CHAPTER ONE : TENTACLES
Rose reached for the Doctors hand. It was an unconcious action, second nature really. She was not in any danger, they were not running for their lives, and he had not first held out his own hand to hers, with invitation. There was no reason for her to have slipped her fingers so willingly into his. Yet she had.
His hand was larger than hers, rougher, but at the same time his touch was gentle. Always. She thought about why she needed this simple reassuring contact with him, as they walked together over the hard rocky ground, their arms swinging slightly between them. She watched him with half hooded eyes, she did not want him to know that he was invading her thoughts again. He crept there regularly now. Sometimes surprising even her as to where her imagination took them. She looked away. She could not let him catch her watching him. He would only ask her why, in that innocent, curious, insistant way of his. She could not have that. She was not ready to speak the words aloud. They were still her secret words. Words that she whispered alone in her bed at night. When no-one but the TARDIS could hear.
She pushed the thoughts of him away, for now at least, and instead stopped walking, and faced him. "The Taehroh... what are they like?"
The Doctor glanced over his shoulder at Rose, and grinned. She felt her heart thud at the smile. "Stargazers," He said."Very into spells and potions. You know the type."
"Yeah but, what are they like? Do they have scales, horns... tentacles?"
The Doctor looked at Rose, his eyes narrowing and brow furrowing "What is it with 'tentacles'? Honestly, you humans." He shook his head slightly. "If you ask me, 50's B movies have a lot to answer for. Do you know the percentage of alien life that actually have tentacles? No? Me neither. But I'm fairly sure it's in the low teens... not that there has ever been a survey done - not to my knowledge anyway. You see it's a stereotype isn't it - tentacles. Walking down the street one day, eating chips maybe, all is right with the world... then someone comes screaming around the corner, arms waving like a lunatic, yelling 'RUN FOR LIVES ITS AN ALIEN!', - and what do people do? They look for the tentacles. Well newsflash - aliens can just as easily look like... me." He shook his head "Let's not even get me started on the whole Star Trek thing." A depressed look came into his eyes."Talk about far fetched."
Rose stared at him, for quite a while actually. "You've been drinking coffee again haven't you?"
The Doctor nodded, a grin taking over his face. "Does it show?"
Rose smiled and linked her arm with his as they began their walk again. "I keep telling you... stick to the decaff."
As it turned out, the Taehroh didn't have tentacles. But they did have several rather prominant ridges in their foreheads. Something to do with the shape of their skulls no doubt. They were tall too, at least 7 foot. Rose had just been about to mention to the Doctor that they looked a bit... Klingon, when she thought better of it. It would only have upset him.
So she contented herself with walking through the busy market. The Doctor slipped his collar after about ten minutes, disappearing off to look at something with flashing lights and hundreds of buttons. He was gadget boy after all, well not exactly a 'boy'. Anyway, Rose didn't let the Doctors absence worry her too much, she was having a fine time on her own. Markets were her favourite place, whatever the planet. But this one... this one was amazing, she'd never seen so much stuff. It was like being a kid in a sweet shop. But she thought it would be better not to behave like the queen of squee on a shopping trip. She didn't want to draw any more attention to herself than was strictly necessary. So she did her best to try and blend in with the exotic, and weird, and quite frankly alarming looking aliens who were walking around the market. She thought she was doing pretty well too, as there were several different races shopping today.
Oooh that was pretty. She picked it up, and held it as it glinted and shone in the sunlight.
A heavy hand gripped her shoulder, and she spun around, looking up, then further up.
"You break it, you buy it." He warned in a deep growl.
Rose swallowed hard. This Taehroh was maybe 8 foot tall. He had a deep scar running the length of one side of his face, and as a result, only one good eye. The other had apparently been sewn closed, and not by anyone who could sew. He was dressed in what looked like black leather. There was a rope of long sharp looking teeth and slender white bones, hanging around his neck. Infact the more Rose looked at the bones the more they looked like... She looked away, feeling slightly unwell. Fingers. Yup they were fingers. Or they had been once. Now they were jewellery.
"It's fragile." He growled. "So if you're not going to buy it..." He leant in close to Roses face. Oooh bad breath. "I'd be careful."
Rose looked at the beautiful fat round amythyst glass bauble sitting in her palm, her fingers wrapped around it, holding it safe and secure. It gleamed. She didn't want to give it back.
"How much?" She met his one good eye and saw it darken with a sceptical look.
