Standard disclaimers apply. Yes, I know this is a frightening amt of stuff, but its unbeta'd. Let the absent-word lynch mob now commence!
BTW, rest of Greenhouse Effect will be showing up soon, promise. But, uh, I was off work yesterday and I was bored.
Secrets She's Meant To Keep
The large kitchen was filled with a heavy blue pre-dawn light that was punctuated by the amber glow from above the stove. The two occupants remained in companionable silence for a bit, letting the chilly morning that fogged the windows to sink into them.
Her hair a mess, eyes drooping with the need for sleep and an angelic smile plastered across her lips, Rose looked both blissful, and about to pass out in her cornflakes. Leaning against the green granite counter, Mickey watched her a minute, hand stuck in the cereal box. "So, what's new?"
The smile never changed as her eyes met his, but he could tell—she was clearly not with-it. He was dying to ask if she'd gotten lucky last night.
Sure, he'd have been thrilled to death if it had been him—if she'd ever even look at him like that again, but he wasn't holding his breath. But still—the woman deserved a bit of happiness. He didn't think she was unhappy, per say. But she had a lot on her mind and weighing on her heart. She deserved even just a bit of release.
In general, she looked good. She was still fairly young, fit, smart, funny, caring, and in general had an inner light that outshone that still-present external beauty. Still—he wasn't blind and he wasn't stupid (any nickname the Doctor had ever given him aside), and he knew that she was weighed down. There was something very wise that twinkled in her eyes, something beyond her years. But then she'd glance away, and you'd see something else that should have been beyond her thirty-one years—a staggering amount of loss.
Right now, though, those beautiful brown eyes were glazed over, like she'd heard him talking, but couldn't quite comprehend. "Earth to Rose," he joked, moving on to the business of pouring the cereal. "I asked if there was anything new."
A light snapped on over head and he winced, closing his eyes against the harsh light. "You two'll go blind, always sitting in the dark like that. I'll tell ya what's new, Mickey. Rose here was up all night," Jackie declared. "Talking on the phone with some MAN from work."
Digging through one of the cupboards, Jackie fished through what seemed like a thousand different kinds of tea.
Mickey smiled, dousing his cereal with milk. "Ohh, hoh," he rejoined playfully. "Somebody made a little friend at Torchwood. Lets see, who is it now?" Walking around with his bowl, he waved the spoon around dramatically. "Edwards from R&D?" Rose looked at him as if he were nuts. "Gallagher from the seventeenth floor? Oh he's been smitten with you for years and years. No, no… Lucien from the Directors' Board. He was checkin' out your legs at the Christmas party."
Rose smiled, closing her eyes with a contented sigh that let him know he was completely and entirely wrong, and she was keeping the secret to herself. "I'm callin' off work today," she announced instead.
Jackie rolled her eyes. "A hint would be nice. I mean, really. He calls here, waking the whole damned place up, we should at least get a name."
Rose just grinned like a tired idiot.
Cup in hand, Jackie walked across the kitchen, sitting down at the table across from her daughter. "Come now, this isn't fair, now is it? You always used to tell your mum who sent your heart a-pattering. Do ya think you're too old for it now?"
Mickey still paced while he ate, work boots clopping against the stone tile floor. "A phone call did that? Whoever he is—he's good. That's serious after-glow."
Waking just enough to be annoyed, Rose scowled at him. "It's not after-glow." Getting up from her bowl of soggy uneaten cornflakes, she sighed. "I'm going back to bed."
About twenty minutes later, just when she was asleep, the door creaked open. "Hi," her dad whispered. "Mickey was just wondering if you were serious. About calling off. But it looks like it."
One eye opened. "Yup."
"You've got 87 sick days accrued, I think you're ok," he offered professionally, and then sat on the bed next to her. "But it's just not like you to call off. So you wanna tell me what's going on?" She didn't look sick—just bleary-eyed tired.
Rose shrugged, tugging the blanket further up her neck. "Long night."
Pete was safe. They had an…interesting relationship, to say the least. But it wasn't cluttered up with the baggage that she had going with Jackie and Mickey. Her mum loved her to death, but constantly viewed her through the eyes of someone who knew every stupid thing she'd ever done. Mickey seemed to hold her to an impossible standard—some perfect image of her that existed only in his mind. Pete…was a bit more philosophical in his older age about things. "Had a phone call I wasn't expecting last night," she muttered.
"So I heard, word travels quickly here." More like listening to Jackie rant and rave in the hall for twenty minutes about how Pete was going to have to track down whoever'd called, then kill him and dump the body in the river.
She smiled, that far-away look returning. "You'll never believe—the Doctor. It was like… and I never thought…" a sigh escaped. She really was at a loss for words.
