As I am a professional writer and have work to do to get paid, I have decided to deal with these thudding plot bunnies in the traditional manner - I will inflict them on others. Please see my Profile for the Challenges of the Month. July Challenges are now available, and what a twist for one of them. If you'd rather do June's, instead, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks to all those who have participated thus far - we had an exceptional turn out for June II for example. The new challenges will run through the end of July. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review.

Sandstorm0301 issued the following challenge for July II:

10/Rose, it must have at least one piece of fluff.

Has to be long enough to be considered oneshot and not a drabble. Though a drabbley oneshot would do.

Must include some sort of malfunction (of anything you want), and there must be at least one part in which Jackie is angry.

Must have exactly 1 Dalek somewhere in the story. No more. No less.

The Doctor must say "fantastic!" somewhere in the story.

That Dalek was a bit of a problem, right at first. Until it ... wasn't, anymore. A slightly mad ramble, hope you all enjoy! No spoilers!!

Not His Fault

"Yes, Jackie," said the Doctor. "Yes, Jackie," he repeated, more firmly. "Yes, Jackie, never mind that now, just yes, whatever you say!" He flipped Rose's mobile shut. "There, I talked to her, are you happy?"

"Ecstatic," Rose said, a la Alan Rickman.

The Doctor grinned, noticed she wasn't smiling and let the grin fall. He blinked at her sheepishly, and scratched nervously at the back of his neck. "I'm sorry," he said.

He'd been saying that for what felt like five and a half hours now. Rose still didn't seem to believe him.

"No, really, I am," he insisted to the stone-faced woman who pointedly walked around him, refusing to meet his pouting face. "Honestly Rose, I didn't mean to do it."

Rose ignored him. The Doctor jerked his hands through his hair and looked around for some solution to this predicament. There wasn't one. They were standing in Jackie Tyler's flat, and a Time Lord couldn't get more out of his depth than that.

"I... where do you want me?"

"Tied down, spread eagle, in the middle of a dank cave," Rose replied.

From any other woman in creation, such a statement might have evoked the most... no. Absolutely not going there.



It wasn't his fault. Well, it was mostly not his fault. Well, it was half not his fault.

Actually, if he was completely honest with himself, which he never, ever was, on general principle, he would have to admit that it was one hundred percent, totally, positively, and completely his fault. In its entirety.

He blamed the Fymermians. It could be their fault, after all. They were the stupid bunch of backward, useless, fat little yappy dog people who were worshipping a freaking Dalek.

Specifically, they were worshipping the burned out, empty carcass of a Dalek, but how was he to know that? It was broad daylight - it was always broad daylight on Fymermia - and you could never see the menacing lights in their eye stalks or on top of their carapaces clearly when it was broad daylight. Mind, the Fymermians had built a bit of a bonfire inside the casing of their former Dalek, so it may have been the different (and therefore threatening) way the lights seemed to flicker at him that made the Doctor react the way he did.

He was more than willing, however, to suspect he had been set up. At a Hardware Expo on Liftag, two planets before Fymermia, he'd found a fully functioning temporal grenade, an artifact of the Time War, which should have disappeared along with the entire history of that War. The Doctor knew it must have fallen through one of the space/time rifts and he had seized it - he'd actually, officially seized it, Time Lord arrogance and all, everything but the funny hat. He'd had it in his pocket, still trying to work out how to disarm it without blowing something to sub-atomic particulate residue, when they arrived on Fymermia.

Everyone was polite at first. Rose and the Doctor were feted and lauded and escorted to the temple to greet the god in the approved whiny, slobbery manner. Rose had been giggling behind her hand, the Doctor had been wondering if he'd actually get to lick a genuine, recognized deity.

They'd been escorted into the so called "holy of holies" and there, resting on the high altar, large as life, with gleaming, brassy menace, sat a Dalek. The gun stalk seemed to be pointed at Rose, the lights looked decidedly odd, the Doctor saw nothing but red, the temporal grenade was in his hand, and then there was a large round hole where the Dalek and the high altar had been.

He'd thought he'd lost those reflexes along with Nine's body.

Mind, Nine might not have got past 'gun-stalk' and 'pointed at Rose'.

"I'm sorry," the Doctor said again.

Rose thrust a cuppa into his hand and wandered off.

