelord we were always taught to respect every second. Time was everything to us...hence the name.”
Rose stepped into the room sporting a thick navy blue jacket with a furry hood. The Doctor looked up from the console and met her eyes, lingering a moment.
“You did say it was a rainy planet?” asked Rose, breaking the silence.
“Well, a rainy asteroid to be precise! Saitouri-Maxim, brilliant little market world, light showers on occasion...no more than your own London.”
Rose smiled, “I'll be right at home then!”
The winding streets were packed with lifeforms of all kinds as Rose and The Doctor made their way through the bazaar. A cloud cover blocked the half-sun from view.
“Where's this rain you promised me?” laughed Rose.
“Judging by the sky's positioning we'll get some before the day is up. Will you be okay? You look quite hot in that jacket.”
Rose smiled, “Was that a compliment?”
“What?” asked The Doctor, clearly flustered. “Uhh...sure...”
They kept pace with each other whilst veering to avoid a merchant's cart.
“Look!” yelled the Doctor excitedly, “Rain beans! Oh you must try rain beans.
A group of explorers and myself were the first to discover that they were edible! Well actually, the explorers were trying to poison me.... but that's another story!”
The next few hours passed by quickly as The Doctor introduced Rose to the foods and aliens of Saitouri-Maxim. The half-sun was just beginning to set as he led Rose to a nearby bench.
“Levitating benches! A few more decades and earth will have 'em too.”
They sat down side by side as merchants around them began to pack up their booths.
“Do you think mum'll like her present?” asked Rose, fingering the little gold object she had just purchased. “What did you say it was called”
“Bazoolium,” said The Doctor.
“Ahh, that's right...Bazoolium,” repeated Rose slowly, savoring the word.
The Doctor turned to face her.
“I'm going to check something...err...important. Wait here. I'll only be six and a half minutes.”
“I'm counting the seconds Doctor!” Rose called after him.
The Doctor walked briskly towards a small shop on the corner of the street. A frog-like creature croaked as he opened the door, alerting everyone inside to his presence.
A salesman at the front counter was busy polishing a dazzling red necklace.
“Sorry friend, but we're closed.” he said in Saitour.
The Doctor was fluent in the tongue of Saitour, but the TARDIS's automatic translation rendered this impressive skill virtually useless.
“Hello, sorry,” The Doctor said, “I only need a moment of your time, it's most important.”
The salesman set the necklace down and grunted, “What exactly are you looking for?”
The Doctor glanced around nervously and lowered his voice, “Well you see, I'm looking for a ring....Specifically...an engagement ring....”
“Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine!” Rose called out as The Doctor walked towards her, “Doctor, you were six minutes and fifty-nine seconds!
What happened to your respect for time?”
The Doctor smiled, “It seems to have gone the way of my Chameleon Circuit.”
They both laughed as he helped Rose up from the bench.
“So then, back to the TARDIS?” she asked.
“Well...yes. But, before we go, Rose, there was something else I wanted to show you....”
Rose couldn't take her eyes off of the brilliant sight above her.
Creatures that she could only compare to manta rays filled the sky, gracefully flapping their fins as they wove through the rocky outcrops.
The setting half-sun cast a brilliant orange glow across everything. She had never witnessed anything so surreal.
“Doctor....this is incredible. Why did put off bringing me here for so long?”
“I was waiting...for the right moment,” he replied, carefully choosing his words.
Rose pulled herself away from the scenery to look at him. His tall silhouette was striking against the orange mountains. She couldn't help but smile.
Her Doctor, the man who had plucked her out of her pointless life to show her the universe.... But the universe didn't matter to her anymore, only he did. He had given her purpose.
The Doctor turned to meet her gaze and their eyes locked.
“How long are you gonna stay with me?" he asked
The last of the flying rays disappeared behind the clouds as the shadows grew longer, and then vanished. The half-sun had set and everything was fading.
The darkness was so thick, that in mere moments The Doctor could barely make out the shape of Rose - mere inches from where he stood. It grew gradually colder as they remained in silence.
He could hear her light breathing piercing the air beside him. Slowly, he reached out, brushing her palm. He felt her reaction, surprise - then relaxation.
Her fingers found his way into his as he softly closed his hand over hers.
“Rose, there's something I've been thinking about.... Something that I've been meaning to ask you.”
“Ask me anything,” she breathed softly.
His grip tightened.
“I've thought about this a lot, and I was wondering.... Well I was wondering if you-”
BOOM! Thunder cracked overhead as a barrage of raindrops hammered down around them.
Letting go of each other they turned and ran for The TARDIS. They stopped short at the door, as The Doctor searched his pockets for the key.
“Take your time!” laughed Rose.
“Here we are!” he yelled, whipping it out. A flash of lightning briefly illuminated the door as he inserted it into the key hole. He fiddled for several moments, unable to turn the lock.
“The most advanced bit of tech in the universe,” said Rose, “and it opens with a rusty old key.”
“I'm sorry that my TARDIS isn't up to your standards.” The Doctor mumbled sarcastically. “It's not as simple as a snap of the fingers.”
“One day we'll be running from man eating aliens, and we'll get torn to bits because you can't open the door in time.”
“Hold on, some of my best friends are man eating aliens!” he retorted
as the key clicked and turned.
They pushed the doors open and ran inside – completely drenched.
Rose smiled, “Now that you mention it, snapping your fingers to unlock it would be pretty brilliant.”
“The TARDIS is much too sophisticated for that!” said The Doctor, as the doors slammed behind them.
The rain continued to pound on the roof of The TARDIS as The Doctor helped Rose out of her sopping wet jacket. A loud crack of thunder caused the console lights to flicker.
Rose sat down on the sole chair in the room, swiveling to face The Doctor.
“So then, what was it you wanted to ask me?”
The Doctor hesitated, “Right, well...let me explain myself.” He began to slowly circle the console, moving towards her. “Rose, ever since you've traveled with me...things have changed.”
She raised her eyebrows.
“Good changes! Brilliant in fact! I thought I had seen all that the universe had to offer...but you've shown me that my adventures – our adventures, have only just begun. And...
I need to ask you something, something important.”
She smiled, “Go on.”
The Doctor reached into his coat pocket and began to pull out the ring, “Rose Tyler, I wanted to ask you-"
The Doctor stopped in his tracks and looked at Rose. She grabbed her jacket from the floor and reached into a large pocket. Pulling out her mobile, she glanced at the screen and laughed.
“It's my mum! Leave it to her to get through in this weather!”
The Doctor faked a smile as he slipped the ring back into his pocket.
“I've got to take this,” said Rose apologetically. “Sorry.”
“No, no trouble.” said The Doctor, masking his disappointment.
Rose stepped into the dressing room to answer, leaving him to ponder how in the world Jackie had managed to spoil yet another moment between them.
He slumped down into the chair, and sighed. Asking her should not be this difficult. He reached into his pocket and drew out his screwdriver. The metal felt cold to touch.
He flicked the light on, and began to twirl it between his fingers.
“...okay. I love you, mum.” Rose walked back into the room, she looked worried.
The Doctor avoided her gaze, “What was that about?”
“Mum said she needs me to come home right now.”
He looked up at her, “Is everything alright?”
Rose picked up the now damp jacket and began to put it on, “I'm not sure.... She said there was someone I needed to see...someone I hadn't seen in ten years.”
He jumped up from his seat, “We'd better be off then!”
Rose grabbed his arm lightly, "Didn't you have something to ask me?”
The Doctor forced another smile, “Oh, never mind...it can wait....”