Pete smiled, knowing how much it meant to her. "Guess we know what the phone problems were all about now, ya?" He rested his hand on her tangled hair. "Did you talk to Violet? How is she?"
Shifting a little, Rose turned toward him a bit. She had something now that she'd never had as a child, but, as old as she was, it was still easy to imagine when he did things like this. "No. She was asleep. She woke up, but before I could talk to her, we got cut off. She's as ornery as ever. Giving the Doctor a tough time over totally botched birthday plans. He might not live it down." Closing her eyes, she smiled, thinking of them. "And my personal favorite—she meets Mozart, he tells her she's a strange little girl with questionable music tastes, and she asks him—straight out—who is strange, considering he's the one in pastels and heels."
They both chuckled. Pete got a sort of nostalgic glint in his eye. "Glad to see she's not changed a bit. I ever tell you about the meeting with Richards, where she was coloring under the table? You could just hear her going at it under the table, I thought she was going to rip through the paper. The crayons were actually squeaking she was pressing so hard. Then he started talking about reports of living plastic people raising trouble in a few places, and they were having trouble dealing with them." Pete laughed. "She informs him that 'everybody knows they're called Autons, and everybody knows they don't have a consciousness of their own, so cutting off the signal will shut them down."
Rose shook her head. "Oh, I'm sure that flew."
"Like a lead balloon. It was utterly adorable, she said it in 'that' tone. The one where you're utterly stupid if you don't understand something as simple as fairies being responsible for making the coo-coo clock chime. Richards wanted to strangle her." He nudged Rose. "I'm sure the Doctor's having loads of fun! Just wait a few more years, when she starts getting hormonal." He shuddered.
Waking up a little further, Rose prodded him back. "She'll haveta watch. He'll dump her somewhere for a Time Out. Dark side of an alien moon. Tell her he's not coming back until she's sorted." The thought made Rose laugh. "I only hope he sends pictures of the look on her face when he thrusts her out the TARDIS door and says he'll be back when she's civilized."
She loved Violet, but she also knew her—the child had been testing everyone's limits since birth. It starts with seeing how long Rose can go without sleep with a colicky infant and still keep her sanity, and it'd end with the Doctor stringing her up by her toes in the console room just to keep her from doing something teenage and stupid.
Briefly, she wondered what kind of woman Violet would grow up to be, and if she'd be able to see it. "Yeah. He'll have fun with that," she said, confirming Pete's thoughts on the matter. "He's still handling it well." Something unbecoming and akin to a giggle slipped through her lips. "And by 'it,' I mean Tropical Storm Violet." They poked fun; it was probably their way of dealing with her absence. But there wasn't anything in the world Rose wouldn't give to hold her again, to tell her 'happy birthday' in person and kiss both of her cheeks until the girl squirmed with the 'yucky' display.
Rose settled back into the pillow. "I didn't tell mum or Mickey. I was just a little too tired for it. And… I want to keep him to myself for just a bit." Before mum launched into a soliloquy on just how foolish and incompetent the Doctor was for calling at two in the morning, and how deranged and spiteful he was for not letting everyone talk to Violet and too stupid to keep the connection longer. Or mum could be having one of her 'the Doctor is a good man' days. Why risk it?
"I can understand that. But tell them after you wake up." He gave her a pat on the shoulder. "I'm going in, but I'm going to leave before lunch. Flu's going around, and all. Got both of us, bad."
Rose frowned, not sure why Pete would play hooky too. "Huh?"
Standing, he went to the door. "Get some sleep, I'll need your help when I get home." She still didn't understand, and it must have been evident on her tired face—she was getting too old for all-nighters. "You realize… Torchwood heard every word of that conversation."
Closing her eyes, Rose groaned. "Glad I didn't talk about work, then." Still—that was four hours' worth of information Torchwood didn't need. "Lemme guess, we're securing the phone lines today, huh?"
Pete gave her an encouraging smile, trying to let her know it'd be ok. "You're a smart one, you. Now, seriously. Sleep. And only good dreams."
It had been about two months after they'd gotten to that dimension. Actually, it had been only about a month after they'd arrived—probably should have been sooner, but that was the beginning of reckoning, at least. This was followed by Rose spending another whole solid month in denial. Her mum and Pete were settling in, Mickey had gotten her a position at Torchwood, and she was slowly pulling herself together. Really, what else could she do? If he could have come for her, he would have come for her by now. She understood him that way.
Which had probably fueled the denial. At first she told herself, it was one hell of a jet lag messing with body chemistry. Then she told herself it was the depression, the change in diet, the change in sleep schedule…
Eventually, though, she'd had to bite the bullet, as it were, and pee on the stick.
