Title: Fruit of Kasterborous
Author: Gail R. Delaney
Genre: 9/Rose. Alittle UST, alittle angst, alittle fluff
Series: The Unseen and In Between
Setting: Between The Unquiet Dead and Aliens of London
Summary: Sometimes you just need a good, stiff drink
Rating: Pretty much anyone
Disclaimer: Not mine. If I owned Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant would be my own private little playmates.
At the end of World War III, Jackie asks Rose if the Doctor drink. How does Rose know that he does?
Rose hung her beautiful ruby gown back into the wardrobe, careful to make sure the gold plate above the rod read 1850 to 1900 Earth. Some day she would wander through the five-level chamber, and explore all the cabinets, closets and piles of gowns, costumes and clothing that filled the space. This place would put Harrod's to shame.
But, today she wasn't in the right frame of mind. Watching a young girl give her life for the world had a way of ruining a person's night.
Day… Night… when was it, exactly?
She had no idea just how long she had been with the Doctor. How was she supposed to tell time in a time machine? They'd gone forward in time, and back in time, but if she had to put an actual measurement she's say… what… anywhere from two to ten days?
Yeah, that was about as exact as she could manage.
Felt like a lifetime.
She was exhausted, hadn't slept since stepping in the door except for the nap she'd taken in the console room jump seat somewhere between the end of the world and meeting Charles Dickens. But, where was she supposed to sleep? Where did he sleep? Did he sleep?
There was still so much she didn't know – couldn't even imagine – about this man.
Rose ran her fingers down the silk, rubbing the black lace between her fingers. She smiled as she remembered his reaction when she'd stepped into the console room.
"You look beautiful."
What about him made her just… run away? She was crazy, she had to be, right? She left her mum, Mickey… everything… for not only a man she didn't know, but an alien. She just took his hand, and left.
She looked down at her open hand, trying to find some hint of why. Rose ran her palms together slowly, warming the skin. Maybe that's all it was. The warmth of his skin.
Rose huffed and pushed her hair out of her face, pulling the clip free that held the twist against her scalp. The release felt good and she shook out the waves. With one final, appreciative look at the dress, she slipped the clip into a hidden pocket of the skirt.
She turned to leave and gasped, jumping back, when she saw the Doctor standing in the doorway. His shoulder rested against the jamb, his arms crossed over his chest, with one leg bent, his foot resting on the toe of his boots.
"You part cat, or somethin'?" she said through short breath. "How long you been standing there?"
"Long enough." He stepped away from the door, his actions so quick it made her jump again. "Right then. What next, Rose Tyler?"
Rose scrubbed her fingertips across her forehead, where a slow headache throbbed. Her head hurt, her stomach growled, and her heart sat like a stone in her chest. She couldn't shake the sadness about Gwyneth. Just a young girl who thought Sunday School was an education and probably hadn't ever even kissed a boy, and she'd given her life for the whole planet.
"I don't suppose you've got anything to drink on this ship, do you?
"Of course," he said, as if her question were completely daft. "I've got a hundred an' forty-seven different kinds of water from planets all over the galaxy. Oh, you've never tasted anything until you've had Jenivian glacial water with just a dash from the southern waterfalls of Oraphascia Alpha."
Rose grinned, but shook her head, curling her hair behind her ear. "Not exactly what I had in mind."
He seemed to think for a minute, his lips pulled together and deep furrows dug into his forehead. Then, just as quickly, he grinned wide and his entire face lit up. Without a word, he crossed the space between them, took her hand, and led her quickly from the wardrobe. He reminded her of her cousin Natalie's little boy, who had an endless supply of energy. They'd just saved the world from malicious aliens, nearly died, and he's got the energy for a run. Rose was dizzy with all the twists and turns they made, and winded from going up and down stairs.
"This big ship and you don't have a lift?" she huffed when they reached yet another landing.
The Doctor stopped short and she bumped into his shoulder. He pushed a button on the wall and within seconds, the wall slid open to reveal a lift car, complete with old-fashioned wallpaper and chrome lamps.
"Just showin' off now, you are," she mumbled, but found herself smiling anyway.
