A/N: This story was borne out of the realisation, roundabout chapter 5 of The Trouble With Mickey, that I really, really missed writing comedy.
Many thanks to RagamuffinSundrop for the beta/Britpicking read.
"I am never," Rose announced emphatically, "chewing gum again." She strode into the console room with a decidedly aggravated gait and a 'let's-get-this-over-with' manner about her. She went over to the door, opened it and looked back at the Doctor impatiently.
He wasn't following.
Indeed, he didn't seem to share her sense of urgency in the least, a fact she found most infuriating since he'd been the one who'd convinced her in the first place, that her presence at this event was absolutely essential.
And then she noticed the look on his face. Hesitant, slightly pained, as if he had some very unpleasant news to deliver.
"What?" she demanded.
"Is that what you're wearing?" he asked skeptically.
Rose glanced down at her pink hoodie, jeans and trainers and responded with as much sarcasm as she could muster. "No, it's just an illusion, I'm actually wearing a pink bunny costume."
When he refused to react, she let out a sigh with such force that he could feel the breeze from several feet away. "What's wrong with it?" she asked.
"Rose, you're about to be anointed as these people's equivalent of –"
"'People' is stretching things a bit, don't you think?" she interrupted.
"All right then, these long-necked-centipede-like aliens," the Doctor corrected himself, "but either way, the Zaleutimylians are anointing you as their version of the Second Coming. I'd think you'd want to wear something a bit more impressive, that's all. Regal. Resplendent," he said, trilling the 'R.' "Respectably relevant to the renaissance of a redeemer, to reward a republic of religious revelers."
"So you've got a handbook of fashion tips for major religious figures, then?" Rose replied snidely. "Keeping it next to the thesaurus, are you?"
"Rose," he chided.
She sighed and rolled her eyes. "All I did was spit out my gum," she whinged, sounding rather like a five-year-old who's just been told to clean her room before snack time. "I never wanted to be their Exalted Shovel, or whatever it is."
"Exalted Shavah," he corrected. "Minister to the Third Order of the Sebilon. Rose, you spit your gum out into their Holy Goblet, containing a plant extract that reacted with the aspartame, causing an output of brilliant purple smoke, which, according to their sacred text, was an event that was predicted for millennia, and would accompany the arrival of the Exalted Shavah," added the Doctor. "Exalted Shavah, henceforth known as Rose Tyler, that is."
"And so now they're forcing me to preside at this ridiculous ceremony where they're going to…" she paused for a moment thoughtfully. "Wait a minute, what are they going to do to me, anyway?"
"Oh, nothing too terribly painful, they'll have you don the ceremonial shoes –"
"Centipedes, remember? Feet are fundamental to their culture." He frowned and looked up at her, suddenly concerned. "You don't have bunions, do you?" he asked. "Warts? Toenail fungus?"
Rose's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "No," she replied.
His face relaxed as he continued. "Good. Anyway, then they'll probably just want to consecrate you with some of their holy juice extract. It's mildly toxic to humans, but you'll only need to take a small sip, should only give you a headache for a few hours."
She rolled her eyes for the hundredth time that day. "Great."
"And that should be it. Well, they'll want you to speak, of course," he added almost as an afterthought.
Rose's face went white. "Speak? What do I say?"
"Oh, just pick something," the Doctor said testily. "A famous Earth speech, perhaps. Song lyrics. You could recite Yellow Submarine and they'll think you're the greatest poet in history. I'd avoid anything by Rowan Atkinson, though. Or Britney Spears. Or George Bush."
She stamped her foot impatiently. "Can't we just skip it?" she whinged.
"Rose, I want you to imagine something for a moment," explained the Doctor patiently. "Imagine Jesus Christ himself makes a return to 21st century Earth. Lovely chap, by the way, he helped me out of a tight spot or two way back when. Dreadful at chess, though. But just imagine: he makes his grand return, billions of human followers welcome him with open arms, televisions are tuned in round the world, ready to hang on his every word, and at the last minute he decides, 'no, I think I'll stay home tonight and watch The Apprentice.'"
Rose snorted at the prospect. "Anarchy," she speculated.