She'd done it when she was the only one home, in that big lonely house of Pete's. Mickey was off doing something fairly dangerous with Jake—that and setting of small explosions in random car parks seemed to be their typical weekend plans—football was apparently rubbish in this dimension. This left them with drinking at the pub (which was significantly less fun without the football), engaging in dangerous hobbies or running 'manly' yet unauthorized tests in empty lots to see what sort of distance could be achieved on splatter with various amounts of C4 and cases of Twinkies.
Pete was introducing Jackie to this new world. They were off at a museum mum wouldn't have gone to on their world, discovering the subtle differences in their Earths' histories…and the subtle differences in each other. They'd invited Rose, of course, but she'd wanted to give them their time alone (there was just enough of the small child, hoping her parents would get back together, within her) and she had something to do.
Those things came in boxes of three, and she'd never quite understood why—were you really having that many "scares" over the course of the shelf-life of the product? Then she understood—that first positive—you want to make sure it's not a fluke. Then you want to make sure that the second positive is also not a fluke. Then you burry all three testers deep in the rubbish bins that're already outside, as if that'll somehow make things less…
Rose didn't know. Scary. Exciting, perhaps, but scary and frightening and crazy in some whole new way that traveling the universe with the Doctor had never been.
He'd told her once—and for some reason, she couldn't remember when—that he saw all the possibilities of a situation. They were always running around inside his head. Suddenly, she knew what he'd meant.
Dragging the down comforter from her still-unfamiliar bed into the entertainment room, she'd turned on the oversized television at the set. She collapsed onto the sofa, remembering briefly that the remote control was on the other side of the room. She could get it—change the channel to something less…ridiculous…but that'd be effort. And she was a bit shell-shocked at the moment.
Japanese game shows blared and flickered just outside her field of vision as she looked at the cold, ash-filled fireplace. She didn't entirely see that, either. Mostly, possibilities were flashing in front of her eyes, an overwhelming number of them. They'd faced Daleks together, Cybermen, evil skin tacks… you name it, they'd been through it. Together.
And this, right here, was one thing she'd have to face alone.
She hadn't noticed when it had gotten dark, or when Pete and her mother had returned home. Her mum just sat down beside her, waiting for her to talk.
Jackie had probably been expecting (and would have been happier with) Rose having a 'bad day' in her attempts to cope with her new earth-bound, Doctorless existence. In those first few months, she'd just quietly let Rose mourn, keeping her own feelings of the man to herself. Rose had lost someone she'd loved—it didn't matter who or what he'd been, a mother doesn't like to watch her daughter suffer.
Pete left them to each other. It took a while, but Rose finally opened up about her 'grand plans' for the day, and how it had all worked itself out. She'd fully expected her mother to pass some kind of judgment, but Jackie had just held her and rocked her, saying they'd think of something.
Weeks later, she was still trying to figure out what to tell her employer. It wasn't as if this would be a normal pregnancy, situation, you name it. She'd have a hell of a time keeping this from them forever. Pete had been a voice of reason, at least helping her to weigh her options. She could do this entirely on her own; leave Torchwood, leave its resources. Or use them to her advantage. This certainly was out of her own personal scope, despite her unique life experiences.
Before she could make up her mind, however, she'd begun to hear the voice. The voice that told her to follow, to go wherever it lead. So she did.
He'd looked so…real…corporeal, she wanted to reach out and touch him; to grab hold of him and not let go. What she'd wanted to tell him had been on the tip of her tongue. She'd started, when she'd mentioned 'the baby.' Then she'd seen some kind of panic or surprise flash in her eyes, and she'd backpedaled, chickening out in her only chance to tell him. She didn't know how he'd react—from their subsequent conversations on the matter she was fairly certain he hadn't remembered most of that night. She also didn't want him to worry about something that he could do nothing over.
For a split second, Rose thought that if she told him, somehow that would change things. He'd somehow find some crack or loophole that he wouldn't have found before. But she knew that was pipe dream, and in fact, it was almost a comfort to know that it wasn't the case. There wasn't a single thing that this new knowledge would change. If the Doctor could get back to her, he would. He needed no additional motivation—that much she'd seen in the helpless look in his eyes as she'd fallen away from him, toward the void.
No. She loved him enough to not torture him further—she knew the types of things that haunted his dreams. This would not be one of them.
Jackie had sighed contentedly, listening to the baby wail as Rose tried to rock the poor thing. "It's the mother's curse, you know," she announced in a pleasant voice. She just stood in the doorway, cup in hand, watching Rose suffer. "May you have one just like you."
"I did NOT cry this much," Rose protested. Please God, let her have not cried this much.