He pulled her inside, still holding her hand, and the doors closed with a ding. Rose watched the arrow above the door travel slowly over a numberless half circle from right to left. Any other place in the universe, Rose would assume they were going down. But this was the TARDIS. They could be going in circles as far as she knew.
He just grinned, shifting his hold on her hand so their fingers linked, their palms sliding across each other. Rose laid her free hand on the bend of his elbow and rested her temple against his shoulder. The smell of his leather jacket mingled with the fragrant wood of the lift, and the pleasant scent of 'old' – not like the funk that tickled her nose when she visited Gran – but the comforting smell of an old library or an antique shop.
The lift stopped when the arrow moved all the way to the left, and the door opened with another soft ding. The space beyond was dark, and Rose squinted as she left the lift. The Doctor left her to disappear into the darkness. Seconds later, a match flared and he lit a cluster of candles in the center of a small, wooden table, creating a circle of light.
Brick arches and wood pillar architecture surrounded rack after rack of glass bottles in different sizes, colors and shapes. The air was cold, and slightly damp. An earthy smell mingled with the scent of mortar and fragrant fruit.
"Is this a—"
"Wine cellar, yeah." He blew out the match, the flicker of the candlelight playing over his angular features. He paused, the match still held in front of his lips, and looked at her. "What?"
"Your time machine has a wine cellar." It wasn't a question, more along the lines of I can't believe it.
"No self respectin' TARDIS would be without one." His voice took on the tone that she had already gotten used to hearing. That just how stupid can you be, I can't believe you just said that tone. He stepped out of the circle of light briefly, and she could only see the movement of his shadow. She heard the gentle ping of glass against glass, and he stepped back into the light, setting two crystal goblets on the table. "Come on. Sit down."
Rose walked to the table, her head tipped back so she could try and take in the details of the space. If she didn't know better, she honestly would expect to be three levels below the street. But that wasn't possible. She was in a ship. She shook her head. She'd never get used to this 'bigger on the inside' thing.
There was bigger… and then there was endless.
The Doctor pulled out one of the wooden chairs and motioned with a flourish that she should sit. As soon as she did, he picked up one of the candles held in a tarnished brass candle holder, and disappeared behind one of the brick pillars. She heard him humming, and focused on the sound of his boots on the brick floor, until she heard his footfalls coming back toward her. He stepped out of the darkness and set a simple, emerald green bottle on the table. With a pop, he released the cork and immediately the air filled with the scent of fruit and flowers and… she inhaled… amber? Some kind of spice.
"Oh, that smells gorgeous!"
He slid the stem of one of the glasses between his long fingers, cupping the base of the glass in the cradle of his palm, and poured the liquid into the vessel. The firelight danced off the glass and reflected in the rich, deep red of the wine. When the glass was half-full, he held it out to her with a subtle smile.
Rose took the glass and held the rim to her nose. She wasn't much of a wine drinker, usually preferring a pint with Mickey or whatever she used to sneak from her mother's dresser. But, this… her mouth watered just at the aroma. It tickled her nose and filled her head before it touched her lips.
But when it did… taste and sensation exploded in her mouth. It was sweet and buttery and rich, but not heavy at all, and drew a long, satisfied hum from the back of her throat as she swallowed. Rose closed her eyes and sighed as warmth immediately spread out from her chest, leaving her skin tingling.
He was watching her when she opened her eyes, and a different heat flashed to her cheeks and down her throat. Rose swallowed and set the glass down. "That's amazing."
"It's called the Fruit of Kasterbarous," he said, pouring his own glass. As he stared into the liquid, his smile relaxed slightly. "It's from my home."
"Is that the name of your planet? Kass…"
"Kasterbarous," he finished. "No." The Doctor paused, and she saw the argument behind his expression. He'd fought with her on Platform One, all but telling her that his home planet was none of her business. "Gallifrey."
"Gallifrey," she repeated. She liked the way the sound rolled over her tongue, like music.
Wow, that wine was hitting her fast!
He nodded slowly, his eyes turned down and his expression flat. Rose watched him, the sense that something sad and distant had slipped into the room. Then, just as quickly, he flashed a grin and took a swallow of the wine in his glass. He set the bottle down on the table with a soft thunk and sat in the chair beside her.
