Tardisode 2: Shades of Life
Many, many thanks to Bonnie for beta reading! BBC owns all.
Steam floated idly over a heavily fogged mirror as soft music drifted through the room. Rose Tyler lay on her back, her eyes drifted shut and the hand that held shut her thick cotton robe dropped slowly to her side. She let out a pleased sigh, and the music increased ever so slightly in volume.
"Lovely," she murmured.
The music, which until this point had remained in the overarching genre of 'soothing' suddenly switched to a loud and perky rendition of the Beatles' 'Help!'.
Rose did not appreciate the humour.
She had no intention of 'helping' in any way shape or form...but in the interest of getting rid of the music, she tightened the belt on her robe and left the warm, humid comfort of her impromptu spa room in favour of stomping down the hall. She didn't exactly consider herself intimidating in her apparel, but given exactly how much the robe and pink fuzzy slippers made her resemble her mother, she might well have.
"What'd you want?" she demanded, folding her arms and leaning against the door to the console room. She couldn't see him, but the faint sound of sparking wires indicated his presence somewhere in the room.
"Did you know the whole of human nature is recorded within The Beatles' lyrics?" his voice, entirely too cheerful, wafted up from somewhere beneath the time rotor.
"And did you know that I don't care?"
"Good job on them, considerin' the planet they came from didn't even have music," he continued, ignoring her mood.
She sighed and curled up in the jump seat, making sure to wrap her robe tightly around herself. "What planet?"
"You call it Iota Horologii b, they call it Devaom. Nice place, famous for fun fairs. Couple systems over from Earth, not far really."
"It does explain Yoko."
"Not really, though Japan does have a sad lack of fun fairs."
"Right. So is that why they had Beatlemania?" She thought longingly of her peaceful bathroom, and mourned her Zen-inspired music selection.
"Nope," his grinning face appeared from the grating momentarily. There was a pause as they both realized her robe was riding a bit short, and then he vanished again – the tips of his generous ears turning faintly pink. "That's just humans for you."
She sighed and accepted that her steam had probably dissipated. She straightened thoughtfully. "Hey, Doctor?"
"Yeah?" His head stayed firmly below the rotor.
"There's a planet that's famous for just about everything, right?"
"Just about," she could almost see him nodding. "There's a great place known just for its onion blossoms. Brilliant invention, that. Rest of their society is fairly sad, but the onion blossoms are fantastic."
"Right," Rose replied, scepticism clear in her tone. "So," she got back on topic, "there're places known for, oh, spa resorts?"
"Oh, ye-" there was a pause. "Nope, not a single one."
"Now why would you want to go and do somethin' like that?"
"'Cause in case you haven't noticed," Rose hopped off the jump seat and stuck her head upside down through a hole in the grates, "you get me covered in all sorts of muck on a regular basis." She ignored his vehement denial about the regularity. "And," she continued, "not once has it been anything nice like a Norwegian mud mask."
"You want me to get you covered in Norwegian mud?" He raised an eyebrow at her, and she flushed darkly.
"You're missing the point!" She took a deep breath, willing the blood to stop rushing to her face, and pondered whether or not it might be easier to do such right-side up. "Really, Doctor, just one day? Isn't there a planet that has, I don't know, fantastic hair treatments or something? Massages?"
"Don't know," he shrugged bemusedly. "Never had much use for hair care meself."
"I can see that," she bit back a grin. "It's this or my mum's you know, she's been after me to change my hair since Christmas."
He sighed, and she beamed at him.
He supposed losing had its up points.
"London, 2006. Now."
The faint growl might have been disturbing in the best of situations...this was not the best of situations. In fact, the Doctor was quite thankful for whichever of his ancestors had added rigid control over facial expression into Time Lord DNA, because it seemed likely to save him the trouble of regenerating. Assuming he also kept tight reign over his desire to laugh himself silly, he might actually survive this one.
Quite unfair really, it wasn't as if it was his fault. She had asked for hair care. How could he be blamed that the Ittian style of beauty involved a head of hair that literally covered every inch of the body? If she'd failed to specify exactly what she wanted when they offered to make her hair longer, could anyone be blamed but herself?
They'd even done her the favor of making the hair not only a good bit thicker and healthier, but they'd been nice enough to make her a natural blonde – she'd never have to worry about roots again. She really should be more appreciative. He doubted she'd even thanked the stylist, let alone tipped well. He shook his head and sighed, setting the coordinates. She stalked toward the interior of the ship, grabbing the sleeve of his jacket and pulling him with her.
"You are going to help," she growled.
"What d'you mean?" He tried to tug himself free without allowing her fingernails to damage his precious leather – and only succeeded in making her latch on tighter.
"You think I can walk cross Powell Estate like this?" She stopped and turned, pushing some of the voluminous hair from her eyes to reveal a thick golden fuzz that seemed to be covering her from top to toe. His lips nearly worked into a smile, but he held back just in time. "I've got to chop off at least enough of this to walk without tripping, and shave everything."
His eyes widened.
He thought she might have blushed, but her skin was rather thoroughly hidden. "I can't reach my back properly," she clarified. "I can do the rest myself."
"Right," he cleared his throat. "Just so happens I have a solution to that," he smiled slightly.
She shuffled her feet and didn't look at him. Yes, she was definitely blushing. "Yeah?"
"Yup! Come with me," he grinned and extended his hand, hoping she would accept it in lieu of her grip on his coat. She did, and after a brief moment of moving the longer hair away from their fingers – it wouldn't due to pull on the strands, given her present state of mind, he gently tugged her toward a different hall. He opened one of a dozen identical and unmarked doorways to reveal...a linen closet. A linen closet which contained absolutely no linens, but did contain what were unmistakably a wide variety of beauty products.