Letting her daughter struggle for a few minutes more, she put the half-full cup down on the changing table, taking the child from her daughter. "First six weeks, it was like you didn't know how to stop. Like you didn't know that there was this thing called 'not crying.'
Bedraggled, Rose leaned back in the rocking chair, fully prepared to admit defeat. "There has to be something wrong with her. What if I'm not feeding her right? What if I'm killing her by rocking her? God—why didn't we ever talk about this stuff?" Of course, she knew why. Actual womb-born children were very rare among his kind. He had been a real oddity.
Giving the still-screeching infant a few very firm pats on the behind, Jackie switched to rubbing the baby's back. "Sometimes…they just get 'stuck.' You're not killin' her. She's fine, everything's fine."
Rose glared at her mother, a tad angry. "Everything's fine? Everything's fine! You should be the last person in this entire universe—or ANY universe—to tell me everything's fine!"
Jackie told her to go to sleep; she'd take Violet for a while. "Every new mum is convinced she's doing everything wrong. But a baby is a baby is a baby. They eat, they cry, and mess. And if you're very, very blessed, they sleep some time before their first birthday."
Entirely disturbed that her mother was so calm, had BEEN so calm this entire time, Rose dragged herself across the hall, to her own room. He mother had never ONCE mentioned that this child was anything other than normal. It was entirely possible that Jackie had gone to 'happy denial land,' like she did when Pete said he was going on a 'business trip.' It was also entirely possible that her mother was mad.
All she knew was that every single thing Violet did, or didn't do, made her crazy. Then her mum would make her still crazier by telling Rose 'oh, I thought the same thing when you were little—but you survived!'
If sleep deprivation didn't kill Rose, her mother's suddenly cheerful and reassuring attitude just might. Sure, she was entirely convinced she was doing everything wrong and Violet would end up irrevocably physically harmed by her lack of parenting skills, or she'd end up with permanent mental scarring—same reason. That being said…she wouldn't trade that night, or Violet, for anything.
There were fountains everywhere in Barcelona. It was all very…Roman, in a strange way. People filled pitchers in them, drank directly from falling arcs of water, took quick dips…you name it, they did it—and seemed all the happier for it. The stone, sometimes bronze fountains were in the middle of streets, on the sides of buildings, at public transport stops, along the boardwalk, at random intervals on the sandy beaches… Neither of them had any idea why you'd need fountains on beaches that were probably covered over at high tide, but they just went with it.
They'd parked the TARDIS in a surprisingly clean alley (they were all strangely clean—it was like some kind of Bizzaro-world in that sense), then they'd spent the whole afternoon just walking around, taking in all the sights and sounds, noting how they had yet to be forced to run for their lives yet today.
The smell of breads and cheeses hung in the humid air, sometimes punctuated by the sweet odor of fruits from the sidewalk vendors, ornate brick and stone buildings, cobblestone roads, and some of the most fabulous tourist-traps either of them had ever seen.
In front of The Flaming Dutchman (some sort of dinner/show combination--it looked like—apparently said Dutchman wasn't just a 'flying' Dutchman, but happened to do so whilst on fire), Rose saw a tall almost comically thin pink woman with blonde hair and a teeny tiny dog poking its head out of an oversized purse.
Before she could even say anything, the Doctor grabbed her arm. "PLEASE don't say 'that poor, unfortunate adorable dog,'" he whispered.
Ok, maybe she'd said it a few times already that day. "Well, it is."
Attempting to distract her from the no-nosed dogs, the Doctor pointed across the street. "Sushaco?"
Rose had no idea what that was, but if the neon sign was any indication, she didn't want any part of it. "Dare I ask?"
The Doctor grinned. "Sushi-taco. Very popular in the 67th century." When Rose made a face, he started laughing. "Oh come on, you haven't even tried, it could be very good!"
"Which means YOU haven't tried it," she pointed out. "Which means I have no intelligence as to the lethality of this…aberration of food."
Hands in his pockets and suit jacket unbuttoned, the Doctor crossed the intersection, walking backwards. "I can go on a reconnaissance mission. Check the lay of the land, as it were--"
Rose made no move to follow. Cupping her hands around her mouth, she called back to him. "Yeah, royal food tester. If you drop over dead, then I know it's poisonous."
He went in the shop, that grin still plastered across his face, and she waited. And waited, and waited. Sighing, she dodged the quiet little electric cars and crossed the street. They'd done so well; they'd been here all day and no one had tried to kill them yet. It was getting close to evening, it figured they wouldn't get to watch the sun setting over the ocean.
Going inside, she figured she'd better get him out of whatever trouble he'd gotten himself into THIS time.