"Go on. Drink up."
Some time later — and for once the Doctor didn't know exactly how long it had been — Rose smiled at him with heavy eyes and flushed cheeks. She laughed softly at something he had said, and laid her hand on top of his.
"You…" she said, pointing at him with her other hand. "Have gotten me sloshed, Doctor."
"Didn't you want to be?"
'No'the point." She laughed again, and swayed slightly in her chair, but righted herself before he reached for her. The Doctor probably shouldn't have brought out this particular bottle of spirits. Artuli Ale or Cantoneli Juice might have been better. He knew the heady effect the Fruit of Kasterbarous could have on someone not accustomed to the purity of the wine, especially someone as young as Rose with no food in her system and not enough rest.
But, he was feeling nostalgic. He had gone in search of Rose to distract him — and distract him, she did. More than a companion had the right to, or more to the point, more than he had a right to let her.
He turned his hand beneath hers so their palms were together, and stood, pulling her to her feet. "Come on. Time for you to sleep it off."
She leaned into him, her cheek resting against his chest. Rose hummed softly, and her hands slid inside his jacket. "Doctor…" she said softly, her voice smiling. "Who has a name like Doctor. Doctor Who?"
"I get that a'lot." He tried to support her and push her chair out of the way at the same time, but she was limp and languid, and not helping at all. Her cool hands slipped under his jumper and over his ribs, and he swallowed the curse that lodged in his throat.
"Now I know I'm sloshed." She leaned away from him, her attention shifting from his face to some indiscernible spot in the center of his chest. "I swear, I can feel two heartbeats."
He slid his hands behind her back, pressing his palms just below her shoulder blades to keep her from tipping backward. "That's 'cos there are two."
She looked up so fast, her body swayed again and he pulled her closer. Her hands pressed against his chest, and he bit down until a muscle twitched along his jaw. Rose smiled, the foolish kind of grin only someone completely happy — or completely sloshed — can pull off.
"Betta' with two?"
The Doctor laughed, and when her body swayed again, he gave up trying to keep her on her feet. Her hands slid free of his jumper and her head tipped as he hooked his arms behind her and lifted her off her feet. Rose giggled again, her head falling on his shoulder, but she was already more asleep than awake.
He stood in the wine cellar of his magnificent ship, and stared down at the peaceful face of his new companion. He'd had young companions before — had it really only been forty-three years since he first took in Dorothy, or as she preferred, Ace? But somehow Rose seemed younger. Ready to step into the Universe and take it on.
Yeah, she had seen some of the darkness… the Gelth trying to take their lives, the heartbreak of a young girl who gave her life to save them all. But, there were darker things, and he hated himself for being the one to expose her to it all.
He sighed and shifted her in his arms, crossing the space to the lift. The door opened when he reached it, and they barely closed behind him before opening again. He could hear the engine piston not far from where the TARDIS placed him, and smiled at the Old Girl. She had been playing with them earlier, more to the point, playing with Rose. Like creating the lift just as Rose complained about not having one. Rose thought he was the one showing off, but it wasn't him.
The TARDIS was pleased with her choice of companions for him, and wanted to show that she would take care of Rose.
Case in point…
Across the hall from the lift was a beautifully carved double door that arched high over his head, one door partially open. He used his foot to push the door open further, and smiled. The bedroom was large with a massive bed on the opposite wall, draped in a rich burgundy velvet canopy with white lace. A door to his right revealed a glimpse of a black marble bath.
The Doctor crossed the space, his boots muffled by the thick carpet on the floor. Setting his knee on the mattress, he laid Rose down on the thick coverlet. She moaned softly and shifted into the pillow. He probably should have just covered her up and left, but before he decided against it, the Doctor sat on the edge of the bed beside her. He reached behind him and snagged the blanket at the foot of the bed and draped it over her, brushing a tress of blonde hair off her face.
Rose smiled in her sleep.
He shifted to stand, leaving her to rest, when her hand brushed over his, wrapping around his fingers. The Doctor looked back, and her sleepy eyes looked back.