She sighed in resignation and started to make her way back to her room. "Resplendent, you said?"
"Their entire world will be watching," he reminded her.
She returned a few minutes later wearing a purple flowered dress that she'd originally bought to wear to a friend's wedding. "This better?" she asked, tugging on the side zip which appeared to be stuck.
As it happened, it wasn't alone in this state of affairs. The Doctor's eyes were fixated on the particularly long stretch of Rose's leg that was peeking through a slit in the skirt. "Tha – that's – uh - ," he stammered.
Rose looked up in surprise and the Doctor caught himself with a start. He took a step back and stroked his chin in what he hoped was a most erudite gesture. "That's quite nice," he observed, trying to sound like he was admiring a particularly lovely flower bouquet.
Rose was still fighting with the zip. She took a deep breath, sucked in her gut and tried again to no avail. "Do I look like I've gained weight?" she asked him in frustration.
The Doctor donned his glasses and closely examined her curves, trying – less successfully than he admitted to himself - to maintain a professional detachment. "Why, yes," he commented, his voice perfectly even. "I do believe you've filled in a few gaps here and there."
She rounded on him with such intensity that he actually stumbled backwards. Her face was full of sheer panic.
He looked round the room, quickly ascertained that the TARDIS had, in fact, not just exploded, and turned his attention back to the distraught blonde in front of him. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"You're not supposed to say yes," she said, her lower lip looking pouty and wet and very red. "Any human bloke would know that you never ever acknowledge to a woman that she's gained so much as an ounce." She smoothed down her dress and sucked in her gut even further, making the Doctor wonder how she could possibly breathe. "No more going out for chips with you," she announced sternly.
"But it suits you," he protested. "All those bones you had jutting out? Nicely rounded out, they have." She did not notice the flush creeping across his face.
"Why haven't you got a proper scale that works?" she groused at him, still tugging helplessly at the zip. "You've got every other device known to exist; blimey, you've even got a an electric toothbrush, an espresso maker and an Ipod, but the only scale in this entire ship is broken. It insists I'm only six stones."
The Doctor nodded knowingly. "Six quims, actually. Unit of weight on Rubanis."
"And what, precisely, is a quim?" she demanded, eyebrow raised.
"Approximately one-point-nine stones to a quim," he replied. "C'mere, let's have a look at that zip."
She went over to him and lifted up her arm, revealing a gaping hole at the side of the dress where the zip wouldn't budge. The Doctor gave a few tugs, doing his best to focus on the dress and not what lay under it, however distracting though it was.
Meanwhile, Rose was working the maths in her head. "Wait a minute, one-point-nine stones to a quim?" she objected, panic rising in her voice again. "That puts me at eleven stones, five pounds. That can't be right, can it?"
The Doctor paused thoughtfully, doing his best to steer his eyes away from her cleavage. "Hmm. Now that you mention it, I thought my weight on that scale was a bit generous too." He pulled out the sonic screwdriver from his suit pocket and aimed it at the zip. "Wait, I know – the gravity on Rubanis. It's slightly lower than Earth. That would explain it. I suppose that scale is a bit useless after all, isn't it?"
"Oh, my God, can I please smack you?" Rose exclaimed in frustration. Then the realisation dawned on her. "Wait, why were you using the scale? You can't possibly be worried about your weight. You're so skinny I keep expecting you to disappear when you turn sideways."
"Well, it's true," she insisted.
"I'll have you know," he informed her as he slid the zip smoothly up into place at last, "that not all my regenerations have been quite this lean. You should've seen my sixth body, my cheeks were positively chubby and I was always expecting an extra chin or two to pop out."
Rose giggled in spite of herself. "I'm sorry I missed that." She sighed again in desperation. "So exactly what 'gaps' have I filled in, anyway?"
"Excuse me?" he asked, leaning in to get a whiff of her perfume.
"The extra weight," she said mournfully. "Though I don't know why I'm so worried, it's not like any blokes will fancy me to begin with, not that I'll ever get to meet any, living with an asexual time-traveling alien who can eat chips all day long and still look like a stick insect."
"Blimey," came his voice from behind her.
"There's so many things wrong with that rant, I don't even know where to start." He came round behind her and softly placed a hand on her right hip. "Here," he crooned in his most enticing voice.