The Fymermians had immediately assumed he was some kind of anti-Christ. He'd made to run for it and, somehow, lost Rose in the confusion. Then, he was captured by rebels who were fighting against the Dalek worshippers. They'd been the ones to tell him that the Dalek was dead and hollowed out - one of them used to be a priest to the thing.

By the time he'd won them over and persuaded them to help him rescue Rose and liberate their planet at one go, things had gone from bad to worse for his rather startled and appalled young companion. Eventually, when she would tell them nothing further than, "trust me, it could have killed you all," the priests had decided to sacrifice her to the Underworld, in hopes that the heavens would send them another golden god.

Hence being tied up, spread eagle, in a dank cave.

Oh, and they'd stolen most of her clothes.

And he'd snickered about that.

Which might actually be the real reason she was going to kill him right about now. Still, he rather suspected it was because she'd had to run, in nothing but his overcoat and her mint green knickers, through mud and trees and bushes and a small land war. They'd made it through to the TARDIS just as the rebels had finally broken through the Dalek worshippers' lines. They flung open the door, someone threw a poison gas canister in after them, and they beat a hasty retreat.

Unfortunately, the TARDIS filtration sensors were malfunctioning. Respiratory bypass only applied for the Gallifreyan member of the pair, after all. Rose, he'd had to give oxygen through a mask, while he reset the circuit.

And now they were stuck in the Powell Estates, because the TARDIS was going to change all the air in the entire ship. It would take days, too, he was sure of it, even though She COULD do it in twelve hours if She absolutely had to do. The TARDIS was aggravated with him, too, he could tell. Something about tinkering endlessly with things he didn't even WANT fixed, and missing a major fault in a vital circuit which could have cost him and his companion their lives - respiratory bypass didn't work forever.

"Rose, are you even going to speak to me?"

"You want a pillow?" she asked in mock solicitude. He nodded politely, so she chucked one at his head.

Jackie, thankfully, was out for the night, but she'd be back in the morning. That probably meant she would kill him in the morning, but the Doctor was fine with that as, frankly, it would shorten the time he had to be aware that he was stuck here due to his own stupidity.

The Dalek. He could blame the Dalek. What possible business could it have dying in the vicinity of Fymermia and leaving its casing to survive both the Time War and the Bad Wolf?

Rose shut her door - with an angry slam, the Doctor noticed - and he was left alone on the sofa to go over where he had gone wrong today. There had been a time - ok, there had been lots of times - when he would have given anything he had ever owned to see Rose in mint green knickers. Like this morning, before everything had gone wrong, for example. 'Anything he ever owned' was more impressive than 'anything he owned now' because he had once been one of the richest men in the Seven Systems: Lord President of Gallifrey paid well and had several lucrative perks besides. Now, he literally owned nothing, as even his TARDIS belonged only to Herself.

Mind, there was still twenty plus years back pay from UNIT accruing interest in an account somewhere, but still.

The irony of the whole situation was, he'd been fascinated in a very good way at the sight. He hadn't been laughing at her, more at himself, because he couldn't do a thing with quite the most appealing sight he'd seen in a long time, because they needed to run for their lives. He couldn't even tell her, because she'd been so angry. And it really, really wasn't his fault that Rose Tyler was adorable when she was furious.

He might ought to apologize. Maybe he could try for more specifics, this time. He stood up and, very carefully, opened Rose's door. "I shouldn't have snickered," he said gently to the huddled body in the middle of her bed.

"Alien git," she muttered, and threw something at his head. She missed, but he ducked out and closed the door behind him. He took the pillow she had hurled at him and prepared for a long, aggravated, boring night.

The very next thing he was aware of was Jackie Tyler's overly loud voice entirely too near his head. "Rose Marion Tyler, why is there an alien drooling on my furniture!?"

He sat bolt upright, swiping at his face, and stared at Jackie in horror. She'd been leaning over him, apparently, and his sitting up had probably brought him within an inch of knocking skulls with her. She started laughing at him, giggling, hooting, absolutely howling, and she tumbled onto the floor, where she proceeded to abandon all pretense of sanity. She pointed at him and shook all over, gales of mirth escaping her lips.

She was, quite obviously, drunk.

"Fantastic," he muttered darkly. "Just fan-bloody-tastic."

This only made her laugh harder and clutch at his knees for support.