It had turned out to be nothing; the sushi was so fresh that they were in the process of cleaning and gutting the fish the Doctor had picked out from the large tank below the glass counter. When she realized what they were doing, Rose had to look away.
Other than that… she had to admit, it was kind of good. They'd taken their wrapped 'sushacos' over to the beach and sat down on the edge of a fountain, watching the sun setting over the ocean.
Wiping a bit of rice from his cheek, she put her head on his shoulder. "We need to do stuff like this more often."
His head rested on hers. "You'd get bored if we did."
Rose let out a small sigh of contentment, thinking about this. "Well, not all the time. Just…once a month, maybe."
Crumpling his wrapper, the Doctor stuffed it into his coat pocket. "Once a month? I'd need to try setting course for here, or some place like it, a week from now if we hope to get there in another six. We'd end up broken down on some stone-age planet, smack dab in the middle of some civil war, or worse."
"Your mum's flat," he muttered quietly.
Her hand reached under his open coat, searching for his ribs. "You like it," she informed him. "You like it, and you know it."
He began squirming, trying to get away from those pinching, tickling fingers. "Ouch, don't muss the shirt! No, I don't like it! She swings like a blacksmith when she's in a slapping mood!" Wrapping an arm around her, he reached for the soft flesh under her arm, tickling up and down the ribs until she stopped her own assault in an effort to slap his hand away. She missed a few times, then caught him on the back of the hand. "You're mum's insane, Rose. Certifiable. And you're turning out just like her!"
Rose almost choked on the air, she was laughing so hard. "Because she slaps you for tickling her, all the time!"
The Doctor looked up at the purple clouds streaking the sky overhead. "Oh, I'm going to try that next time we go back. I'm going to walk up right behind her and…" in demonstration, he got Rose on both sides, mercilessly tickling until she squirmed so hard that she ended up in the sand. Sitting up, he straightened his tie, sniffing. "Yup. That's exactly how she'll react. And then she'll get a bread knife and a butcher knife, one in each hand, and plunge them into my hearts. No. I will not tickle Jackie Tyler. I'd still like to eke out a few more years in this body, if I can manage it."
Still sitting in the sand, Rose smiled, tongue touching her teeth. "You just like being a pretty boy."
He wagged a finger at her. "Oy. Enough out of you. I don't hear you complaining. In fact, a certain evil skin tack told me that you've been looking."
She kicked sand at him. "Have not."
In retaliation, he kicked back. "Heck, I've been looking! If it's a good body, it's a good body, no fault in that."
Rose noticed he was looking right at her when he said it. Which could have meant anything, but… "Alright," she said, getting to her feet and dusting sand off of every part of her. "That's a little disturbing. I'm not so sure I want to know what you do at night after I go to bed."
He tried to protest, but she held up a hand, not wanting further details.
"No, no, it's ok," she told him. "If you want to spend the whole night in the wardrobe, staring at the full-length, that's fine with me. It's your ship." Brushing the sand off the legs of his trousers, she sat back down next to him. "Look at you, even in your hair." Rubbing his head vigorously, a few white bits came flying out. "Bet you've got sand in your socks."
"I don't have sand in my--"
"Five quid, and I want you to turn them inside out to prove it."
He looked away from her, his head held proud and high, as if he were above such things. "I know better than to make bets with Rose Tyler."
Laughing, she nudged him. "I'll put you down for ten, then."
Looking around for Rose's empty wrapper, he slid it into his pocket with the other. Sticking his tongue out dramatically, he licked the roof of his mouth a few times. "Bit… salty. Shoulda gotten something to drink."
One hand behind her, trailing it lazily in the water, Rose decided to add to the Doctor's woes by flicking him with tiny droplets. "Well, when in Rome, or Barcelona, as the case may be…" She gestured with her chin to another fountain further down the beach, and the old man dipping his canteen into the clear, perfect fountain runoff.
"Promise you won't push me in?"
She just bat her eyes innocently. "Why, my dear Doctor, I don't know how you could think that I'd even conceive such a notion."
Standing, he put his hands on his hips. "I just want you to know, if I go down, I'm taking you with me." He said it with the same sort of seriousness he reserved for his enemies.
Climbing onto the edge of the fountain, Rose rolled her eyes. "First of all, do you believe you're made out of candy floss? You'll hit the water and dissolve into nothingness? Second of all, if we have to do this together so that you'll stop going on, then lets do it." She held out a hand to him, and he joined her on the edge of the fountain.
Darting her head toward him, the Doctor backed up, causing her to erupt into laughter. "It's one foot of water. You'll live, pretty boy." She was a bit thirsty too. Nothing major, it was just that something bubbly would have worked quite nicely to wash down the sea weed taco shell and vinegary rice seasoned with hot peppers.
