Disclaimer: I do not own them.

"Cannonball!" the Doctor shouts gleefully, jumping into the pool.

Rose raises an arm in a feeble attempt to protect herself from the splash, then smirks at him when he emerges, hair plastered flat against his skull. "Sometimes," she chuckles, rolling her eyes, "you make it easy to remember you're only two years old."

He pouts at her, soggy and ridiculous. "You don't really mean that."

"Don't I?"

"Well," he blusters as she turns over into a lazy backstroke, "that's just… rude."

"I learned from the best," she teases, tongue in her teeth.

He harrumphs.

Completely uninterested, Rose starts in on another lap—swimming right past him without so much as a smile or a wink.

Unaccustomed to being ignored, the Doctor splashes her.

She finds her feet and turns back to him, raising a cool eyebrow. "Yes?" she asks, sounding amused.

"Catch me," he requests, bouncing lightly in the shallow end. She shakes her head and hauls herself up to sit at the side of the pool, legs dangling into the water.

"Oh, absolutely not."

"How come?" he asks, more to keep her attention than because he actually wants to play tag.

She hides a smile, seeing right through him. "I've been traumatized," she informs him instead, with as serious an expression as she can muster. (Not very.)

"Oh?" He swims over and props his arms on her knees, looking up at her with attentive eyes. "Do tell."

"No, it's silly."

He pinches her, making her jump. "Nothing about you is silly, Rose Tyler."

She sighs, and her fingers instinctively start working themselves into his hair. "It was Mum's favorite trick, when I was a kid. There was this community pool on one of the other Estates, and every week or so in the summer we'd walk down there and she'd teach me to swim."

"That doesn't sound so bad."

"It wasn't; I just hated how she did it. I was always really scared of—oh, I dunno, drowning or something—so she'd have to stand in the water clapping her hands and shouting encouragements until I could get up the nerve to jump out to her."

"And then?"

"She'd take a step back. 'Swim to me, Rose. Swim to me.' There I was, struggling and flailing like—well, like a fish on land, actually—and every time I'd get close to her she'd step a little bit further away. She'd make me chase her until I was too knackered to move, then scoop me out of the water, wrap me up in a big fluffy towel and take me home. I thought it was just her, but I've seen Dad do it to Tony out here sometimes." She bites her lip before affectionately adding, "Child abuse, honestly."

He's quietly beaming at her, something soft and adoring in his eyes. "Of course."

"What?" she breathes, suddenly very aware of how close his head is to her, perched as he is with his arms crossed over her lap.

He untangles them now, starts playing with the strings of her bikini bottoms without ever breaking eye contact. "It's just—that's so perfect, isn't it? Tenacity lessons. You are the most stubbornly persistent person I have ever had the good fortune to meet, and no wonder. Emergency Programs, parallel worlds—nothing's ever stopped you from coming after what you want. Swim to me, Rose. Oh, that's brilliant."

She smiles, thinking that this is perhaps the closest he's ever come to complimenting her mother, but then he starts trailing slow, wet kisses up the inside of her thigh and she's not thinking at all. "Not here," she hisses, dimly aware of the fact that they're still within full view of the mansion in the failing daylight, out in the open where anyone could see them.

She can feel him smirking, voice muffled by her skin as he murmurs a skeptical "No?" Her traitorous body arches into his touch, and her eyes flutter shut.

"No," she grits out, with Herculean effort.

And suddenly he's gone, every inch of her freezing and vacant from his absence. Her eyes shoot open to find him standing, quite calmly, in the middle of the pool.

He shoots her a cheeky grin. "Swim to me, Rose."

She dives in without a second thought.

It's a merry chase, filled with a great deal of splashing and laughter that simultaneously kills the mood and lifts her spirits. He's built to swim, with his lean muscles and tall frame, but she knows exactly how to anticipate him, cutting him off at every turn. He leads her in circles for five minutes before losing patience, making a mad dash for the deep end. Using the wall to push off, she rockets at him like a torpedo, catching him by the ankle and hanging on for dear life. Pulling herself flush with him, they wrestle in earnest.

In the water, it's easy to throw his weight around. Tripping him up and twisting, she's able to maneuver him right into her arms—cradling him as if she were about to carry him over the threshold.

"Ha," she crows, triumph written all over her face. "Gotcha."

He hums thoughtfully. "I admit, I hadn't really planned this far ahead. What happens now that you've caught me?" he asks with wide eyes, genuinely curious.

A wolfish grin. "That depends. Have you been a good b—oi!"

He thrashes and flails, wriggling out of her grasp, and before she can get her bearings he's managed to reverse their positions: her arms now around his neck, his feet planted firmly on the ground.

"You were saying?" he smirks.

"You haven't won yet, you know. I could get out of this at any moment."

"Could you, now?"

"I could. I'm just biding my time."

He quirks an eyebrow. "Really."

"Yes, really. Judo, I'll have you know, is a standard part of Torchwood training."

"Judo?" he laughs, and she frowns at him.

"That's right: judo. The art of using your opponent's weight against them," she says, poking him in the shoulder at regular intervals.

"I'm petrified."

"You should be."

His bare skin is cool and slick against hers, droplets of chlorinated water gathering on his shoulders and reflecting the last rays of the sunset. The pads of his fingers prune in the damp, laugh lines halo his eyes, and he's so, so beautiful. It suddenly strikes her, as it sometimes does, how unbelievably lucky it is that they can be here now, together, and all at once she loses any interest in playing games with him. She settles against his chest with a contented sigh, honestly just happy to enjoy the feeling of being held in his arms. Breathing the same air; heartbeats in tandem.

(Once upon a time, this is the part where she'd have murmured a timid "why me?": utterly baffled at how a shop girl with no A levels could ever possibly hold—ever hope to be worthy of—his attention. But she thinks about swim to me, Rose, remembers the reverence in his eyes, and maybe, just maybe, understands.)

"…You're not escaping," he points out after a while, his short attention span getting the better of him.

She nuzzles her head into the crook of his neck and closes her eyes. "Nope. M'lulling you into a false sense of security."


"It's a very clever plan of mine."

"Well, you learned from the best."

She smiles against his clavicle.

"Do you…" he starts slowly, shifting her slightly to get a sturdier grip, "…d'you want to go inside?"

"In a minute, yeah? S'nice here."

"Sun's gone down. Getting a bit… nippy."

She pulls away enough to open a single skeptical eye. "Big impressive Time Lord admitting to being cold? Perish the thought."

"It's just that I can think of several ways we could warm up."

She pretends to consider this a moment. Growing impatient, he shifts his grip once more, nimble fingers slipping under her bikini bottoms and …

She squeaks.

"Inside," she agrees hastily, and he grins a very self-satisfied grin indeed.