Disclaimer: The BBC owns them. Such a pity. If I owned them they'd all be a lot more relaxed at the end of the day, and the Doctor would never get the smile off his face…
A Special thanks to my Beta Readers – Kali and Hana.
Chapter One: Breathless
By Rhondda Lake
When she opened the doors the reek stung her eyes. Her feet sank almost to the ankles in a greenish black mud. Methane, sulphur and Aunt Chris' curry combined couldn't even begin to touch the smell filling the too thin air.
"Oh God, we've landed in the Bog of Eternal Stench," she covered her mouth and nose with her hands and stepped back into Jack, who had been right behind her.
"I've smelled more pleasant garbage scows." Jack pulled up his t-shirt to try and filter the odour.
"Right then, we're a tad bit off course," the Doctor was the only one smart enough not to have actually crossed the threshold and into the gloop that passed for ground.
"Just a bit! This is not a purple beach," Rose struggled to pull her foot up, and lost her shoe with a wet, sucking sound. By then she was feeling very woozy and the one leg she was standing on buckled. Jack had already started leaning on the door frame of the TARDIS and it was the Doctor who caught her, wrapping his arms around her and dragging her back inside before she fell sideways into the muck.
Jack pulled himself back inside, trailing mud. "My chest hurts, like I'm down a lung. How much O2 is out there?"
The TARDIS consol read that there was twenty percent Oxygen. But a hand held scanner thrust out the door revealed a discrepancy. It turned out the atmosphere was eight percent oxygen. If they had stepped any further from the TARDIS the two humans would have been in real trouble.
As it was the muck they had trailed back inside left a hideous stink that made breathing even the proper atmosphere unbearable even after it was washed away. It was only once they vacated the Console Room and vented the air in that area into space that the smell was gone. For the most part. They could still detect a touch of it in the doorway. It seemed time alone would cure that.
But the Doctor was much more concerned with the fact that the TARDIS had landed them on a planet with such an atmosphere without warning. It meant something was wrong with the external atmospheric sensors, and that was never good. He did not want to open the doors to find they were under an ocean. The old girl had always been dependable in that respect. If the atmosphere outside was unlivable for any of the crew, the doors did not open. In fact the TARDIS was rather stubborn about landing in places at least mildly life sustaining. This was a very big problem.
As much as Rose loved markets and shopping, the open air market on Janushia Two was a bit over the top. The loud klaxon voices of hawkers calling out their wares mingled with the scent of at least twenty different species, hundreds of different foods, not to mention incense, oils, powders, etc. Of course after the joy of two days ago, those scents were actually kind of nice, if overwhelming. At least they were clean.
The planet's atmosphere gave everything a reddish tinge which over the last few hours had produced a pretty good headache when combined with everything else. She stopped while Jack stopped at a vendor offering all sorts of pieces of tech. She had no idea what most of the stuff did, and she hoped he hadn't stopped her in front of some sort of adult toy stand.
Rose had complained loudly that she needed a new pair of trainers, or the equivalent, after the mud ate hers. Thus they had come to Janushia Two, a planet with technology equivalent to fifty-second century Earth, to Jack's joy, and a thriving intergalactic trade, to Rose's. The two of them were out and about alone, as the Doctor was recalibrating the external atmospheric sensors.
To be honest, Jack had offered to help the Doctor with his tinkering, but Rose got the feeling he'd been told to keep an eye on her. For some reason both men seemed to think she attracted trouble. Her. Ha! She just got caught up in the trouble that followed the Doctor.
While Jack started to haggle with the merchant over a palm sized metal Etch-A-Sketch thing Rose caught a whiff of something absolutely heavenly. It was a musky floral scent, sensual and deep. She closed her eyes and inhaled. It was coming from across the way. A perfume vendor who was not shouting at the crowd, but letting the wares speak for themselves.
"I'll be right over there," she touched Jack's shoulder to get his attention. He looked for a moment and nodded, evidently satisfied she would be well in sight.
"Don't blame you. See if they have air freshener," he smirked before turning back to his attempt to get a better price on his Whatsit.
Rose sauntered over to the display filled with beautiful and exotic bottles. She couldn't really tell exact colours, not with the red tinted light, but there seemed to be a range. The alien woman attending the booth was beautiful as well as exotic. Her facial structure and eyes made Rose think of a cat… a cheetah, to be exact, though there were no spots or fur on her smooth, tawny skin. No hair at all.
"Are you looking for something specific?" The female's voice was a purr.
"Not really. I just…," Rose closed her eyes again and breathed deeply. "This just smells incredible."
"That is Zalori. It is one of my best sellers." The merchant gestured to a rod that looked very much like an unlit candle, but appeared to be made of some sort of cloth. Rose leaned forward and, sure enough, it was where the scent was emanating from. "The secret is a chemical compound that interacts with the both the scent signature of the wearer and the olfactory receptors of those who inhale it. What you are smelling is the undiluted. It is not mixing with the scent of a wearer. It does not smell totally the same to or for any two people."
The woman picked up a delicate looking bottle, bulbous on the bottom with a long, thin neck. It looked iridescent, like a soap bubble. The stopper looked like a cut gem. The merchant pulled the stopper to reveal a long wand. "Your wrist, please?"
Rose raised her hand and offered the underside of her wrist forward. The woman pressed the wand to her flesh, the briefest touch, and smiled, nodding.
Rose brought her wrist to her nose and took in the fragrance. That was her! She recognized the clean human scent that clung to her bedding as her own, and there was a gingery top note, crisp yet spicy and a touch of something close to lavender with a deep, rich touch of amber. It actually brought a smile to her face and a pleasant heat to her chest and lungs. Her headache had even disappeared
Rose immediately began to haggle.