Reaching out her hands, she cupped them and held them under one of the small steady streams coming out of the delicate stone-carved flower on top. It was possibly the cleanest tasting water they'd both ever had, which was saying quite a bit for one member of their party.
She'd felt it hit her a lot quicker than he had; she'd assumed it was something in the taco. Maybe that hadn't been vinegar, maybe it had been Everclear or something like it. The water was good, but she wasn't sure how much longer she cold stand on the sidewall, drinking from the falling water or intermittently flicking the Doctor, just to watch him make faces.
One more handful, and she was seeing the world in a whole new way. Mostly, it was spinning. She had nights like this with her friends, before she'd left with the Doctor. As a girl who could hold her booze, she was certain the rice in the taco would kill you if you ate just two of them. "Those tacos should come with warnings," she told him, sitting down on the wall.
Seeing that she wasn't having fun any more, the Doctor stopped slapping the stream of water in her direction between his attempts to drink more of the stuff. "Bad fish?"
"Wooh!" she announced, knowing her intoxication level was right up there with the time she'd come home and fell asleep under the kitchen table. "Think the tacos were alcoholic. Vodka and vermouth if I had to say."
Jumping down from the ledge, he sat next to her. "We need to call it a day?"
Squinting at him, she frowned. "And why aren't you completely, totally and completely drunk?"
"You said completely twice. Superior Time Lord alcohol processing abilities. I can't even say I know how much it'd take to get me as...hmm as you are now." He glossed over the use of any verb to describe just how intoxicated she appeared.
She pointed a finger in his face. "And THAT is something we need to find out. Five quid I can get ya singin' bad pop songs with yer jacket inside-out."
Grabbing her finger, he put it down at her side, indulgently. "Sure, sure, and a fun time will, indeed, be had by all. Except for the songs. They'll be quite irritated with me for obliterating them by singing them sober, much less if you SOMEHOW manage to get my blood-alcohol level to the point of me doing something absurd and THEN I try to slaughter some perfectly jaunty tunes. That being said…" he got to his feet, then tried to drag her to a standing position.
He got an unsteady Rose up, but not quite moving. "I think we're just going to have to find out at some other point in time exactly how many sushacos it takes to get the Doctor to act like a total fool—well, more of a total fool (is there such a thing? More of one hundred percent of a fool?) than I look like on a normal everyday basis. Fool, fool, foolish…Foolish things, freckles are. Once there was this girl, and this was back at the academy. She fell asleep in the library, and SOMEONE, I cannot say who, because that'd just be impolite, connected the freckles with a pen and made adorable little constellations out of them…she waited until I was taking an exam then hit me in the back of the head with a book. I have no idea who told her…"
Rose looked at him, only one eye in focus. "You talk too much." But, a hand in his, she began following him through the sand, back to the boardwalk.
Looking up at the stars, which were slowly revealing themselves through the twilight, the Doctor sighed. "The death of me you'll be, Rose Tyler. What would you do with a drunken Doctor, anyhow? Hmm? Who'd make the TARDIS go vroom vroom through space and time, huh? You need a Doctor who's completely, utterly, entirely, magnificently, completely in control of his faculties."
By the time they made it to the cobblestone road, they were both laughing at nothing at all, trying to help each other back to the alley and the ship. Fumbling with his key, he dropped it four times before getting it in the lock, and it took both of them to actually turn the thing.
Staggering into the ship, they both tumbled down the ramp, Rose landing on top of his chest. Eyes still not adjusted to the brighter light in the control room, she squinted at him, tucking her hair behind her ear. "This is funny," she slurred. "But I can't remember why." Her head dropped onto his shoulder.
Apparently her not remembering why the situation was particularly amusing was funny to the Doctor, because he began laughing, causing both of their bodies to quake. "What would you do with a drunken Doctor, anyway?" As if his voice was so much steadier than hers and his words so much clearer.
Well, actually they were much clearer. He happened to have the very careful pronunciation and speech pattern of someone trying to convince others, and themselves, that they weren't intoxicated, though they clearly were. She'd have pointed that out, but she couldn't think of words.
She rolled off of him, landing on her side and nearly crushing his arm. "I'd think of something." Licking her lips, she closed her eyes. "Meantime, sand. Socks. Bet."
It was only another ten seconds, and Rose was laughing uncontrollably and another fifteen after that before the Doctor joined in. "I don't…think," he began. "That it was the tacos!" He looked over at the console, like this was a problem he really should be working out, but then his head landed on the metal floor beside hers. "Aw, ta hell with it. The taco stand'll still be there tomorrow. So'll those fountains." Fountains from which he'd consumed far vaster quantities of water.
