Just what the Doctor ordered.
Prompt #20 Comfort.
The Doctor was worried. It didn't happen often and he never showed it when it did but right now he was seriously concerned.
He'd promised Rose a shopping trip on Redmall Visa, one of the best shopping planets in the solar system, complete with his unlimited credit and grudging accompaniment as unofficial bag-carrier.
Or mule as she called it.
It was something of an apology after ruining her favourite outfit in the 'gloop' encounter a few weeks back. A bedraggled, smelly, slimy Rose was not something he wanted to meet again in a hurry and he'd dangled the shopping trip like a gold-plated carrot, if only she promised not to throw things at him.
She'd agreed and they'd set co-ordinates for the planet. They'd had to stop twice along the way due to unexpected world save-age and impending doom but Rose had been looking forward to today for weeks.
So where was she?
The promise of shopping should have dragged her out of her room practically at the crack of dawn and she should be here bouncing on her heels waiting to be shown the shops.
Instead it was almost ten and she had missed four hours of possible shopping time.
The Doctor was worried, which was the only reason he was currently tapping on her door.
He could hear nothing from behind the thick door.
"Are you awake?" he called again and tentatively turned the handle.
The Doctor poked his head around the door, with an unease that spoke of past experience and hurled projectiles from sleepy companions, and focussed on the rumpled bed.
"Rose?" He made his way over to the purple bedspread and poked the lump, leaping back with hands raised as if to ward off imminent attack.
A slight movement reassured him she wasn't dead and he was about to make some smart-alec taunt about apes and their need for excessive sleep when Rose gave out a pained whimper and curled in on herself.
All traces of amusement gone, the Doctor pulled back the duvet and knelt at her side.
She peered up at him through her hair and both his hearts turned over at her tear-stained cheeks and damp eyes.
"Rose? Are you …? Of course you're not. Sorry. Stupid question." He stroked a strand of blonde hair away from her face. "What's wrong?"
"Hurts," she whispered.
"Where?" he asked, his hands checking over her exposed arms and legs, his mind absently filing away the fact that she was wearing some of the shortest, silkiest pyjama's that he had ever seen. No wonder she was goose bumped. He forced his thoughts away from that and tried to focus on where she could have been injured.
Had she been hurt on their last adventure on Pampa 20? He seemed to remember she was running from the mob far slower than usual. Or had she picked up a vortex virus? A space sickness? They'd been back to 19th century England only a few weeks ago, had she been infected with something that the TARDIS hadn't picked up; something that she hadn't been vaccinated against? Cholera, tuberculosis, smallpox?
His mind raced faster and faster until it was all he could do not to pick her up and race her to the infirmary.
Rose stared blearily at him and then her face turned red. "Nowhere. Go away."
He gaped. "Rose. It's obvious you're in pain. I can help." He beamed, trying not to show his fear. "Trust me, I'm a Doctor."
"Not a medical one," she bit out, frowning.
"Oh, I was once," he paused, thinking, "possibly. Are you injured? Ill?"
She took a deep breath. "I'm a girl."
It was the Doctor's turn to frown. Of course she was a girl. He could see that very well—and was trying not to. "I know that, Rose. Did you hit your head?"
She looked furiously at him, her dark eyes sparkling with tears as well as annoyance. "No."
"Tell me," he urged.
He sat back, understanding along with a healthy dose of embarrassment filling his face. "Ohh."
"Ahh!" she cried and curled up tighter, her arms tightening around her middle.
The Doctor had saved worlds, saved entire civilisations, galaxies and, quite possibly, the universe, on occasion. He had faced down danger with a smile on his face and a song in his heart (the song was probably 'Oops I did it again' but still). He had maintained a calm demeanour in the event of his own death and hadn't even blinked on that unfortunate occasion on Orion's belt which he would never mention again without thinking of baby oil and grapes.
He had done all this without losing his legendary cool. But the sight of his favourite human in intense pain made him panic.
"What do I do?" He edged closer. "Is there some sort of medicine for this? A ritual? Do you need hot water? Tea? I can do tea. Do you need tea?"
Rose eyed him. "I thought you were supposed to be dead clever?"
He scratched the back of his head. "Well, all the women I've had on the TARDIS never really talked about their cycle. I'm not sure women from my planet even had them. Susan never mentioned it and it wasn't something Romana ever would have told me."
"But you've had human women on board." Rose swiped at her cheeks. "Sarah-Jane and that."
"Ye—es," he hedged. "But women from the 1980's weren't all that confident about personal matters. Feminism, yes; female problems, not so much."
"Well, it bloody hurts." Rose sniffed. "It feels like someone's using a cheese grater on your insides and grabbing you and twisting and squeezing." She flinched. "You feel fat and gross for days before, all bloated and tired and everything aches. My back is throbbing and if I don't get some chocolate soon, one of us is going to die."
He blinked. "Right."
"It'll probably be you," she decided, glaring at him. "Because you're male."
"Alien?" he offered as a possible 'get-out-of-pain-free' card.
"Close enough," she said through gritted teeth.
"Okay." He got up and dragged her duvet back over her, covering her legs and arms and tucking her in before leaving.
Rose glared at the place where he had been, muttering about insensitive men and aliens before closing her eyes and wishing death on all men.
About five minutes later there was a dull roar as the TARDIS landed somewhere and Rose glowered, thinking that the Doctor had probably set her down to tinker with the damn machine now that they wouldn't be able to have any adventures that day.
Men were just useless no matter what species they were.
She was just fading back to an uneasy sleep when she felt the duvet move again.
"It's not gone," she said angrily. "Go… tinker."
"I know that," the Doctor said softly and pulled the thick duvet away from her, "and no. I have a present."