Rose appeared in her doorway, glaring balefully, as grim as death. He tried to smile apologetically, but she only had eyes for the inebriated banshee who clasped his knees and chortled. "Oh, bloody hell!" Rose grumbled and stalked over.

He tried to shake Jackie off but wasn't having any luck. He turned the puppy-eyed pout on Rose and she snorted at him, then nudged her mother with her foot. Jackie giggled some more and clung to him tighter. "Get off," Rose muttered. "He's mine."

He knew that, but it was nice to hear her say it. He beamed at her.

Jackie finally let go, and fell back onto the carpet, still giggling. Rose turned as if to go back to her room, but the Doctor stopped her with a touch of his hand. "Let's get her to bed," he said. "She's gonna kill me in the morning, anyway, so she might as well be comfortable before she has to figure out what to do with my body."

Rose yawned hugely and, obviously still half-asleep, nudged her mum with her toe again. "Go to bed," she ordered. Jackie turned over and giggled into the carpet. "Never works," Rose said, shrugged, and turned back to her room again.

The Doctor sighed and, with all the detachment he could muster, lifted Jackie up from the floor. Rose frowned at him, then glared at her mum as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "So handsome, this time," Jackie said and toyed with the back of his hair.

"Yes, thank you," the Doctor agreed, in his most off-putting voice. "And I'll thank you to keep your hands to yourself. Your daughter is not amused."

"I was thinking of taking pictures," Rose murmured in reply. "Like you shoulda done earlier." She shoved her mother's bedroom door open. The Doctor dropped the drunk woman onto the bed, shook her clinging arms off with effort, and beat a hasty retreat.

Rose was heading back to her room, yet again, so the Doctor caught her hand. "Want a cup of tea?" he offered, since she seemed to be sort of speaking to him now, and he wanted to take advantage of that fact.

"I guess," she said, with obvious reluctance.

He bounded into the kitchen, feeling better than he had since before he spotted the Dalek, and put on the kettle. Rose staggered in in a few minutes, now wearing flannel pajamas, a heavy dressing gown, and fuzzy pink slippers. He fiddled with the mugs as the silence grew heavy. Rose was glaring daggers into his back, he could practically feel them. "Thought she wasn't coming home 'til morning," he said.

He heard Rose shrug, but she said nothing. He poured the tea, prepared the cups, and brought them to the table. "This is nice," he tried.

Rose sipped at her tea and shrugged again.

"I'm sorry," he offered, again.

Rose's reply was blunt, pithy and, he was reasonably certain, anatomically impossible.

He blinked at her in astonishment. "Do what?"

She glowered at him over her tea.

Fine. "Sorry, my species requires two people for that sort of thing. So, unless you're volunteering..." Shut up, he ordered himself, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP.

Rose snorted. "Why would I? So you can have another laugh at me?"

He jerked his hands through his hair. "You'd've laughed at me in the same position," he accused her.

"I would not!" she answered hotly. He tilted his head and flicked an eyebrow at her, waiting. Finally, finally, she smiled, just a tiny flicker of a smile, and looked down at her cup, her cheeks a bit pink. "Maybe a little bit," she admitted.

He nodded. "'Course you would. Skinny Time Lord tied to a rock in nothing but his pants? You'd've had a field day."

Rose grinned at the image he presented - he'd even gone so far as to fling his arms wide in imitation of the position he would be in. He grinned back and took her hand. In a much more companionable silence, they finished their tea.

He walked with her back to her room and tucked her in, lying down next to her and watching her nod off again. "You can't blame me for laughing a little," he murmured to his sleeping girl. "Irony is funny."

"Irony," she agreed in a drowsy whisper.

He wondered if some of the poison had managed to get into his system after all, because he felt his body tugging him into a healing sleep. He felt his arms go around Rose. He felt her sigh and turn in to him. He kissed the top of her head and cradled her close.

He slept.

"Rose Marion Tyler!!"

Jackie, the ever screeching alarm clock. He moved to sit up and found that was a bit of a problem. His eyes went wide and he struggled. Rose came in through her doorway, leaned on the jamb and munched on a piece of toast with marmalade. Her eyes were huge and she watched him with the absolutely fascinated gaze of someone staring at a thriller on tele.

"Why is there an alien tied to your bed, Rose Tyler?" demanded Jackie, from the hallway.

"Irony," Rose answered cheekily. "Apparently, it's funny."