"Here you go," he held up a jar and grinned. "Put about..." he pondered and opened the jar, sticking his little finger into the pale orange gel and scooping out a portion. "That much into a bath, soak for half an hour and the hair'll wash right off. Best keep your head above water though," he grinned. "Wouldn't do to let Jackie see you bald."
Rose blinked, pushing the hair out of her face to stare at him. "Seriously? For how long, I mean, won't it just grow back?"
He shrugged. "It'll slow it down, use it once a week for a couple months and it's done forever."
"Wow," she stared at the jar. She paused. "Oh, Mum would kill for a bit of that stuff, she wouldn't have to shave her legs anymore."
"Now don't go tellin' her, last thing I want is her blabbin' all over London about my magic hair removal muck," he wiped the goop back into the jar. "Now remember, it's strong stuff. Serious 'bout not gettin' any on your head."
She stepped back, biting her lip – and then making a face as she got fur in her mouth. "Yech. So, what am I supposed to do about my face, put some on a flannel? I mean, I went through an awful lot of trouble not to be a werewolf, don't wanna end up lookin' like one anyway."
"Don't be daft," he rolled his eyes at her. "Not lettin' you put this on your face, you'd burn your eyebrows off, and that'd a shame since they finally match the rest of you. I don't fancy a trip to a planet of brow growth specialists."
She paused. "There's an eyebrow growth planet?"
"No. There isn't, an' I never said there was."
"So..." Rose looked up, expectantly. He raised an eyebrow and she scowled again. "So how am I gonna get rid of the fur on my face?"
"Oh," he nodded. "There's a hair removal setting on the sonic screwdriver. An' before you ask, no, I can't use that instead of shaving. Takes a long time and I can't do it to meself anyway. You'll just have to sit perfectly still for a bit and it'll all be sorted."
"No more fuzzy face?"
"Nope, just normal ape-face."
She rolled her eyes, but a hint of a smile curved her lips. "If you're done being superior, I'm going to go chop this mess down to size."
"No, no, no," he grinned at her. "Got to stop by the wardrobe first and get a camera."
There was a long pause. "Why?" She dragged out the word suspiciously.
"'Cause I am absolutely certain that I've got sunglasses and a bowler hat 'round here somewhere!"
There was a short, puzzled pause as Rose thought this out...then two dull 'thunks' in the corridor as her shoe hit the wall where his head had been a moment before – and the other hit his head. He finally gave in and started laughing as she turned on her heel and stalked back to her bathroom.
"I said, hold still," the Doctor was apparently getting tired of repeating himself.
"It's all tingly," Rose tried not to wiggle her nose as she said this and failed miserably. She shifted a bit; although she was lying rather comfortably on her own bed, having the Doctor looming over her – sitting of course on a chair that had never been in her room before – was just a bit awkward. "I can't help it."
"I've only just started!"
He rolled his eyes and dug into his pocket, producing a plain white toothpaste-like tube. "Thought you might be difficult."
"What's that?" She watched cautiously as he pushed a tiny bit of dark pink cream onto his forefinger. He waved it in front of her face and she sighed happily. "Oh, it smells lovely."
"It'll stop the tingling, just have to rub it on as I'm working," he informed her, rather briskly as he placed a bit of it in the centre of her forehead – the only place he'd managed to free of fuzz before Rose began to squirm.
She sighed. "I'm sorry, Doctor; I'm sure you've got more interesting things to be messing with."
"More interesting than you?" He raised an eyebrow. She looked up, eyes widening slightly. He grinned. "Yeah, probably." She shoved his shoulder and he caught her hand gently. "It's fine, Rose. This is hardly the most frustrating situation I've had to get you out of."
"I guess this was me using the wrong verbs and gettin' charged double?" She grinned back at him.
"Somethin' like that," he nodded agreeably. "If this is the sort of trouble I have to sort for a while, I'll be very happy."
"Oh, come on," she rolled her eyes, smiling. "You haven't overthrown a wicked dictator in almost three weeks, you've gotta be itchin' for it."
"I really do just want a quiet life," he reminded her, picking up the sonic screwdriver again. He began to work outward from his first spot, following the path with the cream, gently massaging it in with his other hand.
She blinked, but he didn't quite meet her eyes. "What, d'you mean something...normal? Settling down, gettin' a house and a mortgage?"
"No," he focused on her left temple, carefully avoiding her hairline and eyebrows. "Just quiet. The sort of thing we do between dictators: travelling, shopping, meeting people like Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke with their two a.m. on a street-corner; it's seeing real lives lived out. That's what I travel for."
She let out a breath and closed her eyes. "You're always on the outside," she said several minutes later. Her eyes were still closed, and he had moved to her opposite temple.
"Yep," he agreed, his voice filled with false cheer as he worked down her nose.
"'Cept with me."
"Yep," his tone was warmer. She fought the desire to sneeze as the sonic screwdriver tickled her upper lip.
"Good luck then."
She didn't open her eyes again until he was done. His thumb rubbed the soothing cream across the apple of her cheek and he cheerfully proclaimed her human again.
She squinted at the sudden brightness of the light, but smiled at him. "So, I look like a proper ape then?"
"Nope," he let his palm cup her face gently. "Pure Rose."
Her breath caught; for a long, electric moment he simply stared at her – and then he jumped to his feet, grinning madly. "Right then, London!"
"Yeah," she sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed; her somewhat tamed locks trailing behind her in an immense braid. "Guess I can finally get around to calling Mickey back, too; he's been leaving me messages for days."
The Doctor rolled his eyes and gestured for her to get up. "Yes, fantastic; call your boyfriend, but come on, let's go!"
She laughed and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet and through the labyrinthine corridors; instantly in search of another adventure, even if it was only Jackie Tyler's cooking that provided a mystery.
Quiet life? Hah.