She looked at him and was forced to do a double take. He held a tray out in front of him and beamed at her in that slightly manic way he usually used just as he about to uncover the bad guys plan and throw a spanner in the intricately megalomaniacal plans.
"What do you want?" she sniffed again, feeling sorry for herself.
"I want to help!" he exclaimed. "Shift up."
Rose bit back the urge to tell him to shove it and wriggled away slightly.
"Here we have hot tea!" He picked up a mug from the tray and handed it to her. "Universal cure for all ills, except possibly poverty. Or werewolfism. Werewolfism—is that a word? It should be."
Rose ignored his rant as she sniffed the hot, sweet tea, feeling a little guilty at being so mean. He was only trying to help, bless him.
She sat up, taking the mug and pushing her hair away from her face. "Thanks."
"I also have," he placed the tray down and pulled something vaguely square shaped and fluffy, "a hot water bottle."
Rose's heart melted. He'd brought her a hot water bottle? She took it all back, he was an angel.
She grabbed the bottle and placed it against her middle, almost sobbing in relief as the warmth soothed her aching mid-section.
"We also have… I say we, I mean me, has some chocolate."
"Please!" Rose begged and he picked up one of the largest bars of galaxy chocolate that she had ever seen.
"It was a choice between Cadbury and Galaxy. I figured galaxy, universe, TARDIS, it's all the same." He offered it over.
Rose reached for the bar and broke a piece off, cramming it into her mouth with all the enthusiasm of a junkie getting a fix
The Doctor had to clear his throat at the look of unbridled ecstasy on her face.
"Ahem, right. That good?"
"Mmmm," she rolled her eyes. "Sooo good."
The Doctor pondered the wisdom of his next move, given that the hot water bottle and chocolate had been such a success, but he had been told that this was the only way to help and so he'd do it. No matter the consequences to his own state of mind.
He moved onto the bed and sat against the headboard.
Rose had time to frown at him before he reached under her legs and pulled her into his lap, tucking her against his chest and cradling her head on his shoulder.
His hand reached down to press against her lower back, just where her satin shorts met her tank top and he began to rub firm circles against her skin.
"W-what a-are you doing?" she asked tremulously, the motions playing havoc with all of her senses.
"Pressure on the base of the spine helps the wombs contractions," he said soothingly. "It also eases those back pains. At least that's what Vera told me."
Rose stiffened. "Who's Vera?"
"The lady in the shop."
"Shop?" Rose felt like she had turned two pages over at the same time.
"Didn't you feel the TARDIS stop?"
"Yeah," Rose confessed, "I thought you'd stopped somewhere to tinker with the TARDIS."
"Oh ye of little faith," he grinned against her hair. "We're in London."
"Correctamundo… damn, promised I'd never use that again."
Rose smiled as her body began to relax. "This is heaven."
He beamed. "Glad it worked. Vera said her husband had been doing it for years, said it always made her feel better."
"Who is Vera?" Rose wanted to know.
"I told you, she's a lady I met when I was in the chemists. I told her that my friend was having period pains and I had no idea what to do, believe me it was hard admitting that, and she told me."
Rose had frozen. "You went up to a random woman in a shop and asked what to do about a woman's periods?"
"Yes. She was really helpful actually, lovely lady, reminded me of the Prime Minister of Trekkacom in the Greta division, without the ears and slime incidentally. She told me that chocolate, a hot water bottle and back rubs helped her. Vera that is, not the Prime Minister."
Rose shook her head, why was she surprised by this? It was exactly something that he would have done. His firm rubs were starting to lull her back to sleep.
"Then she pointed me towards something called Feminax and tampons … at which point I remembered I'd left the kettle on."
Rose buried her face in his chest, muffling her laughter as well as mortification. "You didn't!"
Rose giggled sleepily against his suit jacket. "I can just see her face!"
"She thought it was very enlightened of me, actually," he said, somewhat imperiously.
"Thank you," Rose said as she leaned into him, her eyes feeling heavy. "I feel better already."
"Good," he smoothed her hair. "It beats shopping at any rate."
"Not getting out of it that easy," she mumbled. "You promised."
He pouted. "I don't suppose I could get time off for good behaviour?"
"We'll see," she slurred.
"Rose?" he whispered after a few moments and brushed her hair away from her face to see that she had fallen asleep on him.
It wasn't something that he had intended. All he'd wanted to do was give the poor girl some comfort.
Humans really were created strangely. Imagine having to go through this process once a month for forty years? Didn't make much sense unless it was nature's way of punishing women for not repopulating the planet once a month. That thought led to him thinking of little Rose's scampering around the TARDIS and he found himself smiling and talking out loud.
"I bet you'd make a great mum. Not that you had a great role model, of course. I wouldn't wish Jackie Tyler on anyone. Although," he added fairly, "she didn't do such a bad job of you. But I've seen the way you take care of Mickey the idiot and of the TARDIS and even me. Don't think I don't remember what you did for me at Christmas, even though I was new. I met you'd make a great parent."
He bit his lip thinking. Was he keeping Rose from fulfilling that part of her life? Was a family and kids something that she even wanted? Would she tell him if she did? Why would she stay with him when he couldn't offer her those things?
"Mmm, love you," she breathed.
His hand stilled until he realised that she was still asleep, her words mumbled and completely unconscious. He had been speaking out loud and she had heard him in her sleep and answered the very question that he had been asking.
She loved him.
The words made his hearts beat faster and his hands ache to pull her closer. He had wanted to give her comfort and yet, again, she was the one who had comforted him. He cradled her to him and rocked her gently.
"Mmm, love you."
"Quite right too."