Rose was so startled that she jumped, nearly knocking her head against his. Her instinct was to grab his tie and threaten to choke him unless he explained himself, but then it dawned on her that this might actually make him stop. So she froze, thunderstruck, her heart pounding, let her eyes fall closed and did her best to enjoy the moment, fleeting though it was sure to be. "What's that?" she finally managed to utter, barely above a whisper, feeling very pleased with herself at being able to form the words at all.
"Your gaps you've filled in," the Doctor explained, and Rose could hear him smiling through every tantalizing word. "And here," he went on, his voice low and throaty as he slid another hand over her left posterior.
His hand felt warm through the fabric, radiating waves of heat all through her lower regions. "And here," he added, sliding a finger through the slit in her dress near her knee and slowly tracing a straight line up her thigh.
Rose went weak in the knees as his front brushed against her back, leaving little doubt as to his feelings on the matter. His finger slowly continued up over her dress, her hip, her side, brushed the outer edge of her breast, up over her shoulder, and down her arm…
And then he stopped at her elbow. "Hmm," came his voice, sounding extremely matter-of-fact all of a sudden.
His detached tone brought her back to reality. "Are you seriously telling me that my elbows are getting fat?" she asked incredulously.
"No," he said. "I've just remembered. The Zaleutimylians. Bit of a thing about elbows."
"How d'you mean, 'bit of a thing'?" Rose demanded suspiciously.
"I'd advise covering them up," he counseled.
Rose, who had temporarily forgotten about the Zaleutimylians, now turned to face him with one eyebrow sternly arched. "You serious?" she asked dubiously.
"I am, unfortunately, not jesting in the least," he replied. "Some years ago, they had a visiting dignitary from their neighbouring planet who made the mistake of baring her elbows for a planetary broadcast. There was such a public outcry that they ended up severing all diplomatic ties with her planet and instituting a trade embargo that ended up hurting them much more than their trade partners, in the end. Plunged the planet into a full economic depression for a decade."
He looked sincere, but Rose still regarded him skeptically.
"Long sleeves," he assured her again. "Really, Rose."
She sighed and headed back to her room.
The next outfit, a pantsuit, he insisted was 'too black,' impressing upon her the importance of presenting an uplifting image to her followers.
The outfit to follow, he claimed did not properly accentuate her figure. Rose couldn't help thinking this comment made him sound like a complete poof, but then it occurred to her that perhaps he had his own reasons for saying so, and this might not have anything at all to do with Zaleutimylians.
Which led to her third choice – a blood-red velvet corset dress with nothing but the tiniest of straps holding it up. Her elbows were quite exposed, along with her arms and shoulders, and nobody could possibly miss the ample cleavage that was spilling over the top of the corset.
She strode out into the console room with a swish and turned round to give him the full view.
His reaction was most gratifying. His eyes gaped at her, and his jaw fell open, just for a moment until he caught himself and closed it, swallowing hard as he did so.
She went over to him and turned round with her back to him. She handed him a string of pearls and lifted up her hair. "Do you mind?" she asked demurely.
His hands only fumbled for a moment as he secured the clasp round her neck, and then he began lightly tracing a path downward, round her shoulder blades to the top of the corset, where they crossed over onto the fabric and proceeded on down to her waist. "Oh, Rose," he intoned alluringly over her shoulder, "this just will not do."
She caught her breath as his lips grazed her exposed shoulder.
He spoke again and she could feel his breath on her neck. "No, this dress will not do at all," he repeated. "I'm afraid it simply must go."
And then she felt a drag on the rear zip and she realized that she was about to find out whether the Doctor was a boxers or a briefs sort of man.
Three hours later, Rose's skirt was torn, her necklace had broken, scattering pearls throughout the console room, and the pattern of the floor grating was firmly implanted in her backside.
The Zaleutimylians, for their part, having been abandoned by their Exalted Shavah, had already started dividing up into factions: those who believed Rose Tyler to be a false prophet who should be shot on sight, and those who believed her failure to appear that evening was an indication of her ascent directly into Heaven.
Either way, the Doctor and Rose both thought it best not to return.