"Do I get a good night kiss?" Her words were slurred, her cheeks flushed, and her smile far more compelling that he was sure she intended.
He leaned over and pressed his lips to her forehead, her hair tickling his nose. Her eyes were closed again before he pulled back. Drawing the blanket closer to her chin, the Doctor left her alone, closing the door behind him.
Rose stretched, enjoying the heat and comfort that enveloped her. Her body felt heavy, but she floated on the edge of sleep. She blinked reluctantly, expecting the harsh reality of sunlight to force her into the day.
But, when she opened her eyes and didn't see the familiar pink of her bedroom, she sat up abruptly and threw back the blanket, a wave of panic hitting her. Just as quickly, the panic passed and she panted quickly through each breath until her heart stopped pounding.
She remembered now. The TARDIS. The Doctor. End of the World and Old World Cardiff.
And the Fruit of Kasterborous.
Shouldn't her head be poundin' right about now?
Beside the bed was a small table, and on the table was a tray of fruit. Some she recognized — two bananas and a cup of strawberries — and some looked enticing, but completely foreign. Alien. She smiled. Of course. A tented piece of paper sat beside the plate with her name written in a sharp, slanted hand. Rose bit a strawberry in half and picked up the note.
Not quite the Fruit of Kasterborous, but I hope you enjoy it.
Rose smiled again. As she folded her legs beneath her and leaned against the padded headboard to eat the rest of her breakfast, she tried to remember the details of the night before. Namely, how did she get in this room, and in this bed?
The memories were broken, blurry, but she remembered sitting in the dark with the Doctor, his face lit by the bundle of candles on the table. She remembered laughing and talking. And she remembered his face close to hers and the touch of his lips on her forehead.
Most vividly, Rose remembered his skin beneath her hands and the heat trapped by his jumper and his jacket. And she remembered the distinct rhythmic thump of two hearts, one beneath each palm. She remembered him looking down at her, his blue eyes intense but unwavering. He didn't pull her close, but he didn't push her away.
Her body flushed, her skin suddenly felt stifled by her clothes.
It took her a good hour to gather enough courage to leave the room. She ate the fruit, and discovered the most amazing bath she had ever seen – or imagined. All black marble and a bathtub so deep she could swim in it. The shower was massive, big enough for a party, with showerheads at multiple levels and an entire ceiling that cascades with water like a gentle rainfall. Reluctantly, she left the bathroom, and dressed in the clothing she had arrived in, although she would swear they had been laundered. They were fresh and neatly folded at the foot of her bed.
When she stepped out of the room, she expected to wander for a bit before finding the Doctor, but she immediately heard the familiar sound of the engine piston. A pale green glow lit the hallway ahead and she walked the steel catwalk to the open door.
He was inside, his back to her, his hands braced on the edge of the console. When she stepped through the door, he turned, smiling wide.
"'Bout time you woke up," he said, quickly moving around to the other side of the console to push a series of buttons and shift several levers. "So, Rose Tyler, you've been to the future, and to the past… where next?"
Rose swallowed and stepped toward the center of the room, resting her hand on the back of the jump seat. "Can we go anywhere?"
He looked up, tilting his head to see her past the center piston. "Anytime."
"Can I go home?"
His smile slipped away and he looked down, some control twittering when he flipped a switch. "If that's what you want."
"I just… My Mum is probably wonderin'…" Rose pulled her lower lip through her teeth, clearing her throat. "I just thought I should tell her I'm okay before we go off again."
He looked up again, his gaze meeting her. A slow smile spread his lips, showing his slightly crooked teeth. "London it is, Rose Tyler."
He threw a switch and the TARDIS jerked slightly. As the floor vibrated beneath their feet and the piston rose and fell, the Doctor came around the console again and walked to her, stopped only when he stood close enough for her to smell the soothing age of his leather jacket. She looked up at him, meeting his gaze even though her insides shook. Something had happened… not something something… but something, and she didn't know what it meant.
The Doctor smiled, and took her hand as the engine slowed and the green glow slowly eased into a more natural light. "Ready?"
She nodded. "As eva'."