"You can't afford it. Just put it back... carefully."
Oh that was annoying. Classic 'Pretty Woman'. Her cheeks flushed, but she stood her ground. "I said how much?"
He looked at her, a little bored, a little curious. Then the look in his eye sharpened. "Seventeen yarns." He waited, a small smile flickering.
"Oh." Rose said. She hadn't a clue what a yarn was. But seventeen of them sounded a lot. She looked at the glass ball in her hand. It was so pretty. "I don't actually have any money, my friend, he has..."
The one eyed man made to grab the glass ball from her hand, but Rose was quicker, and pulled her hand away, so that he snatched at thin air. Probably not a good move, she thought, as she heard a low growl come stirring up from his throat.
"What does a scrawny thing like you want with a p'tar eye?" He demanded. "What use is it to you?"
"Um..." Rose frowned. P'tar eye? She looked at the glass ball, almost lovingly. "It's... pretty." She said. Well it was.
He stared at her. Then smiled. His teeth looked like those of a dog or cat. White, sharp and pointed. His smile widend into a broad grin, which quickly errupted into loud raucous laughter. Everyone turned to look. So much for not bringing attention to herself, she thought. He slapped her across the back, sending her forward three or four steps with the force, and still he was laughing. Rose gripped the glass ball tighter.
"You are funny." He grinned again. "It's pretty." He mimiced to himself, tears of laughter now streaming from his eye. "Take it." He said. "Take it Scrawny. It's your's."
Rose didn't need to be told twice, as she stuffed the ball into her bag. But she didn't feel right about just taking it, so she rumaged through the bag, finally pulling out a packet of gum and pushing it into the his large hand. "Here." She said brightly. "Gum. Now it's a fair trade"
He looked at the packet of gum, then at Rose. He frowned.
"Oh," Rose said. "You chew it." She smiled. "It's freshmint flavour. Trust me.Your need is greater than mine." Then she turned and made her hasty retreat.
The Taehroh male continued to stare at the packet of gum in his hand, then shrugged his shoulders and threw the entire pack into his mouth. He chewed. After a second or two of consideration, he nodded in apparent approval. "Freshmint." He said, and smiled.
Rose discovered the Doctor surrounded by a pack of Taehroh males. At first she thought that he was in some sort of trouble, but then she realised that he was actually in comand of the situation, holding court if you will, telling tall stories and dirty jokes. Rose shook her head and smiled. Typical.
"Doctor what's a..." She tried to ask.
"... then the Gartog's mother in law said -- if all else fails, give him this to drink." The Doctor grinned, and the Taehroh males collapsed into fits of laughter, the sound almost deafening.
Rose stepped forward. "Doctor?"
"Hello Rose! Have you met Jahgger, Moxx and Hulltar? No course you haven't. Still, we can fix that now. Rose these fine fellows are Jahgger, Moxx, and Hulltar." The Doctors smiled. "Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce Rose Tyler. She's my plus one." He added softly, staring into Roses eyes.
Rose stared back, finding herself smiling at the Doctor for no reason at all, but she couldn't stop... until that is she was taken into an unpleasent, sweaty, leathery, hairy embrace, as the Taehroh identified as Moxx pulled her into his arms. Pressing her tight into his chest, and almost breaking her nose in the processs. Rose was quickly figuring out that Taehroh males didn't know their own strength. At least when it came to 'scrawny' little humans.
"Any friend of the Doctor is a friend of Moxx." He informed her loudly.
Rose pushed her way out of his hold and spat out an unpleasant taste of chest hair, at the same time putting her hand to her bag, moving it behind her slightly, safer that way she thought."Thanks." For some reason she was taken with the urge to scratch her head, then suddenly she became very worried about the possibility of fleas. She took a couple of steps back.
"Um Doctor... what's a..."
"Have I told you the one about Adam and the implant?" The three Taehrohs shook their heads with eager anticipation. The Doctor grinned. "Fantastic. You'll love it."
Rose smiled to herself. She was almost starting to feel sorry for Adam. Almost. The Doctor was telling this story on every planet they visited, and each time it was told it became more... fantastic. Adam was becoming a legend. But not in a good way.
She watched the Doctor with eyes filled with affection, as he launched into a detailed explanation of how he had met an idiot called Adam in an underground fortress. She smiled and stepped further away, then turned and traced her steps back into the heart of the market. She'd find him again later. Her questions could wait, after all there was plenty of time.