Nudging his leg with the toe of her shoe, Rose concurred. "Maybe they got psychedelic burritos! Socks! Take 'em off!"
And that was the point at which things began getting a little strange. Even for them. His socks contained enough sand for a sandcastle, and two tiny shells. Holding them over her head, victoriously, she swung them around until the motion made her dizzy.
When she'd looked up, he was still fully dressed, sans socks. Well, that, and somehow his pants had migrated from his bottom to the top of his head. "Your pants teleported," she said very seriously, putting her arm under her as a pillow.
He beat on his chest like Tarzan. "I am the emperor of pants!" Half a second later, he collapsed next to her on the grill floor. "Pants are good," he mumbled, closing his eyes.
"You're completely fried. Baked. Done on both somethings."
And somehow things had managed to devolve from there. He refused to part with money unless she proved her socks weren't also full of sand (as if she'd somehow smuggled sand into the TARDIS and set him up—or at least his socks). When she refused, he began struggling with her shoes, still laying on the floor. The socks were near impossible because he insisted on yanking by the toe, and he accused her of having a sock security system.
"Yes, that's it!" she giggled inanely. "Chastity belt. But for feet!"
The Doctor declared that it had something to do with new anti-tickle technology, but he was clever and he'd defeat her socks. About ten minutes and two retaliatory clothing article removals later, other articles of attire began 'falling off,' as it were. Neither of them happened to be particularly coordinated at the moment, but it had never stopped people who'd met in drinking establishments all throughout time and space.
She had the distinct impression that she'd have enjoyed the feeling of his terribly soft lips upon hers—if her lips and nose hadn't gone numb somewhere before they'd even reached the TARDIS. Everything else, however—fully functional.
Might have been an hour or two later, Rose woke up thirsty, with a throbbing head, and entirely immobile. When she opened her eyes and saw why, she almost smacked herself. She'd done a lot of wholly inappropriate things while 'under the influence' as it were. A bit of flashing, a bit of screaming on deserted streets at three in the morning, and passing out in entirely unfortunate places had marked her brief but colored drinking career (hey, she justified to herself, she'd been young and immature, and they'd been wild parties). However, this took the taco, er, cake. Talk about crossing a line.
So, Rose wondered, what did she do? Did she wake him? She might have to—he was getting a bit heavy, all passed out on top of her like that. But it was strangely adorable, being plastered to someone and crushed by his unconscious form. Of course, were it anyone else, she doubted it'd be quite so damned endearing.
Say she did wake him up? Then what? If he was even sober enough to have awkward silences, there'd be a lot of those. They'd both dive for their clothes, not daring to look at each other. There would be the inevitable part where they tried to ignore that it had happened. Then there'd be the part where they'd try to discuss it, but it'd be littered with more silences accented by false starts to sentences neither of them would ever finish.
It would be approximately six thousand times worse than just how uncomfortable things had gotten momentarily back on the planet outside the black hole when she'd jokingly and thoughtlessly mentioned that they could get a mortgage together. Another thing they never brought up ever again.
And why? What was so…wrong about this? Well, other than how… wrong it was. Lets see…they were best friends and lived in the same domicile. They traveled together. They laughed together, they ran for their lives together, he'd promised not to leave her behind and she'd promised that he'd have a hard time getting rid of her (a marriage contract, by some cultures standards) she loved him possibly inappropriately, but with every last bit of her heart and soul and suspected he loved her as well—though she had no idea what type of love, and if it was inappropriate (though it was preferably the same type of potentially inappropriate love that she felt for him)… WHY was the awkward silence inevitable?
And really. Sometimes drunken flings just happened.
Oh, if only HE would see it that way. This Doctor was much…looser than his previous self. Affection wasn't a foreign concept to him. He didn't hold himself stiffly, as if he were constantly waiting for another blow…actual enjoyment of life was permitted, and not something he should feel guilt over. He was more comfortable in her presence. All of those things had been coming…sort of a work-in-progress in all the time they'd been traveling, but the regeneration had either truly freed him the rest of the way from the constantly tense man that she'd met that first time, or it had given him permission to let the bulk of it go.
That being said, he'd wake up, take one look at the current state of things, and she'd probably be back to the start with him, emotionally, at least.
She wanted to be open about this. It wasn't as if any of her past relationships of this…particular nature had been quite so tied up in any sort of way—discussion had been a two way street. Hell, she had better lines of communication with her mother regarding the subject, than she did with him. Basically—she wanted to be free to discuss something that she knew he couldn't handle. He was a damaged soul that she (and Jack) had worked quite a bit on but this was probably still too much to ask of him.
Which left only one thing, really. It was partially to protect herself—she wanted things to stay as they were, since she knew 'worse' was the only alternative. Rose did want to travel with him forever, seeing the universe, doing the things they did. But mostly, she wanted to travel WITH HIM.
There was an equal portion of wanting to protect HIM. Save HIM from the guilt he'd no doubt turn inward on himself. He'd no doubt see himself as an authority figure or teacher who had 'taken advantage of' a student. Part of it was the age thing. Part of it was just all the thousands of complexes he had running around in his head. They might as well have been married, for as well as she knew him.
They might be closer than a married couple too; after all they'd been through together, including his change. They might even love each other more. And up to this point—she'd loved and respected him too much to ask for something he couldn't give.
But when it came down to it…that act of intimacy was a bit beyond what he'd risk for himself at the moment, and, ultimately, it'd just freak him right the hell out.
So she'd just pray that because he'd been hit later by the intoxicating fast food (but maybe it was the fountain water, now that she thought about it) that he'd stay asleep a little bit longer, and hopefully unawares of what she was about to do. Or that the universe would just throw her a bone on this one.
Nobody liked self-torture, and nobody liked it when things became cloying and humid with words that couldn't be said. Hopefully whatever higher power was out there directing things with a nudge here and there would just keep the Doctor asleep for a little bit longer. God willing he wouldn't remember much, and if he did, perhaps she could confuse him with style enough to forget, or question his memory of, the substance of their trip to Barcelona.
Then she'd managed to wriggled out from beneath him, gently letting his head come to rest of the metal floor that was now permanently imprinted into her back. Cleaning up, she set everything aright, with a twist.
It was a red herring, to be sure, but it might distract him long enough that he'd forget to be a pest about what had happened after he'd broken into singing an impromptu medley of Sonny and Cher songs. When she redressed him, she turned everything inside out (since that's what had started this whole chain reaction). There was one slight difference—the pants. The cute red and white underpants with the Spider-man log on the backside. She put those back on his head, thinking back to how hard it had been to not laugh when she'd first seen his self-proclaimed 'crown of pants.' That part had been simply for her own amusement.
Tired, thirsty and hung-over, Rose had crawled into her own bed after that, wondering how long her deception could possibly work.
Rose woke to a gentle shake. She was still smiling, to think of her crowned emperor of pants, one utterly ridiculous moment she'd always hold near and dear to her heart. "You NEVER listen to me," Pete whispered. "But I order you to have good dreams, and you obey? I'm switching to subliminal messages from now on."
Blinking, Rose looked up at him, and then laughed. "Sorry," she said after regaining her composure. "I guess you'd have to have been there."
Pete said he'd be in the cellar, where the phone lines came into the house. She should get dressed and get ready to selectively edit Torchwood's taps.
Yawning, she stretched, prepared to obey. "What do you think the odds are that we can get any records of that phone call back?"
Pete told her it would be too suspicious—too outright of a thing to do. They'd just have to make sure they didn't make the same mistake again. He'd had the house rewired Saturday and Sunday he'd just been lazy about following up with the taps he was certain Torchwood had managed to get into the house for the new lines. He'd figured what harm could one day do? Of course—he'd found out the hard way, and he promised to be more vigilant in the future.
It was sad that they were in this game of subterfuge with their employer, however, any additional information they desired regarding Violet or the Doctor was not theirs for the taking. He'd told Jackie once that he'd give his life for the girl, and Rose knew he meant it. A little girl outside of time and space couldn't ask for a more watchful protector. Pete only continued to participate in this kabuki dance with Torchwood for her sake.
As soon as he left, Rose threw on jeans and a t-shirt, her normal dress code for saving the world. Today it'd be well-suited for keeping the secrets of a single little girl with the ability to cause some dangerous people a large amount of harm.
Flying through the house, she gave her mum a quick hello and nothing resembling an explanation for the events of the early morning, and down to the dark and damp cellars. The smell reminded her of places she'd been with the Doctor, which mostly made her think of Violet.
Her family was out there, and she was going through what motions she could to keep them safe.
Pete had already popped open the access box. She began clipping the wires he'd need to reroute through the small device he'd constructed to filter out certain types of calls. They'd never make it to a Torchwood recording device. The cause for the weeks and weeks of telephone mishaps seemed fantastic, and yet slightly humorous now, in the light of day. The problem with Torchwood would never be humorous, however. So they worked on.
Stripping the clipped wires, Rose's mind began to wander again.
If the Doctor ever managed to get the phone working again, and they had the luxury of such a long, uninterrupted call again, she was going to apologize for the deception (on both counts). Then she was going to torture him about the pants thing. That particular item had been building up for a decade, and, quite frankly, he had it coming.
(of this bit of our tale…like I said…I have a plan. Be afraid, be very afraid)